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NH Senate Roundup: $20m mental health investment passes

State House Bureau

May 11. 2017 7:15PM
New Hampshire Hospital in Concord (UNION LEADER FILE)

CONCORD -- The New Hampshire Senate was unanimous Thursday in passing an amendment that calls on the state to invest an estimated $20 million over the next two years on additional mental health beds to ease a shortage that has psychiatric patients waiting in hospital emergency rooms for admission to New Hampshire Hospital.

The amendment, sponsored by Bradley and Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, also includes provisions for reorganizing the Division for Children, Youth and Families.

It’s attached to House Bill 400, which calls on the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a 10-year plan for mental health treatment in the state.

Morse handed the gavel to Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry, so he could speak passionately for the measure from the Senate floor.

Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord, called the measure a step in the right direction toward solving the many problems that plague mental health and child protective services in the state. "I would encourage that we take a unified 23-0 vote and take a solid position as a Senate," he said.

Time change defeated

The Senate also:

• defeated a House-approved proposal (HB 209) to adopt Atlantic Standard Time if Massachusetts does so, although Morse predicted the bill would be back if other nearby states make the move;

• passed HB 291, exempting veterinarians from reporting to the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring Program when prescribing opioids for pets in pain;

• voted to concur with the House on SB 234, which would establish a statewide needle exchange program;

• passed HB 575, allowing acupuncture as a treatment for opioid addiction.

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