Norris News – March 16, 2018

On March 16, 2018, in News from Nashville 2018, by Mark Norris
Daniel Patrick O’Malley from Collierville and his parents, Beth and Tom, were here for Homeschool Day on the Hill

Daniel Patrick O’Malley from Collierville and his parents, Beth and Tom, were here for Homeschool Day on the Hill

 

Emily Joy Schneidau from Eads and her parents, Kate and Erick, and her brothers. Emily is also a homeschooler. Emily and Daniel were in Nashville because they were both finalists as National Merit Scholars.

Emily Joy Schneidau from Eads and her parents, Kate and Erick, and her brothers. Emily is also a homeschooler. Emily and Daniel were in Nashville because they were both finalists as National Merit Scholars.

Legislation approved by Senate Health and Welfare Committee focuses on prevention in efforts to curb state’s opioid crisis

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee approved legislation this week which seeks to prevent opioid addiction, and ultimately, misuse and abuse by limiting the supply and dosage of opioid prescriptions with emphasis on new patients. Senate Bill 2257, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville) and Speaker Pro Tempore Ferrell Haile (R-Gallatin), is meant to address higher dosages of opioids which have been associated with increased risk of overdose and death, while including exceptions for individuals undergoing extreme pain for illnesses like cancer or sickle cell anemia, or patients with severe burns.

The legislation is part of the TN Together plan which employs a three-legged stool of enforcement, treatment and prevention to stop the flow of these drugs in the state, help those who are addicted, and prevent citizens from becoming drug-dependent. While this bill addresses the prevention component, Senate Bill 2258 which focuses on law enforcement and treatment, is pending final action on the Senate floor.

“The purpose behind the prevention legislation is to place more speed bumps on the road that leads to addiction between healthcare practitioners and patients to prevent Tennesseans from misusing or abusing prescription pain medicine,” said Senator Haile, a pharmacist who served on Governor Bill Haslam’s Opioid Abuse Task Force. “At least three people are dying each day in Tennessee from an opioid-related drug overdose. We must slow or stop the pipeline, especially on opioid naïve patients to prevent addiction.”

Last year, 7.6 million opioid prescriptions were written in Tennessee, which is more than the number of people living in the state. An estimated one million prescriptions were left over, ending up in family medicine cabinets where they are often abused according to studies. The data shows 27 percent of those who are at the highest risk of overdose get opioids from their physician, while 26 percent receive them for free from their family or friends. Another 23 percent buy them from family or friends, with 15 percent purchasing them from a drug dealer. Up to 80 percent of teenagers that abuse drugs begin by taking them from the family medicine cabinet.

The legislation allows individuals to receive up to a 3-day supply of opioids at a total dosage of no more than 180 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) each day. If a healthcare practitioner decides the patient needs more, they can issue up to a 10-day supply with a total dosage that does not exceed 500 MME as long as the healthcare practitioner follows certain guidelines, conducts a thorough evaluation, examines other plans of treatment and obtains informed consent from the patient.

In cases where a patient undergoes a procedure that is more than minimally invasive, like major surgery, the patient may receive up to a 20-day supply with a total dosage that does not exceed 850 MME as long as these provisions are followed. Patients can receive up to a 30-day supply with a dosage that does not exceed 1,200 MME in rare cases where medical necessity and sound judgment deem it necessary as long as certain stipulations are met.

As of 2016, 318,000 individuals in Tennessee were either using opioids in a risky way or diagnosed as having opioid use disorder.

The Tennessee Roadbuilders had their Day on the Hill this week and came by the office to visit

The Tennessee Roadbuilders had their Day on the Hill this week and came by the office to visit

Tennessee receives high marks for its low tax, pro-growth status

Tennessee received high marks from two sources this week for its low tax, pro-growth status. The financial website, Wallet-Hub, released a new study on Tuesday showing Tennessee has the lowest tax burden in the nation. The study estimates a median income household in Tennessee paid only $3,667 in state and local taxes in Tennessee last year, which is over a third less than the average nationwide, and less than any other state in the country.

Under conservative leadership, Tennessee has cut taxes by $572 million annually, with policies in place to reduce them even more in years to come. This includes reducing the sales tax on food by nearly 30 percent, phasing out of the Hall tax, cutting business taxes on manufacturing, and eliminating the gift tax and inheritance tax.

“These results reflect the reallocation of revenue we’ve used to maximize the taxpayers’ return on investment — so they can keep more of their hard earned money,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who led passage of the tax cuts.

The other high mark received by Tennessee this week was from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics which reported that the state had the second biggest decline in the nation in unemployment rates. Tennessee’s unemployment rate is down 1.2 percentage points, from 4.5 percent to 3.3 percent from January 2017 to January 2018.

