JEFFERSON CITY: House members took action this week to address the growing problem of fentanyl abuse in the state. Lawmakers approved legislation (HB 1450) to create stiff penalties for trafficking the synthetic opioid pain reliever the sponsor of the bill called “an incredibly deadly drug.”
The legislation that received first-round approval in the House would make it a class B felony, which carries a sentence of five to 15 years in prison, for knowingly distributing, manufacturing, or attempting to distribute or manufacture more than 10 milligrams of fentanyl or carfentanil. The distribution or manufacture of more than 20 milligrams of the drug would be a class A felony, which carries a sentence of 10 to 30 years.
The sponsor of the bill explained that fentanyl trafficking numbers have increased by 4,711 percent in the last few years according to the United States Sentencing Commission. He said many in the criminal justice industry have indicated that fentanyl and carfentanil are the deadliest drugs in America.
“Right now, law enforcement and prosecutors only have the ability to charge drug traffickers with possession or possession with intent,” said the sponsor. He said there is a trend across the United States that has seen attorney generals, prosecutors and law enforcement work with the federal government to add fentanyl to their criminal trafficking statutes to give them a new tool in their toolbox.
The legislation given first-round approval in the House would also create stiff penalties for the trafficking of the date-rape drugs known as GHB and Rohypnol. The bill now awaits another vote in the House before moving to the Senate for debate.
House Members Act to Protect Property Owners from Eminent Domain Abuse (HB 2033) – The members of the Missouri House of Representatives have once again stood in defense of the rights of property owners. Just as they did during the 2019 session, lawmakers approved a bill specifying that a private entity cannot use the power of eminent domain for the purposes of constructing above-ground power lines.
The bill comes in response to the proposed Grain Belt Express transmission line that would carry power generated by wind turbines in Kansas across Missouri to other states in the Midwest and neighboring states. The 780-mile line would run across eight northern Missouri counties – Buchanan, Clinton, Caldwell, Carroll, Chariton, Randolph, Monroe and Ralls – and would deliver a portion of the power it transmits to utilities and customers in Missouri.
Last year the Missouri Public Service Commission (PSC) approved a request made by Grain Belt Express to construct the high-voltage transmission line. The PSC’s decision was appealed but the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District ruled in favor of the project in December of 2019. As a result, developers would have the authority to utilize the power of eminent domain to obtain easement rights from landowners who are unwilling to sell.
The legislation approved by the House would prevent the use of eminent domain for the purpose of constructing the Grain Belt Express transmission line. Supporters of the bill said it is important to prohibit private companies from using eminent domain to maximize their profits for a project that will provide little benefit for Missouri consumers. They say less than 12 percent of the electricity carried by the transmission line would be sold to Missouri consumers.
The sponsor of the bill said, “The line is designed to deliver electricity to the east coast and doesn’t benefit all citizens of Missouri. The point is that this entity is going to benefit from eminent domain more than the general public.”
The bill now requires another vote in the House before moving to the Senate for consideration. Similar legislation received House approval during the 2019 session but did not secure Senate approval before the legislative session ended.
Contact Representative Pike at 573-751-5388 or e-mail at Patricia.Pike@house.mo.gov for more information on legislative topics or assistance on State Issues, Flags, Resolutions and Capitol visits. Our office is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. year-round in Jefferson City, MO.