GOSHEN — A bill in the General Assembly that would add new restrictions to the purchase of ephedrine — aimed at cracking down on methamphetamine use — has some solid momentum, according to two legislators.
State Sen. Carlin Yoder’s bill would:
Cap the amount of ephedrine a person can purchase in a year’s time.
Establishes penalties for individuals who knowingly re-sell ephedrine to meth users.
Broadens the tracking system to include convenience stores where small amounts of the medicine are often sold.
The Senate bill has moved to the House where it has already been heard in a committee. Another vote on the measure could come next week, Yoder said.
“We even had support from those who think it should be prescription only because it is the right step,” Yoder said Saturday, March 9, during a legislative roundtable at the Goshen Chamber of Commerce.
The bill also has the support of Rep. Wes Culver, who also attended the Third House event.
The two lawmakers fielded questions and provided updates on action in the General Assembly for about 30 or so guests for more than 90 minutes.
Yoder said another attempt to change state law that would require prescriptions for the popular allergy drug — a strategy he strongly opposes — appears to have died.
The chances of Yoder’s bill passing “are pretty high,” Culver said. “No pun intended.”
In other matters, both lawmakers said they support the controversial abortion bill that would require women seeking to use RU-486 — medicine commonly known as “the abortion pill” — to receive a trans-vaginal ultrasound beforehand.
While there is some dispute as to whether it would be an invasive vaginal ultrasound or not, Culver and Yoder said they support the bill.
A health care professional who specializes in midwifery and attended Saturday’s meeting said she believed the procedure would require a trans-vaginal ultrasound — rather than over the belly — because the medicine is only intended for very early pregnancies.
The vaginal ultrasound is necessary to observe a newly-created fetus, she said.
The distinction didn’t make a difference for either lawmaker, both of whom proclaimed their pro-life beliefs.
Culver said he wants to extend the same right to fetuses that pro-choice woman seek for themselves in terms of protecting their own bodies.
Yoder said he voted for the bill and will continue to support it.
Some people view the legislation as extraordinarily intrusive because the technique uses a vaginal probe. A similar bill in Virginia gained national attention last year and was eventually watered down after a firestorm of criticism.
On the subject of Gov. Mike Pence’s desire to cut the state income tax by 10 percent, both legislators had slightly varying outlooks.
Yoder said he’s not opposed to the idea, but will wait for an April report on state finances before determining whether the state is in a position to absorb the reduction in revenues.
Culver said believes there’s enough excess in state finances that the reduction could be made.
“I’m always for smaller government. I think people and organizations learn to live within their means. I’d be for the tax cut. There’s still a lot of inefficiencies in government,” Culver said.
Others in the crowd, though, questioned how the state could implement a tax cut when financial shortcomings continue to exist in parts of state government.
Culver said he agreed with that concern.