Tuesday, May 01, 2007

SB 308 half way home, but more obstacles

SB 308 passed the Senate Health and Human Services Committee April 12th with 7 to 1. You can see what I wrote about it here. All the witnesses for the committee did an amazing job of providing the committee members the information they needed to become convinced that needle exchange is necessary in the combat against HIV and hepatitis C, and a valuable tool in reducing drug use. There was not a single person registered to testify in opposition of the bill. The only member to vote against the bill in committee was Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) . Senator Jane Nelson voted in favor of the bill after several sessions of active opposition, and we commend her for listening to the evidence and making the right decision. The hearing could not have gone any better.

The bill then passed the Senate floor with a 23-8 vote, which generated a great story from KVUE. Senator Deuell has been a great champion of this improtant piece of legislation, and most members of the Senate really stepped up to support his efforts this session making a great statement in favor of needle exchange. We encourage all of you to join us in our thanks to Senator Deuell and his staff for the amazing work they have put into this bill.

The news is not all good though, SB 308 must now get a hearing in the House Public Health Committee. Representative Delisi (R-Temple), Chair of Public Health has yet to show interest in scheduling a hearing for SB 308, and if she does not schedule a hearing by this week, the needle will sink back into the haystack.

Representative Delisi has been awarded volumes of honors for being a great legislator in the field of health care and public health, however that has not rung true in regards to needle exchange. We can only hope that she will examine the vast amounts of evidence in favor of needle exchange programs and make her decision based on testimony, as the Senate did just weeks ago.