Key anti-methamphetamine bill dies in the Nevada Assembly
Associated Press Writer
Appeals to consider Nevada’s overburdened prisons, public safety and drug treatment systems and the torment for families of methamphetamine addicts weren’t enough to persuade most Assembly Republicans to vote Tuesday for a key anti-meth bill.
Assemblyman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, pleaded with fellow lawmakers before the vote on AB150 to stop at nothing to put an end to the meth crisis.
“We, as a community, must end this dread disease. We must do everything we can to take this commodity off this street. … We are going to make a difference in our state, for our kids and their tomorrow, for the young people who are now addicted to it, who may see light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s not the train coming at them to run them down,” Anderson said.
AB150, which fell one vote short of a required two-thirds majority, was backed by law enforcement agencies across the state, who sought to monitor inventories of cold medicines being sold by stores. The medicines contain pseudoephedrine, which gives meth its potency.
A two-thirds majority is needed for any fee increase, and the bill included a $200 fee for convenience stores to register to sell the drugs. Assemblyman John Carpenter, R-Elko, owns a convenience store and did not vote, and the other votes fell along party lines.
Assembly Minority Leader Garn Mabey, R-Las Vegas, opposed the bill’s requirement for stores that sell the medicines to make quarterly inventory reports and said he did not think that requirement would work.
Assembly Democrats, knowing they faced opposition going into the vote, passionately urged lawmakers to go above and beyond federal legislation that went into effect last fall, noting Nevada is No. 1 in the nation in several categories of meth addiction. They said the inventory reporting would give law enforcement the tools needed to fight the meth crisis.
The bill originally required a doctor’s prescription for all medicines containing meth ingredients, but heavy lobbying by retailers, pharmaceutical companies and cold medicine users resulted in early amendments that watered it down. Retailers were still not satisfied, and lobbied lawmakers to oppose the reporting requirements.
Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said the burden on stores is small compared to the damage caused by meth addicts.
“These are people who have been caught doing crimes to get money for their meth, these are people who have been neglecting their children because the meth has become more important,” Horne said.
Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, also said the burden on stores is small, adding they didn’t have to sell such drugs if they don’t want to comply with reporting requirements.
“The less we have these products available to the public, the fewer meth labs we are going to have, the fewer people are going to get addicted, the fewer people are going to be clogging our prison system due to this horrible drug,” Leslie said.
The Assembly also passed SB112, which mirrors a federal anti-meth law that went into effect last fall and restricts access to medicines that can be used to make meth. ‘
SB112 restricts the amount of such drugs that a person can buy in one month, places them out of reach and requires customers to sign a log book, while still leaving the drugs classified for over-the-counter purchases.
Assemblyman Bob Beers, R-Henderson, said the measure would enhance the ability of law enforcement in rural areas to crack down on home meth labs. An identical bill, AB148, awaits approval by the Senate.
The Assembly also approved SB10, which criminalizes videotaping “private areas” of people under circumstances in which they have “a reasonable expectation of privacy.” The “video voyeur” measure was amended in the Assembly, and must return to the Senate for a review of the amendment.
Also passed was SB66, which doubles the amount local governments and the state has to pay if someone successfully sues them. The bill increases a cap on such awards from $50,000 to $100,000. The cap has not been raised since 1979.