Politics & Government

Opponents sound off on meth bills while Rogers plans to testify for them

FRANKFORT — Proposals in this year's legislative session to require a prescription for cold medicines containing an ingredient commonly used in meth labs would hurt consumers, businesses, law enforcement officials and the state's treasury, opponents of the measures said Thursday.

But U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Somerset, said the legislation is needed to curb the increasing number of meth labs in Kentucky. The state recorded more than 1,000 meth lab incidents last year.

Rogers is to testify before the state Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 3 and hold a rally in the Capitol Rotunda in support of the legislation.

Several opponents of House Bill 15 and Senate Bill 45 voiced their message Thursday in a nearly hour-long telephone news conference, arranged by Consumer Healthcare Products Association, a trade group that represents manufacturers of over-the-counter products.

Bryan Sunderland, vice president of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, the state's largest business association with more than 2,700 members, contended the legislation would increase the cost of health care for employers, employees and state government and lower the state's revenue since over-the counter medication is taxed but prescription medicine is not.

Several law-enforcement officials on the conference call said the current system of electronically tracking purchases of cold medicine is key in the fight against the escalation in meth labs. But the system will no longer be available if lawmakers approve legislation that requires a prescription.

Former Lt. Gov. and U.S. Attorney Steve Pence of Louisville said the legislation would move "a law enforcement issue into the medical profession, where it can least be handled."

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