After debate about meth ruining lives, the state creating hoops for allergy sufferers and the integrity of lawmakers’ loyalty oaths, the House overwhelmingly approved a bill limiting how much of certain cold medicine people can buy.
Although the measure passed 80-17 in the House, it was not until lawmakers waded through thick debate indicating the chamber is unwilling to accept stricter limits on how much allergy medicine containing pseudoephedrine people can buy without a prescription.
The House prefers limits of two 2.88g boxes of medicine like Sudafed and Claritin-D per month and no more than a five-month supply per year without a prescription. The products include pseudophedrine, a drug used to produce meth.
“If someone tries to push that number too much, they risk losing everything we’ve gained,” said Rep. Tony Shipley, who has led the opposition in the House against the governor’s preferred limits which he says are too restrictive for allergy sufferers.
The administration and Senate would prefer tighter restrictions, namely setting the limit at two 2.4g boxes per month and a two and one-half months worth before needing a prescription.
So would Rep. David Hawk, who is running the bill. He had closely aligned to the administration's restrictions before agreeing to the House’s current limits in order to advance the bill in committee. He refused to commit to members on the floor Wednesday that he would stick to his chamber’s limits if the House and Senate are forced to work out their differences in a compromise committee.
“I think both the House and Senate would need to show a little flexibility,” said Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons, who favors stricter limits but added, “Our goal is to get the very best bill that both the Senate and the House will agree upon.”
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris is carrying the bill in the Senate. He told the Nashville Post that gravitating towards the House version will “be an easier sell” if the governor’s office is willing to go with the House version, although he earlier said the debate could turn into an all-or-nothing proposition. Influential Finance Committee Chairman Randy McNally said he prefers the governor’s stricter limits but would reserve judgement until the bill makes it into the Senate chamber. The bill has yet to be scheduled for a Senate floor vote.
While Norris said the bill is needed for a planned and orderly transition, Kyle argued that it is a state intrusion into a local issue with major ramifications on taxes and the economic development of the city and county. And Marrero charged that it's a "thinly veiled attempt to set up special school districts" and that the appointed commission will be unbalanced in favor of the suburbs.
New state legislation filed Tuesday by Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris of Collierville would require a countywide referendum for merging Memphis and Shelby County Schools and allow for a new municipal school district in the county.A separate measure filed by Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, would place Memphis schools into a special "achievement school district" if a March 8 referendum to transfer authority over MCS to SCS is approved. Under Kelsey's measure, the new district's three-member board would be appointed by state officials and the district's teachers would lose their right to collective bargaining at the end of their current contract with MCS. The latter provision is a new concept in the merger debate that appears designed to punish city teachers or stoke their opposition to a referendum.
The National Federation of Independent Business, Tennessee’s leading small-business association, has recognized state Sen. Mark Norris, R-Collierville, with a Guardian of Small Business award. Norris earned a 100 percent NFIB/Tennessee voting record on issues affecting the state’s entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses. He helped lead the fight against a state income tax and championed the cause for workers’ compensation reform that resulted in reduced premiums and dramatic cost savings for Tennessee businesses.