Hassan tells NH1 News she'll sign drug court, treatment bills, reservations on body scanners
CONCORD – Gov. Maggie Hassan’s praising two bills in the fight against the heroin and opioid epidemic that are on the way to her desk. But the governor has reservations about a third measure also approved by state lawmakers. And she’s urging state senators and representatives to come to agreement on another bill which would provide funding for treatment and recovery services.
The state Senate Thursday 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.
In a one-on-one interview with NH1 News, Hassan said “I’m looking forward to signing” both bills.
“The Senate took action to pass a bill that will make it easier to get people into inpatient treatment. It’s going to streamline that prior authorization process so people can get into treatment when a professional really thinks they need to rather than wait for their insurance company,” Hassan said
And Hassan praised the measure expanding drug courts, of which she’s a strong advocate. “We know that drug courts improve public safety, save money, and help people who are suffering from addiction return to their communities as really productive citizens,” she added.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley also praised the bill.
“Establishing a Drug Court program in New Hampshire is a critical element aimed at breaking the cycle of addiction and recidivism for drug offenders and is an important tool that the legislature has made available to curb the opioid crisis in our state,” the Republican from Wolfeboro said in a statement.
“Drug Courts provide repeat offenders access to substance abuse treatment and recovery, and programming to alter the disease of addiction and to help high risk offenders find a stable, positive path forward, reducing the overall rate of recidivism in New Hampshire,” Bradley added.
Divide over body scanners
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 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.
GOP Sen. Andy Sanborn of Bedford told NH1 News that “we all understand that the availability of drugs in our jails, in our prisons, is something everyone seems to be aware of. And there’s been a lot of concern. As you know there’s been two overdoses in New Hampshire prisons recently. They’re getting in somehow.”
Sanborn said the measure would make sure “that everyone should have to go through the same safety protocols” to “insure that we’re keeping drugs out” the prisons.
But Senate Democrats disagreed.
Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn wrote in a statement that “we felt that this legislation was rushed. We all want to prevent drugs from entering our prisons, but are body scanners the most effective tool to do that? Are drug-sniffing dogs more effective? What does the Department of Corrections think of this proposal? These are just a few of the questions we would have liked answers to before sending this legislation to the Governor.”
Speaking with NH1 News, the governor also urged swift passage of SB 533, a Senate measure that would provide treatment and recovery funding, as well as funds for housing for those struggling with addiction. The bill was sent to a Conference of Committee to work out details.
The State House on Thursday May 19, 2016