SENATE BUDGET AND APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
SENATE, No. 1266
with committee amendments
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
DATED: JUNE 23, 2016
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee reports favorably Senate Bill No. 1266 (1R), with committee amendments.
As amended, this bill makes permanent the “Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act,” which established a demonstration program that authorized up to six municipalities in the State to operate needle exchange programs. (Atlantic City, Camden, Jersey City, Newark, and Paterson currently operate such programs.) Under the bill, any municipality in the State is authorized to operate a needle exchange program.
The bill specifies that any rules or regulations, which are adopted by the Commissioner of Health to implement the bill’s provisions, are to be consistent with the existing regulations governing the demonstration program.
The bill also specifies that the commissioner will be the party who is required to annually prepare a detailed analysis of the various needle exchange programs undertaken in the State, and to annually report the results of such analysis to the Governor, the Governor’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS and Related Blood-Borne Pathogens, and the Legislature. The commissioner will no longer be required to contract with an independent entity to conduct such analysis and reporting, as is provided by existing law.
The amendments eliminate the bill’s $95,000 General Fund appropriation to the Department of Health, and revise the title of the bill to reflect the change.
The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) finds that the bill will not require any additional costs to be borne by the State beyond what is required under current law. According to the final report on the “Bloodborne Disease Harm Reduction Act” issued by the Department of Health in October 2012, the State does not directly fund sterile syringe access programs. The Department of Human Services financially supports the Medication Assisted Treatment Initiative, which receives patient referrals from syringe access programs and pays costs associated with the medical and psychosocial management and treatment of addiction, at a cost to the State of approximately $7.2 million annually. Although the Medication Assisted Treatment Initiative is closely associated with the syringe access programs, it is not specifically required by the existing law and will not be required to expand under this bill.
Under the bill, municipalities beyond those currently participating could choose, but will not be required to, implement sterile syringe exchange programs. The bill does not speak to how those programs may be funded. Municipalities may choose to pay with taxpayer funds, or may be able to obtain federal or private foundation grants to offset all or part of the costs of their programs.