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Needle Exchange Program Gets Senate Backing

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

A Senate panel Wednesday unanimously approved a bill that would create a pilot needle-exchange program in Miami-Dade County to try to stem the spread of HIV and other infectious diseases.

The Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee supported the measure (SB 242), filed by Sen. Oscar Braynon, D-Miami Gardens. Under the proposal, the University of Miami and its affiliates would run a program allowing intravenous drug users to exchange used needles and syringes for clean needles and syringes.

The bill would bar the use of state or local tax dollars for the program, which would be privately funded. Lawmakers have considered similar measures in recent years but have not given final approval.

Braynon's bill and a House version (HB 81), filed by Rep. Katie Edwards, D-Plantation, are filed for the 2016 session, which starts in January.