Two bills approved by the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, if passed into law, could stop those dangerous and deadly schemes 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 what are often out-of-state interests, prescribe large amounts of pain medication for quick cash with few or no questions asked. 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 anyone 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 sale and use of synthetic drugs-including synthetic marijuana and compounds labeled as bath salts, both commonly sold at some convenience stores-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 specific compounds, allowing creative chemists to legalistically skirt the ban by merely changing a drug’s chemical makeup. It would also extend state forfeiture-of-property laws to those who traffic in synthetic drugs, create a maximum fine of twice the profit from trafficked products for retailers who sell the drugs, and define new misdemeanor and felony crimes and penalties for selling the drugs.
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- protecting the health and very lives of our fellow Kentuckians.
We are also working on the $19.5 billion two-year state budget that must pass both chambers no later than our constitutionally mandated adjournment date of 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 next week.
As work on the budget continued 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.
HB 255, passed 96-1, would create jobs and improve energy efficiency by giving eligible schools and manufacturers access to money set aside by the 2008 General Assembly for energy upgrades. Loans for energy-smart school projects would come from a $50-million pool, while the manufacturers would draw their funds from a $30-million pool. All funds would fall under the Kentucky Green Schools Initiative announced in January. HB 255 now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Theft of valuable metal items including copper coils, cast iron manhole covers, even guard rails, has become a $1 billion underground business in the U.S. But HB 390, which passed the House by a vote of 99-0 on Tuesday, hopes to put a dent in that business by preventing secondary metal recyclers and scrap metal dealers from paying quick cash for these and other valuable metal pieces.
Under HB 390, purchase of these valuable metal items would be restricted by requiring recyclers and scrap dealers to ask for proof of ownership from sellers and requiring sellers be paid by check rather than cash. 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.
Also passed by the House this week is legislation that would lead to new career-ready courses for high school students who want to bypass college for the workforce. HB 75, which passed by a vote of 95-0 and now goes to the Senate, would lead to the creation of new career and technical education pathways-including industry certification of students while in high school.
Storm damage reported across the state on Wednesday will have insurance adjusters out in force in coming days, along with what could be some fly-by-night repair contractors. HB 421, dubbed the “Stormchasers Bill” and approved by the House Banking and Insurance Committee on the same morning as the mid-week storms, hopes to curb unscrupulous roofers by giving homeowners a five-day grace period to pay or cancel a signed roofing contract after they are notified by their insurer that the roofing work is not a covered loss under their policy, among other provisions. HB 421 now goes to the full House for consideration.
The first Senate bill to pass both chambers this session will shortly 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 weeks 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