Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Attempt to amend HB 2229 to include needle exchange provision fails

Failing Public Health Committee Chair Kolkhorst's willingness to give House Bill 117 a hearing this session, bill author Rules and Resolutions (Procedural) Chair McClendon attempted to pass an amendment to an HIV-related bill that would have allowed needle exchange.

As reported by the Dallas Voice:

"HB 2229 seemed poised to pass until an amendment to the bill by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio, added a needle exchange program, a proven way to reduce the transmission of HIV and other blood-born diseases. Many House Republicans oppose such programs arguing that, by providing clean needles to IV drug users, they condone drug use. The House voted on HB 2229 and it failed to pass, 53-89. Fearing the demise of the bill, McClendon asked for an opportunity to withdraw her amendment. After she did the House tentatively approved HB 2229, 104-36. The final vote for House approval on Wednesday was 88-57."

With the session running out of time an amendment to a related bill is the only hope at this point for passing legislation that allows syringe exchange programs in Texas. Despite the success of needle exchange legislation in the Texas Senate and in the Public Health Committee during the 2009 session, the support of every major medical association in the United States and Texas, and over 50 letters from individuals and medical associations asking Chair Kolkhorst to schedule a hearing for House Bill 117 she has adamantly refused without offering a rational excuse as to why.

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