BUTTE COUNTY, Calif. - After a nearly six-hour meeting, the Butte County Board of Supervisors has voted to ban the establishment and operation of needle exchange or distribution programs in the unincorporated areas of the county.
Action News Now spoke with Butte County Supervisor Debra Lucero about this ban.
“If the rapid spread of viral hepatitis or HIV or other potentially dangerous diseases is detected, the state can come in and say, ‘You will do this’ and we will provide a provider to supply this,” Lucero said.
She said these types of programs are run by the state's public health department and while it bans local authorized programs, it does not supersede state law.
“So, what is happening is that Supervisor Ritter and myself ask for the staff to mark where we are now so that we can look at this data in a year after we have banned a program like this and see what statistics look like," Lucero said. "And I think that will give us a clearer indication of what the science seems to indicate and that is programs like this when properly run, they can be effective.”
Supervisor Tod Kimmelshue said it's a public safety issue and there was concern about children getting ahold of needles in parks.
The cities of Chico, Gridley and Oroville have already adopted needle bans.
The board also unanimously voted to approve the PG&E Settlement Fund policy.
After receiving a $252 million settlement from PG&E for the impacts of the Camp Fire, the board approved to commit the money towards stability, hazard mitigation and recovery back in July of 2020.
Today, the board supported this fund and agreed to have the funds approved by the board any time money is taken out.
In a close 3-2 vote, the board also agreed to commit up to $500,000 from the anticipated Coronavirus Relief Fund into the City of Chico toward the homeless crisis.
The plan would consist of the city accessing property where 60 aluminum shelters would be placed.
These sites would provide housing, portable bathrooms, showers and laundry units.
This money would also go towards voluntary mental health services for the homeless.