Well, the big Special Session of the New Hampshire General Court came and went yesterday and legislative leaders accomplished what they set out to do: Create a committee to study the opioid epidemic in the state. The session was called by the Governor and Council at the request of Governor Margaret Wood Hassan, who wanted legislators to approve various proposals to spend eleven point one million dollars to combat the crisis. Legislative leaders who opposed the governor’s call for the special session took advantage of the governor’s inability to direct their agenda once in session. They announced the would establish a twenty six member task force that would ultimately produce five pieces of legislation addressing:
- The current criminal penalties for the possession and distribution of fentanyl
- Requiring insurance companies to use the same evaluation criteria for substance abuse treatment and removing prior authorization requirements
- Mandating greater use of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and upgrading its technology
- Continuing medical education relating to prescribing schedule II, III and IV drugs
- Providing a statewide drug court grant program
- Expanding the reach of State Police’s new mobile enforcement teams
Don’t expect to see any bills until the legislature convenes for its regular term in January. The task force will hold its organizational meeting on November twenty fourth.
The request of the Manchester Board of Mayor and Aldermen, made Tuesday night, the night before yesterday’s special session, was not fulfilled. After a legislative update presented by Ward Three Alderman and State Representative Patrick Long about the level of Manchester representation on the task force, Mayor Ted Gatsas requested and received a motion asking Speaker Shawn Jasper to appoint at least one member of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. That didn’t happen.
Of the fourteen House members, only Ward One State Representative Jeff Goley, who is a Manchester firefighter, is from the city. All three senators representing Manchester residents, David Boutin, Republican from Hooksett, who represents wards One, Two and Twelve and is a sponsor of the drug court bill announced a month ago, Donna Soucy, Democrat from Manchester, who represents Wards Five through Nine and Casino Lou D’Allesandro, Democrat from Manchester, who Represents wards Three, Four, Ten and Eleven were named to the task force.
On Tuesday night, Long also shared that the drug court bill he co-sponsored with Boutin, Manchester state reps Will Infantine of Ward Six and Joe Lachance of Ward One and Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley would be part of the task force’s deliberations and that the word around the State House was that various and important state reps were saying there was no money to fund the initiative. He also said legislators in the Hillsborough County Delegation were uninterested in revisiting funding a drug court in light of the pending legislation.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
Manchester Police Chief Nick Willard is backtracking on comments he made Tuesday night at the meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. During a discussion on a motion by Ward Twelve Alderman Keith Hirschmann, Willard was asked about the numbers of Syrian refugees that were headed toward the city. In reply, he said that the F B I had told him that of the ninety thousand Syrian refugees the administration committed to take into the country, five hundred of them were headed for the state. In a Twitter Tweet yesterday, which we just happened to catch this morning as we were searching our feeds for news, Willard issued a statement clarifying that there were five hundred total refugees coming to New Hampshire from all over the world and that he didn’t mean to imply they were all coming from Syria.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Click here for the final story regarding Willard’s clarifications.
Meanwhile, Democratic Executive Councilor Colin Van Ostern, who has declared his candidacy for governor, is being called out by Citizens for a Strong New Hampshire for supporting the settlement of Syrian refugees in the state. Van Ostern has criticized Governor Margaret Wood Hassan for calling on the administration to halt resettlement until their identities can be verified to ensure none are ISIS infiltrators. Strong N H has exposed Van Ostern saying
“Councilor Van Ostern’s public statements came after the spokesman for the liberal special interest group, Democracy for America, blasted Democrats who vocally supported stopping Syrian refugees from coming to America at this time. This (is the) same spokesman who is hosting a fundraiser in Washington, D.C. for Van Ostern next month, and has since praised Van Ostern for his position.”
Finally this morning, there’s been a big shake up in the GOP nomination race for President and we’re not talking about the departure of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal from the race. We’re talking about the entry of Goffstown State Rep John Burt who entered the race yesterday. His campaign slogan is “Burt for a Freer America.” In posting pictures of his filing at the Secretary of State’s Office, Burt simply said “I need supporters.” He has yet to reply to our request for an interview. Don’t worry though, we’ll get him!
Publisher’s notes: Burt has since said he would gladly be a guest on our show. We’ve also since discovered that the announcement was a hoax to have some fun. Apparently, ours wasn’t the only media outlet to take the bait!
That’s news from our own backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next!