Pillen Vetoes Needle Exchange Bill


     As expected, Nebraska Gov. Jim Pillen has vetoed a legislative proposal seeking to allow local municipalities and counties to adopt safe syringes programs, also known by the initials SSPs.

    In his veto message, Pillen said similar programs have proven to be less effective in reducing drug use or disease transmission than other approaches.

He also said they’ve led to increased drug deaths and increased health and safety risks from improper disposal of needles. 

      Pillen warned the program could increase property taxes to pay for more needle exchanges and could encourage minors to abuse dangerous drugs because the bill doesn’t include an age limit.

     State Senator Megan Hunt of Omaha introduced LB 307 and expected the veto, but tweeted Monday that lawmakers will override it. She officially filed for an override on Monday with a vote to be held within 5 days.

      An override requires at least 30 votes and 13 senators were either absent listed as “present – not voting” when the bill passed 30-7. At least one of the 13, Senator Anna Wishart of Lincoln, indicated she would have voted yes had she been there.

     Hunt said “Pillen cites a lot of misinformation in his reasoning for vetoing the bill, but my colleagues understand that LB 307 is tailored to the needs of Nebraskans through input of local experts, stakeholders and practitioners.”. 

      Hunt says the bill could reduce potential harm of those with addiction while honoring and protecting the state’s first responders and law enforcement. 

      It would allow local jurisdictions to authorize a community-based SSP, but not within 500 feet of certain public or private facilities such as child care centers, K-12 schools, or youth centers. 

     The website says studies show that participants in SSPs are 5 times more likely to enter drug treatment and three times more likely to stop injecting drugs.