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Archive for Saturday, January 22, 2005

Governor says sheriff’s slaying shows need for anti-meth legislation

January 22, 2005

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— Greenwood County Sheriff Matt Samuels' death illustrates the need for a bill to combat methamphetamine manufacturing, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and legislative leaders said Friday.

Samuels was shot Wednesday near Virgil in northeast Greenwood County while serving a search warrant and an arrest warrant at a home where there was a suspected meth lab. The arrest warrant was for a 23-year-old man wanted on burglary and theft charges, and for violating parole.

Sebelius supports a bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee to restrict consumers' access to some cold, flu and allergy medicines also used in making meth. The panel plans to vote Monday.

"It's a simple step that we can take to honor Sheriff Samuels and make sure that, hopefully, this doesn't happen again in the future," Sebelius said during a news conference.

The bill is patterned after an Oklahoma law enacted last year, credited with cutting meth lab seizures in that state by 80 percent.

Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt backed a similar proposal in his state Friday.

But some Kansas pharmacy operators have worried the measure would be burdensome, particularly for chains that sell dozens of products.

Under the measure, only pharmacies could sell medicines in tablet form containing ephedrine or pseudoephedrine, common meth ingredients, and only from behind pharmacists' counters. Also, buyers would have to show identification and sign a log.

Endorsing the measure Friday were House Speaker Doug Mays, R-Topeka, and Minority Leader Dennis McKinney, D-Greensburg. Also, Senate President Steve Morris, R-Hugoton, and Minority Leader Anthony Hensley, D-Topeka, are among the bill's 23 sponsors.

"I really hate inconveniencing the drug stores, but if that's what it takes to cut meth production in Kansas in half, then that's what we're going to have to do," Mays said.

Sebelius said she planned to attend Samuels' funeral, scheduled for Sunday.

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