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AB-1344 State Department of Public Health: needle and syringe exchange services.(2021-2022)



Current Version: 04/08/21 - Amended Assembly         Compare Versions information image


AB1344:v97#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  April 08, 2021
Amended  IN  Assembly  March 16, 2021

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2021–2022 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill
No. 1344


Introduced by Assembly Member Arambula

February 19, 2021


An act to amend Section 121349 of the Health and Safety Code, relating to public health.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 1344, as amended, Arambula. State Department of Public Health: needle and syringe exchange services.
Existing law authorizes the State Department of Public Health to authorize certain entities to apply to the department to provide hypodermic needle and syringe exchange services in any location where the department determines that the conditions exist for the rapid spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), viral hepatitis, or any other potentially deadly or disabling infections that are spread through the sharing of used hypodermic needles and syringes, and requires the department to provide for a period of public comment during that application process, as specified. Existing law prescribes the standards that apply to an entity that has been authorized to provide these services.
Existing law defines a public nuisance as one that affects an entire community or neighborhood at the same time, or any considerable number of persons, although the extent of the annoyance or damage inflicted upon individuals may be unequal, and provides that a public nuisance may be remedied by an indictment or information, a civil action, or abatement. Existing law, the California Environmental Quality Act, requires a lead agency, as defined, to prepare, or cause to be prepared, and certify the completion of, an environmental impact report on a project that it proposes to carry out or approve that may have a significant effect on the environment, or to adopt a negative declaration if it finds that the project will not have that effect.
This bill would expressly exempt the above-described needle and syringe exchange services application submissions, authorizations, and operations from review under the California Environmental Quality Act. The bill would provide that the services provided by an entity authorized to provide those needle and syringe exchange services, and any foreseeable and reasonable consequences of providing those services, do not constitute a public nuisance under specified existing law. The bill would declare that those provisions are this provision is intended to be declaratory of existing law. The bill would state that the provisions relating to needle exchange programs are severable.
Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: YES   Local Program: NO  

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 Section 121349 of the Health and Safety Code is amended to read:

121349.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares that scientific data from needle exchange programs in the United States and in Europe have shown that the exchange of used hypodermic needles and syringes for clean hypodermic needles and syringes does not increase drug use in the population, can serve as an important bridge to treatment and recovery from drug abuse, and can curtail the spread of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection among the intravenous drug user population.
(b) In order to reduce the spread of HIV infection and bloodborne hepatitis among the intravenous drug user population within California, the Legislature hereby authorizes a clean needle and syringe exchange project pursuant to this chapter in any city, county, or city and county upon the action of a county board of supervisors and the local health officer or health commission of that county, or upon the action of the city council, the mayor, and the local health officer of a city with a health department, or upon the action of the city council and the mayor of a city without a health department.
(c) In order to reduce the spread of HIV infection, viral hepatitis, and other potentially deadly bloodborne infections, the State Department of Public Health may, notwithstanding any other law, authorize entities that provide services set forth in paragraph (1) of subdivision (d), and that have sufficient staff and capacity to provide the services described in Section 121349.1, as determined by the department, to apply for authorization under this chapter to provide hypodermic needle and syringe exchange services consistent with state standards in any location where the department determines that the conditions exist for the rapid spread of HIV, viral hepatitis, or any other potentially deadly or disabling infections that are spread through the sharing of used hypodermic needles and syringes. Authorization shall be made after consultation with the local health officer and local law enforcement leadership, and after a period of public comment, as described in subdivision (e). In making the determination, the department shall balance the concerns of law enforcement with the public health benefits. The authorization shall not be for more than two years. Before the end of the two-year period, the department may reauthorize the program in consultation with the local health officer and local law enforcement leadership.
(d) In order for an entity to be authorized to conduct a project pursuant to this chapter, its application to the department shall demonstrate that the entity complies with all of the following minimum standards:
(1) The entity provides, directly or through referral, all of the following services:
(A) Drug abuse treatment services.
(B) HIV or hepatitis screening.
(C) Hepatitis A and hepatitis B vaccination.
(D) Screening for sexually transmitted infections.
(E) Housing services for the homeless, for victims of domestic violence, or other similar housing services.
(F) Services related to provision of education and materials for the reduction of sexual risk behaviors, including, but not limited to, the distribution of condoms.
(2) The entity has the capacity to commence needle and syringe exchange services within three months of authorization.
(3) The entity has adequate funding to do all of the following at reasonably projected program participation levels:
(A) Provide needles and syringe exchange services for all of its participants.
(B) Provide HIV and viral hepatitis prevention education services for all of its participants.
(C) Provide for the safe recovery and disposal of used syringes and sharps waste from all of its participants.
(4) The entity has the capacity, and an established plan, to collect evaluative data in order to assess program impact, including, but not limited to, all of the following:
(A) The total number of persons served.
(B) The total number of syringes and needles distributed, recovered, and disposed of.
(C) The total numbers and types of referrals to drug treatment and other services.
(e) If the application is provisionally deemed appropriate by the department, the department shall, at least 45 days prior to approval of the application, provide for a period of public comment as follows:
(1) Post on the department’s internet website the name of the applicant, the nature of the services, and the location where the applying entity will provide the services.
(2) Send a written and an email notice to the local health officer of the affected jurisdiction.
(3) Send a written and an email notice to the chief of police, the sheriff, or both, as appropriate, of the jurisdictions in which the program will operate.
(f) The department shall establish and maintain on its internet website the address and contact information of programs providing hypodermic needle and syringe exchange services pursuant to this chapter.
(g) The authorization provided under this section is only for a clean needle and syringe exchange project as described in Section 121349.1.
(h) (1) Needle and syringe exchange services application submissions, authorizations, and operations performed pursuant to this chapter shall be exempt from review under the California Environmental Quality Act, Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources Code. The services set forth in subdivision (d) provided by an authorized entity, and any foreseeable and reasonable consequences of providing those services, including improperly discarded syringes or needles, shall not constitute a public nuisance, consistent with Section 3482 of the Civil Code, and shall not be considered a public nuisance for purposes of Section 3479, 3480, or 3481 of the Civil Code and Section 731 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(2)  This subdivision is intended to be declaratory of existing law.
(i) If the department, in its discretion, determines that a state authorized syringe exchange program continues to meet all standards set forth in subdivision (d) and that a public health need exists, it may administratively approve amendments to a program’s operations including, but not limited to, modifications to the time, location, and type of services provided, including the designation as a fixed site or a mobile site. The amendment approval is not subject to the noticing requirements of subdivision (e).
(j) The department shall have 30 business days to review and respond to the applicant’s request for amendment of the authorization. If the department does not respond in writing within 30 business days, the request shall be deemed denied.
(k) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect without the invalid provision or application.