California Assembly Approves Bill That Would Remove Some Restrictions for Local Needle-Exchange Programs
The California Assembly on Monday approved 43-27 a bill (AB 2871) that would give counties and cities greater flexibility in how they establish and monitor needle-exchange programs, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The bill, sponsored by Assembly member Patti Berg (D), would remove the requirement that cities and counties declare a public health emergency before implementing a needle-exchange program. In addition, the jurisdictions no longer would be required to review the programs every two weeks (AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/11). According to the state Office of AIDS, 14 cities and counties in the state have established legal needle-exchange programs (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/13). Berg said, "This is a public health crisis that we can positively influence." Assembly Member Keith Richman (R) said that needle-exchange programs have proven "very effective" in reducing HIV and hepatitis transmission without increasing drug use. He added, "It will make it administratively easier for counties and cities to run these needle-exchange programs. It has a public health benefit for our state." Assembly member Ray Haynes (R), who opposed the bill, said the measure "enabled and encouraged" injection drug users to "remain addicted," according to the AP/Times. He added, "We shouldn't be in the business of giving away syringes and drug paraphernalia. That's not what our government should be doing." The measure next will be considered by the state Senate, the AP/Times reports (AP/Contra Costa Times, 5/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.