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Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status -- Bipartisan Heroin Task Force: Show us the money

New Hampshire Union Leader

January 10. 2018 11:28PM

The two chairs of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force in the U.S. House of Representatives agree that without more federal support for states, the battle to fight the opioid epidemic is not winnable.

Reps. Annie Kuster, D-NH, and Tom MacArthur, R-N.J., unveiled the group’s legislative agenda Wednesday for its fourth year of operation. It now includes 100 members.

“We are going past the partisanship, we are reaching out to work together to make a difference in the lives of our constituents,” Kuster said.

“We have worked on a bipartisan way on funding in the past. We need money for treatment, long-term recovery and for research.”

MacArthur said the 16 bills the group has put its weight behind are meaningless if there isn’t the money to back them up.

“For us to have progress, we have to have funding, robust funding, tens of billions of dollars of funding,” MacArthur said.

On Wednesday night, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-NH, was there as President Trump signed an anti-opioid bill also part of the task force’s work — the International Narcotics Trafficking Emergency Response by Detecting Incoming Contraband with Technology (INTERDICT) Act. Both Shaheen and Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH, got a lot of local and national press with their legislative push to earmark $25 billion more to battle the epidemic.

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The Republican State Committee Annual Meeting is Saturday, Jan. 27, at Bow High School.

Attendants will be taking up some key bylaw changes. One would change the timing of the Republican State Convention, which is held in October of election years.

“This means that it falls between the state primary and general election,” said GOP State Chairman Jeanie Forrester. “As a result, candidates and party activists are taken away from campaigning for the general election to attend the convention.”

The 10-person committee Forrester named to review all bylaws also concluded that the October convention ends up featuring fights over party platforms at a time when the party should be unifying behind its nominees.

The change moves the convention to May of election years.

The other reform is to check the chairman’s power to summarily suspend anyone for alleged misconduct.

This confrontation arose after former chairman Jennifer Horn removed Fred Leonard, a former state legislator from Rochester and treasurer of the Strafford County GOP Committee, in response to charges he had stolen up to $10,000 from the committee.

In 2016, Leonard was sentenced to a year’s confinement. The committee surely didn’t disagree with Horn’s decision but said all members should have due process to prevent a future chairman from using the suspension power to punish enemies.

The proposed changes require the full Executive Committee to vote on a chairman’s bid to remove a member and give the accused access to all evidence against him or her before there’s a hearing on the request.

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The deli counter got longer in the Democratic primary race for the 1st Congressional District as Deaglan McEachern of Portsmouth was the latest to confirm Wednesday he is in the hunt.

McEachern has been back in New Hampshire since 2014 after working in both San Francisco and New York for startup businesses.

A former member of the U.S. rowing team, McEachern also was a co-founder of New Hampshire for Amazon, the community movement to compete to bring Amazon’s second world headquarters here.

He’s the son of Shaun and Paul McEachern, the former Democratic nominee and three-time candidate for governor.

Last fall the younger McEachern had signed that he was likely to get in the race.

This brings us to seven announced candidates who will try to replace as nominee U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter, D-NH. She is retiring at year’s end.

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Concord Republican Lynne Blankenbeker made official her Republican campaign for the 2nd Congressional District seat Wednesday during a rally at Tandy’s Pub in Concord.

Blankenbeker, a former state legislator in Concord, was considered a certain contender once she completed her three-decade career of active military duty. She’s been deployed three times in support of operations in the Middle East and recently served two tours in D.C. at the Pentagon and the Defense Health Headquarters.

Blankenbeker lost the first time she ran for the House in 2008, but won a special election a year later and served a second full term. In 2012, she did not seek reelection, as she was recalled to the Pentagon.

She joins two other GOP hopefuls with veteran ties — U.S. Air Force veteran and state Rep. Steve Negron of Nashua and Dr. Stewart Levinson of Hopkinton, one of the whistleblowers about the standard of care at the Manchester VA Medical Center.

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Quote of the Week: “Are you kidding? We are in the middle of one of the biggest drug crises the state has ever seen. To go to a full recreational marijuana when other states are seeing all the problems it has and issues it is bearing — it’s definitely not something I’m supportive of right now.” — Gov. Chris Sununu on the N.H. House of Representatives vote to legalize marijuana possession.

Quick takes:

• Shea-Porter’s longtime press secretary, Marjorie Connolly, started a new job this past week as communications director for the Protect Our Care coalition, the Families USA arm formed to oppose repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Taking her spot is Jarrett Freedman, who spent the past year working for Shea-Porter as her legislative assistant for veteran affairs.

• Maryland Democratic Congressman John K. Delaney makes his fifth 2020 campaign trip to the state, meeting with Rockingham County Democrats at an Exeter house party Sunday and then meeting with young Democrats on the campus of Dartmouth College on Monday.

• Some people just keep coming back to the State House. That’s Donald Manning of Manchester for you, the state Democrats’ Swiss Army knife, who has filled more roles in the New Hampshire Legislature over the past three-plus decades than anyone. This week he began his third stint, the latest working for Senate Democrats following the departure of Ryan Mahoney, who earlier this month started work at Manchester City Hall as chief of staff to new Mayor Joyce Craig.

• Trump signed pro-veteran legislation Hassan co-authored to make permanent a two-year exemption that gives all training and testing standards to all active-duty service members and makes it easier for veterans to get a commercial driver’s license.

Another bill Hassan helped write that is now on Trump’s desk would reduce the national rape kit backlog.

• The liberal NextGen America announced plans to make New Hampshire one of the 10 targeted states for its youth organizing program known as NextGen Rising. President Tom Steyer is now better known as the lead dog and chief source of cash for the Impeach Trump movement. NextGen will work in the targeted states to mobilize young voters on and off college campuses and to elect liberal candidates. Other key states include Iowa, the first caucus state, along with swing states Florida, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Virginia.

• Former Dartmouth-Hitchcock executive and WMUR political director Josh McElveen ended his exploration of a 2nd Congressional District bid of his own and has started a media relations/consulting firm, McElveen Strategies LLC with his new bride, former NH1 reporter Colleen Shaughnessy.

Email news and tips to granitestatus@unionleader.

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