This week, NH legislators officially passed two bills that we have been following closely since the beginning of the session: HB 591 and SB391.
HB 591 is the member driven bill, which provides for a healthy working environment that is free of bullying in employee / employee or employee/supervisor relationships. Member legislator Rep. Diane Schuett introduced the bill. It was through her efforts and the efforts of a committed group of Executive Branch members that this bill succeeded. Members courageously brought this problem to light and shared their experiences through testimony at Legislative hearings. Both chambers are supportive of the bill and have voted to send it along to the Governor for signature. We are hopeful the Governor will reverse her previously stated intentions of vetoing this bill.
SB 391 revives and restructures a long-dormant advisory board that will help shape the future of the state’s juvenile justice system. Senator Sharon Carson and the House Children and Family Law Committee were strong advocates for this bill that will likely result in better outcomes for the youth residing at the Sununu Youth Services Center, as well as those who are delivering the services.
Senator Carson brought forward this bill following complaints about conditions at the Sununu Youth Development Center, the state’s juvenile detention center in Manchester.
The board will now include legislators, representatives from various state departments, a judge, a county jail superintendent, a parent of a current resident and a facility spokesperson selected by the staff.
The bill also establishes the juvenile justice system as a standalone division, rather than a branch of the Division of Children, Youth and Families. This change will effectively remove Maggie Bishop, the director of DCYF, from her oversight position at the center. The bill requires the advisory board to select candidates to head the juvenile division. A final decision would be made by the governor and the Executive Council. The job would be up for reappointment every four years. This bill is now headed to the Governor’s desk for signature.