Senate OK's Second Round of Bills to Address N.H. Drug Crisis

Feb 4, 2016

The New Hampshire Senate on Thursday passed three bills aimed at combating the state’s ongoing opioid crisis.

The measures include the creation of a state drug court program, improvements to the state’s prescription drug monitoring program, the addition of more than $2 million to help police combat the drug epidemic, and money to buy 27 additional state police cruisers. 

But the crux of the session was a debate on whether to put $5 million into the state’s rainy day fund, which was tacked onto the drug court legislation.

Democrats argued these dollars should be used on treatment. But Republicans like Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said the money is needed to provide a financial cushion if future crises arise.

“We ought to be a little careful of how we spend this money and putting it into the rainy day fund gives us this protection that it will be there and available when we need it,” Bradley told lawmakers. Republican leadership hope to build the current rainy day fund of $23 million to $100 million. 

All three bills will now head to the House. The Senate also passed a bill that would return $2.25 million that was raided from the renewable energy fund last summer and transferred to homeland security.

But the Senate killed a bill that would have increased the state’s minimum wage to $12 dollars an hour – a nearly five dollar increase. Currently, a bill in the House would increase the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2019.