By MICHAEL KITCH
LACONIA DAILY SUN
CONCORD — "Every day we wait, we're going to lose more people," said state Sen. Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), who yesterday urged his fellow lawmakers to take timely action and make needful investments to address the scourge of drug addiction.
Hosmer, a member of the Senate Finance Committee, thanked Senators Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) for introducing legislation to establish drug courts throughout the state and a grant program to strengthen efforts to curb drug trafficking, both of which were heard by the committee this week.
However, Hosmer said he was troubled that Sen. Chuck Morse (R-Salem), the president of the Senate, asked how the committee could proceed without knowing how to fund the two programs. Some $3 million would be required to operate drug courts in the ten counties for the remainder of the current biennium, while another $1.9 million would fund grants to law enforcement agencies. After expressing his concerns, Morse assured the committee that a way would be found to fund the two initiatives.
"We've got the resources to do this," Hosmer insisted, explaining that the last fiscal year ended with a surplus of $62 million and revenues are running $37 million ahead of projections in the current fiscal year. Likewise, he discounted concerns among Republican legislators that the so-called "lapses," or monies appropriated but not spent in the last fiscal year, have not been reported. "We have the money, we know the cost of the programs," he said, "but Republican anxieties about last year's budget lapse are preventing us from moving forward." He said that "to blame any delay on nonexistent budgetary anxieties is political gamesmanship at its worst."
Beyond establishing drug courts and strengthening law enforcement, Hosmer emphasized the need to expand capacity for the treatment and recovery of addicts.
"Drug courts or recovery courts work, but only where there is an infrastructure for treatment and recovery, including intensive outpatient treatment," he said.
Referring to the recovery court operated by Judge Jim Carroll of the Fourth Circuit Court, Laconia Division, Hosmer said "We have great people doing their very best and to keep them going we need to make investments to support that work. No cost is too high to save the lives of Granite Staters."
Hosmer said that the Senate Finance Committee will return to the two bills, which were among the recommendations of the Joint Task Force for the Response to the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic in New Hampshire and fast-tracked by the Legislature.
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