Mental health seems to be on the mind of the state’s political leadership. Governor Christopher Sununu testified in favor of House Bill 4 0 0 yesterday. The bill requires the Department of Health and Human services to develop a 10-year plan for mental health services.
Senate President Chuck Morse, Republican from Salem, and Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, Republican from Wolfeboro, offered an amendment to the bill yesterday that would add twenty traditional mental health care beds and forty new transitional beds, add community based services and mobile crisis units, make organizational and policy changes in the Division of Children Youth and Families and strengthen the Child Protection Act.
In a statement issued yesterday, Morse said quote:
After receiving daily reports on the number of mental health patients held in emergency rooms awaiting mental health beds to become available at New Hampshire Hospital, and then seeing it first hand during a visit to a local hospital in recent weeks, it became very clear that we could wait no longer to take action to address the shortage of mental health care. Far too many patients in need of psychiatric care are waiting weeks, in some cases, for the care they need in emergency rooms across the State.
Bradley’s comments focused on the changes to the law affecting children. Quote:
It is our intent to change our laws so we establish a clear policy that values the welfare of a child over family reunification when the parents may endanger their child’s safety. This amendment also makes organizational reforms, requires an independent review and provides additional oversight at DCYF to better protect the children from abuse in our state…These proposed changes aim to reduce the risks faced by children in New Hampshire by making sure that their best interest is always the top priority.
Bradley said the amendment would allow for unfounded abuse or neglect reports to be admissible in court proceedings, which is not currently allowed, in order to highlight a pattern should there be one related to abuse.
In the latest on the opioid epidemic that continues to batter the state, some not so good news. The severity of the situation in the Queen City was underscored by an article published yesterday by Cutest Babies dot com, where Manchester was ranked the eleventh most drug addicted city in the nation, one place ahead of Detroit, which was number twelve. We’ve got the link.
Also yesterday, Governor Christopher Sununu held a press conference to announce that the State Medical Examiner and the State Forensic Lab have confirmed what Manchester Emergency Medical Services Officer Christopher Hickey of the Manchester Fire Department announced months ago; the extremely dangerous drug Carfentanil is on Granite State streets. While it looks like fentanyl, it’s one hundred times more powerful. Sununu echoed Hickey’s warnings, calling it a serious risk to emergency personnel, medical staff and laboratory technicians because it can be absorbed through the skin or accidentally inhaled, necessitating immediate emergency medical treatment.
News from our own backyard continues after this.
It wasn’t all drugs and mental health in the legislature, yesterday. Full day kindergarten, also know as Full Day K, was on the agenda and it took yet another unexpected turn. An amendment offered by State Rep. Victoria Sullivan, Republican from Manchester Ward Nine, to Senate Bill 1 9 1 that would require Kindergarten classes be play based and movement oriented, failed in the House Education Committee.
After Sullivan’s amendment failed, Education Committee Vice Chair Terry Wolf, Republican from Bedford, popped a surprise amendment, that would fully fund all current and future Full Day K programs across the state, on the committee. That amendment does away with the targeted aid formula approved by the senate and essentially resurrects the bill killed by the House which simply doubled the amount of state spending on Kindergarten. Despite the price tag rising from nine million dollars for the targeted aid to fourteen and a half million dollars for the everybody gets it payments in just the first year of the budget, Governor Sununu, who has made Full Day K something of a personal crusade, issued a statement saying quote:
Today’s actions are a significant step forward for New Hampshire. Full-day kindergarten is good for children, families, and a critical tool in retaining our workforce.
According to our sources in Concord, Education Committee Chairman Rick Ladd recessed the meeting after Wolfe said she had an amendment so the Republicans on the committee could caucus. During that caucus, Wolfe said that both the governor and Finance Committee Chairman Neal Kurk were in favor of the amendment, which given Kurk’s past opposition to funding kindergarten at all, was a surprise to members of the committee, who voted overwhelmingly for the amendment. The bill now heads to the Finance Committee for a vote before going to the House for final approval. It would appear as if the fix is in for funding Full Day K.
The Manchester Police Department has sent a reminder to the media that it will participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s semi-annual Drug Take Back Day. This Saturday from ten to two, city residents may drop off their unused, unwanted prescriptions at Police Headquarters, the Elliot at River’s Edge, Catholic Medical Center and the Army National Guard Armory.
In addition to the prescription drop off, the department has invited residents to bring sensitive documents they’d like to destroy to Police Headquarters where Iron Mountain Services will be on hand to shred them free of charge. The department says it’s an effort to fight identity theft. There is a limit of one legal sized box of documents per household.
Finally, in conjunction with the Drug Take Back and the document shredding, the police will host a Touch A Truck event, also at Police Headquarters. They’re inviting the public to bring their kids and see their SWAT vehicle, which I suspect is the Bearcat, their new cruisers, S U Vs, A T Vs, the Crime Scene Truck, that’s bigger than a Winnebago, and OOOHHH sooo much more! Be sure to drop in!
That’s NEWS from our own backyard! Girard at Large hour ___ is next!