Newsbrief: Lame Duck Governor Vetoes Needle Exchange Bill 10/17/03

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Despite no longer having to worry about the political consequence of his actions, outgoing California Gov. Gray Davis continues steadfast in his opposition to harm reduction measures that could save the lives of drug users. Spurning the pleas of harm reductionists to sign a bill that would have made it easier for California cities and counties to implement needle exchange programs, and ignoring the wishes of incoming Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that he not act on bills awaiting his signature, Davis wielded his governor's veto Saturday, killing the measure.

The needle exchange veto was one of five bills Davis vetoed. He signed nine others, and more than 200 more await gubernatorial action -- either by Davis or by Schwarzenegger once last week's election results are officially certified. That process must be completed within a month.

The needle exchange bill (AB 946) would have loosened current state laws that require a public health emergency to be declared before a needle exchange program could be implemented. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Patty Berg (D-Sebastopol), the bill passed with strong support from Democrats and opposition from Republicans. Needle exchange programs have proven effective in reducing the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C, and other diseases spread by injection drug users who share syringes.

But Davis, who had signed the compromise legislation creating the exemption for public health emergencies, refused to take the next step. "This bill undermines the key element that won my support for that legislation, by eliminating the requirement for a local governing body to make a declaration of a local emergency," Davis declared in a statement announcing the veto.

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Issue #307, 10/17/03 Supreme Court Upholds Doctors' Right to Recommend Medical Marijuana | Outgoing California Governor Signs Medical Marijuana Guidelines Bill, But Movement Grumbles Over Plant Limits, Caregiver Provisions, More | Bolivia on the Brink: Strikes, Blockades, Mass Marches, Dozens Killed as US-Backed Administration Teeters | DRCNet Interview: Retired New York Supreme Court Justice Jerome Marks | Newsbrief: California's Proposition 36 Generating Big Increases in Drug Treatment | Newsbrief: Cops Laud "Big Bust" at University of Virginia | Newsbrief: Venezuela Vice-Pres Lashes Out at US Drug Czar, CIA | Newsbrief: Bill to Legalize Coca Prepared in Colombia | Newsbrief: Prosecution of Southwest Virginia Pain Doc Stumbles | Newsbrief: Lame Duck Governor Vetoes Needle Exchange Bill | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Damages Sought in Mississippi Raid that Destroyed Innocent Plants | Media Scan: Zurita on Bolivia/Coca, Barthwell & Kampia, Boston Phoenix on ONDCP Summit, Clarence Page, Prevention Postcards | Perry Fund Accepting Applications for 2003-2004 and 2004-2005 School Years, Providing Scholarships for Students Losing Aid Because of Drug Convictions | SSDP ED Search Accepting Applications | The Reformer's Calendar

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