A bill that allows counties to implement needle exchanges in Indiana without the approval of the state is heading to the governor for approval.
As an advocate of the proposal, Gov. Eric Holcomb is all but certain to sign the piece of legislation into law. He called for the passage of House Bill 1438 at the start of his tenure in his State of the State address.
“That’s why we will give county officials authority to establish syringe exchange programs — to ensure that the people making decisions are those closest to the problem,” Holcomb said.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say syringe exchange programs can help limit the spread of HIV from intravenous drug users. Opponents,
however, fear these programs just make the opioid epidemic worse.
Former Gov. Mike Pence was against allowing needle exchanges to even operate, but during an outbreak of HIV in Scott County, he agreed to lift the ban.
Attorney General Curtis Hill spoke against the legislation in committee, saying the program was more of a “needle give-away.” “I don’t want another Hoosier to die from their addiction — especially with a needle provided by the State of Indiana,” Hill said.
The Senate approved the legislation 32-16.
The legislation is one of more than 20 bills this legislative session dedicated to curtailing the opioid epidemic in Indiana.