Capitol: Lawmakers debate “sting” operations, STD drugs
January 24th, 2012
Lincoln, NE – The Nebraska Legislature took a step today toward easing up on what some see as unfair â€œstingâ€ operations targeting alcohol sales to minors, and debated making it easier to receive drugs for STD infections.
The bill by Omaha Sen. Bob Krist would require young people to respond truthfully to questions when theyâ€™re helping police check whether businesses are selling alcohol to minors. For example, they’d have to say yes if asked if they were working with law enforcement, and give their correct age if questioned. Senator Abbie Cornett of Bellevue, a former police officer and bar manager, said that would effectively gut future compliance checks.
â€œI will tell you that being able to â€“ if you want to say lie â€“ lie, is how police work is done a lot of the time,â€ Cornett said.
â€œYou donâ€™t go in to buy narcotics and say â€˜Iâ€™m a cop.â€™ You donâ€™t do a sting operation on prostitution wearing a badge. You donâ€™t go in and goâ€¦’Iâ€™m not 21â€™ or â€˜I work for the police departmentâ€™ when youâ€™re trying to buy alcohol illegally.â€
But Senator Russ Karpisek of Wilber, chairman of the General Affairs Committee that recommended the bill, said current practices border on entrapment of businesses. â€œThey donâ€™t want to lose their liquor licenses,â€ Karpisek said. â€œThatâ€™s how they make their money. They arenâ€™t trying to sell to minors on purpose. Mistakes happen and we do need to make certain that they donâ€™t, as much as possible. But to send some people in to deceive and play â€˜Gotchaâ€™ I donâ€™t think is the right way, the upstanding way, that we should be doing these.â€
Senators gave first round approval to the bill on a vote of 25-17. Krist said later heâ€™s trying to send a warning to law enforcement agencies about what he considers abusive practices, like sending officers into a bar and having them vouch for young peopleâ€™s age, so the bartender serves them without checking ID. But he said heâ€™s open to amending or discussing the bill further.
Lawmakers also began debate on a proposal that would let doctors and other medical personnel give out antibiotics for sexually transmitted diseases without actually seeing the people who would get them. Under the bill by Lincoln Sen. Amanda McGill, if one person visits a doctor for an STD, he or she could be given medicine for their partner or partners. McGill said the practice known as expedited partner therapy, or EPT, is used in 30 states and could help combat an epidemic of sexually transmitted diseases, especially in Omaha.
â€œEven if a person might suspect they are infected, many are afraid, embarrassed, or do not have a means to seek medical treatment because of insurance reasons,â€ McGill said. â€œObtaining an in-person exam is obviously still the preferred option for STD treatment. However, the EPT would be permitted if a medical professional believes the partner is unable or unwilling to seek that attention in person.â€
Several senators said prescribing drugs without seeing patients could be risky. Omaha Sen. Steve Lathrop said he didnâ€™t know if the drugs would be safe. â€œBut I do know that the physicians want immunity,â€ he said. â€œAnd the fact that someone wants immunity from something suggests to me that thereâ€™s a risk with what weâ€™re doing here.â€
Lathrop was referring to a part of the bill that would shield medical personnel from liability for dispensing the drugs. The Legislature adjourned for the day before reaching a vote.
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