published Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

Haslam administration warms up to TN house cold medicine bill

NASHVILLE — After weeks of pushing its own bill limiting non-prescription sales of cold medicines used to make meth, the Haslam administration today warmed up to a House version less restrictive than one proposed by Gov. Bill Haslam.

"We're very comfortable with this version," Safety Commissioner Bill Gibbons told the House Criminal Justice Committee today.

Replied Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsort: "I can't tell you what that means to this committee."

Members then passed on voice vote their approach which allows consumers to purchase what amounts to two standard-size packages of psuedoephedrine products per month or 5.76 grams.

Maximum per year purchases would be limited to 28.8 grams. Beyond that, a doctor's prescription would be required.

The Haslam-backed bill moving in the Senate has a 14.4 gram per year limit with a prescription required for anything beyond that.

Criminal Justice Committee members, including Chairman Eric Watson, R-Cleveland, argue Haslam's original bill is too restrictive and punishes allergy sufferers. The pharmaceutical industry also opposes Haslam's bill.

Earlier, Shipley told Majority Leader Gerald McCormick, R-Chattanooga, with whom he had previously quarreled after sidetracking the governor's bill that "I want to hug you."

That drew smiles from McCormick, who replied, "for the record here, I want everyone to know I like Tony Shipley. I won't say I love him, but I like him."

Shipley and committee colleagues extracted promises of support from McCormick to defend their bill against tougher approaches pushed either on the House floor or if an expected House and Senate conference committee materializes.

McCormick said he would "blow up the whole thing if you're with me" if necessary.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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