NH lawmakers agree on $5 million to fund response to heroin and opioid crisis
CONCORD – A measure that would provide $5 million in state funding for treatment, recovery and housing for those addicted to drugs is a big step closer to reaching Gov. Maggie Hassan’s desk.
Wednesday a committee of state House and Senate conferees came to agreement on the bill, which will get a final vote next week in both chambers before heading to the Corner Office.
“I just signed it and it’s ready to go. This gets the money on the street for substance abuse treatment and recovery,” Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn told NH1 News.
The legislation includes $3 million in funding for the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery. An additional $500,000 will go to peer to peer recovery grants for recovery and support programs. It also establishes a position in the Attorney General’s office, that’s funded by grants, which will focus entirely on drug related cases.
“This is a major move. It's a compromise, like we do in this building. People coming together, working out their differences, getting a good bill and moving it forward,” Woodburn added. “Everybody realizes the important of this issue.”
Woodburn was congratulated by his GOP counterpart.
“I would like to first recognize today’s work on the cornerstone legislation to address the multi-faceted heroin and opioid crisis facing our state and commend each of the 24 members that made up the Drug Task Force for their initial work which began back in December, including the bill’s sponsor, Senator Jeff Woodburn,” Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said in a statement.
Asked about the compromise, state Senate President Chuck Morse told NH1 News “I think it's bipartisan. People have different ways of accomplishing good things and that's what we're basically debating this week.”
Last week, the governor urged quick passage of the measure, which is officially known as Senate Bill 533.
Last Thursday the state Senate agreed with changes made by the state House to a bill expanding drug courts throughout New Hampshire. And the Senate also concurred with a House measure that would allow people addicted to heroin or opioids to receive treatment without prior authorization from insurers.
Hassan told NH1 News last week that she’s “looking forward” to signing both measures.
Also headed to the Corner Office is a bill allowing the Department of Corrections to purchase and put into use body scanners at state prisoners and county jails.
Hassan told NH1 News last week that “we know that we have to take steps to make it harder and harder for those drugs to get into the prison system. I will review the bill very closely when it gets to my desk. But I want to make sure we’re considering all options and making sure that what everyone we decide to use the best one for public safety but also for our public employees.”
All 14 Senate Republicans voted for the measure, with the chamber’s 10 Democrats voting against the bill.
“While the heroin and opioid crisis will not be resolved overnight, this legislature has made significant progress by establishing policy that directly responds to the major issues facing our communities and we hope that this crisis will begin to slow dramatically,” Bradley added, in his statement Wednesday evening.
State Senate President Chuck Morse speaks with NH1 News on Wednesday, May 25
State Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn speaks with NH1 News on Wednesday, May 25