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House Leaders Push For Short-Term Syringe Exchange Extension

Lauren Chapman
IPB News

Indiana House leaders say they’ll try to extend – by at least one year – local syringe exchange programs that are set to expire in 2021.

The programs are in danger of elimination after the Senate rejected an effort to extend them indefinitely.

Scott County, Indiana, was undergoing an HIV epidemic in 2015. Lawmakers responded by allowing the creation of a syringe exchange program, something eight other counties have since also implemented. And House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) says those programs have been a success.

“The CDC and others have cited that as one of the reasons we were able to stem the tide,” Bosma says.

But the original legislation also eliminated the programs in state law in 2019, later extending it to July 2021. And when asked this session to extend the programs permanently, 27 Senate Republicans said no.

Rep. Ed Clere (R-New Albany) led the charge to create syringe exchanges. He says now, he’s just hoping to keep them alive at least a little longer.

“I think that may be the best move at this point is to work on a compromise, to try to extend the sunset by one year rather than repealing it altogether,” Clere says.

Clere points out 82 percent of syringes given out by the programs were returned.

Contact Brandon at or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.