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Needle exchange bill vote postponed

Published: Apr. 5, 2021 at 8:42 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A City Council majority has voted to postpone the vote on Charleston’s Needle Exchange Bill during Monday’s city council meeting.

Senate Bill 334 is currently making it’s way through the state legislature and some council members said it would be best to see what the state does before they decide on what they should do when it comes to needle exchange programs.

“(Within) the next five days there will likely be clarity on this issue from the state level and given that timeline Madam Mayor, I move to postpone consideration of bill 7893 until April, 29, 2021,” said Council member Ben Adams.

“I think if you’re going to sit in this seat, I think it’s time we take the vote tonight on this serious bill that’s been very polarizing to everyone,” said Council member Shannon Snodgrass, who is a sponsor on the bill. “I think it’s up to us as council people, if you’re going to represent the city, then you have to represent the city and you can’t dodge that based on what the state may or may not do.”

At the meeting, dozens of Solutions Oriented Addictions Response (SOAR) program supporters showed up in opposition of this bill, saying the restrictions were too tight.

“We all need to support the people in active addiction and Kanawha County is number one in the nation for HIV,” said Rick Martin, a supporter of SOAR. “The tighter restrictions that you put on the people the further you’re going to chase them out and the harder it is for me to do my job and our job here is to save lives, not to make them run off.”

There were also several residents and business owners there who were in support of the amended bill, saying it would give accountability.

“I think that our city council members owed it to it’s residents to publicly record their stance on the issue,” said Charleston business owner Jeni Burns-Riser. “We could’ve been leaders in the state but we just handed our power over to legislatures who may or may not be from Kanawha County or Charleston, West Virginia and that is extremely disappointing.”

The majority of the council voted to postpone the vote until their next meeting on Monday, April 19.

This is a developing story. Keep checking the WSAZ App for the latest details.

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