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Florida House passes needle exchange pilot for Miami-Dade

For the first time in four years, legislation that would create a needle exchange program aimed at curbing the spread of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis in Miami-Dade County is headed to the governor’s desk.

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed the IDEA Act (the Miami-Dade Infectious Disease Elimination Act”), sponsored by Plantation Democrat Katie Edwards.

The bill would create a pilot program in Miami-Dade County, run by the University of Miami, to establish sterile syringe exchanges. No taxpayer money will be required to implement it.

The bill’s companion in the Senate passed last week, 37-2. That bill was sponsored by Miami Gardens Democrat Oscar Braynon.

“Words cannot express my gratitude to Sen. Braynon and Rep. Edwards for successfully taking up this cause,” said Joy Fishman, whose son died of a heroin overdose in Miami-Dade County and testified before the House Health and Human Services Committee last month. “I hope they understand that what they have done will save lives, plain and simple. I truly hope that Gov. Scott understands that and will make IDEA the law of the land as soon as possible so we can begin this important work.”

Florida leads the nation in new HIV infections, and Miami-Dade and Broward were ranked first and second in the nation in such transmissions per 100,000 people, according to federal statistics.
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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