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State Lawmakers Again Consider Needle Exchange Programs

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A proposal to legalize syringe exchange programs in Iowa has bipartisan support, but it’s unlikely to pass for the third year in a row as it fails to get traction with Republican leadership.

Sarah Ziegenhorn (zig-in-horn) is the executive director of the Iowa Harm Reduction Coalition, which has been lobbying for syringe exchange legalization.

“That means for every year this bill does not pass, that is another several million dollars that our state Medicaid program will spend. That is another several dozen friends that we will bury and people that will bury their children to a preventable death.”  

Syringe exchanges give clean injection supplies to people who use drugs to prevent the spread of diseases and to get them into treatment. Researchers have found the state is paying millions to care for people with preventable medical conditions from using dirty needles. The Iowa Police Chief Association is the only group that’s openly lobbying against the bill.

South Dakota lawmakers say they are turning their focus to the state budget, though Republicans and Democrats have laid out different visions of how to use that money. Legislators have settled on revenue projections that are $19 million more than Gov. Kristi Noem's predictions in December. Democrats want the state to fund inflationary pay increases for teachers, state employees, and service care providers. They also want their Republican colleagues to pay $32 million from the state's education trust fund. Republicans, who dominate both legislative chambers, are expected to take a more conservative approach to ensure the state balances its budget.

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