by Annmarie Timmins, New Hampshire Bulletin
February 14, 2023
This story and headline were updated Feb. 14, 2023, at 3 p.m. to include the state Senate vote, and at 5:25 p.m. to note that Gov. Chris Sununu signed the bill.
Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill Tuesday to slow the process of closing and replacing the Sununu Youth Services Center until the state chooses a new location, hours after the House and Senate agreed to the compromise.
“While I appreciate this stop gap measure, let’s remember more work needs to be done this session to ensure we move quickly to dedicate funding for construction of a new facility that will meet the needs of these kids,” Sununu said in a statement following the bill signing. “Time is of the essence.”
The House Finance Committee voted 23-0 last week to amend Senate Bill 1, which would have given the state $15 million to close and replace the 144-bed center with a smaller, therapeutic facility by November 2024.
The committee vote upset child advocates who said they’ve seen several prior efforts to close the facility fail. Tuesday, the full House passed the amended bill in a voice vote. The bill went back to the Senate, where that chamber did the same. It now heads to the governor.
The committee’s amended bill would give the Department of Health and Human Services $400,000 to study the location of a new facility and $1.5 million to keep the current building open and staffed until June, the end of the state’s fiscal year. Some House members also want a smaller facility than the 12 to 18 beds the Senate supported.
The department would have to complete the site study by Sept. 30; it is looking at building on the current site in Manchester and at New Hampshire Hospital in Concord or Hampstead Hospital, where a facility could share services like laundry and dining.
This story was written by Annmarie Timmins, a reporter at the New Hampshire Bulletin, where this story first appeared.
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