Focus efforts on drug abuse prevention

To the Editor:

The end of March marked "cross over" at the New Hampshire State House and the halfway point of 2016 legislative session. A breakdown of the bills:

? 246 passed/adopted

? 399 killed

? 48 interim study

? 26 tabled

More than 500 bills were voted upon by the full House during the month of March over three days. There were so many bills it is impossible to do them all justice – here are a few of the highlights.

Bills that were defeated include:

? HB1436 – Increasing minimum wage for tipped employees

? HB1480 – Establishing a state minimum wage

? HB1192 – Repealing the education tax credit

? HB1120 – Changing teacher qualifications at charter schools

The House passed HB2016 – supporting the 10-year transportation plan, after removing $4 million to study rail. The plan does include the widening of Route 101.

The impact of the drug epidemic on crime, law enforcement, health care and our citizens is staggering. New Hampshire’s chief medical examiner estimates 111 deaths so far in 2016. Four young adults with ties to Bedford died within a two-week period in February. People are shooting heroin in parking lots of businesses and even while driving on Routes 101 and 93.

Several bills have passed the legislature including changing the penalty for fentanyl, insurance coverage for substance abuse disorders and the membership of the board of medicine. The House passed HB1681, which establishes a needle exchange program. It’s currently in the Senate and needs improvement. The "biggest" bill this year was HB 1696, which approves the continuation of the Health Protection Program, also known as expanded Medicaid. I voted to approve it. While there are many things I don’t like about the bill, it is crucial we offer access to drug treatment and recovery. This bill extends the current HPP for two years and no taxpayer money will be used to fund it.

People at the federal, state and community level are working tirelessly to increase prevention and treatment programs and to reduce the easy access to drugs. One of the simplest steps we can all take is to lock up all prescription medications and dispose of any unused medications. The Bedford Police Department has a 24-hour drop box available in the lobby of the Bedford Police Department. They will also participate in the national "Take Back" initiative from 10 a.m.-noon, April 30.

The House will vote on Senate bills in April and the first part of May. The House and Senate will form committees of conference to reconcile differences between bills. The legislative session is expected to end by June.

Representative Terry Wolf

Assistant Majority Whip

Hillsborough 7 Bedford

House Education Committee