Thursday, January 23, 2014
- by Rep. Kevin Brooks
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development joined House Republicans this week to announce two major business expansions, one in east Tennessee and one in the west.
Colgate-Palmolive, one of the world’s leading consumer products companies, will invest $25 million in manufacturing and infrastructure improvements, and create 75 new jobs in Hamblen County. On the other side of the state, Conduit Global, one of the largest independent, fully-integrated business process outsourcing companies, will invest $8 million and create more than 1,000 new jobs in Memphis.
The two expansions come after Republicans worked diligently during the last legislative session to cut taxes, remove bureaucratic barriers to business, and create an overall friendlier, more business-oriented environment across the state to help spur job creation. The news also follows Business Facilities magazine, a national economic development publication, officially naming Tennessee as its ‘2013 State Of The Year’ for economic development, based on the state’s huge success over the last twelve months in recruiting new business and promoting economic development.
Cited in the magazine’s report were the state’s top five economic development projects of 2013, which created a total of 6,900 jobs, $3.2 billion in capital investment, and included seven expansions and three new recruitments.
House Republicans are optimistic that additional expansions will be announced in the coming days as even more pro-business polices are put into place by the state legislature.
Governor Haslam, House Lawmakers Announce Anti-Meth Legislative Packages
Earlier this week, Governor Bill Haslam announced new legislation aimed at reducing the growing problem of methamphetamine production in Tennessee. In addition, House lawmakers have also filed legislation aimed at curbing the abuse of methamphetamine across the state.
Over the last several years, meth production has become a widespread problem, affecting many aspects of Tennesseans’ lives. In 2013 alone, 266 children were removed by the Department of Children’s Services from homes due to meth-related incidents at an estimated cost of more than $7 million. In addition, the state spends approximately $2 million annually on meth lab clean-up, and in 2013, 1,691 labs were seized in Tennessee. These costs are in addition to the millions spent by local governments and law enforcement agencies to combat the state’s methamphetamine problem.
These new legislative initiatives build on the adoption of a 2011 law which set up the statewide electronic tracking system called NPLEx (the National Precursor Log Exchange), to monitor and stop illicit purchases of over-the-counter cold and allergy products containing pseudoephedrine, the most common ingredient used to illegally manufacture methamphetamine.
Though several more proposals are expected before the proposed February 5th legislative bill filing deadline, the proposals filed so far range from simply strengthening current state guidelines, to making products containing pseudoephedrine prescription only, attainable only through a prescription from a doctor. An additional proposal would create a mandatory minimum jail sentence for those convicted of meth offenses.
The bill proposed by Governor Haslam, referred to as the Tennessee Anti-Meth Production Act, seeks to limit access to products that contain pseudoephedrine while also ensuring law-abiding Tennesseans who need temporary cold and sinus relief are not affected.
In summary, the governor’s bill includes three major provisions:
Individuals would be authorized to purchase up to 2.4g (the maximum recommended daily dose for 10 days) of products containing pseudoephedrine or ephedrine in a 30-day period by presenting a valid ID to a pharmacist, which is the way state law currently works.
If the consumer returns to purchase additional products, a pharmacist, at his or her discretion, may override the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) system to allow individuals to purchase up to 4.8g in that same 30-day period.
Anything above 4.8g in a 30-day period would require a prescription issued by a licensed physician, certified physician assistant, or authorized nurse.
According to data from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, 97 percent of Tennesseans who bought cold medicine containing pseudoephedrine in 2012 bought less than 4.8g per month.
Without a doubt, the next several months will contain lively debate and discussion concerning the state’s ever-growing methamphetamine problem as lawmakers work with all sides to reach the most positive outcome for all Tennesseans.
Tennessee is one of 17 states that currently use the NPLEx system, which works across state lines to track and stop illegal pseudoephedrine sales. As part of the same comprehensive anti-meth bill which implemented NPLEx, lawmakers have also passed legislation which:
Increases the penalty for making meth in the presence of children;
Makes it easier to prosecute those who purchase medicines containing pseudoephedrine at different times and places for the purpose of exceeding the allowable amount, or through use of false identification; and
Imposes minimum mandatory fines on those offenders.
House Republicans Kick Off Statewide Yellow DOT Safety Program
House Republicans have partnered with the Tennessee Department of Transportation to officially kick off the state’s new Yellow Dot Safety Program.
The new initiative, which was passed into law in 2012, is part of a nationwide program designed to provide crucial medical information to emergency responders in the event of a vehicle incident.
The program works by attaching a Yellow DOT sticker to a vehicle’s rear window. Once the sticker is attached, participants then fill out a series of medical information papers to store in the glove compartment of their automobile. If a serious accident takes place, first responders will see the Yellow DOT sticker and know to immediately look in the vehicle’s glove compartment for a photo and medical information on the vehicle’s driver.
Because many victims are often unable to communicate following a motor vehicle accident, the Yellow DOT sticker will assist first responders in their job of saving lives by providing access to important personal and medical information when they arrive on the scene of an incident, regardless of the individual’s condition. In addition, the program will provide better communication with hospital emergency staff concerning any injured parties.
“In that first hour after a serious injury, immediate medical care can dramatically increase a patient's chances for survival,” said Representative Curtis Halford, the primary House sponsor of the Yellow Dot legislation. “This program will help police and other first responders by giving them quick access to potentially life-saving medical information within minutes of a car crash or other accident.”
Individuals interested in participating in the new Yellow DOT program can visit their local driver services facility or by contacting the Tennessee Department of Safety at TennesseeYellowDOT@tn.gov. Participants will receive a Yellow DOT decal, a Yellow DOT folder, and a medical information sheet which consists of areas to fill in emergency contact information, medical information, recent surgeries, hospital preferences, current medications, and insurance and physician’s information.
The full text of the new law can be found by visiting: http://state.tn.us/sos/acts/107/pub/pc0804.pdf.
Rep. Kevin Brooks serves the 24th Legislative District in Cleveland and Bradley County. Rep. Brooks and his wife, Kim are actively involved in their community and local schools with their two children, Zach and Elizabeth who are both attending Lee University.