The Florida Legislature's haste to override Gov. Charlie Crist's vetoes will cause a monthslong delay — and maybe more — in the fight to close down unscrupulous pill mills that feed Florida's prescription drug abuse epidemic. It's no surprise. Republican leaders chose to ignore such consequences in last week's rushed vote, putting ideology above practical solutions for Florida's problems. As a result, the state will be dragging its feet to fight a scourge that kills seven people a day.
In overriding Crist's veto of HB 1565, lawmakers created a law that requires subsequent legislative approval of any new regulation with compliance costs for the business sector of more than $1 million over five years. Such a threshold is ridiculously low in a state of 18.5 million. The practical implication is that even minor regulation on private businesses must be approved twice.
Among the first rules caught in the trap are highly anticipated regulations for pain management clinics that were expected to take effect before the end of the year. The Legislature finally agreed earlier this year — after heavy pressure from local governments and law enforcement — to require registration, inspections and other regulations on such clinics, some of which have served as major supply chains for multistate drug trafficking.
Now the Department of Health's proposed rules will have to run the gantlet of special interests again in the 2011 legislative session that starts in March.
Meanwhile, pill mills will continue to pump drugs out their doors, into homes and onto street corners. That is neither good nor efficient nor wise government, no matter how Republican legislative leaders try to spin it.