Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Rep. Kennedy's Busy Day

I am delighted to report that five new meth provisions, which Rep. Kennedy previously introduced, passed the House today.

Many areas of Greater Minnesota are becoming easy targets for meth houses and meth addicts, including where I grew up. That's why I'm glad we have such strong leaders, like Gov. Pawlenty and Rep. Kennedy who see the need for tougher meth laws.

The new provisions passed today which were previously introduced by Kennedy are as follows:

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Compliance Certification of the Largest Exporting and Importing Countries of Certain Precursor Chemicals- Requires the State Department to certify that the five largest exporters and the five largest importers of the meth precursor pseudoephedrine are fully cooperating with U.S. law enforcement to prevent its misuse. This amendment would put meth on the same footing as imported "natural drugs" - heroin and cocaine - which are regulated in the same way. The House passed an identical Kennedy amendment to accomplish this by a 423-2 vote earlier this year.

New Child Protection Criminal Enhancement- Punishes an offender who manufactures meth at a location where a child resides or is present, and would impose a consecutive sentence of up to 20 years.

Enhanced Penalties for Methamphetamine Production, Possession, or Trafficking- Creates a new criminal provision for possession with intent to manufacture a schedule-listed chemical (one that requires a permit) and imposes a maximum punishment of life imprisonment.

Manufacturing Controlled Substances on Federal Property- Clarifies that current penalties for cultivating illegal "natural" drugs on federal property also apply to manufacturing synthetic drugs (such as meth).

Smuggling Meth or Precursor Chemicals into the United States While Using Facilitated Entry Programs- Creates a new criminal penalty for anyone who misuses a facilitated entry program (such as the fast pass system) to smuggle methamphetamine or its precursor chemicals. (Source: Rep. Kennedy Press Release, Dec. 14, 2005)

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Kennedy also supported today's passage of the Conference Report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Act.

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"It's important to support our key health care and education priorities, particularly for our rural communities, while maintaining fiscal discipline," said Congressman Kennedy.

Highlights of the Conference Report for Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Act for rural areas:


*Increases funding for Community Health Centers by $66 million.
*Restores $9 million in funding for the Office of Rural Health Research and Policy, which ensures that rural America has a coordinated voice on national rural health issues.
*Adds $28.5 million for Rural Health Outreach Grants, a program solely focused on providing targeted, flexible resources to support innovative rural health solutions in communities across the country.
*Restores $29 million for Area Health Education Centers, which provide education and training to health care professionals in community settings while encouraging them to work in rural areas.
*Increases funding for several important programs that encourage training and expand educational opportunities for current and future health care professionals.

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