On May 5th, the Texas Attorney General issued an opinon on the new needle exchange program for Bexar County (i.e., San Antonio). Needless to say, it was not in favour.
In sum: If, however, Bexar County elects to include such a needle- and syringe-exchange program as part of this overall disease-prevention program, the participants in that program appear to be subject to prosecution under the Texas Controlled Substances Act because the Legislature did not except them from such prosecution.
Burka, Texas Monthly Editor and blogger, says this became an issue when the Bexar Co. DA said she would prosecute anyone who participates in such a program. This program was an amendment to SB 10, but this issue began way back in 2007, during the Legislative session, when a couple of reactionaries in the House tried to kill the idea.
The Senate legislation was SB 308 by Doctor Bob Deuell (Republican). It passed the Senate, and then died in the House committee. Two House bills were filed. One by McClendon (who is from San Antonio) and the other by Solomon Ortiz, Jr. McClendon’s bill became the amendment to SB 10. There was quite a fight over this amendment with Betty Brown (or one of those other reactionary old biddies) leading the way.
The people standing in the way of good public policy are using this as a club to bash their political opponents or buttress their own flagging credentials of being “tough” on crime. Forget whether or not this program would actually work (it’s a freaking pilot program for goodness sakes; notice how these reactionaries have no problem with pilot programs for vouchers, etc., because they are politically popular and the education establishment is a viable whipping boy). A program that could save lives and save revenue isn’t expedient, because the direct beneficiary is a pariah – the druggie. (Just remember what recently happened to Rep. Jerry Madden in this year’s primary election).
Good policy should not take a back seat to political skulduggery and posturing for the voters.