Pillen vetoes needle exchange program bill

Pillen vetoes needle exchange program bill
March 4th, 2024 | News Release / KNEB News Staff

Governor Jim Pillen has vetoed a measure which would have allowed local jurisdictions to create Syringe Service Programs.

Under LB 307 introduced by Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, such programs could distribute hypodermic needles to drug users, and service providers doing so would be exempt from prosecution.

In his veto message, Pillen said he found the measure problematic for a number of reasons, specifically because it allow kids to take part in needle exchange programs without enhancing community safety.

He also said there’s evidence that the programs lead to enhanced drug use, and do not result in significant reductions in the transmission of communicable diseases.

In a subsequent news release, Hunt criticized Pillen’s veto as misguided, saying Pillen “seems to have a fundamental misunderstanding of the function of SSPs, which serve as a doorway to accessing treatment. The relationships, resources, and referrals people obtain from an SSP are often the first opportunity for treatment they receive. In fact, people who use SSPs are up to five times more likely to receive treatment.2 In addition, no public health, medical, or behavioral health clinic administering an SSP is going to hand out syringes to young children. To imply otherwise is fear-mongering and undermines trust in Nebraska’s expert healthcare providers. ”

The measure was approved by the Legislature on a vote of 30 to 7, with 12 either not voting or absent.


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