Legislative update: Senate passes pill bill, House approves pseudoephedrine bill

03/28/2012 04:07 PM

Two major drug-related bills passed on each side of the state Capitol Wednesday afternoon with the Senate signing off on a measure to cut down on illegal pills and the House approving legislation to limit purchases of medicine containing pseudoephedrine.

Both bills will pass each other in the hallway as they go back to their original chambers. But it’s likely that both measures will end up in conference committee for House and Senate negotiators to work out differences between their respective versions.

The pseudoephedrine bill is aimed at making it more difficult for makers of methamphetamine to obtain pseudoephedrine, which is a key ingredient.

The legislation limits the amount of cold and allergy medicines that Kentuckians can get a month without a prescription to 7.5 grams, or about two boxes. And the annual cap is about 24 grams. Anyone who needs more than that must get a prescription.

Rep. Danny Ford, the Republican whip who is retiring at the end of this year, made a plea to his colleagues to vote for the bill saying he made a mistake by voting against a bill in the past because he was concerned it violated personal freedoms.

Rep. Ben Waide, a Madisonville Republican, said the legislation penalizes law abiding citizens. “Do we really want to criminalize soccer moms for taking cold medicine?” he asked.

The House approved it by a 60-36 vote Wednesday afternoon. Ten Democrats — Reps. Larry Clark, Bob Damron, Derrick Graham, Dennis Horlander, Dennis Keene, Jimmie Lee, Charlie Miller, Fred Nesler, Rick Rand and Arnold Simpson — voted against it. And 26 Republicans opposed it: Reps. Julie Adams, Kevin Bratcher, Bam Carney, Ron Crimm, Jim DeCesare, Bob DeWeese, Myron Dossett, C.B. Embry, Bill Farmer, Joe Fischer, David Floyd, Mike Harmon, Tom Kerr, Kim King, Adam Koenig, Stan Lee, Donna Mayfield, Michael Meredith, Tim Moore, David Osborne, Ryan Quarles, Steve Rudy, Sal Santoro, Ben Waide and Addia Wuchner.

Senate passes pill bill 26-9

Across the hall, the Senate approved a bill aimed at better regulating prescription pills.

The measure mandates that only doctors can operate pain management clinics, some of which have become “pill mills” and sources of pain medicines on the black market.

It also moves the prescription pill monitoring system known as KASPER to the attorney general’s office from the Health and Family Services Cabinet.

But even a supporter of the bill, Democratic Sen. Ray Jones of Pikeville, said he was disappointed in some of the revisions, including what he called a Kentucky Medical Association-driven change to not require that every pain medicine prescribed needs to be reported to KASPER.

Voting against the bill were: Republican Sens. Joe Bowen, Julie Denton, Carroll Gibson, Jimmy Higdon, John Schickel, Katie Stine, Jack Westwood, Damon Thayer and Mike Wilson.

Republican Sen. Tom Jensen, R-London told his colleagues that a crucial component of the bill was moving the KASPER system so that investigators from the attorney general’s office will now be overseeing it.

Jensen said because of the changes, the pill bill will need a conference committee for House and Senate negotiators to sort out differences between the two chambers’ versions of House Bill 4.

- With reporting from Nick Storm and Don Weber from Frankfort


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