Schaaf to back down on opposition to Rehder’s PDMP bill

Sen. Rob Schaaf announces he will no longer oppose Rep. Holly Rehder's PDMP bill April 4, 2017. (Travis Zimpfer/MISSOURI TIMES)

Major decision ends biggest obstacle to PDMP passage

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – In a highly unexpected turn of events on the prescription drug monitoring act (PDMP) debate, Sen. Rob Schaaf announced Tuesday evening he would end his opposition to Rep. Holly Rehder’s Narcotics Control Act.

In a speech handwritten on a spare sheet of paper, Schaaf said the time had finally come for his years-long filibuster to end.

“I want the proponents of the PDMP to have the best opportunity to have the PDMP that they’ve wanted in 15 years,” he said.

Schaaf also noted  the “push for [a PDMP] is just too great,” before listing numerous parties who had supported the bill from health care providers to law enforcement, as well as legislative leadership and even Gov. Eric Greitens. He added, however, that he would like an amendment added to the bill to require health care providers to use the bill, including a pledge that he himself as a physician would use the program.

“I am simply asking since this is designed to help break the scourge of addiction and because it cannot help if it is not used that it include a provision that it be the standard of care to use it before prescribing a controlled substance,” Schaaf said.

While Schaaf answered questions from reporters, Rehder, the longtime champion of the bill in the House, walked into the Senate mezzanine. Sen. Dave Schatz, the handler of her legislation the past few years, told her of Schaaf’s decision as a look of shock and surprise washed over her face. Rehder’s bill passed out of the House Monday, only about 24 hours before Schaaf’s announcement.

She was elated with the announcement.

“I’ll be honest, I’m speechless. We’re very surprised. Sen. Schatz and I neither one expected this to be coming,” she said.

Rehder and Schatz said informally they did not expect adding Schaaf’s provision to be too difficult.

Schaaf’s decision is massive. For years, he has stood as the single largest obstacle to the passage of a PDMP in Missouri, filibustering every attempt to its passage. As he has now stood aside, it is highly likely the bill becomes law by the end of session.

In the end, Schaaf credited Rehder with her extensive fight on the legislation.

“Rep. Rehder has worked hard on this issue, and I’m not asking for any single change in her version but the one I’ve mentioned here,” he said. “She deserves to have her version become the law.”

After Schaaf answered questions, he then walked from the podium and shook Rehder’s hand.

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