MT. VERNON – With methamphetamine labs continuing to be discovered at record numbers, members of the Rockcastle County UNITE Coalition have embarked on an educational campaign in support of state legislation to curb the one must-have ingredient – pseudoephedrine.

Coalition leaders have launched a petition drive and will air a public service presentation on the local access TV channel during the next two weeks.

Nearly identical bills – SB-50 and HB-79 – are currently making their way through the state Senate and House chambers to require a prescription for most products containing pseudoephedrine – an ingredient in some cold and allergy medications.

A prescription would not be required for gel-cap versions of the medication under the proposed legislation, which impacts only 15 of the 152 options available to treat cold and allergy symptoms.

Meth lab response incidents across Kentucky were at an all-time record level of 1,171 in 2011, an increase of 8.4 percent over the previous year, with final statistics still being compiled by the Kentucky State Police.

Some legislators have called this crisis one of the “most important” of the 2012 General Assembly session because of its cost – not only in terms of the danger to children and others, but to the negative environmental and social impacts of meth labs.

A video produced by Jerry Burke explaining the problem using segments from an ABC News Nightline presentation filmed in Kentucky and the statewide “So Much Meth” campaign will be shown at 7 p.m. each Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and 10 a.m. Saturday, on Newwave Channel 3 for the next two weeks.

A petition urging lawmakers to “return pseudoephedrine to a prescription drug” is currently being circulated throughout Rockcastle County. Citizens can obtain petitions at:

• Brodhead Elementary (see the UNITE Club advisor)
• Roundstone Elementary (see the UNITE Club advisor)
• Mt. Vernon Elementary (see the UNITE Club advisor)
• Rockcastle County Middle (see the UNITE Club advisor)
• Rockcastle County High (see the UNITE Club advisor)
• Mt. Vernon City Hall
• Rockcastle County Sheriff’s Office
• Rockcastle County Courthouse

Those unable to sign a petition are urged to leave a message for their representatives and committee members on the toll-free Legislative Message Line: 1-800-372-7181.

Rockcastle is represented by Rep. Danny Ford and Sen. Jared K. Carpenter.

SB-50 is sponsored by senators Tom Jensen, Ray S. Jones II, Joey Pendleton, Robert Stivers II and Johnny Ray Turner. HB-79 is sponsored by representatives Linda Belcher, Johnny Bell and Mary Lou Marzian.

Both bills are before the Judiciary Committees of their respective chambers and have been the subject of hearings where experts have touted the effectiveness of requiring a prescription for pseudoephedrine as a means to greatly reduce the number of dangerous methamphetamine labs.

Testimony included comments from officials in Mississippi and Oklahoma explaining why a prescription requirement is more effective than electronic sales tracking systems in stopping the proliferation of meth labs.

Senate Judiciary Committee members are: Jensen, Jones, Stivers, Katie Kratz Stine, Perry B. Clark, Carroll Gibson, Jerry P. Rhoads, John Schickel, Dan “Malano” Seum, Brandon Smith and Robin L. Webb.

House Judiciary Committee members are: Bell, Marzian, John Tilley, Joseph M. Fischer, Sara Beth Gregory, Darryl T. Owens, Brent Yonts, Jesse Crenshaw, Kelly Flood, Jeff Hoover, Joni L. Jenkins, Thomas Kerr, Stan Lee,, Michael J. Nemes, Tom Riner and Steven Rudy.

Additional testimony is expected before lawmakers vote on the issue.

The Senate Judiciary Committee meets regularly at 10 a.m. on Thursdays while the House Judiciary Committee meets regularly at noon on Wednesdays.