Nov 10, 2015 5:54 PM
Landrigan: Republican legislative leaders hand Gov. Hassan's heroin crisis plans to task force
CONCORD - "We can’t just put legislation forward and expect everybody to jump on,’’ argues House Speaker Shawn Jasper, R-Hudson.
Governor Maggie Hassan unveils a 17-page blueprint for dealing with the drug crisis at a special session starting next week.
"We are not going to rush to judgment,’’ responds House Majority Leader Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack.
Republican legislative leaders answer today with a 26-person task force, no action on changes until after a final report in early January.
"We have wasted a lot of time arguing about this,’’ Jasper stresses.
Hassan’s spending wish list is not on the fast track.
"There is $11 million in additional spending. We want to know where that $11 million is coming from,’’ Hinch warns.
The House’s top Democrat is disappointed.
"There are some things we could have done immediately and not have to wait until January or February if not later,’’ says House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff of Concord.
Hassan pushes the timeline saying, "There is no reason to wait to take these common-sense steps, and I will continue pushing for and working with the legislature and stakeholders from all sectors on a comprehensive, bipartisan package.’’
The Senate’s leading Republican says Hassan’s team made a major drafting mistake in how it originally crafted provisions making penalties for fentanyl equal heroin possession. Senate and House GOP leaders agree with Hassan on the policy but the follow through as written caused problems.
"We were going to make a major mistake in listing something in state law that somebody would be subject to a major penalty years and years of imprisonment for something that is not an elicit substance,’’ says Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro.
"On substance in dealing with the opioid crisis, these parties are pretty close,’’ concludes Chief Political Correspondent Kevin Landrigan.
"But on politics the Democratic governor and Republican legislative leadership couldn’t be farther apart.’’