While laying out the bill Senator Deuell said that if this legislation becomes law it will save the state money without costing the state any money, and that countless studies have shown syringe exchange programs do not increase drug use.Sifting the Haystack also points to an op ed in the Abilene Reporter News supporting the legislation. The bill does not require local governments to operate a needle exchange program, and likely most won't, but for the big urban areas it makes sense, both to save lives and health care costs.
Senator Wentworth pointed out that Bexar County District Attorney Susan Reed, who blocked full implementation of the pilot syringe exchange program that passed last session, has advised his office that if this bill passes she will not prosecute people participating in the programs.
To watch the Senate consideration and vote on CSSB 188 visit the Senate RealMedia Video Archives page, scroll down and click on the March 18 Senate Session, and skip ahead to 2:07:20 into the video.
The House voted for a pilot program in San Antonio last session by a wide margin, so the bill has a decent chance of passing both chambers if the new committee chair in House Public Health will consent to give it a vote.
The biggest obstacle may be Governor Perry, who reportedly opposes the legislation despite significant small-government conservative backing for the measure - 11 of the 18 Republicans voting on the measure in the Senate supported the bill.