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PDMP stalls in Senate

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Sponsors Rep. Holly Rehder and Sen. Dave Schatz, along with others supporting a bill that would establish a prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) held their breath Thursday as it came up for debate in the Senate.

Supporters have tried for years to make Missouri the final state in the union to adopt a PDMP, but the “Narcotics Control Act” has attracted the vehement opposition of Sen. Rob Schaaf. With just under 30 hours left in the session, Rehder said she was nervous the bill may not cross the finish line.

“It’s been a nail biter that’s for sure,” she said. “PDMP is extremely important so I’ve been in prayer over that, so we’ll see.”

Schaaf won the first battle on PDMP, forcing Schatz to withdraw the bill to the informal calendar after threatening to filibuster. He euphemistically said he would be starting his favorite Uma Thurman movie in his office – the film being “Kill Bill.”

Rep. Holly Rehder
Rep. Holly Rehder

The St. Joseph senator has opposed this bill and like measures during his entire tenure in the legislature because he finds it an intrusion of privacy and a sacrifice of personal liberties. He has insisted on adding a referendum clause that would make the bill a ballot issue during the November elections. He says that his filibusters and continued opposition to the bill result more from the proponents of the legislation failing to find compromise with him. Schaaf insisted those supporting the bill “have stopped this bill from moving forward for five years.”

“It is absolutely the fault of the proponents of this bill that there is not a PDMP in place,” he said. “The authors of this bill don’t want the people of Missouri to have a vote.”

Rehder says that because Schaaf demands using his own ballot language that it may not be as objective as Schaaf believes.

“We all know the way the language is written can be very persuasive, and when he’s requiring that he write the language, that’s not going to be helpful to us, it will be harmful to us,” she said.

The language offered by Schaaf reads: “Shall the Missouri Statutes be amended to create a database of the controlled substances dispensed to each person, searchable by name, drug, prescriber, and other elements, and accessible by all physicians and others as authorized, with the intent of preventing criminal doctor shopping?””.

Rehder and Schatz also noted that some changes were made to the bill to garner the support of senators questioning the legislation. They tightened up the language on a provision that guaranteed information could not be used to prevent a person from obtaining a concealed carry weapons permit and provided legal recourse for anyone “damaged” in any way by the bill.

“We have done about everything we can to address the concerns of the individuals in this body,” Schatz said on the floor. “We believe this bill accomplishes a great deal of things. This bill will save lives.”

Rehder also specified that the bill was not about giving cops a list of potential criminals, but about preventing people from becoming addicted to opioids.

“We wanted to make sure it wasn’t a law enforcement type bill.,” she said. “This bill is to help curb addiction on the front end before they’ve gone so long that kids are getting removed from the home or they’re incarcerated or they’re using heroin or meth.”

The bill was laid on the informal calendar Thursday around 12:45 p.m. It is not known if it will come up for debate again.

This story is developing, and updates may occur.