The Des Moines Register, Wednesday, April 8, 1998, Page 4M

House votes to approve
$600,000 to combat use of meth in Iowa


    The Iowa House voted Tuesday to spend nearly $600,000 on new efforts to combat methamphetamine.
    Some $350,000 would be spent in the next budget year on programs to educate the public, especially schoolchildren, about the dangers of the highly addictive drug.
    An additional $236,000 would be allocated to the Iowa Department of Public Safety for undercover drug buys and for a proposed reward fund for informants.
    The anti-meth provisions were inserted in a health and human rights budget bill, which the House approved on an 88-7 vote and returned to the Senate for more debate.
    A separate bill moving through the Legislature provides for stiffer penalties for repeat offenders of drug possession laws, enforcement of mandatory minimum sentences for meth dealers and new law enforcement tools to nab drug-using motorists.
    State lawmakers this session have reacted with alarm to the explosive growth of meth use in Iowa and heavy trafficking in the drug.  Both Republicans and Democrats have offered anti-meth plans.
    In the House, Democrats contend the plan endorsed by the Republican majority doesn't go far enough.  One complaint is that it contains no additional money for drug-abuse treatment.
    Without treatment, "the problem will go on.  It will continue to ruin our families," said Rep. Michael Moreland, D-Ottumwa.
    Republicans counter that tens of millions of dollars already are being spent on treatment programs in Iowa.  The House, in an amendment to the bill debated Thursday, called for an inter-agency study of the effectiveness of such programs.
    Some Democrats also criticized a proposed "Meth Stoppers" reward fund.  An informant could receive a $1,000 reward for a tip leading to conviction of a dealer or a successful meth lab bust.
    "This smacks a little of vigilante efforts," said Rep. Richard Myers, D-Iowa City.  "It could turn people into amateur police officers."
    Backers of the proposal said it is no different from other crime hot lines and reward programs for tipsters.
    Both the House and Senate versions of the health and human rights budget bill would shift more than $1 million from the state's gambling treatment fund to other programs, including the anti-meth initiatives approved Tuesday.
    Some lawmakers complain that too much of the money flowing into the gamblers' treatment program is being spent on television advertising.  They want to cap the program's income from lottery and gambling tax revenue.  The House voted in favor of a one-year cap set at $1.9 million.

Jonathan Roos can be reached at
(515) 284-8443 or

The Des Moines Register
Wednesday, April 8, 1998, Page 4M