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COLUMN: Special Session: One and Done

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by State Rep. Michael Lee Meredith

The 2012 Special Session came and went this past week, as both chambers were able to approve both a budget for Kentucky’s transportation needs and legislation to combat so-called ‘pill mills’ in the Commonwealth.
House Bill 2 was essentially the agreed upon version of the transportation budget bill in the 2012 Regular Session, House Bill 266. The $4.5 billion budget will pay for road construction projects in various phases, from planning and design to those that are ready to be built. This bill was held up on the final day of the Regular Session because of a disagreement between the leader of the Senate and the Governor over approval of House Bill 267, which lays out the construction phase of Kentucky’s highways in the coming two years.
House Bill 1, which was the other bill under consideration in the Special Session, seeks to make several changes in the medical community to combat those who place profits above patients by handing out large prescriptions of controlled drugs like OxyContin. House Bill 1 in the Special Session was the original version filed as House Bill 4 in the 2012 Regular Session. However the Senate filed a committee substitute that put in place many of the revisions agreed upon by the conference committee.  The Senate also changed the funding source from a fee that would be paid by all doctors to funds from the mortgage settlement agreement that Kentucky will receive from the multi-state settlement.  Hopefully this bill will solve many of the problems we have in relation to prescription drugs without adding additional costs on the legitimate doctors that are vital to our communities.
While much has been made in the media about why we were called back in Special Session, it is critical that we now look forward instead of arguing over the issues that forced us back to work in Frankfort. It is my sincere hope that lessons have been learned by all sides, and that we can place personalities and partisanship aside for the betterment of Kentucky. Finger pointing and name calling is not the way we should do business; otherwise we will once again have failed leadership in the Kentucky State Capitol.
As always, I welcome your comments and concerns about any issues facing our Commonwealth. I can be reached on my cell phone at 270-597-6049 or through the toll-free message line in Frankfort at 1-800-372-7181. A taped message containing information on legislative committee meeting schedules is available by calling 1-800-633-9650, and information on the status of each bill is available by calling 1-866-840-2835.  If you have Internet access, I can be reached at michael.meredith@lrc.ky.gov or you may keep track of legislation through the Kentucky Legislature Home Page at www.lrc.ky.gov.