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Miami-Dade’s needle exchange pilot project advances in House

A bill that would authorize the University of Miami and its affiliates to establish a sterile needle and syringe exchange pilot program in Miami-Dade County has advanced in the Florida House of Representatives.
The Disease Prevention Act (HB 81) is being sponsored by Sunrise Democrat Katie Edwards. It passed the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, and now moves to the House floor. The bill has been floated in the Legislature for a number of years, and found success in the Senate, but has never made it this far in the House.
“I really hope it makes it,” said a pleased Edwards after the vote. “This has been a long time coming.”
Members of the House who previously disagreed with the bill have come around this year.
“Although I have problems with encouraging the use of heroin and other difficult illegal drugs, the key component is education and referral for treatment,” Stuart Republican Gayle Harrell said.
Making the drive from South Florida to testify in support of the bill was Joy Fishman, whose son died of a heroin overdose a decade ago. “I’ve just seen so much heroin on the rise. When my son died, I was pretty much alone. Now it’s a vast club, and now its time that we all rally and get together and clean this up.”
The Senate companion bill (SB 242) has been approved by its three committees of reference and awaits a floor vote. It’s sponsored by Miami Democrat Oscar Braynon.
Written By

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served five years as political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. Mitch also was assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley and is a San Francisco native who has lived in Tampa since 2000. Mitch can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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