Jan 15, 2016 6:35 PM
Landrigan: NH Political Report - State drug czar didn't jump; he was pushed
CONCORD [-] Nothing says he got pushed more than a late Friday afternoon resignation from state drug czar Dr. Jack Wozmak.
The announcement might have given some the impression that Wozmak was heading out because the non-profit grant paying for his position was running out Feb. 1, the same day he was stepping down.
But Hassan Press Secretary William Hinkle confirmed that Hassan will ``expeditiously’’ find a replacement for Wozmak.
State officials said there was enough money in the budget for the anti-drug commission to fill the post.
Republican leaders criticized Wozmak for failing to meeting with local officials and taking too much time to come up with solutions to the epidemic.
Councilor Chris Sununu, R-Newfields, says Wozmak was never a good fit for the state.
"I, along with many others, previously expressed concerns with Mr. Wozmak's performance and ability to understand the enormity of the opioid problem in New Hampshire,’’ Sununu sauys.
"Therefore, I view today's news as a fresh opportunity to install a more capable leader in the executive branch, who will better assess the challenges, be able to coordinate vital programs and resources, and develop new and effective means for addressing the issue of addiction that is plaguing our state.’’
State GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn was a persistent critic.
"Jack Wozmak’s tenure as Governor Maggie Hassan’s drug czar was marked by a troubling pattern of ineptitude and ineffectiveness,’’ said Republican State Chairwoman Jennifer Horn.
"Under Governor Hassan’s leadership, Mr. Wozmak refused to work with local officials and repeatedly failed to reach out to the physicians and members of New Hampshire’s law enforcement community who are on the front lines of combating our state’s heroin epidemic.
"Given the seriousness of New Hampshire’s substance abuse crisis, Governor Hassan should have already replaced Mr. Wozmak with a competent person who could have done a better job.’’
The fact is Wozmak had little chance to make a good impression and as a result he was finished before he could really get started.
Finally the CAFRA is here.
The state’s Comprehensive Accounting of Financial Reporting is due to be submitted to the Legislative Fiscal Committee at next Friday’s meeting.
The CAFRA is late; state law requires that it has to be done every year by Dec. 31.
Usually it is well in hand of the governor and legislative leaders weeks before the end of the calendar year.
This becomes critical this year as both House and Senate GOP heads have said they would not be willing to spend more money to fight the drug epidemic until they got a look at the CAFRA.
Last summer Gov. Maggie Hassan has already announced that the last budget year ended June 30 with a $27 million surplus. Then it was upgraded to about $63 million after Day.
On Friday, she said the surplus was at $62 million and that the increase means the state’s Rainy Day Fund will more than double to $22 million.
“In our work together over the past year, we have made great progress in our efforts to help set the foundation for a new generation of economic growth that will lift all of our people,” Hassan said.
“By carefully managing state agency expenditures, taking preemptive action to protect our budget and maintaining fiscal responsibility, we ended Fiscal Year 2015 with a $62 million surplus, allowing us to strengthen our Rainy Day Fund, which we more than doubled to $22.3 million.”
That’s surely not how legislative leaders saw it like Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, noting the final budget was likely smaller.
“For months there has been overly ambitious speculation about a large surplus coming out of FY 15 with numerous legislative proposals ready to spend the surplus balance. Today’s CAFR shows there is no surplus and we must continue to be careful stewards of New Hampshire taxpayer dollars,” Morse said.
“We are also aware of a number of potential significant costs that still need to be addressed which could impact the State’s budget. We will address those issues and continue to take care of the needs of the State of New Hampshire, but we must keep a close eye on spending and clearly define the state’s fiscal priorities as we move forward in FY 16.”
What was the holdup? The New Hampshire Political Report confirms one of the key snags was getting final, financial information from the state Department of Environmental Services.
The liberal blog Jezebel having more fun with the New Hampshire Legislature at the expense of conservative Republican lawmakers.
The following email exchange was leaked to Jezebel; it concerns a new policy for both the state House and Senate, specifically outlining what sexual and other forms of harassment are, and why you shouldn’t do them to your colleagues.
The Joint Legislative Facilities Committee approved the policy and House Chief of Staff Terry Pfaff asked each member of the Legislature to sign it.
From: Pfaff, Terry
Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2016 4:05 PM
To: ~All Representatives
Subject: General Court Policy Against Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment and Discrimination
Dear Members of the House:
Attached please find the General Court’s new Policy Against Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment and Discrimination, which was approved by the Joint Committee on Legislative Facilities on January 5, 2016.
Please read the entire policy carefully and return the last page with your signature to Legislative Accounting in Room 113 of the State House. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.
Thank you for your prompt attention to this important matter.
Yours in good government,
Terence R. Pfaff
House Chief of Staff
State Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, didn’t appreciate the request and called it ``Political Correctness Gone Wrong.’’
From: Burt, John
Sent: Thursday, January 14, 2016 7:40 PM
To: Pfaff, Terry; ~All Representatives
Subject: RE: General Court Policy Against Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment and Discrimination
Dear House Members, With NO disrespect to the committee or Chief of Staff,
I ask you please do not sign this. Below on page 3 would stop all of my speeches. This is Political Correctness gone wrong.
Page 3 second paragraph: “Employees and members need to be concerned not only with the intent of their actions, but also the effects of their actions on the receiver. Even unintentional conduct (including conduct that is intended as a “joke”) can be a violation of this Policy.”
