The Missouri House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would require the creation of a statewide prescription drug monitoring program. Representatives voted 95-56 in favor of the legislation. The GOP House Speaker and the House Democratic Leader both voted in favor of the bill.

Representative Holly Rehder, R, Sikeston (photo courtesy; Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications)

Missouri is the only state in the nation without a statewide system designed to help find cases of misuse and abuse. Bill sponsor Holly Rehder, a Republican from southeast Missouri’s Scott City, says the state needs to battle drug addiction problems on the front end.

“We cannot continue band-aiding this problem,” says Rehder. “All other states do not have it wrong and somehow Missouri’s the one state that has this figured out. Seriously?”

She got emotional when talking about her family’s addiction problems.

“As a grandmother who got my grandbaby out of a meth lab, who was living in one, there’s no way that I would have the passion for this bill if I did not know from researching the data that this gets to the underlying problem. A person doesn’t go to illicit drugs immediately.”

Representative Justin Hill, a fellow Republican and former police officer from the St. Louis suburb of Lake St. Louis, says the proposal will not stop illegal drug problems.

“I want to get somewhere where we can save lives,” says Hill. “But if we implement this bill as drafted, we are condemning people to death because fentanyl and heroin are right here and waiting.”

The legislation, House Bill 1693, requires one more favorable vote to move on to the Missouri Senate.

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