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Republican Lawmakers Call For Joint Task Force on N.H. Opioid Crisis

Paige Sutherland/NHPR
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (left), House Speaker Shawn Jasper (center) and House Majority Leader Robert Hinch (right) say a joint task force is the most efficient way to address the state's opioid crisis.

Republican lawmakers will propose a special task force to review solutions to the state’s opioid crisis when the Legislature returns for a special session next week. 

The task force will include 26 members from the both political parties in the House and Senate. The group would review proposed legislation aimed at stemming drug abuse, including harsher penalties for the distribution of fentanyl, establishing a statewide drug court program, and expanding the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

Gov. Maggie Hassan called for the special session last week, and she has urged lawmakers to get a bill addressing the state's drug crisis to her desk as soon as possible. But Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said Tuesday this task force is needed to ensure that all proposals are thoroughly vetted before they are voted on by the Legislature.

“This is a public health crisis and that we need to have an appropriate response but a response that is careful, thoughtful as well as expeditious,” Bradley told reporters at the State House Tuesday.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper agreed saying that in order to get legislation passed, lawmakers need to be better informed. 

“Not everybody in the House and Senate is up to the same speed; we can’t just put forward legislation and expect everybody to jump on. There are questions that members are going to have and rightly should have,” Jasper said.

The House and Senate will both need a simple majority on November 18 to move forward with the proposed task force.

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