Indiana House votes to remove restrictions on setting up needle exchanges

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Indiana House has approved giving counties and cities the authority to create needle-exchange programs aimed at curbing the spread diseases among intravenous drug users.

House members voted 72-26 Tuesday to endorse a bill that lifts the current requirement that counties obtain approval from the state health commissioner for such programs.

Bill sponsor Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer of Indianapolis says it would let local governments act quickly to outbreaks of diseases such as HIV and hepatitis C.

Rep. Lloyd Arnold of Leavenworth opposed the proposal, saying he feels the programs are enabling drug abusers.

Nine Indiana counties now have needle exchanges. They started after a 2015 HIV outbreak in southern Indiana’s Scott County.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb has endorsed the changes, which now go to the state Senate for consideration.

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