Monday, May 04, 2009

Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff and Commissioners Court Support SB188

Bexar County Commissioners Court presiding officer Judge Nelson W. Wolff, who will be in a work session in San Antonio while the House Public Health Committee considers SB188 in Austin, sent the Commissioners Court's written support for SB188 for the legislature's consideration.

SB188 is a local options bill - it does not mandate any program. The legislation simply allows local governments to fund a local program, or authorize a privately-funded charity program, or simply do nothing. The Committee Substitute is expected to permit this disease prevention option in any Texas county with over 300,000 residents.

Soon after the Texas legislature authorized a pilot program in Bexar County in 2007, Judge Wolff (who has served the City of San Antonio as a city council member and as it's mayor and has served Bexar County as a member of the Texas House, the Texas Senate, and now serves as the head of Bexar County government) and his Commissioners Court unanimously authorized county funds to support the program. In his letter of support, he states:
"[W]e believe that a Sterile Needle Exchange program will stop the spread of blood borne diseases like HIV and various kinds of Hepititis. The cost of treatment to the taxpayers of Bexar County often runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for each infected person.

"Further, the history and experience of Sterile Needle Exchange programs in every other state in the nation has demonstrated that these programs promote access to drug treatment."
The hearing is expected to begin Tuesday, May 5, at 8:00 AM in Texas Capitol room E2.012. Watch the hearing live online here.

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