Gordon’s meth cleanup bill passes
Thursday, December 13, 2007
U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon
[Click to enlarge]](http://www.t-g.com/story/1297300/photo/1116056.html) On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate approved U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon’s legislation to help communities clean up former methamphetamine lab sites, putting the bill one step closer to becoming law.
"We have a duty to protect innocent families not only from the criminals who make and use this illegal drug, but also from the aftereffects of that crime, said Gordon, chairman of the House Committee on Science and Technology, in a news release. “I have pushed this effort for a long time, and it is gratifying that it will soon become law.”
H.R. 365, the Methamphetamine Remediation Research Act, requires the Environmental Protection Agency to develop model, voluntary, health-based clean-up guidelines for use by states and localities with the goal of making sure the sites of former meth labs are safe and livable.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Tennessee alone reported 401 meth lab seizures last year. Only Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and Arkansas reported more meth lab seizures.
The chemicals used in making meth are highly toxic and can infuse the walls, carpet and furniture of any house, apartment, hotel room or dwelling where the drug was made. The toxic residue can impact the health of unsuspecting families who later inhabit the dwelling by exposing them to dangerous substances with potentially devastating long-term effects.
According to a 2006 National Drug Threat Survey of state and local law enforcement agencies across the nation, meth was named most often as the greatest drug threat in communities.
“The good news is that tough state and federal laws are bringing down the number of mom-and-pop meth labs, but the bad news is we still have more than 400 sites in Tennessee that served as meth labs in 2006,” said Gordon. "Across the nation, there were more than 7,000 meth labs seized last year. Those sites need to be cleaned properly to ensure the safety of future residents.
“I’m glad my colleagues in the House and Senate have joined me in assisting local communities in clearing meth out and cleaning it up.”
Gordon’s bill authorizes the National Institute of Standards and Technology to initiate a research program to develop meth detection equipment for field use. Such equipment will help local law enforcement and first-responders detect active meth labs faster and assist in measuring contamination levels. The legislation also requires the National Academy of Sciences to study the long-term health impacts of meth exposure on children rescued from meth labs and first responders.
The bill has been endorsed by numerous national organizations, including the National Sheriffs’ Association, the National Association of Counties and the National Association of Realtors.
H.R. 365 was cleared by the Science and Technology Committee on Jan. 24 and passed the full House on Feb, 7. The legislation now heads to the president’s desk for signature.
Meanwhile, Gordon announced that the U.S. House approved legislation to improve health care and expand business opportunities for veterans.
“If we don’t honor and support our veterans, how can we expect future generations to serve in the military?” said Gordon in a news release. "We simply aren’t doing enough for our veterans, and we can do better. This legislation will help with vision care and business opportunities for returning veterans, and they partner with the House’s commitment to providing the largest increase in veterans care in the 77-year history of the VA.
“When my father got out of the service, he worked at the York VA, and I volunteered there when I was growing up. I’ve seen firsthand the need for better veterans care, and I will keep fighting to make sure this nation honors the promises made to our veterans.”
On Monday, the House passed legislation to increase benefits available to veterans with eye injuries. The new legislation would provide benefits for veterans who suffer eye injuries.
Currently, veterans who are blind in one eye are eligible for compensation. That benefit is not increased if the veteran is impaired in the second eye; instead, veterans are only eligible for additional vision benefits if they go blind in the second eye.
Last week, the House passed H.R. 4253 to expand entrepreneurial opportunities available to veterans through the Small Business Administration’s office of Veteran Business Development. The bill would add Veterans Business Outreach Centers across the country to support veteran-owned businesses. H.R. 4253 would also improve programs designed to help relieve the challenges small business owners face during deployments by employees who are reservists. The bill would provide additional assistance to these business owners through the Small Business Association.