Former N.J. Gov. McGreevey Had ‘No Authority’ To Order Needle-Exchange Programs, State Agency Says
Former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey (D) had "no authority" to allow needle-exchange programs to operate in three cities, according to an opinion issued Monday by the state Office of Legislative Services, the Newark Star-Ledger reports (McNichol, Newark Star-Ledger, 11/16). McGreevey -- who resigned his position on Nov. 15 -- last month signed an executive order allowing up to three cities in the state to establish needle-exchange programs in an effort to curb the spread of HIV and other bloodborne diseases among injection drug users. The order declares a "state of emergency" until Dec. 31, 2005, and authorizes the Department of Health and Senior Services to administer needle-exchange programs in cities that meet specific requirements (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/27). Pamela Espenshade, principal counsel for OLS, wrote in the opinion that it is "not clear" whether the spread of HIV among injection drug users constitutes an emergency under the state's Disaster Control Act and that McGreevey's order might have gone beyond his statutory authority, according to the Asbury Park Press. Assembly member Joseph Pennacchio (R) distributed the opinion Monday (Stainton, Asbury Park Press, 11/16).
Springfield, Mass., Needle-Exchange Measure Delayed
A Springfield, Mass., City Council measure that would authorize a needle-exchange program in the city has been delayed, the Springfield Republican reports (Plaisance, Springfield Republican, 11/16). Springfield City Council member Bud Williams last month withdrew a measure that would have decriminalized needle possession without a prescription. Williams withdrew the proposal because two of the nine council members -- including one of the measure's supporters -- were absent from a City Council meeting last month. Williams had said he would refile the measure for consideration on Nov. 8. Williams also is preparing a separate proposal for the city to establish a state-funded needle-exchange program (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/21). Williams said refiling the measure has been delayed because of city budget concerns and other factors, according to the Republican. However, Williams said he plans to file the proposal by the end of this year, probably at the Dec. 13 City Council meeting, the Republican reports. Passage of the measure has "been in doubt" because only three of the nine City Council members have committed to backing the proposal, according to the Republican. Supporters of the proposal will need to obtain a total of six council votes to override a veto by Mayor Charles Ryan (D), who opposes the proposal (Springfield Republican, 11/16).