When the Democrat member last year said, “I think we should euthanize all elderly” or close to that, I wanted to hear him say that. That way I know what the member is really thinking. When a Republican member brought up Plan Parenthood and said their mascot should be the red tail hawk, I wanted to hear that so I know what the member is really thinking. When I said last Wednesday that hunting husbands can go deaf and not hear their wives talking to them, I meant no harm by that. It was a joke. But under the part on page 3, I would be in trouble if one person found it offensive which one or two did.
I am offended when members lie on the House floor but I want to hear those lies so I can then make a vote based on the true speech of the member. If they are not allowed to speak their minds, that will not be good for the citizens of NH, the people that elected me and you.
Former State Representative Steve Vaillancourt told me at orientation January 2011 to be nice to all members because who you are fighting with today may be your best buddy another day. I live by that advice.
Again I ask you not to sign this and here is why, my friend Rep Baldasaro asked me to include this,
[Art.] 30. [Freedom of Speech.] The freedom of deliberation, speech, and debate, in either house of the legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any action, complaint, or prosecution, in any other court or place whatsoever.
Thank you for your time and God Bless NH and America,
Representative John A. Burt
Criminal Justice Committee
Goffstown, Weare and Deering, NH
House Speaker Shawn Jasper stepped in and reminded Burt that this entire thing is created so the state will not get sued.
From: Jasper, Shawn <Shawn.Jasper@leg.state.nh.us>
Date: Thu, Jan 14, 2016 at 10:53 PM
Subject: RE: General Court Policy Against Sexual and Other Unlawful Harassment and Discrimination
To: “Burt, John” <John.Burt@leg.state.nh.us>, “Pfaff, Terry” <Terry.Pfaff@leg.state.nh.us>, ~All Representatives <HReps@leg.state.nh.us>
I am not even sure where to begin, in the first place speech on the floor of the House is constitutionally protected, the policy itself references that constitutional protection ( see below), we all know or should know that only the House itself can take any action against a member for what is said on the floor. This policy does not and cannot apply to speeches made on the floor of the House or Senate. The only reason that members are asked to sign the policy is to show that each of you have read it (see below), not to suggest that you agree with the policy or that you even intend to comply with it. If a complaint is made against a member and even if it was found that the policy had been violated, only the House could take action against that member, relative to the office. As we all should understand employees and members can take action against the state as well as other individuals and be held liable for illegal activities. It would be unconscionable for us not to have a policy designed to protect our employees and members from illegal behavior in the work place. If you do not wish to acknowledge that you have read the policy, there is no action that can be taken. In the event that if there is any action taken against the General Court (which has happened in the past) we have now shown that we have a policy in place and have asked our members to acknowledge that they received and read of the policy. As elected officials we should all want to help protect the state from liability, when the state is not at fault.
Shawn N. Jasper, Speaker
NH House of Representatives
State House, Room 311
107 North Main St.
There’s unanimity over legislation to tackle the heroin epidemic in the State Senate coming from the Opioid Task Force.
But there is no agreement over whether the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program should be mandatory.
No state in the country imposes this requirement but Sen. Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, said we should be the first.
Sanborn says the current system only has pharmacists checking prescription requests on the monitoring system five percent of the time.
``We have to do more than we are doing; we’re failing to detect people until after they have gotten into trouble,’’ Sanborn said.
But Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said it’s too much micromanaging by the state and the state’s computer infrastructure can’t support it.
``We legislators should not be acting as doctors,’’ Bradley said.
``They are not a special interest; they are not acting out of self-interest; they are trying to do the right things by their patients.’’
New Jersey Gov. Christie has come under fire from New Hampshire firearm advocates and now he has to decide what to with controversial legislation pending on his desk.
Silicon Valley investors, religious leaders across the country, and now President Obama have all gotten behind smart guns. They say that cutting-edge technologies can eventually do for guns what air bags have done for cars – prevent thousands of deaths.
But critics maintain there is a law on the books in New Jersey – a smart-gun mandate law – that, by all accounts, is an obstacle to getting these products to market.
The NRA has criticized this law and Christie has until Tuesday to decide what to do with a bill to ease that mandate.
Politico certainly did not do the New Hampshire Republican State Committee any favor with its insider’s story critical of the state of the NH GOP.
Some observations in the piece:
[-] “Though he has slipped in Iowa, Donald Trump is dominating the New Hampshire presidential polls over a divided field of “establishment” candidates… The turmoil extends down the ballot, where both of New Hampshire’s Republican members of Congress face potentially messy primary battles…”
[-] “GOP Rep. Frank Guinta’s approval ratings and reelection prospects plunged after he admitted to a major (and long-denied) campaign finance violation this spring. The New Hampshire Union Leader called him a ‘damned liar’ in a six-word editorial, Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte called on Guinta to resign and state GOP chair Jennifer Horn said the congressman had ‘betrayed the public trust.'”
[-] “Ayotte has faced her own challenge from within the party. Conservatives grew irritated with her when she interfered in the state House speaker’s race to back a more moderate candidate last year.
You could count on NH Democratic Party Chairman Raymond Buckley to jump all over the story.
“We have an exciting primary on our side of the aisle here in New Hampshire with staff in every corner of the state and an historic event with thousands of New Hampshire Democrats and all three presidential candidates planned the weekend before the primary,’’ Buckley said in a statement.
`` Whoever our nominee is will win New Hampshire and help take home wins for Maggie Hassan, Annie Kuster and all our Democrats up and down the ticket.”
Quote of the Week:
"I liked the fact that when you debate an issue all of you are in here. That doesn’t happen in the US Senate as you know. Maybe that’s part of our problem down there.’’ [-] US Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, speaking to the State Senate during an impromptu visit to the State House chamber. Shaheen started her political career in this body, serving three terms in the Senate before first winning election as governor in 1996.