A Note from the Capitol – 4.10.12
Posted: Thursday, April 12, 2012 3:03 pm
By: Gov. Bill Haslam, Special to The Press
Spring is an especially beautiful time in Tennessee, and along with our state’s natural beauty, there is a lot to be proud of here. Tennessee’s economy continues to steadily improve with the unemployment rate the lowest it has been since 2008.
As we continue to focus on making Tennessee the number one location in the Southeast for high quality jobs, we’re seeing success in attracting new companies to invest in Tennessee and working with existing businesses to grow and expand here.
We also continue to focus on improving education and making sure state government is as efficient and effective as possible to serve taxpayers in a customer-focused and responsive way. Another priority is to keep Tennesseans safe, and just last week we launched a statewide campaign to educate citizens about a new state law regarding the manufacturing and use of methamphetamines, a serious problem in Tennessee.
The “I Hate Meth Act,” increases penalties for making or using meth in the presence of children and for purchasing pseudoephedrine products for non-medical uses. Under the law, if you make meth in the presence of a child, you face up to 25 years in prison if the child is 8-years-old or younger.
The law also covers the activities of “smurfers” – those that purchase or attempt to purchase pseudoephedrine products, one of the key ingredients used to make meth, for non-medical purposes.
The manufacturing and use of meth is one of the top public safety concerns of law enforcement officials across the state. In 2011, officers seized 1,687 meth labs in Tennessee. Only one other state, Missouri, had more meth labs seized last year. In the meantime, the state also removed 321 children from the custody of their parents and placed them into foster care due to meth-related incidents last year. Not only is the meth problem destroying families, it is costing taxpayers nearly $110 per child, per day for foster care services.
We want to deter people from making and using meth in Tennessee, which will save lives, protect our children, save taxpayer dollars, and make our state safer overall.
Our statewide “Meth Stops Now” campaign focuses resources in the Tennessee counties with the highest number of children removed from homes due to meth-related incidents and the highest number of meth lab seizures.
In addition, my budget proposal that is being considered by the General Assembly includes $750,000 for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to fund meth lab clean-up training and equipment for sheriffs’ offices and police departments across the state.
The anti-meth campaign is funded through state-administered grants from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, Office of Justice Programs and the consumer Healthcare Products Association.
You will likely hear radio announcements about this effort, and there will be billboards, gas pump advertisements, in-store signage, informational pharmacy bag fliers, a website, www.methstopsnow.com, and bumper stickers on law enforcement vehicles. By tackling the meth problem on a number of fronts, we can make our communities, our homes and our children safer across Tennessee.
As always, if you have questions about this effort or any other issue, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.