This week in the Missouri Senate, we debated Senate Bill 710. The legislation, which I’m sponsoring, would create a prescription drug monitoring program in Missouri. As I’ve spoken about in the past, prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest growing types of drug abuse in the country. From 2005 to 2009, Missouri saw hundreds of deaths relating to pharmaceutical abuse. Even more troubling, 6.7 percent of Missouri students grades six through 12 admitted to using prescription drugs not prescribed to them. These drugs are being sold on our streets, they wind up in our schools. Prescription drug abuse kills people, destroys families and tears apart our communities.
During the debate, certain members of the Senate claimed a prescription drug monitoring program would infringe on an individual’s liberty. I find this argument ridiculous and disingenuous. There have been zero cases of privacy invasion in the states that have an operational drug monitoring program.
We’re not talking about implementing a controversial monitoring system here, either. Forty-eight other states already have a similar system in place. And, we would only be monitoring Schedule II through IV controlled substances. If a patient gets a prescription to OxyContin, a powerful narcotic that is regularly compared to heroin in its strength and addictiveness, we need to ensure the drug is being used as it’s prescribed and that the patient is not “doctor shopping” and simply trying to get a fix.
Every doctor I have talked to is in support of this legislation. Even pharmaceutical companies that make money on every pill sold, regardless of how it’s used, testified in support of a drug monitoring program. I will continue to fight to get this legislation passed because, simply put, it is the right thing to do.
Next week the Senate will stand adjourned for our spring recess, which also marks the half-way point of the session. We have a lot of issues ahead of us when we come back, many of them high-profile and controversial.
We’ve already begun debating Senate Bill 439, which would modify prevailing wage laws in Missouri. Supporters of this bill claim it would make our prevailing wage system more accurate in determining the minimum wage to be paid to a contractor for a specific occupation on a government project. I do believe we need to address this problem, but not without proper negotiation from both sides. There has been a movement to push this bill through the Senate without even addressing the opposition’s concerns. That’s the wrong way to go about this, and I hope to see more compromise when we take up this bill again after recess.
We will also be debating our comprehensive education bill when we return, which would, among other things, address a court ruling that allows students in unaccredited school districts to transfer to any accredited school district in an adjoining district. The budget will also be a priority when we come back. The supplemental budget bills have been delayed this year. Some members of the Appropriations Committee have stalled these bills advance in the Legislature. I worry this is going to cause a train wreck later in the session as we start looking at changes to this year’s budget.
Senate Bill 689 is scheduled to be taken up by the full Senate after spring recess. The legislation, which I’m sponsoring, would tighten the law over people who use undue influence to financially exploit the elderly and disabled. This is an important bill that will increase protections for elderly and disabled people across the state.