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Few signs of compromise between anti-meth bills put forth by Haslam, Shipley

March 12th, 2014 9:15 pm by Hank Hayes

Few signs of compromise between anti-meth bills put forth by Haslam, Shipley

Rep. Tony Shipley, left, and Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam are shown in this composite photo.

Haslam's anti-meth bill advancing in Senate

Anti-methamphetamine bills advocated by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and state Rep. Tony Shipley remained in competition with each other on Wednesday.

The two pieces of legislation have differing limits on meth precursor sales involving cold and allergy medications, but neither calls for those medications to be available only by prescription.

Haslam's anti-meth legislation, which limits the amount of pseudoephedrine sales from 9 grams to 4.8 grams in a 30-day period, has advanced out of a Senate Judiciary Committee but not out of a House Criminal Justice Subcommittee chaired by Shipley.

Haslam's bill has been deferred in Shipley's subcommittee until its last calendar.

Shipley's bill, which would limit pseudoephedrine sales to 5.7 grams in a 30-day period, has failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee, but it advanced out of a House Criminal Justice Committee on Wednesday.

Shipley, R-Kingsport, stressed that moving his bill forward might provide "some flexibility" for all stakeholders to come up with a final anti-meth measure.

After his bill passed in his subcommittee last week, Shipley's office produced a release calling out the news media for creating "false impressions" about the difference between the two bills and claimed the subcommittee's actions were done in total support of Haslam's anti-meth initiative.

Haslam's administration, in support of its anti-meth bill, noted that Tennessee spends approximately $2 million annually on meth lab clean-up, and 1,691 labs were seized in the state in 2013.

"We have a serious problem with meth production in Tennessee," Haslam spokesman Dave Smith said in an email. "The governor's approach addresses the problem head on while balancing the impact on lawful consumers of pseudoephedrine. He agrees with law enforcement that the limits in (Shipley's) bill that passed out of subcommittee ... aren't low enough to truly fight meth production in our state and that the limits set in his proposal are much more likely to make a big difference in this effort."

Law enforcement leaders have expressed support to make pseudoephedrine products available only by prescription, but they also back Haslam's bill.

"The governor has put public safety above politics," said Terry Ashe, executive director of the Tennessee Sheriff's Association. "There are a number of other bills that are still alive, as is the governor's, that have yet to have the chance to be fully vetted, that can make a difference for the children of our state."

House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, a Chattanooga Republican who is sponsoring Haslam's bill, was not available for comment despite emails sent to and phone calls made to his legislative and Chattanooga offices.

For more go to Haslam's bill is HB1574. Shipley's bill is HB331.

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