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New Jersey Senate Committee Approves Bill That Would Establish Needle-Exchange Program In Six Cities

Medical News Today, September 22, 2006

The New Jersey Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee on Monday approved 5-2 with one abstention an amended 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, Newark Star-Ledger reports (Schwaneberg/Hester, Newark Star-Ledger, 9/19). Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in January said that establishing a needle-exchange program in the state is a priority for his administration. Former Gov. James McGreevey (D) -- who resigned 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 health department to administer needle-exchange programs in cities that met specific requirements; however, no needles were distributed under McGreevey's order (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 6/6). The bill -- sponsored by state Sen. Nia Gill (D) -- would allow cities or towns to apply to the state Department of Health and Senior Services, which would select six cities or towns among the applicants to begin needle-exchange programs. According to Star-Ledger, Atlantic City and Camden have said they are interested in establishing programs. In addition, the amended version of the legislation would subject the programs to re-evaluation in five years. The bill must be approved by the state Budget and Appropriations Committee in order to go to the full Senate and Assembly for consideration. According to Star-Ledger, the committee did not take action on legislation that would have allowed the nonprescription sale of up to 10 syringes (Newark Star-Ledger, 9/19).