New Jersey Gov. Corzine To Push for Needle-Exchange Program, Will Use Executive Power if Necessary
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine (D) on Thursday said that establishing a needle-exchange program in the state is a priority for his administration and that he would consider using his executive power as governor if the Legislature does not act, the AP/Yahoo! News reports (AP/Yahoo! News, 1/26). Former Gov. James McGreevey (D) -- who resigned his position in November 2004 -- in October 2004 signed an executive order allowing up to three cities in the state to establish needle-exchange programs. The order declared a "state of emergency" until Dec. 31, 2005, and authorized the Department of Health and Senior Services to administer needle-exchange programs in cities that met specific requirements. An opinion issued by the state Office of Legislative Services in November 2005 said that McGreevey had "no authority" to issue the order. As a result, four New Jersey lawmakers -- state Sens. Ronald Rice (D) and Tom Kean (R) and Assembly members Joe Pennacchio (R) and Eric Munoz (R) -- in December 2004 filed the lawsuit to invalidate the order, claiming that McGreevey had "overstepped his responsibilities and constitutional powers." The lawmakers on Thursday withdrew their lawsuit because the order had expired (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/23). According to the AP/Yahoo! News, no needles were distributed under McGreevey's order. Corzine said he hopes there is a way to "shape the legislation" to deal with concerns that in the past have hindered passage of similar bills in the state Legislature. He said that despite critics' concerns that McGreevey had overstepped the bounds of his position, he would consider an executive order because "it is time ... for this legislation. We ought to be doing it relatively quickly, and I intend to do so" (AP/Yahoo! News, 1/26).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.