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Jun 15, 2016 5:13 PM

NH lawmakers called back to vote on anti-drug operation 'Granite Hammer' funding


CONCORD - The anti-drug operation "Granite Hammer" that law enforcement wants to expand across the state is getting a second chance with a $1.5 million grant.

"We have removed 50,000 dosage units, and I believe that the work that we've done has saved lives," said Col. Robert Quinn of the NH State Police.

Manchester's police chief said Granite Hammer, in coordination with federal officials, has recently netted more than 100 arrests and taken down two gangs. Officials said additional funding would help combat the heroin and opiate crisis further.

"Given what we're seeing across this state, this is a no brainer," said Manchester Chief Nick Willard.

Since the House session is almost over, lawmakers are being asked to make an exception to the rules Thursday, and schedule a vote on the bill that would provide $1.5 million in funding for the program.

Despite the current drug epidemic, state Rep. David Bates, R-Salem, doesn't agree with bending the rules.

"There's nothing stopping this bill from being refiled in September and being taken up by the legislature and, if necessary, being fast tracked in January in order to make funding available," Bates said.

But House leaders said this session already included expanding education and treatment -- and enforcement is the third prong.

"It's critical to taking Fentanyl off the streets. We have got to do more. We have got to help the police coordinate, which is exactly what this does. It's not a lot of money, but it is very important," said Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper.

"Democrats and Republicans are working together for the common good of the people that we serve. We do not want opioid dealers in our state; we want them arrested and off the streets," said Democratic House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff.

Legislators will first vote on whether to temporarily change House rules to allow a special vote on the bill on Thursday morning.

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