New Jersey Senate Committee Approves Measure That Would Establish Needle-Exchange Program in Six Cities
The New Jersey Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday voted 8-6 to approve a compromise version of a bill (S 494) that would establish a needle-exchange program in six cities and provide $10 million to drug treatment programs in the state, the Newark Star-Ledger reports (Hester, Newark Star-Ledger, 10/13). According to the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services, 14% of new HIV/AIDS cases in the state in 2005 were attributed to injection drug use. The bill -- sponsored by state Sen. Nia Gill (D) -- would allow cities or towns to apply to the health department, which would select six cities or towns among the applicants to begin needle-exchange programs. Officials from Atlantic City and Camden have said they are interested in establishing programs. The amended version of the legislation would subject the programs to re-evaluation in five years. Needle-exchange programs in the U.S. are not federally funded and are opposed by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/3). The bill now goes to the full state Senate for consideration. According to the Star-Ledger, 21 votes are needed for the bill to pass the state Senate. Senate President Richard Codey (D) said that the bill is "not going to pass overwhelmingly, clearly" but that "the more legislators look at it, they will see it is not what it was, and it should be much more palatable to them." He added that the measure will receive a floor vote in December during one of the two voting sessions. State Assembly Speaker Joseph Roberts (D), an advocate of the bill, said the lower house will vote on the bill before the end of the year (Newark Star-Ledger, 10/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.