Concord—House Speaker Shawn Jasper today announced the addition of two legislators to his leadership team, along with several other promotions. The moves come on the heels of the resignation this week of Majority Leader Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) who stepped down to form a congressional exploratory committee.
Rep. Richard “Dick” Hinch (R-Merrimack) will be moving from his role as House majority whip to take over the position of majority leader. “After working closely with Rep. Hinch on the budget veto throughout the summer, I was able to witness first-hand his leadership qualities,” said Speaker Jasper. “I know that Dick is well respected by the Republican caucus. He proved as the majority whip that he is a consensus builder. I am confident that he will bring those same talents to the important role of majority leader,” he added. Rep. Hinch is serving his fourth term representing Merrimack and also serves as chairman of the House Legislative Administration committee.
“It is an honor to serve the people of our great state and to represent the Republican Caucus in this capacity. In my role as majority whip, I had the opportunity to work with nearly every member of our caucus to help advance our legislative priorities. In addition, my door was always open to all members of the House, understanding that building relationships helps foster a political environment that our constituents can be proud of. I’m looking forward to this new opportunity, working with Speaker Jasper and our Republican caucus, and continuing the progress we’ve made through the rest of this term,” said Rep. Hinch. Rep. Stephen J. Schmidt (R-Wolfeboro) will continue in the role of deputy majority leader on Jasper’s leadership team.
Speaker Jasper also announced that Rep. Kathleen Hoelzel (R-Raymond) will assume the role of majority whip. “Kathy has been a strong member of my leadership team since the beginning and it was only appropriate that she move up from her position as deputy majority whip,” said the speaker. Rep. Hoelzel, serving her sixth term in the House representing Raymond, is also the chairman of the Election Law committee.
Rep. Claire Rouillard (R-Goffstown) will take over the role of deputy majority whip from Rep. Hoelzel. Rouillard currently serves on the Judiciary committee. “Rep. Rouillard joined our team as an assistant majority whip during the session and has impressed everyone with her skills,” said the speaker. Rep. Rouillard was also selected by the Council of State Governments as a 2015 Henry Wolcott Toll Fellow. The award is given annually to 48 of the top officials in the country from all three branches of state government.
Two other additions to the speaker’s leadership term were also announced today. Rep. Peggy McCarthy (R-Nashua), a member of the State-Federal Relations & Veterans Affairs committee, was appointed assistant majority leader; and Rep. Terry Wolf (R-Bedford), a member of the Education committee, will serve as an assistant majority whip under Rep. Hoelzel.
“During this past House session, these two legislators have made an impression on members of the caucus with their dedication, hard work and leadership qualities. I am proud to have them join my team and I look forward to working with them this session,” said Speaker Jasper.
The new leadership positions take effect immediately.
Concord, NH – Today, the New Hampshire Executive Council approved the Governor’s call for a special session on substance abuse.
Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem), House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson), Senate Finance Chair Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) and House Finance Chair Neal Kurk (R-Weare) released the following statements in response to the vote:
“We again insist that any legislative action should follow an inclusive, open, and transparent deliberative process and we will conduct this special session through that lens. We will take steps to ensure that a special session includes ample public and expert input, debate, and inclusive review, in order to develop the best possible legislation to deal with these issues in a responsible, comprehensive manner,” said Senate President Chuck Morse.
“We had previously told Governor Hassan that we intended to expedite legislation to deal with this crisis as soon as we returned in January. I am disappointed that she has taken this step to bring the entire legislature back to Concord in an attempt to try and hastily push through a solution. What she needs to understand is that we intend to work through the process in a fair and open manner, listening to all stakeholders. A solution to this problem is not something that will be accomplished in one day or even one week. I anticipate the first day will involve adopting rules to allow us to move forward with legislation. At the end of the day, our goal is to do what is right for the people of this state,” added Speaker Shawn Jasper.
Senate Finance Chair Jeanie Forrester added, “I continue to be concerned by the out-of-control substance abuse epidemic facing New Hampshire and have been fighting for additional means to address these issues throughout my time as a State Senator. Specifically, in the 2016-17 budget, I fought for additional resources, including a 75% increase in funding for substance abuse that has yet to be distributed due to the delay caused by the Governor’s budget veto.”
“We are committed to combating the substance abuse epidemic through the legislative process, however, I am concerned by the Governor’s proposal that increases spending by $11 million when we do not know where this funding is coming from, have yet to see the final financial picture from 2015, any measurable results from the 75% increase in substance abuse funding from the 2016-17 budget or how those dollars are being used.”
