Policy & Politics
Worcester, Mass., City Council Votes to Oppose State Bill That Would Allow Rules, Regulations on Needle-Exchange Programs
May 20, 2005
The Worcester, Mass., City Council on Tuesday voted 8-3 to oppose a state Senate bill (SB 1272) that would allow the state Department of Public Health to establish rules and regulations for the implementation of needle-exchange programs in the state to reduce the spread of bloodborne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C, the AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports. The council said that it opposes the measure because it would "remove local legislative control from the decision-making process" for implementing needle exchanges, according to the AP/Telegram & Gazette. "Local control is something that is so important to our democracy, but sometimes the folks at the state level in Boston take it for granted," council member Juan Gomez said, adding, "We don't need big brother telling us what to do. We know better than the state as to what is better for our community." However, council member Dennis Irish said the bill would establish community advisory boards that would address local issues before a needle-exchange program is implemented, according to the AP/Telegram & Gazette. "The issue is not needle exchange and drug users; it has to do with this city's high rates of HIV and hepatitis B and C," Irish said. The council defeated 7-4 a motion by Irish to refer the issue to a committee. The Worcester City Council twice has defeated measures to establish needle-exchange programs in the city (AP/Worcester Telegram & Gazette, 5/18).