Just two weeks into the new legislative session, Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into law two bills aimed at tackling the state’s opioid epidemic.
The fast tracked bills came out of the state’s legislative drug task force that was crafted during last year’s special session. In 2015 more than 400 people died of a drug overdose.
One bill creates a study commission on the overdose reversal drug Narcan. The commission is looking at whether the state should create a database on who is using Narcan and who is it being used on.
The second bill covers a slate of issues including upping the penalties on fentanyl, increasing insurance coverage for substance abuse and adding $100,000 towards the state’s prescription drug monitoring system.
At a press conference Thursday at the State House, Hassan praised the legislature for getting these bills expedited but says this is just the beginning.
“While these bipartisan bills are an important step forward the need for ongoing action remains urgent. We must constantly be working on a comprehensive approach to combat this crisis and to save lives,” Hassan said.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, who chaired the drug task force, quoted the Patriots' head coach Bill Belichick in reference to lawmakers swift action on these bills
“There is someone in Foxborough who is emblematic of what we are trying to here today and that is ‘do our job'," Bradley told the audience.
The third fast-tracked bill, which looks to put more substance abuse education into the classroom, was put on hold. The Senate referred the bill to committee Thursday after the House changed the measure from mandatory to a recommendation.