“We need answers on what we are doing today to combat substance abuse issues and a clearer picture of where we are financially and we look forward to the Governor’s response. It is going to take a coordinated and strategic effort to fully eradicate this opioid and heroin epidemic and I am committed to working with my colleagues in the House and Senate to effectively address the drug epidemic plaguing our state,” Forrester said.
“We need time to work on these bills appropriately, and, as the Governor is aware, we have already dealt with many of these issues in the budget,” said House Finance Chair Neal Kurk. “The state has to be prudent in making sure that all of the services we already increased funding for are actually being provided to our citizens before we consider new spending. Had the Governor not vetoed the budget, we could have realized benefits of the increased funding months sooner. It is our duty as legislators to do a thorough job on this very important issue, but also in the context of how each proposal affects state finances.”
Concord, NH–Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) announced today that he will be stepping down from his duties as House Majority Leader effective immediately. Flanagan recently announced the formation of an exploratory committee to determine whether or not he would become a candidate for Congress in New Hampshire’s second district.
“Due to the additional demands that have been consuming most of my time, I felt it only fair to Speaker Jasper and our leadership team that I step down as Majority Leader sooner rather than later,” said Rep. Flanagan.
“We have close to 700 bills that need to be reviewed, and with the many new tasks and activities facing me in forming an exploratory committee, I have found it very difficult to devote the time necessary to handle the duties of Majority Leader. Therefore it is important that I step down now for the good of House leadership, the republican caucus and the State,” he added.
Rep. Flanagan, currently serving his third term in the House, joined Speaker Shawn Jasper’s leadership team in December of last year.
“I appreciate Jack Flanagan’s support during my tenure as speaker,” said Jasper. “He has worked extremely hard for the House Republican Caucus and I know how difficult it must be for him to continue his duties at a time when he is exploring a run for Congress,” he added. “I wish him all the best.”
Speaker Jasper and Rep Flanagan will be working on a smooth transition with a new Majority Leader, whose appointment will be announced within a few days.
“While I will no longer serve as his Majority Leader, I will still be representing the people of Brookline and Mason to the best of my ability and stand ready to assist Speaker Jasper and the Republican Caucus in any way possible,” said Rep. Flanagan. “It has been a honor and privilege working for Speaker Jasper as part of his leadership team.”
Concord, NH – Senate President Chuck Morse (R-Salem) and House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) issued the following joint statement:
“We understand the severity of the heroin and opioid crisis that has taken hold in the State of New Hampshire. Responding to the crisis is a top priority which we planned to examine in an expedited fashion when the next legislative session begins in January. As we know, addiction is not a stand-alone issue and our response will take a multi-faceted approach to address addiction and recovery, including mental health, law enforcement, education and prevention.”
“Despite the progress we’ve made by increasing substance abuse funding by 75% in the budget, which the Governor vetoed, we will continue to work to address the substance abuse epidemic, but we will insist on a proper, open and deliberative process.”
“The old wise saying that we should measure twice and cut once is how we will consider any legislation that addresses substance abuse. We will ensure legislation follows a fully transparent and open process, involving necessary input from all stakeholders in public hearings.”
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and House Majority Whip Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) added, “It is essential that in any session involving issues as serious as the drug epidemic, we are deliberative and take the appropriate steps to properly vet all proposals and courses of action affecting the state of New Hampshire. House and Senate members hear from constituents and local leaders on a daily basis related to how the substance abuse crisis is affecting their communities and we know that a process void of their input will produce ineffective results.”
“A prime example of an ineffective process, void of public or stakeholder input, is the Governor’s ill-advised attempt to circumvent normal procedure by filing emergency rules with the Board of Medicine, which if approved, could result in dangerous unintended consequences. The Emergency prescribing rules established by the Governor restricts patients’ ability to access the medicine they need to combat pain. This closed, insider process hurts New Hampshire citizens.”
“We will not and cannot allow that to happen now, or in 2016. It is vitally important that we not create a crisis while trying to solve a crisis.”
The bills proposed by legislative leadership will bolster the state’s response to the substance abuse crisis by addressing the following areas:
- Expanding drug courts throughout the state
- Improving access to long term recovery services
- Increasing penalties for fentanyl
- Strengthening the state’s efforts in prevention and interdiction
- Updating prescriber practices