Take two: Lawmakers to return June 16 to vote on police drug enforcement funding
CONCORD — State lawmakers will return to the State House in two weeks to try and pass $1.5 million in funding for New Hampshire's law enforcement efforts in the battle against the heroin and opioid epidemic.
The announcement by Republican state House and Senate leaders on late Thursday afternoon came one day after the funding bill unexpectedly failed to pass during the final day of the session.
The funds would expand a program called "Operation Granite Hammer," which will dedicate more law enforcement to the state's fight against the drug crisis, including more money through grants to county and local police departments.
“Operation Granite Hammer has been part of our comprehensive strategy of addressing the substance abuse and misuse crisis in our state and it’s critical that law enforcement statewide have the resources that it needs to really combat the supply of opioids into our state," Gov. Maggie Hassan told reporters on Wednesday.
Thursday morning she urged lawmakers to take another crack at the funding bill for the program. Later in the day GOP leaders in both chambers announced a special session day scheduled for June 16.
The bill failed Wednesday, in part, because it was attached to a proposal to change retiree's health care contributions. The retiree health change won't be included when the bill comes up for a fresh vote.
Lawmakers from both parties blamed each other for the failure to pass the funding.
Wednesday Democratic Sen. Donna Soucy of Manchester pointed fingers at House Republicans, saying in a statement that "it is unbelievable that the House would play political games with this funding by attaching such a controversial provision and it is a shame that it failed in the House today."
Thursday Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley blamed the Democrats and the Democratic governor.
“While it is extremely disappointing that this bill was killed by House Democrats, it further proves that Governor Hassan is missing in action on critical issues facing this state and is focused on nothing more than political posturing and campaigning for the U.S. Senate, and not the issues the citizens of New Hampshire are dealing with every day,” Bradley said.
Thursday afternoon Hassan applauded State House leaders "for their swift action to convene a special session."
"I thank legislative leadership for working quickly to address this issue and committing to bring forward a clean bill, and I look forward to continuing to work with legislators from both parties to expand Operation Granite Hammer," the governor added in a statement.