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Press Release

For Immediate Release
November 3, 2015

Communications Office

Governor Hassan to Call for Special Session on Comprehensive Substance Abuse Legislation at Tomorrow’s Governor and Council Meeting
NH Association of Chiefs of Police President Chief Cormier, Nashua Police Chief Lavoie Issue Statements in Support of Special Session

CONCORD – Continuing her work to strengthen the state’s efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, Governor Maggie Hassan announced today that at tomorrow’s Governor and Council meeting in Newport, she will ask the Council to join her in calling for a special legislative session to take up comprehensive substance abuse legislation. The Governor’s proposed proclamation would convene the legislature for a special session beginning on November 18, 2015.

“The heroin and opioid crisis is the most pressing public health and safety challenge facing our state, and we must act quickly to give patients, providers, parents and law enforcement better tools to combat this epidemic,” Governor Hassan said. “Our families, our communities and our state can’t afford to wait until April or May for the comprehensive action. This is the most important issue facing our state, and it deserves the full and swift attention that comes from a special session of the legislature. That is why I am calling on the Executive Council to approve a motion to convene the legislature for a special session beginning on November 18 to take up comprehensive substance abuse legislation.”

In calling this session, Governor Hassan intends to limit the agenda to legislative items aimed at strengthening the state’s efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis and to help save lives. Governor Hassan will propose draft legislation including:

  • Ensuring that laws and penalties for the distribution and sale of fentanyl, the major cause of overdose death in 2015, match those for the sale and distribution of heroin;
  • Streamlining access to treatment by requiring all insurance companies to use the same evaluation criteria and removing prior authorization requirements in certain cases;
  • Requiring the boards governing all prescribers to update their rules by April 1 in order to ensure that patients and providers are warned adequately about the dangers of opioids, that providers are required to follow best prescribing practices, and that prescribers receive appropriate medical education in the best practices on prescribing opioids and pain management;
  • Limiting the duration of emergency room opioid prescriptions to ensure that patients receive comprehensive follow-up care from a primary care provider;
  • Limiting prescriptions to 34 days or 100 dosage units;
  • Mandating greater use of the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program by prescribers and upgrading its technology to ensure that more prescribers can use it in a timely fashion;
  • Giving the Department of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Department of Justice, the authority to develop rules to increase oversight and regulation of pain clinics and methadone clinics to ensure they are acting in line with best practices, and establishing an advisory commission to assist in that effort;
  • Adding two members to the Board of Medicine, including a pain management specialist;
  • Appropriating funds for Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017 to support comprehensive efforts to combat substance abuse:
    • $3.1 million to implement a statewide drug court system, with a coordinator based in the judicial branch, providing 50 percent of drug court funding to counties that agree to participate and abide by evidence-based drug court practices and procedures;
    • $2 million to the Department of Safety to provide additional law enforcement support to the hardest-hit communities – similar to the grant-funded effort now occurring in Manchester – and to continue to address the backlog in the State Police Forensic Laboratory;
    • $800,000 to the Department of Corrections to support probation and parole officers working with hard-hit communities;
    • $100,000 to upgrade the technological capabilities of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program;
    • $135,000 to add an attorney to the Department of Justice to focus on opioid-related crimes and issues;
    • $5 million to the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery to support community-based treatment, prevention and recovery efforts.

Governor Hassan also continued to call on the legislature to reauthorize the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program as soon as possible during next year’s legislative session.

“While we will wait until next year to take up the reauthorization of our bipartisan health care expansion plan – which has already provided substance abuse and mental health services to thousands of Granite Staters and is the single most effective step we can take to increase treatment capacity – there is absolutely no reason to wait on taking these other steps, many of which already have strong bipartisan support,” Governor Hassan said.

In order to strengthen the state’s comprehensive approach to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, Governor Hassan continue to stress the need for collaboration from Granite Staters at all levels, as well as federal partners.

“This truly is an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ moment for our state, requiring all Granite Staters – from law enforcement officials, firefighters and emergency medical workers, to families, those in recovery, and our judicial and healthcare systems, to local, state and federal government officials – to fight together each and every single day,” Governor Hassan said.

“Members of the Chiefs of Police Association across the state are confronted by the destruction caused by the heroin epidemic every day,” said New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police President Chief Robert Cormier. “With overdose deaths estimated to exceed last year’s unprecedented number, we cannot afford to wait for action. A special session to pass comprehensive substance misuse legislation will provide important support to law enforcement officials across the state.”

“The heroin epidemic is having a prolonged and devastating impact on families here in Nashua and in communities across the state,” said Nashua Police Chief Andrew Lavoie. “We are doing everything we can from a law enforcement perspective to push back against drugs and the crimes that addiction is responsible for, and I welcome a special session to consider comprehensive legislation to support our efforts.”

In order to convene a special session of the legislature, a majority of the Executive Council must in favor of a motion to approve a gubernatorial proclamation.

To strengthen the state’s efforts to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, Governor Hassan has focused on a comprehensive approach, including working to increase treatment capacity through the reauthorization of the bipartisan New Hampshire Health Protection Program, improving provider training, increasing the safe and effective use of Narcan, and strengthening youth prevention and education efforts.

Document outlining the highlights of the Governor’s proposal  pdf file

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