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Urgent Colorado Needle Exchange Alert

Last week's Week Online from DRCNet reported that the Colorado State Senate has passed SB 99, a bill to legalize needle exchange in the state, but that the Colorado Republican Party Chairman, Steve Curtis, had threatened that Republican members of the House who support the bill could face party-financed primary challenges in the next election. (See http://www.drcnet.org/rapid/1998/2-27.html#colorado -- it appeared here before it hit the papers or other media.)

The state media, including the Denver Post and the Rocky Mountain News, reported yesterday that several Republican legislators, had held a press conference criticizing Curtis for his comments. Sen. Dottie Wham, of Denver, said that needle exchange "is not a party issue -- very plainly and simply it is a public health issue." Rep. Steve Tool, of Fort Collins, stated "this is a health-care issue, not a morality issue," and pointed out that the bill was about local control, and that no locality would be mandated to host an exchange. Sen. Dave Wattenberg, a rancher who has served in the legislature since 1983, called Curtis a "silly son of a bitch," adding "I think it's totally stupid that he does this, and I will defend that statement."

SB 99 has a March 9 hearing in the House Health, Environment, Welfare and Institutions Committee. We are asking our Colorado readers to call or write their reps ASAP in support.

For an list of representatives identified by county, visit http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/hmembers.htm. For a list of reps identified by district, visit http://www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/pinkbook/pbhdis.htm.

The state doesn't have a phone number you can call to find out your district or who your reps are -- that info is available from your county clerk or election commission -- but if you know the name of your rep, you can get his or her phone number by calling (800) 811-7647 from outside Denver or (303) 866-2904. The address for your Rep is:

If you are extra motivated, letters to the editor favoring needle exchange and/or criticizing Curtis would be timely. For the Denver Post, [email protected]. For the Rocky Mountain News, [email protected]. Be sure to and include your full name, home town and daytime phone number. Listings for many other Colorado newspapers online can be found by doing a Yahoo search on "Colorado media" and following the links.

DRCNet has important stats on the state of drug-related AIDS in Colorado online at http://www.drcnet.org/AIDS/co_ban.html -- use these to inform your letters to the legislature or the media -- or send them a printout, or recommend they visit that page. Please send copies of your correspondence, both legislative and media, via e-mail to [email protected], by fax to (202) 293-8344, or by mail to DRCNet, 2000 P St., NW, Suite 615, Washington, DC 20036.

For more information on needle exchange in Colorado, contact People Engaged in Education and Reduction (PEERS), (303) 455-2472, [email protected].

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