BY: Citizens Count
At a public hearing April 11, only two of eleven individuals testified in favor of increased funding for drug enforcement.
The hearing was for SB 131, a bill that appropriates $2.1 million for the state police and forensics lab and $2.4 million for local law enforcement grants. The money must be spent on five new state troopers and other substance abuse enforcement efforts, particularly on the state's borders.
After bill sponsor Sen. Jeb Bradley introduced the bill, Captain Matt Shapiro of the State Police and Assistant Commissioner Robert Quinn from the Department of Safety testified in support of SB 131.
They both spoke to the successes of Granite Hammer, a program which funded state and local drug enforcement last year. They also testified to the deadliness of fentanyl, the drug that surpassed heroin in overdose deaths last year.
Captain Shapiro said that stopping the flow of illegal drugs was like "drinking from a fire hose," and increased funding for enforcement was essential to save lives.
Most of the other individuals to testify at the hearing spoke against the bill.
Rep. Amanda Bouldin, in particular, presented an inch-thick packet of evidence that Granite Hammer funds have been used to arrest low-level users, not just dealers. In one of her examples, college student Anne Duffley was arrested for possessing a small amount of marijuana. Duffley later testified that she lost her job and college scholarship, although the charges against her were dropped after she hired a lawyer.
Others who testified argued that rather than spending money on more law enforcement, the state should focus spending on addiction treatment opportunities.
Citizens Count NH also attended the hearing for SB 131 to present comments we received on the bill. Click here to see our report.