By unanimous vote, the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council approved a resolution at its Tuesday night business meeting at Town Hall urging the New Jersey legislature to once again take up the Good Samaritan Emergency Response Act.
The measure would offer limited immunity from prosecution to those who suffer a drug overdose and to those who call 911 while trying to assist someone experiencing a drug overdose.
The legislation, with bipartisan support, was passed by both the General Assembly and the state Senate last year. But in October, Gov. Christie vetoed the bill and instead called for an 18-month period to research the issue further.
The council's act makes Parsippany the 11th New Jersey town officially to pass a resolution asking state lawmakers to override the governor's veto. The other towns are Roxbury, Audubon, Haddon Heights, Red Bank, National Park, Maple Shade, Gloucester Township, Magnolia, Raritan and Flemington. Ten states—California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island and Washington—have similar laws in place.
For the legislature to override Christie's veto, a revived Good Samaritan bill would have to garner two-thirds of the votes in each chamber: 54 in the Assembly and, in the Senate, 27.
According to the Par-Troy resolution's text, overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the Garden State. More than 6,000 New Jersey residents have died from drug overdoses since 2004.
Resident Deb Archambault, who experienced the horror of drug abuse up close during her son's personal experience and subsequent recovery, brought the matter to the attention of the council. She was on hand to see the resolution's passage.
"This is great news," she told Patch, noting that the only council member who responded to her initial plea was Jonathan Nelson. "If it were not for him, this would have never come about."
"This resolution is a good thing," said Nelson after the meeting. "It will help end preventable deaths."
The misuse of illegal and prescription drugs is close to the minds of many in Parsippany, which experienced four overdoses in 2012, according to Parsippany Police. The township's Municipal Alliance Committee held a Drug Prevention Leadership Summit late last year in an effort to focus attention on the problem of drug abuse in the community.