Two congressmen have called for a federal investigation of the electronic database used by Tennessee and 23 other states to track drugstore sales of methamphetamine’s main ingredient, reports the News Sentinel.
U.S. Rep. Phil Roe, R-Johnson City, and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, wrote to the U.S. Department of Justice on Thursday asking for an inquiry into whether the system skirts agreements with state governments, stonewalls police and violates federal law by mining the sales numbers for marketing data.
“We have new concerns about the legality, integrity and effectiveness of this tracking system and believe it may warrant greater federal scrutiny at this time,” the letter reads. The system “may not only be violating (federal law), but may also be impeding law enforcement’s anti-diversion efforts, intentionally or otherwise.”
The company that operates the database says it’s done nothing wrong.
Pseudoephedrine, the main ingredient in some popular cold and sinus medicines, also serves as the foundation for most recipes for meth, an addictive stimulant that mimics adrenaline. Meth cooks use household chemicals such as lantern fuel and drain cleaner to break down pseudoephedrine, producing toxic waste and sometimes fires and explosions in the process.
The blood samples collected from suspected drunk drivers under a new “No Refusal” law are not added to a national DNA database used by prosecutors, state public safety officials have told TNReport.
“Blood samples obtained by a search warrant from a suspected DUI offender are tested for blood alcohol content only,” Department of Safety Spokeswoman Jennifer Donnals said via email. “Those blood samples are not used for any other purpose and are NOT placed in a DNA database.”
“There’s no DNA ever run on those,” said Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. “I can assure you that’s not the case.”
The state this summer began enforcing a new law that allows cops to seek a warrant to compel people accused of driving under the influence to involuntarily give up a blood sample if they refuse a Breathalyzer or blood test. State troopers forced eight people to submit to blood tests over the Fourth of July holiday weekend during the first test of the new law, DPS said.
News release from the governor’s office:
NASHVILLE – Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Labor and Workforce Development Commissioner Karla Davis today announced a new jobs database to help connect job seekers with Tennessee employers.
Jobs4TN Online is a virtual recruiter, automatically notifying job seekers when jobs they may qualify for are posted and notifying employers when candidates who fit their needs register.
The online database contains positions from job orders placed directly by Tennessee employers, from corporate Internet sites, and from major job search engines. Jobs4TN Online also identifies available green jobs.
“The unemployment rate for Tennessee is at its lowest since November 2008 and has fallen below the national rate, but it is still too high,” Haslam said. The governor committed to developing a new jobs database during his gubernatorial campaign. “With Jobs4TN Online, those without a job will have quicker and better access to job openings related to their skills, and as we work to make Tennessee an even better place to expand and start a business, we want to help employers find the employees they need.”
Jobs4TN Online makes available labor market information, including demand occupations, education requirements and salaries for positions, labor force projections, and training program graduates. Information can be tailored to focus on specific communities, metro statistical areas or statewide. Employers and job seekers are encouraged to log in to Jobs4TN Online at www.jobs4tn.gov.
“This system is much more than a traditional job search engine,” Davis said. “Jobs4TN Online offers extensive information for interviews, lists of local training providers, and the capability to create and send resumes.”
The state’s previous job search site, the Source, included job orders received by Tennessee Career Centers and jobs listed by Fortune 500 companies. Jobs4TN Online uses a more robust search that provides first-run jobs from newspapers, government sites and private job boards, and the amount of jobs listed in Tennessee has gone from 30,000 to more than 85,000.
Jobs4TN Online can be accessed anywhere with a computer and Internet access. Tennessee Career Centers across the state have free computer resource rooms with guidance on job searching. For anyone not comfortable with using a computer, referrals can be provided in person at the center once they have registered for services. To find the nearest Tennessee Career Center visit http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/cc/cccounty.shtml.
Also, Tennessee Career Coaches are another available resource. They are mobile career centers with computer workstations and access to the Internet anywhere by satellite. Three mobile units operate in east, west, and middle Tennessee to provide job searching resources to those attending job events or to those that don’t have access to the Internet. The Career Coaches’ schedules can be found at http://www.getonthecoach.tn.gov/.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN) – State Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman) announced today that he will sponsor prescription drug abuse legislation in the 2012 legislative session to require doctors, pharmacists or their designees to check the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Database before prescribing or filling prescriptions for scheduled drugs. In addition, a separate bill being drafted by Senator Yager would require that anyone who picks up a prescription for a scheduled drug must show photo identification.
Yager was the sponsor of legislation passed in the 2011 legislative session that will go into effect January 1 cracking down on prescription drug abuse at pain clinics in Tennessee. That law required the Department of Health, in concert with the doctors, nurses and physician assistants, to establish rules to govern the operation of clinics, including personnel, patient records, data collection and reporting, inspections, health and safety requirement and patient billing.
Beginning 2012, no pain management clinic will be allowed to operate without a certificate from the Department of Health, which can deny one to an applicant who has committed a felony or a misdemeanor related to the distribution of illegal prescription drugs or a controlled substance.
“Tennessee ranks second in the nation in regard to the overutilization of prescription pain medications,” said Senator Yager. “It is important that we continue to take steps to address this huge health and public safety issue in our state. The current state database is under utilized and closure of this loophole will strengthen our fight against the tragic epidemic of prescription drug misuse.”