Needle exchange bill goes to Holcomb after Senate OK

A bill Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb supports that would give local governments control over creating needle-exchange programs is headed to his desk.

The Indiana Senate approved the measure 32-16 on Thursday. Needle exchanges aim to reduce the spread of infectious diseases by providing people with clean syringes.

After the state’s worst-ever HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana began to allow needle exchanges, but only with state approval. This bill removes that requirement, giving local governments more freedom to decide.

Multiple senators gave impassioned speeches before ultimately voting to approve it. Sixteen Republicans voted against the bill, citing concerns it would encourage or enable drug use.

Several proposed amendments would have restricted exchanges to providing only needles or requiring a one-for-one exchange. But lawmakers didn't consider them.

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