By Ted Edmonds, 96th District Representative
Two bills approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, if passed into law, could alter the course of the dangerous and deadly scourge of drug abuse in our state by ultimately putting pill mills and the synthetic drug trade out of business.
Pill mills are another name for often-temporary pain clinics where physicians licensed in Kentucky, but working for those outside the state, prescribe large amounts of pain medication for quick cash. House Bill 4 would address the state’s pill mill problem by cracking down on how controlled substances are prescribed, dispensed, regulated and monitored. It would give the state’s Attorney General more power to investigate and prosecute those who are involved in the improper prescribing of controlled substances, while requiring that pain management facilities be owned by individuals who are licensed in Kentucky to prescribe controlled substances, among other provisions.
Growth in the trade of synthetic drugs—including synthetic marijuana and compounds called bath salts, both commonly sold at some gas marts—would be addressed by the second bill, HB 481. This legislation would ban entire classes of synthetic drugs to plug a loophole in current law that bans only certain compounds, allowing creative chemists to skirt the ban by merely changing a drug’s chemical makeup.
These are just a few of the dozens of provisions that make up each bill. But, taken together, the provisions will most assuredly crack down on pill mills and synthetics drugs—all the while saving the lives of our fellow Kentuckians.
Big news emerged from the Kentucky Supreme Court chamber on Feb. 24 when the state’s highest court ruled that HB 1—the state legislative redistricting plan approved by the General Assembly and signed into law by the Governor on Jan.20—was unconstitutional. That means lawmakers and their opponents will run in the current state legislative districts, approved in 2002, if and until the districts are redrawn.
We are also working on the state’s $19.5 billion two-year budget that must pass both chambers no later than April 15. House budget subcommittees have spent weeks gathering information from state agencies that will be used to craft the House budget plan. House leaders said early this week that they expect to have that plan to the Senate within a week or two.
As work on the budget continued to build on Monday, a bill that would encourage construction—and jobs—by helping fund energy upgrades in both public schools and small to medium manufacturing facilities cleared the House.
Theft of valuable metal items—including copper coils, cast iron manhole covers, even guard rails—has become a $1 billion business in the U.S. But HB 390 hopes to put a dent in that business by preventing secondary metal recyclers or scrap metal dealers from paying quick cash for copper wire, manhole covers and other metal items.
Under HB 390, purchase of these valuable metal goods would be restricted by requiring the recyclers or scrap dealers to receive proof of ownership of the items from the seller and pay for the items by check rather than with cash. The recyclers and dealers would also have to be registered with the state and undergo a police background check, among other requirements. Additionally, the bill would create new crimes for “unlawful acts relating to acquiring metals” for those who vandalize someone’s property in the course of metal theft. HB 390 now goes to the Senate for consideration.
The first Senate bill to pass both chambers this session will soon be sent to the governor’s desk after it passed the House unanimously this week. Senate Bill 43 would provide diplomas, instead of certificates of completion, to students with disabilities who finish a modified high school curriculum.
Much work remains in the final 21 days of the 2012 Regular Session, and you can stay informed of all the action by logging onto the Legislative Research Commission website at www.lrc.ky.gov or by calling the LRC toll-free Bill Status Line at 866-840-2835. For committee meeting schedules, please call the LRC toll-free Meeting Information Line at 800-633-9650. Or, to comment on a bill, please call the toll-free Legislative Message Line at 800-372-7181. As always, you can call me directly at 502-564-8100, x. 818.