The state is experiencing the lowest unemployment rates in Tennessee history, while the job growth rate is greater than 17 percent. Over the past several years, Tennessee has passed tort reform and overhauled workers’ compensation to offer businesses more predictability, and was addressed broadband accessibility to help spur economic development in rural areas.

“This is all part of our state’s pathway to prosperity program,” added Norris. “I look forward to seeing continued progress as Tennessee’s economy grows.”

Tennessee ranks 7th in the nation for the number of net new manufacturing jobs created since 2012. The state has also seen strong rural job growth with a 31.7 percent increase in new job commitments in 2017 over that of five years ago.

Pediatrician Residents from LeBonheur were in Nashville Wednesday.

Pediatrician Residents from LeBonheur were in Nashville Wednesday.

Legislation requiring acute care hospitals to report involuntary commitments closes gap in Tennessee’s gun law verification process

The Senate Health and Welfare Committee passed legislation on Wednesday requiring acute care hospitals to report involuntary commitments in their psychiatric units to law enforcement so that they can be a part of the record used in the verification process for the purchase of firearms. Senate Bill 2362, sponsored by Senate Health and Welfare Committee Chairman Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City), closes the gap in current law, which already requires mental health hospitals to report these commitments.

“The mental health of people who are purchasing firearms is of critical importance,” said Senator Crowe. “One of the disqualifying conditions is whether or not an individual has ever been involuntarily committed. These commitments are generally in mental health hospitals or in the psychiatric departments of an acute care hospital. However, while Tennessee’s mental health hospitals are required to report commitments to law enforcement, the acute care hospitals are not required to report. This legislation ensures all health care facilities make this report.”

Most involuntary commitments in Tennessee do not occur in the state’s Title 33 mental health hospitals. They occur in the psychiatric unit of acute care hospitals licensed under Title 68. The legislation would establish the same reporting requirements and verification process for all hospitals licensed by the Department of Health.

I invited Rev. Barry Henson of Collierville to be our Minister of the Day on Thursday. His wife, Selena, made the event even more special.

I invited Rev. Barry Henson of Collierville to be our Minister of the Day on Thursday. His wife, Selena, made the event even more special.

Issues in Brief

Victims’ Rights / Electronic Notification — The full Senate approved legislation this week giving crime victims a choice to receive notifications electronically. Tennessee’s Victims’ Bill of Rights declares that victims and witnesses have the right to be notified by the Department of Correction of an offender’s parole hearing date and when that offender will be eligible for parole. Senate Bill 2235, sponsored by Senator Art Swann (R-Maryville), permits victims or their victim representative to be notified by electronic means, provided they have registered with the state’s electronic notification service. It also allows for cancellation of this notification service electronically.

Driver Convenience / Vehicle Registration — Legislation that authorizes drivers in Tennessee to display evidence of motor vehicle registration in electronic format was approved this week by the full Senate. The Tennessee Department of Revenue (DOR) requires registration of all vehicles using Tennessee roads and highways through the Vehicle Services Division. Senate Bill 727, sponsored by Senator Brian Kelsey (R-Germantown), allows for the convenience of providing that information on the driver’s phone or another electronic device if pulled over by law enforcement. Tennessee law already allows drivers to use electronic devices to show proof of insurance

Deceptive Practices / Entertainment Tickets – Consumer protection legislation received final approval this week that addresses the growing problem of websites that use deceptive names and trademarks, posing as places of entertainment and entertainers, in order to confuse consumers into buying tickets at a considerably higher price than it could be purchased through the legitimate source. Senate Bill 1640, sponsored by Senator Ken Yager (R-Kingston), classifies this behavior as a Class B misdemeanor and a deceptive business practice under the criminal code. That action would give the Tennessee Attorney General the authority to prosecute violators. This bill is part of a continuing effort on behalf of the General Assembly to protect consumers in the entertainment industry. In past years, the General Assembly approved a bill addressing the issue of automated bots purchasing tickets en masse in order to turn around and sell them at a higher price.

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Here is a link to a recent article I thought you’d appreciate:

Haslam, health care providers break stalemate on opioid prescription crackdown

Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris, R-Collierville, who is carrying the governor’s bill, said Thursday that “I feel confident that we’ve come to an accord,” then wryly added that “from my standpoint, we’ve bought peace.”

“From what the pharmacists are telling us and the practitioners — the prescribers — it’s a heck of a lot better than doing nothing,” Norris said. “And it’s drawn a lot of attention to prescribing practices. And without unduly infringing on their discretion, we think this will [work]. Clearly, it had gotten out of hand.”

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