Carter Moelk
KU Statehouse Wire Service
A bill that would protect underage students who seek medical help after drinking is moving closer to becoming a reality.
The Senate’s Lifeline 911 bill, also known as the Medical Amnesty Act, has been approved by the House judiciary committee and now goes to the full House for debate.
“The law would be a great addition for the safety of all students in the state, whether it’s a university or a two-year institution,” said Jessie Pringle, University of Kansas Student Body President.
Pringle was among a group of students who showed their support Wednesday for the bill, which was introduced in the Senate in 2015. Students came to the Capitol as part of the state’s annual Higher Education Day.
Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, a proponent of the bill, said it removes a barrier for students who need medical assistance or who want to get help for a friend.
“If students are afraid to call for help, they won’t make the smart choice,” he said.
“There’s a good chance this bill will pass if the students stay active.”
Many universities in Kansas have an amnesty policy in place, which says that the university will wave sanctions for those seeking medical help for underage drinking.
Campus leaders say they are excited there soon may be a state law offering that same protection.
“While we have university policies in place, I believe Lifeline 911 would further increase the likelihood of someone seeking help when truly need it,” said Clay Thomas, president of KU’s Interfraternity Council.
The University of Kansas has an amnesty policy, and it has benefitted students, campus leaders said.
“Having a similar policy here at KU has been incredible for the welfare of our students and contributes to a positive academic and social experience,” Pringle said.
As the bill moves forward in legislation, supporters, including Hawk, say they hope it will have enough momentum to become law.
“It’s all about the constituents pushing for the piece of legislation,” Hawk said. “That and timing . . . you’ve got to get the timing correct.”
If approved by the House, the bill would return to the Senate for approval.