The AMC drama Breaking Bad was praised for many reasons, including its realistic take on the dangers methamphetamine for users, sellers, and “cooks.” One aspect rarely seen in most television shows is the science behind what is taking place; Breaking Bad didn’t have this problem, embracing the dangers of meth using it as a way to advance the plot. The show takes great pains to demonstrate just how toxic the chemicals used in methamphetamine production are, with the cooks wearing layers of protective gear as they produce the illicit drug in RV’s, super-labs, and mobile production facilities—with the show’s anti-hero going to great pains to produce the drugs under the cleanest possible conditions.
The real world, however, is not so clean and tidy. One of the reasons meth is such a pervasive drug is due to the fact that it can be produced with relative ease, with low-cost, and a high return on investment. With producers often users, however, greater emphasis is placed on quick production rather than safety. This quick and dirty method is just that, very quick and very dirty with long term production resulting in the toxic contamination of the homes often a byproduct of the production.
In 2010, Senator Karen Mayne (Democrat – West Valley City) sponsored legislation that would allow individuals to voluntarily contribute to a fund on their tax return that would go towards rehabilitating so-called “meth houses”, where the drug was manufactured, after the occupant leaves; the logic being that homes contaminated by methamphetamine are far more difficult to sell, resulting in lower property values for surrounding homes. As meth is generally produced in low-income areas, it was thought that cleaning up these areas would help communities that need it the most.
But the fund has floundered as Utahns have not contributed, and it has failed to receive the necessary minimum $30,000 in donations required for the service. According to Representative Ed Redd (Republican – Logan) the actual amount collected is closer to $8,000 annually since the fund was established.
For that reason, Redd is sponsoring HB 55 – Repeal of Methamphetamine Housing Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Account, officially eliminating the fund and shutting down the project.
“Two options exist: close down the account and repeal the act [or] renew the act to see if we can make it to the $30,000 a year threshold” says Redd. “Based on previous experience with similar underfunded accounts…the Legislative fiscal analysts have recommended closing the account. In the interest of using limited state resources wisely, I have opted to sponsor HB 55 to achieve this end.”
Redd added that he felt the original bill seemed like a great idea at the time, but taxpayers never got on board to support the fund. The lawmaker concluded by noting that he was open to suggestions to save the account, and assisting it in reaching the $30,000 year threshold to remain a viable project.
Representative Redd is correct that having money floating around, however big or small, creates problems for the state. His legislation, however, makes no provisions to provide direct funding to assist those in low-income neighborhoods clean up the houses that cause the most problems. Redd is formalizing the status quo, but perhaps more should be done.
To contact Representative Redd, Click Here or call 435-760-3177
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