Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Meth, Pre K, and you

I hope you had a great week. Here are the topics for this Legislative Update.



Methamphetamine is a plague on our society. Meth is almost instantaneously
addictive. Meth destroys those who use it. Making meth creates a toxic waste
zone that is dangerous to everyone involved, even kids playing nearby. Meth can
be made in a kitchen using ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, chemicals commonly
found in products such as Sudafed, Benadryl, Contac and Tylenol Sinus. Meth has
reached epidemic proportions in our rural areas.

This week a bill to curb the production of methamphetamine easily passed the
House and the Senate and was signed into law by the Governor. The "Meth Free
Tennessee" act requires that these cold medicines be moved behind the pharmacy
counter and that stores without a pharmacy stop selling these products. The Act
attempts to make it more difficult for meth labs to get the critical chemicals
needed to produce the deadly drug.

The Department of Children's Services reports that in the past six months,
they know of over 700 children in Tennessee who have been affected by meth.
Children are getting burned by the meth labs. Children are getting addicted by
the fumes. Children are being put into state custody because their parents are
addicted to meth. From October 2003 to August 2004, authorities seized over
1200 labs in Tennessee. The US Drug Enforcement Administration reports that
Tennessee accounts for 75% of the lab seizures in the Southeast. We have to
stop this epidemic.

If you and I are a little inconvenienced the next time we have the sniffles and
need a decongestant, we can remember that it is a small price to pay to limit
access to the primary ingredients for the methamphetamine plague.

I need to learn how to make the durg that is in the over the counter drugs which are being bought to make meth. I bet i could make a huge killing. Since i would not be making meth, but the ingredants for meth, i probably would get caught by the FDA, and who is afraid of them.


The Governor's proposed Pre-K bill is moving quickly through the House but was
delayed in the Senate Education Committee last week. The sponsor, Senator Don
McLeary, is carrying the Senate version for the Governor. When the committee
began asking questions about the bill, he attempted to move it out of the
committee. The first time he tried, he did not receive a second and the motion
failed. When he tried again, his motion received a second but was defeated.
This week we put the bill off for three weeks so that everyone could review it
carefully before voting it out of committee.

As a member of the Senate Education Committee, I pushed to slow down the
legislation. It is a huge new program costing the state $270 million and local
governments another $100 million or so. We should be very careful about adding
another large government program. Besides, three weeks will have no effect on
implementation if the bill passes.

I plan to offer an amendment to limit the pre-K programs to "at-risk"
children. There are two primary reasons why I believe this is very important.

1. The state does not have an extra $270 million to fund the entire program,
even if we wanted to.
2. We must focus our funding where it will do the most good, with at-risk
children. At-risk children are less likely to have the family structure and
support necessary to enter school ready to learn. If we are going to help
children prepare for kindergarten, lets help those who need it most.

This amendment has been prepared and will be presented when the pre-K program is
discussed in the Senate Education Committee.


Judge Haynes (not Barbara) held his first week of hearings on TennCare. These
hearings are scheduled to wrap up on Tuesday. The Judge has taken a very broad
view of TennCare, going so far as to evaluate the merits of the Governor's
plan. Apparently Judge Haynes has broad authority to rule all or part or none
of the TennCare plan acceptable. He is looking at every facet of it. In fact,
the newspaper reported that Judge Haynes blasted both the Administration and the
Tennessee Justice Center for not coming to an agreement on TennCare for the good
of the state. Regardless of anything else he says, I applaud him for trying to
knock some sense into these two.

I'll be surprised if Judge Haynes doesn't rule that some part of the
Governor's plan must be changed. The question will be: How much of the plan
can go forward and what is the impact of any of the plan that is axed?

The State received good news when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals announced
last week that they would move up the appeals hearing date from April 26 to
April 8. I'm no lawyer but I have to think this is good news for the
state's case. If the Appeals Court rules immediately in the state's favor,
the state can begin its disenrollment process.

It's coming down to crunch time on TennCare. I was in a meeting last week to
work on alternatives to TennCare and help for the disenrolled. We will meet
this week also. Nothing is easy but there are alternatives. Hopefully they
will become viable alternatives for Tennesseans as we move forward to provide
reasonable healthcare alternatives to needy Tennesseans.


Two new websites have been in the news this week.

Representative Stacey Campfield has become a notorious blogger. Rep. Campfield
is a freshman from Knoxville who decided to start an online web log (blog).
Apparently, some of his colleagues in the House did not take kindly to his open
statement of opinion. At least one of his bills was shot down in committee by
Democrats who did not appreciate his online candor. You can find his blog at:

This week, I received an e-mail directing me to a fascinating new site,
www.ConservativeAppeal.com. This site is simply a compilation of all the news
sent out by elected officials at the state and national level. You might want
to check it out and see what your favorite (or least favorite) elected official
has to say.


Quote of the Moment: "The nearest thing to eternal life we will see on this
earth is a government program." Ronald Reagan

Thanks to many of you who have called me a pumpkin this week. I should have
known the story would generate some good-natured ribbing.

Thank you for the honor of serving in the Tennessee State Senate. Have a great

Jim Bryson
State Senator
Davidson and Williamson Counties


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