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PHARMACY CRIME COMPROMISE BILL MOVES TO SENATE

Executive Summary

PHARMACY CRIME COMPROMISE BILL MOVES TO SENATE after clearing the House May 8. Although initially expected to reach the Senate floor by May 11, lengthy budget deliberations in the Senate have apparently delayed it from taking up the legislation. The compromise is based on a bill introduced in the House by Crime Subcmte. Chairman Hughes (D-NJ) and passed by the House April 2. A new version containing modifications worked out in discussions with other House and Senate members was returned to the House and passed. The new version of the bill passed by the House redefines the extent of injury incurred during a pharmacy crime which would trigger federal law enforcement intervention. Hughes explained during House floor discussion that "we have reduced the injuries from 'serious' bodily injury to 'significant' bodily injury." Retained from Hughes' original bill is the $500 whsle. value threshold to trigger federal intervention. In addition, the bill provides higher sentences for armed robbery. The adoption of what Hughes called "a sentence enhancement if the offense is committed with a dangerous weapon or device" would carry a maximum prison sentence of 25 years and fine of $35,000 for assaulting or jeopardizing a person's life with a weapon while committing pharmacy theft. The provision stems from a Senate version introduced by Sen. Jepson (R-Iowa) and passed by the Senate Feb. 23 that called for a maximum 25-year, $10,000 penalty for use of a dangerous weapon or device. The compromise also includes a provision from the Jepson bill requiring the Attorney General to report to Congress al federal prosecutions pursuant to the bill for each of the first three years after enactment. House and Senate representatives reconciled the two bills without a formal conference. Commenting on the efforts by the legislators and the professionals involved in reaching the compromise, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) told the House: "Pharmacy crime legislation in this Congress would not be possible without the work of the Natl. Assn. of Chain Drug Stores and the Natl. Whsle. Druggists' Assn."
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