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Legislation to Outlaw Synthetic Cocaine Marketed as “Bath Salts”
One piece of legislation making its way through the legislative process has caused some confusion. House Bill 641 recently received House approval and has moved to the Senate. The legislation would outlaw a substance being marketed as “bath salts.” However, these aren’t the Epsom salts actually used in baths—they are a dangerous chemical being used as a substitute for cocaine and methamphetamine.
Whenever a company wants to sell a product that will be consumed, it has to be approved through the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the case of this synthetic cocaine, the manufacturers were able to avoid the oversight of the FDA by saying that the chemicals were “bath salts.” This is similar to a situation we addressed last year with a synthetic marijuana product, also called K-2, that was being sold as “incense.”
These “bath salts” are snorted, injected or eaten with intoxicating effects. The substances are extremely dangerous, causing paranoia, delusions and worse. Under the bill, possession of up to 35 grams of these synthetic drugs would be a misdemeanor; higher amounts would be a felony.
Signed into Law
For the past several weeks, House Bill 163 has been caught up in a controversy about federal spending. The legislation allows the state to accept federal funding to extend unemployment benefits past the 79-week cutoff. A group of senators chose to stall the bill. This week, the bill moved through the Legislature thanks to a compromise to limit federal money being spent in Missouri and reduce the amount of state-level unemployment benefits in the future.
The governor signed HB 163 on Wednesday, restoring unemploy-ment benefits to about 10,000 Missourians who have been without a job for more than 79 weeks. The legislation also includes a provision to reduce the state share of initial unemployment benefits from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. This will not affect current benefit recipients, but it will save Missouri businesses $123 million per year that would have been spent on funding unemployment.
Economic Development Opportunities for the Entire State
The Senate and House have been discussing a couple of bills to create the Aerotropolis Trade Incentive and Tax Credit Act. I believe the legislation is an important opportunity for our state to significantly improve our economic environment.
The Senate’s version of the bill, SB 390, works to set up St. Louis as a global trade hub. The bill would help redirect much of the freight currently moving through Chicago to St. Louis by providing an incentive for freight forwarders. Provisions are also included to put the infrastructure in place to make St. Louis an international trade hub for the long term.
This plan does not just benefit St. Louis, however. If the country’s exports to Asia, South America, and Africa are moving through St. Louis, the opportunities for Missouri’s agricultural and manufacturing exports are significant. As demand for beef and machinery rises in other parts of the world, Missouri is in an advantageous position, and we have the chance to seize this opportunity.
A couple of weeks ago, I discussed my concern with some tax credits used in our state that don’t have a very good return on investment. This bill also utilizes tax credits, but in a way that gets the state more than a dollar in return for each dollar in tax credits. In addition, the accountability measures are strict. Before tax liability could be reduced for construction projects, the investment would need to be made and the building would need to be built and operational. Incentives would only be available for exports if trade was taking place.
If you have any questions or comments about this or any other matter regarding your state government, please feel free to contact me at (573) 751-1503; you are also welcome to e-mail me at email@example.com.