Legislative update: Budget sticking points; pill bill and synthetic drug bills move

03/27/2012 04:29 PM

Bills aimed at cracking down on drugs in Kentucky took steps toward passing, while an abortion related measure resurfaced in the Senate on Tuesday. All the while, budget negotiations over a few last sticking points continued to plod along.

Early Tuesday afternoon, Senate’s Judiciary Committee approved the House version of a bill aimed at cracking down on illegal prescription pills. While the Senate made some changes, it kept the language that would move the Kentucky All-Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting system to the attorney general’s office from the state’s Health and Family Services Cabinet. That had been one of the key differences between the Senate and House versions of pill-related bills.

Other provisions in House Bill 4 would require more doctors to report when they prescribe pain killers so the system can better track them. And the legislation seeks to cut down on “pill mills” — fly-by-night pain clinics that have been sources of illegal prescription pills. It mandates that only physicians can operate those clinics.

The Senate Judiciary Committee also approved House Bill 481 that makes illegal whole classes of synthetic drugs sold under names like “dove,” “plant feed,” and “K2.” Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville, sponsored the bill and talked about it and other drug-related legislation on Pure Politics this week.

Budget negotiations still moving, but a few minor disagreements remain

Sen. Bob Leeper, the Paducah independent who chairs the Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee, said he’s getting a bit nervous about finishing the negotiations over the more than $19 billion two year budgets by a 3 a.m. Thursday deadline.

House and Senate negotiators are trying to be done by then so there’s enough time to print the compromise version of the budget bill and vote on it by Friday.

While the conference committees have worked out some disagreements between the Senate and House versions of the budget, Leeper said the remaining sticking points include language providing for scholarships using multi-county coal severance tax dollars and whether to put back some or all of the $11.4 million the Senate took out for indigent care through the Quality Charity and Care Trust in Louisville.

Informed consent measure placed on House bill

By a 32-4 vote, the Senate on Tuesday afternoon passed a bill regarding mental health records that includes a provision outlining the definition of a “private” in-person consultation between a doctor and a patient seeking an abortion.

The measure was included on House Bill 274, a bill authored by Rep. Bob Damron, D-Nicholasville and one of the House Democratic leaders. Four Democrats voted against the bill with the informed consent-related provision: Sens. Perry Clark, Tim Shaughnessy and Denise Harper Angel of Louisville and Kathy Stein of Lexington.

The informed consent provision, modeled after Senate Bill 102, which the Senate approved 32-5 on Feb. 8 and has been pending in the House Health and Welfare Committee.

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