House panel OKs needle exchange bill despite AG’s opposition

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana committee has advanced a proposal to give counties and municipalities control over creating needle-exchange programs despite opposition from new Attorney General Curtis Hill.

The House Public Health Committee voted 11-1 Wednesday to approve the measure that would allow local governments to establish such programs without state approval. Existing law requires the state to declare an emergency before needle-exchange programs can operate. State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams says the declarations no longer are necessary.

Hill expressed concern that needle exchanges might become distribution centers, but Adams says in Scott County, 96 percent of needles have been returned. Scott is among nine counties that have state approval for needle exchanges.

The bill maintains the health commissioner’s power to end a program and requires exchanges to stock overdose prevention drugs.

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