Syringe services bill vetoed, override motion filed

A bill that allows local jurisdictions to permit public and behavioral health organizations to implement Syringe Services Programs was vetoed by Gov. Jim Pillen March 4.

Sen. Megan Hunt
Sen. Megan Hunt

LB307, introduced by Omaha Sen. Megan Hunt, provides immunity to public and behavioral health programs and pharmacies from drug paraphernalia offenses when distributing clean, hypodermic needles to community members to curb the spread of disease.

Under the bill, political subdivisions may establish SSPs on a voluntary basis and approval of a program is permitted only by the governing body of a political subdivision. County ordinances cannot authorize a program for a municipality within its borders.

The measure also requires SSPs to satisfy minimum requirements, such as providing naloxone or information on where to obtain it and referral information for mental health and other social services. Additionally, approved programs cannot operate within 500 feet of a child care program, school or youth center or a public library, community center or swimming pool.

Senators passed LB307 Feb. 29 on a 30-7 vote.

In his veto message, the governor said SSPs have not proven effective in reducing drug use or the spread of disease when compared to other means. SSPs have led to increased drug deaths in areas where they have been implemented, Pillen said, and could expose citizens to health and safety risks due to improperly disposed needles.

Hunt filed a motion to override the governor’s veto. Thirty votes will be required. Consideration of the override motion has not yet been scheduled for debate.

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