Last Tuesday the so-called psuedoephedrine bill passed in the Missouri House of Representatives. The bill would have been up for vote in the Senate, but it never made it out of committee before the end of the legislative session on Friday, May 13th.
Sponored by local Missouri House Representative Dave Schatz of the 111th District, the bill would have eliminated the sale of tablet forms of psuedoephedrine, unless prescribed by a doctor.
Legislature Not Likely To Pass Anti-Meth Bill
Some Senators Vow to Filibuster
May 9, 2011
Although the Missouri House initially endorsed legislation requiring a prescription to procure some forms of pseudoephedrine, even some supporters in the Franklin County legislative delegation say getting it passed this session is a long shot.
Rep. Dave Schatz's legislation was debated on Monday and part of Tuesday. On Monday, lawmakers successfully attached amendments on the bill limiting the prescription requirement to dry tablets and placed a two-year time limit as a way of monitoring the law's effectiveness.
The bill initially passed on Tuesday by a vote of 80-71. The measure needs another vote in order to go to the Senate, which it did not receive before the House adjourned for the week.
The House ended up passing the bill on Monday by a vote of 86-64. It now goes to the Missouri Senate.
Schatz said the House may go back to the bill next week. He said his goal was to pass the bill in the House this year, though he conceded getting to Gov. Jay Nixon's desk before the end of session next week could be difficult.
"It's a long shot for that to happen," Schatz said when asked if the bill would pass before the end of the session. "But there's still days left in the session and anything's possible."
Rep. Scott Dieckhaus - a Washington Republican who supported Schatz's legislation - said the prescription requirement is unlikely to pass before May 13. Even if the bill gets through the House, it would still need to get passed in the Senate, where some lawmakers there - such as Sen. Rob Schaaf, R-St. Joseph - have promised a filibuster.
"I don't think it has much of a chance in the Senate now," Dieckhaus said. "It's got to make its way through the process there and I think we're running out of time for that."
Rep. Dave Hinson, R-St. Clair, echoed Dieckhaus about the bill's overall chances, saying it probably doesn't have enough time to get through the process. But both Hinson and Dieckhaus said the bill did pass some important tests, such as getting a significant amount of lawmakers to go on record in favor of the measure.
"What we were looking for - the folks who support the legislation - was to make significant progress, get some people on the record in support of this and basically show that the Legislature is trending with the rest of the state," Dieckhaus said, adding that a number of municipalities have adopted a prescription requirement. "So I think it has a pretty bright future ahead, maybe in the course of the next session or two."
The bill is backed by many law enforcement officials across the state, including Detective Sgt. Jason Grellner of the Franklin County Sheriff's Department who has spearheaded an effort that has led to more than 30 municipalities and counties adopting local prescription laws. It also has the backing of Gov. Jay Nixon and Attorney General Chris Koster.
But the legislation sparked opposition from members of both parties.
Some lawmakers argued the requirements would provide an expensive inconvenience to individuals who need cold remedies. Rep. Nick Marshall, R-Platte County, for instance, said it could prompt people to go to surrounding states without a prescription requirement to procure drugs containing pseudoephedrine.
Marshall also said the bill would provide an undue burden on personal freedom.
"I know that meth is a scourge in this state," Marshall said. "But we do have the duty to balance the people's freedom and their safety."
The bill was also opposed by Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Pacific. In a statement posted on his Web site, Curtman said that, among other things, he does not believe "government should involve itself in the habits of its citizens.
"This bill would punish the law-abiding citizens who just want to buy cold and flu medicine for themselves and their families all for the crimes of the few and that is bad government policy," Curtman said in his statement. "I heard one person say that if taking the freedom away from the people to freely buy medicine would possibly curb the meth production in Missouri, then we should gladly tolerate the inconvenience. When I heard this, I thought of the wise words of Benjamin Franklin when he said: ‘People willing to trade their freedom for security deserve neither and will lose both.'
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