Legislation that would create a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) is now heading to a Missouri House-Senate conference committee in Jefferson City, for negotiations.
Missouri is the only state in the nation without a PDMP, which is an electronic database that collects data on controlled substance prescriptions within a state.
While both chambers have approved PDMP this session, they’ve approved different versions. The Senate version contains a provision about fentanyl that isn’t in the House bill.
Monday’s House floor debate was emotional, as the bill sponsor delivered a passionate speech on why she believes PDMP is needed. State Rep. Holly Rehder, R-Scott City, urged colleagues to not judge people “unless you’ve walked a mile in their moccasins.”
“Many demeaning things have been said on this (House) floor over the years about those who are addicted,” Rehder says. “Things like, an addict will always get their fix, regardless of what we try to do to help.”
Rehder revealed to colleagues on Monday that her late mother and late sister were both sexually assaulted multiple times, and turned to prescription drugs for their pain.
She also says that many homeless veterans are addicted to some drugs, for their pain.
Not everyone in the House supported Rehder’s call to send the bill to a conference committee for negotiations.
State Rep. Justin Hill, R-Lake St. Louis, has privacy and other concerns about the bill. Hill, who’s been a vocal PDMP opponent, says House Republicans are divided 50-50 on the issue.
The Missouri House approved the bill in February by a bipartisan 95-56 vote, with every House Democrat voting for it. All 56 “no” votes came from Rehder’s fellow Republicans.
Hill opposes sending it to conference.
“And now we (the full House) are going to give our power to a select few to decide if this bill is going to be the bill that we pass this year,” says Hill.
State Rep. Tony Lovasco, R-O’Fallon, also urged against sending the bill to conference. He says 87 percent of Missouri is already covered by PDMP.
“Let’s have this discussion next year,” Lovasco says.
In the end, the House voted 110-33 on Monday to send Rehder’s bill to conference.
Time is the biggest factor now, and could be the biggest obstacle to the bill. The Legislature must adjourn by Friday evening at 6, under the state Constitution.
Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz, R-Sullivan, tells Missourinet he’s optimistic.
“It’s always a coin toss on any bill this time in session. Any Senator can easily stop a piece of legislation,” Schatz says. “But I do think any bill that is still moving could potentially pass. We put a lot of effort into this early in session, and it would be disappointing if it fails.”
Pro Tem Schatz supports PDMP, as does Senate Majority Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, House Speaker Elijah Haahr, R-Springfield, and House Minority Leader Crystal Quade, D-Springfield.
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