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Frankfort Local News

House Passes Special Session Pill Bill, Road Plan Funding

The Kentucky House of Representatives has passed both bills on its agenda for this year’s special session.

House lawmakers approved both the road plan funding bill and a measure to crack down on prescription pill abuse today by wide margins.

The more contentious of the two bills was the prescription pill legislation. The House and Senate reached a compromise at the end of the regular session, but the House chose to introduce the original and tougher form for the special session.

The bill is opposed by the Kentucky Medical Association, which says the restrictions are too tough. But House Speaker Greg Stumbo says the KMA doesn’t speak for all doctors on this issue.

“We have the vast majority of doctors and nurses and dentists and practitioners across the state who want to see this type of legislation pass because they want to be part of the solution,” Stumbo says.

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Frankfort Local News

Prescription Pill Bill Will Be Voted on After Veto Recess

Confusion and last-minute lobbying have potentially derailed what some Kentucky lawmakers considered the hallmark of the current legislative session.

House Bill 4 is better known as the prescription pill bill. It’s centerpiece is the transfer of the KASPER drug tracking system to the attorney general’s office.

Late last week, it appeared lawmakers had struck a last-minute deal to pass the bill before this week’s recess. But confusion about which amended version of HB4 was up for a vote mired them in procedural minutiae.

Eventually, legislators decided to give up on the compromise until they come back to Frankfort for their last legislative day on April 12.

“Some people wanted to read through it. And after a week of 3 o clock mornings and things of that nature and the text of the respective things that have gone through today, people were actually tired and desirous of getting back home on the weekend and to their families and children and friends,” says Senator Robert Stivers.

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Frankfort Local News

PSE, Prescription Drug Bills Head to Original Chambers for Final Passage

State lawmakers have approved two major pieces of legislation dealing with drug abuse in Kentucky.

House Bill 4 tightens regulations on prescription pills. It passed the full Senate Wednesday afternoon. Around the same time, the House passed Senate Bill 3, which caps the amount of pseudoephedrine Kentuckians can buy every month without a prescription. Since both bills were amended, they will now return to their original chambers, where lawmakers must decide whether to agree with the changes or send them to conference committees for compromises.

The bills address growing problems that stem from the misuse of legal drugs.

HB4 is aimed largely at so-called pill mills—pain clinics that illegally deal prescriptions to Kentuckians and out-of-state visitors.

SB3 fights meth by regulating its main ingredient—pseudoephedrine, or PSE. PSE is a common ingredient in cold medicine, and lawmakers have long fought over how tightly legal decongestants must be controlled in order to stop meth production.

“Let’s quit arguing this,” said Representative Danny Ford in the House . “We shouldn’t be all session in getting this out. This should be a no-brainer, we need to get this done.”

But others argued the bill was unfair to law-abiding citizens.

“And at some point we’re going to make it a prescription medication again and that’s the concern,” said Representative Stan Lee. “Once you start giving up a little bit of your freedom it’s a hard thing to stop.”

A bill dealing with synthetic drugs passed the Senate earlier this week.

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Frankfort Local News

Senate Committee Passes Prescription Pill Bill

A Kentucky Senate committee has approved a bill that aims to toughen laws against prescription pill abuse.

House Bill 4 is a collaborative effort between House Speaker Greg Stumbo, Attorney General Jack Conway and Governor Steve Beshear.

The bill puts the KASPER prescription tracking system under Conway’s command and requires clinics that distribute pain medications to be owned by medical professionals. The Senate Judiciary committee made minor changes to the bill before passing it out of committee. And the bill will likely be changed further before passing the full Senate.

“You know I think this process is a long way, if it passes out of committee, but I think it’s a long way from ending still,” says Judiciary Chairman Tom Jensen.

Stumbo agrees the proposal is bound for a conference committee. He says a final bill could see a vote in the last days of the legislative session.

The General Assembly is expected to adjourn Friday for a veto period and return April 12 to override any vetoes.

If the bill passes late in the session, lawmakers won’t be able to override a veto, should the governor reject the measure.

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Frankfort Local News

House Passes Prescription Pill Bill, Hopes to Hatch a Compromise With Senate Version

A bill aimed at strengthening  prescription pill tracking  to crack down on abuse has cleared the Kentucky House.

The measure  is one of the chief priorities of House Speaker Greg Stumbo, whose work on the issue dates back to his time as attorney general.

House Bill 4 would move the KASPER pill tracking system to the attorney general’s office permanently, which is the key part of what Stumbo calls landmark legislation.

“KASPER is a law enforcement tool and by moving the oversight to the Attorney General’s office I think what will occur is that there will be a more rapid response by all of the entities involved in not only in the regulation but the investigation of these types of matters,” Stumbo said.

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Local News Noise & Notes

White House Drug Czar Puts Emphasis on Fighting Painkillers

The fight against prescription drug abuse has been a contentious topic in Kentucky, but it’s gaining attention from federal officials who unveiled a new plan to crackdown on so-called “pill mill” pipelines.

From the AP:

The federal government on Tuesday announced its first-ever comprehensive strategy to combat the abuse of oxycodone and other opioids, aiming to cut misuse by 15 percent in five years. That goal may sound modest, but it would represent a dramatic turnaround: Emergency room visits from prescription drug overdoses doubled from 2004 to 2009, when they topped 1.2 million, according to federal health officials.

(SNIP)

The new approach will depend on education, stepped-up law enforcement and pill-tracking databases, with particular emphasis on Florida, where 85 percent of all oxycodone pills in the nation are prescribed. Many of those end up along the East Coast and in Appalachia, where people take buses to Florida just to get pills in phenomenon dubbed the “OxyContin Express.”

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Local News Politics

Beshear and Florida Governor to Discuss Prescription Abuse Before Congress

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Florida Governor Rick Scott disagree over how best to fight prescription drug abuse, and on Thursday morning, both men will address the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the issue.

Beshear and various state and federal officials have encouraged Scott to rethink his plans to cut an as-yet-unimplemented prescription pill tracking system. Many of the pills abused in eastern Kentucky are purchased in Florida and travel along the so-called pill pipeline to the commonwealth. Scott says he’d like to scrap the tracking system because of privacy concerns. He favors creating a prescription pill task force to tackle the problem.

The meeting begins at 8 am and will be televised on C-SPAN.

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Local News Politics

Drug Czar Uses Kentucky Experience to Fight Prescription Abuse

The White House Drug Czar is using information gathered during a recent visit to Kentucky in his plan to fight prescription pill abuse.

Gil Kerlikowske visited the commonwealth last month and toured communities hit by prescription abuse. He spoke Thursday with the newly-formed congressional caucus on prescription pill abuse, which is co-chaired by Representative Hal Rogers of Kentucky.

Kerlikowske says a combination of education and enforcement should be used to fight prescription abuse.

While in Kentucky, Kerlikowske echoed Rogers’s earlier call for the Governor of Florida to allow that state’s prescription pill tracking system to be implemented. It’s believed many of the prescriptions abused in Kentucky come from Florida, and the governor has proposed cutting the program to save money and protect Floridians’ privacy.