Nashua Telegraph supports Legislature’s approach to Heroin Crisis

ICYMI:Telegraph supports Legislature’s approach to Heroin Crisis


11/15 – Nashua Telegraph:


Wooden wisdom for NH’s problem

Telegraph Editorial

'Be quick, but don't hurry," legendary UCLA college basketball coach John Wooden often told his players.

The man knew what he was talking about: He won 10 national championships in 12 years, and during one stretch, UCLA rattled off seven titles in a row.

And while Coach Wooden may have been referring to action on the hardwood, New Hampshire's governor and legislators could also take a measure of guidance from the "Wizard of Westwood."

Gov. Maggie Hassan successfully pushed through the Executive Council a call for a special session of the legislature to address a set of new measures she has proposed to help combat the number of heroin and fentanyl overdose deaths plaguing the state. That strikes us as a wise plan, and the session will take place next week. Quick, decisive action by state leaders is needed to address the crisis and, frankly, should have been taken some time ago.

Hassan's proposal includes the creation of additional drug courts and new penalties related to the distribution of fentanyl to equal those of heroin - both bipartisan-supported policies. There is also a pitch for a new position in the Department of Justice to solely focus on drug-related crimes.

Hassan has called for legislators to expedite the bills during the special session itself.

"There is no reason to wait to take these common-sense steps, and I will continue pushing for and working with the legislature and stakeholders from all sectors on a comprehensive, bipartisan package that supports law enforcement, improves prevention, treatment and recovery, and strengthens our efforts to help save lives and combat the most pressing public health and safety challenge facing our state," the governor said in a statement.

But while the meeting next week happened quickly, that doesn't mean it's time to hurry.

And that's why a Republican proposal to establish a 26-member commission to vet Hassan's proposals and report to legislative leaders at the start of the next session, around Jan. 6, makes sense.

Because when you hurry, you make mistakes, and when you're talking about a crisis that has already killed hundreds in the state this year, mistakes caused by inattention or attempts to gain a political advantage are unacceptable.

Hassan is right that the state is in crisis. It has been for years now, and rushing through laws to create drug courts and change criminal penalties won't stop anyone from grabbing a needle tomorrow.

House Majority Leader Richard Hinch, R-Merrimack, had the right idea in his response to Hassan's plan.

"These are complex issues with huge consequences," he said. "By assembling this group of legislators who are experts in their respective policy areas, and putting together a process by which they work with external stakeholders, we believe we have a better chance of not just having good legislation, but having the best legislation we can, given what we know at this time."

The key words there being "complex" and "huge consequences." He's right, and it's best not to hurry through a good idea without taking the time to make sure it's also a sound idea.