There won’t be a great victory this year when it comes to a new meth-related law to enact tougher restrictions on cold medicine containing ephedrine and pseudoephedrine.
That was the consensus Friday morning from the three state lawmakers who represent Warren County.
State Reps. Judd Matheny and Paul Bailey, and state Sen. Janice Bowling spoke Friday in McMinnville during the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Legislative Breakfast.
“I was hopeful early in the legislative session that we could pass something meaningful that would help Warren County,” said Matheny. “But now I would say there’s less than a 25 percent chance of that happening.”
All three representatives indicated they would support the strictest sanctions possible to regulate cold medicine containing ephedrine products. However, this legislation has resistance.
Said Bowling, “I get emails all the time from people who say, ‘How dare you try to limit my freedom because some people are breaking the law.’”
Bowling said one of the great divides on Capitol Hill isn’t necessarily among Democrats and Republicans, but among rural and urban legislators. She said many of the problems that impact rural Tennessee, such as meth, are not affecting the big cities.
Matheny pointed out the pharmaceutical lobby is financially powerful and thus persuasive.
“There are 500 lobbyists in Nashville for 132 lawmakers,” said Matheny. “It’s nothing for the pharmaceuticals to hire 40 or 50 lobbyists.”
Education was another recurring theme with the Common Core curriculum a continuing source of contention. Some lawmakers are trying to delay by two years the tests that accompany Common Core, while others have suggested entirely repealing the national education standards in Tennessee.
“Some of us are leery about getting in bed with the federal government on another major education initiative,” said Matheny. “My No. 1 issue is we maintain our pride of authorship when it comes to education. Once the federal government gets involved, it usually starts calling the shots. That’s my main reason for wanting to slow all of this down.”
In talking about the drug issue, Bowling said she wants to make changes to what is called Tennessee’s Intractable Pain Law. This law, passed in 2001, gives patients the right to have medication prescribed whenever they claim they are in pain.
“In 2001, our legislators were sold a lie,” said Bowling referring to statements made by the manufacturer of oxycotin. The company claimed the drug was not addictive and did not have dangerous side effects.
“Less than one month after our law was passed, that company was charged with fraud and a $600 million settlement has since been reached on the issue, but the Intractable Pain Law is still on the books in Tennessee,” Bowling said.
Bowling said oxycotin and other opiates have since become addictive street drugs and they don’t need to be prescribed so frequently.
Bailey talked about his first legislative session in filling the remaining one-year term of Charles Curtiss.
“My orientation was here you go, here’s your office, see you on the floor,” said Bailey. He is running for a state Senate seat this year that will not represent Warren County.