Pubdate: Sat, 28 Aug 1999
Source: Orange County Register (CA)
Copyright: 1999 The Orange County Register
Section: News,page 4
Author: Robert Salladay, San Francisco Examiner


San Francisco-Gov. Gray Davis appears ready to veto a measure
legalizing needle-exchange programs in California.

Although Davis hasn't made a public statement about the measure,
spokesman Michael Bustamante said the governor has "already
communicated serious concerns" about it.

Bustamante refused to say Davis would veto the bill, but he came
close. "The thing we wanted to impress upon the author is that the
governor believes there are other ways to address AIDS transmission
and drug use without sending a mixed message to California youth with
state-sanctioned needle exchanges," he said.

The bill would allow cities and counties to start locally funded
needle-exchange programs but would not require them. For San
Francisco, Berkeley, and Marin County, the measure would let health
officials continue programs without having to declare a state of
emergency over the AIDS epidemic every two weeks.

Davis must sign or veto the measure, which the Legislature sent to him
this week, within 12 days.

The San Francisco AIDS Foundation is lobbying the governor by rolling
out a poll.

Commissioned by the foundation and conducted by the Field Institute,
the survey of 1,010 adult Californians found 79 percent of Democrats,
75 percent of independents and 54 percent of Republicans support such

Needle-exchange programs got the highest support in the Bay area, with
83 percent, and the lowest support from the Central Valley, with 65
percent approving of using exchange programs to stop the spread of HIV
and blood-borne hepatitis.

The poll, with a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points, also found
that 75 percent of people who described themselves as politically
"middle of the road" also supported such programs.

When asked about the poll, Davis spokeswoman Hilary McLean said: "The
governor is going to base his decision on the correct public policy."
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MAP posted-by: Derek Rea