California Assembly Approves Needle-Exchange Legislation, Bill Goes to Governor
The California Assembly on Wednesday passed a bill (AB 2871) that would eliminate a section of a state needle-exchange law that requires counties to declare a health emergency every two weeks in order to continue running exchange programs, the Eureka Times-Standard reports. Assembly member Patty Berg (D), who sponsored the bill, said that the measure would reduce the amount of "red tape" required to operate the exchange programs, which aim to reduce the spread of HIV and other diseases, according to the Times-Standard. An estimated 1,500 of new HIV cases reported in the state annually are attributable to injection drug use. Twelve cities and counties in California operate needle-exchange programs, and officials from nine other areas have said they may start programs if the bill becomes law (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/26). Berg met with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) to discuss the bill and removed a provision Schwarzenegger disagreed with that would have decriminalized needle possession, Berg spokesperson Will Shuck said (Siders, Stockton Record, 8/26). "With a few strokes of the pen, the governor can save lives and end bureaucratic waste all at the same time," Berg said, adding, "AIDS is a crisis that doesn't go away every two weeks. We need to use every tool to stop its spread" (Eureka Times-Standard, 8/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.