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Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, explains plans for a one-day meeting for lawmakers next month to act on the consensus bills that deal with the opioid crisis.

Dec 4, 2015 7:46 PM

Landrigan: NH Political Report. Republican legislative leaders move for one-day session to deal with consensus bills on the opioid crisis


CONCORD - The Republican-led Legislature refused to give Gov. Maggie Hassan a pre-2016 special session to tackle the opioid crisis.

But House and Senate leaders made moves last week to give her the next best thing - a fixed date for when lawmakers will ship the "low hanging fruit" to her on the issue.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson, and Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, have been sensitive to Hassan’s criticisms that lawmakers moved too slowly as more and more have been dying from drug overdoses.

So they have set Jan. 21 as the target date for when the House and the Senate will meet and act on those consensus recommendations that the Opioid Task Force comes up with later this month.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said the meetings of the task force prove the point that GOP legislative leaders were making that even agreed-to issues needed time to gel.

"These matters are always more complicated than they appear to be at first blush but there could be as many as a dozen things we can all agree on that should act upon early on," Bradley said.

Some of those include:

- Merging heroin and fentanyl together in the criminal code;

- New Hampshire Drug Monitoring Program: A software upgrade with some limited state dollars and,

- Making health insurance companies streamline substance abuse coverage.

The task force plows forward next Tuesday with a daylong focus on drug courts with Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, and Stafford County pioneers of the idea among the speakers. On Wednesday, they explore the proposal of Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, to require alcohol and drug education being part of the public health education curriculum.

Then on Thursday another round-and-round on prescribing rules for physicians with the New Hampshire Medical Society offering its take.


Concord Democratic Rep. Marjorie Porter getting a prominent role in a national telephone news conference Monday to announce legislation being pursued here, in first caucus Iowa, second primary spot South Carolina and seven other states calling for debt-free college.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee is organizing the call with speakers from Massachusetts and liberal think tanks.

Debt-free college means that students can graduate from all public colleges and universities with zero debt. It can be achieved through a variety of ways, including more federal aid to the states, more aid to students, and innovations that reduce college costs.


Republicans on Capitol Hill are on the cusp of achieving the unthinkable [-] getting repeal of Obamacare onto the President’s desk.

After 40 tries how are they doing it? By changing the rules of course.

Tactically it’s a master stroke. They declare Obamacare essentially a budget bill and by doing it triggers reconciliation.

This means that anything can happen in the Senate on the topic with only 51 votes ending the attempts by minority Democrats to invoke a filibuster to block final action.

But politically it could come at a high cost and Democrats believe US Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, could be one of those paying the price.

Along the way this week the Senate voted for the sixth time to defund Planned Parenthood and to repeal Medicaid expansion even as the state faces a drug overdose crisis.

Ayotte pointed out the expansion would remain in place through 2017 but during a conference call Friday Democrats pounced.

"Repealing this plan would mean that more than 40,000 New Hampshire residents get the rug pulled out from underneath them and will lose their health care," says Rep. Cindy Rosenwald.

"Kicking tens of thousands of people off their health care would be bad enough, but it’s made worse because of the substance abuse crisis here in New Hampshire. This vote would eliminate substance abuse treatment coverage for a huge group of Granite Staters."


The Ayotte campaign believes Gov. Maggie Hassan is the one who’s vulnerable and it’s on national security.

Ayotte has chosen to return to Hassan’s comments a few weeks ago about the ISIS threat after the Paris attacks.

"I think that ISIS declared war in bombing of Paris last week," Hassan said. "And I think this is a unique and evolving threat. We have to do more, to combat ISIS. And that’s going to be an ongoing concern of the people of the United States. I have called for, and I believe it is appropriate, for the president to send to Congress and for Congress to discuss a new Authorization of the Use of Military Force to combat ISIS."

And Ayotte jumped on the first part of that quote as exposing Hassan’s naivete when it comes to the ISIS threat.

"I have to say I was really surprised to hear [Governor Hassan's] comments last week that ISIS declared war on us when the Paris attacks occurred,’’ Ayotte answered.

"Because actually, ISIS declared war on us in 2012… So I think there is a difference there [between us] because that showed a lack of knowledge as to this threat and the past actions."

A Democratic operative says the Ayotte campaign was trying to change the subject from what they claim was not a good week.

"Ayotte's trying to change the subject but she's got absolutely nothing -- and this line of attack is particularly thin. The Governor's been very strong on national security. And she's laid out a number of steps needed to defeat ISIS, including calling on congress to finally be honest with the American people about what it will take to defeat ISIS by passing a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force,’’ the operative said.


Ayotte joined with nearly all Republicans to vote against barring suspected terrorists, felons and the mentally ill from getting guns.

The National Rifle Association argues this would strip some innocent people of their constitutional rights to gun access and this came a day after another massacre on US soil.

But a national Quinnipiac poll showed 77 percent support for the idea.

Think this will become fodder for the US Senate campaign in the coming weeks? Count on it.


Former FL Gov. Jeb Bush returns to New Hampshire next week for an extended, three-day trip to include the AARP Social Security Summit and Devine Millimet Candidate Series forum on Tuesday. He hosts town halls in Hooksett Wednesday and in Milford on Thursday.


Hillary Clinton hosts her 18th town hall forum in Salem Tuesday.

Clinton has laid out plans to increase wages for working families, reduce college costs and students' debt burden, tackle substance abuse, fight for women's rights and opportunity, and take action to reduce gun violence.

Her push for gun control last week was obviously meant to try and draw more of a contrast with chief primary rival Bernie Sanders who has been more supportive of gun owner rights than Clinton has.


Late Thursday night after Senate votes, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, went with a congressional delegation to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris.

Shaheen will also attend security briefings with officials following the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last month.

"Granite Staters understand the urgency of addressing climate change," said Shaheen. "New Hampshire is going above and beyond in its efforts to tackle global warming, but it’s imperative that efforts in our state are matched by national and international action."

Shaheen and the delegation are scheduled to take part in bilateral meetings with leaders from Bangladesh, Indonesia, South Africa, European Union, Brazil, Island Nations, Japan, Canada, India and China.

The delegation will also meet with United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon.

Shaheen is a member of the Senate’s Armed Services and Foreign Relations Committees.


Give Senator Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, political high marks for going on the offensive against the Kinder Morgan gas pipeline project in the southern tier.

Ayotte’s move early Thursday caused a flurry of me-too from the rest of the delegation that came out in opposition to the current plan including Governor Hassan.

Then late Friday, Hassan sent another letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to try and underline how strong she’s been on public comment being heard.

"I share many of the concerns that communities and individuals have raised," Governor Hassan wrote. "I ask again that FERC address these concerns and require that the company work to address the environmental, public health and safety issues raised by affected communities. It is my belief that if the company cannot do so, the project should not move forward as currently proposed."


On Monday night at St. Anselm College’s Institute of Politics, Politico’s New Hampshire Caucus gets together.

Among the speakers for the 8 pm program include state GOP Chairman Jennifer Horn and Democratic Chair Ray Buckley, Harvard Kennedy School executive and veteran White House adviser David Gergen, talkshow host Arnie Arnesen and GOP consultant Kevin Madden.


Quote of the Week:

"And folks let’s forget politics today, okay? Let’s just talk about what is going on here. How is it possible they think they can walk into this building and kill you." Republican presidential hopeful John Kasich riffs on the goals of ISIS followers during his town hall at Manchester’s Sweeney Post town hall Friday.


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