Bob Odell
State Senator
District 8

October  28, 2012


Senator Odell is Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; Vice Chairman of the Finance Committee; Vice Chairman of the State Parks Advisory Council; and member of the Capital Budget Committee.

Senate District 8 towns: Acworth, Alstead, Charlestown, Claremont, Gilsum, Goshen, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Roxbury, Stoddard, Sullivan, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Walpole, Washington and Westmoreland.

 

Each day during the last half of each month, a few legislators receive a daily report on the "preliminary estimate" of revenue. It gives the reader the figures on the state’s deposits for that day and cumulatively for the month against our budget revenue estimates.

The fiscal year that ended on June 30 was right on track for revenue against our estimate in the state’s budget. And for the first three months of the current fiscal year, revenues have been on target.

When I reviewed Friday’s preliminary estimate report, I may have smiled a bit. With three more days for deposits remaining, the state had already taken in $900,000 more than the $107 million goal for the entire month. That is good.

How important is it? It could be an aberration and not an indicator of a trend. The goal for October is small compared to months like March and April but the fact that business, meals and rooms, interest and dividends and real estate taxes are all over goal is encouraging. I hope it reflects a strengthening economy in New Hampshire.

*

Last Thursday was William Helm Day in New Hampshire. Governor Lynch once in a while mentions that the state’s constitution strictly limits the powers of the Governor. But one thing the Governor can do is name a day for an individual or organization.

In his proclamation, Governor Lynch noted the accomplishments of New London Hospital during Bill Helm’s 11 years of service on its board, much of the time as board chair. The hospital has gone through a successful transformation including a significant financial turnaround, designation as a Critical Access Hospital back in 2003 and conducted a successful $7.6 million capital campaign to make possible an expansion and renovation of the hospital. For many of us, the commitment of the hospital to purchase the Newport Health Center and launch a major expansion of the facility is very good news.

It was an honor to serve for a couple of years on the New London Hospital board during Bill’s tenure as board chair. He is a role model for community leadership at the highest level and I congratulate Bill on his retirement and having October 25, 2012 named William Helm Day in New Hampshire.

*

The legislative process is rarely at a complete rest, including during the campaign season. Incumbents in the House had an opportunity to introduce bills for a period this fall. And beginning on Nov. 13, newly elected Representatives will again be able to introduce bills until Dec. 7.

The Senate, following state law (RSA 14:39), will have Senators wait until the day after the election to be able to introduce bills. The end of the filing period will be set when the Senate meets on Organization Day, Dec. 5.

Good legislation is usually the result of good research and preparation. That is what I am in the process of doing relative to our current juvenile justice system. One element of the system, Children in Need of Services known as CHINS, was eliminated in the current budget.

CHINS allowed judges to have the authority to decide the best treatment or care for a child with behavioral problems that were not being addressed in their homes, schools or community. In the worst situations, a child could be sent to detention at the Sununu Center in Manchester. A child with less serious violations might be sent for a short term to a residential facility or possibly a shelter.

The elimination of the CHINS program may be adding a major burden to schools and frustration to parents, law enforcement and judges who lack the tools that the CHINS program provided. I am suggesting the legislature take a look at the situation and by sponsoring legislation we can be sure there will be public hearings a few months from now.

My research is time consuming but invaluable. I have reviewed what happened in the budget process including reading the transcript of testimony from the Department of Health and Human Services which administers the juvenile justice system. I have met with a circuit court judge and will meet with other judges shortly. Last week, I visited a local residential placement facility and a shelter for boys to see what impact the recent changes in the juvenile justice system has had on them.

The superintendent of one of the state’s largest school systems told me elimination of CHINS has caused major disciplinary problems for his schools. I will be meeting again with this superintendent and other administrators to assess the situation. And I have met with the director of an advocacy group that wants the state to fulfill its commitment that children will always be put in the least restrictive environments based upon their danger to themselves and others. Ongoing research on issues surrounding juvenile justice has been going on at HHS thanks to a grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. I have met with a person involved in the research.

Students at the Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth are doing their own research project looking at juvenile justice systems in nearby states. And this week, I will take tour of the Sununu Center to get a firsthand look at our state’s juvenile detention center. Good legislating can take a lot of work and time but it is worth it.

Bob Odell, State Senator
New Hampshire State House
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301-4951

Telephone:  603-271-6733
Email:  rpojr@aol.com


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