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Even With Bi-Partisan Support, Needle Exchange Bill Dies On House Floor

Ryan Poppe | Texas Public Radio
TPR News

After several legislative strategies, a bill that would set up the first Texas needle exchange dies on the House floor.

There were multiple attempts to revive the bill, which was authored by Rep. Ruth JonesMcClendon, D-San Antonio, and would've set up a pilot needle exchange program for IV drug users.

Co-authors for the bill included staunch Republicans and Democrats in both the House and Senate. Rep. John Davis, R-Houston, was one of those who signed on to the bill.

"As a Christian I support needle-exchange program because I know every life has value to God, who does not allow me to give up on anyone," said Davis, reading from a letter from Sen. Robert Deull, R-Greenville. "As a conservative legislator I support needle exchange programs because I know our state must look at new and effective ways to reduce cost, these programs will cost these programs will cost our state government nothing."

Support for the bill also included Rep. Dr. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, who Davis said explained to him how not having a needle-exchange hurts the state’s pocket book.

"These needles with Hepatitis C and Hepatitis B and AIDS, they cost our state budget because these are indigent populations, and when they just show up in our an emergency rooms and hospitals, we have to pay for it, that comes from our costs," Davis said.

After being pulled earlier in the week in order to revive it and requesting to have the final vote verified, there was too much opposition and the bill died on a vote of 70 to 63.

Though the bill ultimately failed, not many spoke against it on the floor.

Ryan started his radio career in 2002 working for Austin’s News Radio KLBJ-AM as a show producer for the station's organic gardening shows. This slowly evolved into a role as the morning show producer and later as the group’s executive producer.