California Assembly Approves Bill That Would Allow State Funds for Clean Needle Purchases
The California Assembly on Tuesday voted 42-33 to approve a bill (AB 110) that would repeal a ban on using state funds to purchase clean needles and syringes for distribution by needle-exchange programs, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The legislation, which is sponsored by Assembly member John Laird (D), moves to the Senate for consideration.
Needle-exchange programs are legal in California but only if authorized by a city or county. Local and state funding of such programs is legal, but California prohibits the use of state grants to purchase needles for the programs. Needle-exchange programs are ineligible for federal funding.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in 2005 vetoed similar legislation by Laird, who also withdrew the bill last year at the governor's request to resolve his objections.
Schwarzenegger spokesperson Sabrina Lockhart said the governor has not taken a position on the current measure but is working with Laird. The California Narcotics Officers Association has so far opposed the bill.
Expanded State Funding
In related news, the Office of AIDS in the California Department of Health Services on Friday approved $750,000 annually over three years to help fund 10 needle-exchange programs (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/6).
The money will be used to increase operating hours, hire more staff and increase the number of needle-exchange locations (Sacramento Business Journal, 6/5). The funds will not be used to purchase needles (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/6).