Lawmakers file bill to expand needle-exchange program in Florida

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A pair of Florida legislators are attempting once again to expand a Miami-Dade County program which encourages drug addicts to exchange dirty needles for clean ones as a way to curb blood-borne diseases.

The proposed legislation would expand that practice to other areas of the state, and it says that state funds may not be used to fund the program. Instead, it would be funded through grants and donations from private groups and/or through city or county governments.

Orlando Republican  Representative Rene Plasencia and Broward County Democrat Shevrin Jones have filed the Infectious Disease Elimination Program (IDEA), which would expand the state’s first and only needle exchange program that the Legislature passed in 2016.That program, run by the University of Miami, swaps unused needles and hypodermic syringes for new ones to prevent disease.

Jones co-sponsored a similar bill during the 2018 session, but was forced to reduce its scale from a statewide program to just Broward and Palm Beach counties after the Florida Sheriffs Association raised objections. The bill passed in the Senate but  died in the state House.




Mitch Perry
Mitch Perry has spent the past 18 years covering news and politics in the Sunshine State, most recently with He worked for five years as the political editor of Creative Loafing in Tampa, and before that he was the assistant news director at WMNF radio, where he served as creator/anchor/producer of the hour-long WMNF Evening News. A San Francisco native, Mitch began his career at KPFA Radio in Berkeley in the 1990's.


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