JEFFERSON CITY — House lawmakers passed a bill Monday that would make syringe access programs part of Missouri’s future.

House Bill 1486 would allow health care entities registered with the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services to participate in syringe access programs without violating laws related to drug paraphernalia.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, when people use syringe services programs (SSPs), “they are more likely to enter treatment for substance abuse disorder.”

SSPs also reduce the transmission of diseases like HIV, which can be contracted through the use of non-sterilized needles.

The CDC also says SSPs do not cause more needles in public places and do not cause an increase in crime.

Bill sponsor Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Sikeston, said people don’t start using syringes until they are “already into their addiction.”

“So many that have substance abuse disorder that then go on to using a needle really don’t have anyone in their sphere of influence to ask about treatment,” Rehder said. “So when they get ready to get into treatment, they don’t really know how to do that. But these syringe access programs place a medical professional into that person’s life they trust to meet them where they’re at.”

The bill now heads to the Senate, where lawmakers will have the opportunity to debate and change the bill.

The bill passed by a vote of 133 to 22. Reps. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, Martha Stephens, D-Columbia, and Chuck Basye, R-Rocheport, voted in favor, while Rep. Sara Walsh, R-Ashland, voted in opposition.

  • Spring 2020 state government reporter. I am a senior studying data journalism. I can be reached by email at or on Twitter at @ashlyn_ohara.

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