Thursday, March 3, 2011

Week In Review

State Capitol Week in Review

LITTLE ROCK – The legislature is passing new laws to prevent new forms of drug abuse.
SB 423 prohibits the sale of a new synthetic drug that is marketed as bath salts. It is ingested or snorted by people who want to get high, and it often makes them erratic and suicidal.

SB 386 codifies a ruling last year by the state Board of Health to prohibit the sale of synthetic marijuana, which was sold in convenience and tobacco stores under names like K-2 and Mojo. SB 386 gives the Board flexibility to regulate or prohibit any new synthetic drugs that come on the market.

The Senate also passed SB 437 to further restrict sales of cold medicines that contain ingredients like ephedrine that are needed to manufacture methamphetamine.

It limits a consumer from buying more than three packages in one transaction and limits the amounts of pills in a package to 96. Under SB 437 cold medications with ephedrine can only be sold at licensed pharmacies by the pharmacist or a registered pharmacy technician.

It gives pharmacists discretion to refuse to sell medications to a customer, if the pharmacist believes there is not a valid medical reason for the customer to have it. It also requires the consumer to show a valid driver's license or identity card printed by the state Department of Finance and Administration, and the card must have a functioning magnetic strip or bar code. This provision is meant to prevent meth users from buying cold medication with a fake ID.

SB 345 sets up a prescription drug monitoring system, but only if funding becomes available. The intent is to allow law enforcement and public health officials access to information about the types and quantities of drugs being prescribed, to prevent the abuse of pain killers, sedatives and anti-depressants.

Of all the bills written to limit drug abuse, SB 345 generated the most controversy. Several senators expressed concern that it could allow invasions of personal privacy. The Senate passed it by a vote of 25-to-4.

SB 750, which changes sentencing laws for drug offenders, is a major piece of legislation, backed by the governor and a bipartisan group of legislative leadership from each chamber. It is an attempt to slow the consistently high rate of growth in the Arkansas inmate population, chiefly through alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders and increased use of parole and probation.

For methamphetamine offenses, SB 750 would impose lesser sentences for users than for manufacturers. It would expand drug courts. The 167-page bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Also of interest last week, the House passed SB 359 to require water systems serving more than 5,000 people to add fluoride to the water. The bill now goes to the governor. A private foundation has pledged to pay for start-up costs.

Also, the Senate passed HB 1315 to require health insurance policies to include up to $50,000 in therapy for children diagnosed with autism.

The House passed HB 1428 to require health insurance companies to offer policies geared only for children. Some insurers are reluctant to do so because federal law now prohibits them from excluding children with a pre-existing condition.


Dana said...

The people of the state need to realize this bill will be harmful to us all. The criminals will have more rights and the drug problem will be multiplied greatly. Criminals from other states will cross our state line due to the lax in the laws. Everyone needs to read this bill and contact your House and Senate members.

Dana said...

This bill does not need to pass! Criminals from neighboring states will be coming here and committing crimes due to the relaxation of the laws!