Wednesday, July 15, 2009

No Ban on Funding: ACT NOW

Walk through key targets, brainstorming:
- what do we need to do in the next 2 days.

- Immediate Targets (likely yes’s and undecideds – need strong reinforcement)
== PHR has people all over
Berry (D-AR01) - Jonesboro (AMSA, C2EA)
Schiff (D-CA29) - Pasadena (APLA)
Lewis (R-CA41) - San Bernadino, Eastern LA (APLA)
Salazar (D-CO03) - Grand Junction, Pueblo (none)
Boyd (D-FL02) (Needs strong constituent support) - Tallahasse (C2EA)
Bishop (D-GA02) - Columbus, Albany, Thomasville (none)
Kirk (R-IL10) - GAA - north of Chicago, Waukegan, Northbrook (IAPAC)
Visclosky (D-IN01) - NW Indiana/Merrillville (C2EA)
Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11) - W of NYC, Dover, Madison (C2EA)
Kaptur (D-OH09) - Toledo, Sandusky (AMSA, MCC)
LaTourette (R-OH14) (listed as “pro,” but should receive strong attention) - eastern Cleveland suburbs (PHR + lots of others)
Murtha (D-PA12) - Johnstown (Px Pt Pgh)
Davis (D-TN04) (Needs strong constituent support) - Columbia, Jamestown, McMinnville, Rockwood (AMSA, PHR)
Mollohan (D-WV01) - Clarksburg, Wheeling (C2EA)

- if you're not from the area, you can say you have "family" there

Ramp up for next week/full House
- what can people elsewhere do?
- call your member of congress and tell them to support syringe exchange funding and vote against any amendments that would limit syringe exchange funding
- what would be useful to make? sample LTE (Kaytee + Farheen). there are also action alerts out there that people can use.
Update on House timeline:
- this friday, there's a full committee hearing on the labor-health and human services bill, where the syringe exchange funding ban is gone! we need to make sure to keep the ban out of the bill, and not let any new amendments that would restrict where funding can go.
- concerns around limiting syringe exchanges to >1,000 feet away from schools and tons of other types of buildings
- need to be sure that people who are supportive don't vote for amendments that would restrict funding or restore the ban
- constituents are really important
- next step after committee vote is a vote on the full floor of the House, Wednesday July 22nd
- Senate will mark up July 28th @ subcommittee, full committee on July 30th, floor before Aug 6th likely
- other possible amendments including
- we don't know what amendments will come, though, but we can expect bad ones. more information on this is attached.

Talking Points

This Friday, members of the Appropriations Committee will likely vote on syringe exchange programs. Opponents of these life-saving programs know that there is universal agreement that they help to prevent the spread of HIV without increasing drug use. They are likely to propose amendments that would attempt to undermine these programs – or eliminate them through a back-door. Below we highlight four amendments that have been offered in the past. We urge members to vote against any amendments. States and localities should decide whether and how to implement these programs, based on local circumstances.

Proximity to schools and other facilities “1000 foot rule”
• Local communities should decide whether to have a syringe exchange and where to place such a program.
• These kinds of restrictions have disparate impact on urban and rural areas. Some cities would no longer be able to run any programs.
• Programs should be placed where they are most needed. Arbitrary restrictions mean that some of the communities hardest hit wouldn’t have access.
• Today, states and localities decide where to place programs. The federal government should not override local authorities.

Safe Injection Facilities
• This bill does not legalize safe injection facilities. This is a red herring, designed to detract from the extensive medical evidence that syringe exchange helps to reduce HIV infection without increasing drug use.
• These facilities exist on a pilot basis in other countries like Canada, where drug users consume pre-obtained drugs with medical supervision. Not a single safe injection facility operates in the US and no city has plans to implement one.

Pledge to oppose the legalization of drugs
• These kinds of “pledge” requirements violate the first amendment because they restrict their right to engage in free speech. The courts have consistently found these free speech restrictions to be unconstitutional.
• This bill does not legalize drugs. The bill does prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis and to link drug users to health and social services.

Heroin maintenance
• This bill does not legalize heroin or so-called “heroin maintenance” programs. The US currently offers two medications to treat addiction to opiates – methadone and buprenorphine. Syringe exchange programs are the best source of referrals to drug treatment.
• Some countries, including Switzerland, have pilot programs that provide medical grade heroin at government supervised medical clinics to drug users who have proven unresponsive to all other formers of drug treatment.
• Not a single US city has a heroin maintenance program and no city is planning on implementing one. An amendment relating to this issue would be nothing more than a ruse to restore the federal syringe exchange ban.

If you wanna help in any of the areas call Lucky Michaels at 212-629-7440 ext 226 to find out more.

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