Bath salts bill in limbo

ATTLEBORO – Democratic challenger Paul Heroux is questioning the work ethic and competence of state Rep. George Ross as a result of confusion over legislation Ross was pushing to get the sale of bath salts banned as a dangerous substance.
Ross, R-Attleboro, responded by saying Heroux is showing his inexperience and lack of knowledge of the legislative process.
The freshman lawmaker said he went to great lengths to get his amendment approved because of a concern for public safety.
It has been unclear for several days after the formal legislative session ended last week whether a bill containing Ross’s provision had passed during a rush to finish business before a midnight deadline last Wednesday.
Adding to the confusion was that the bath salts ban had been considered as a stand-alone bill and has an amendment to two different bills – one was a House bill and the other was a Senate bill.
The Senate added it to a prescription drug regulation bill.
Ross said last week he was unsure if the bill with the amendment passed.
Sunday he said it was approved.
But, Monday Ross explained that he had been given faulty information from the Senate. He said he now knows that even though the prescription drug bill containing the bath salt amendment has passed the House, final Senate action is still required.
Ross and House Minority Leader Brad Jones said they understand the Senate will concur with the bill during an informal session Thursday.
But, Heroux struck Monday with a press release saying “Being a good state rep. requires work ethic and competence.”
He said Ross should have more closely monitored his amendment so he would have known whether it passed or not.
Heroux said if he was the state representative, he would not have left the Statehouse without knowing the outcome.
“Attleboro residents depend on their state reps to understand what they are voting on, as the impact of votes could have a great impact on education, public safety or other important impacts to our community. If elected, I will make sure I understand what I’m voting on, and how the votes come out on items that could impact our community,” Heroux said.
Heroux said Ross could have checked with the House clerk to find out if his amendment was approved.
But, Ross and Jones challenged the accuracy of Heroux’s claims.
Jones said there was never a question about Ross’s amendment. He said it was approved unanimously and everyone knew it. The House also passed the larger prescription drug bill. The only question, he said, was whether the Senate had acted.
Ross said he has been working hard for Attleboro and Heroux is off base.
“If this is the level of the campaign, we’re all in trouble,” he said.
The bath salts in question are not the type of product people put into their bath tubs.
They are a substance that when smoked acts like narcotics and can lead to serious physical and mental problems.
Heroux is running in a Democratic primary against Stephen Kane with the winner going against Ross in November. Kane could not be reached for comment.

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