Legislative Update: March 30, 2018
In second half action
With Crossover behind them, legislators in the House and Senate are now holding public hearings and committee votes on the bills that have come over from the other chamber. Neither body met in full session this week. On the horizon – at the end of May – are the final days of the 2018 legislative session, and then summer and the campaign season.
That’s one small step for a bill
The first stop in the Medicaid expansion reauthorization bill’s journey through the House was the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee. SB 313 did not overstay its welcome, winning a 21-0 Ought to Pass recommendation from the policy committee after the addition of some minor amendments. The bill, which has already passed the Senate, makes its first visit to the House floor next week, where it will face some opposition from, at the very least, the House Freedom Caucus. If it is adopted, SB 313 will go to the House Finance Committee, which is charged with looking at the proposed funding mechanism, and where the bill will get intense scrutiny. The measure would reauthorize the state’s ongoing Medicaid expansion plan for five years and move the almost 50,000 participants to the state managed care model. It also includes a work requirement proposal, which has yet to be approved by the federal government.
Baby you can drive my car
The Senate Transportation Committee heard testimony this week on a bill that would allow testing of autonomous vehicles on some New Hampshire roadways. Supporters included the Division of Motor Vehicles and Granite State Independent Living, with the caveat that the state needs to create a framework for the program and assure safeguards are in place. Representatives of the autonomous vehicle industry cited concerns that included compliance with federal guidelines, geographic restrictions and the need for a $10 million insurance or surety bond prior to any testing.
Efficiency is in the eye of the beholder
The House Finance Committee this week heard testimony on a House bill that revamps the way energy efficiency funds are distributed. The measure has divided stakeholders between two camps. Supporters include New Hampshire Legal Assistance, the Sierra Club and several legislators. They said the bill would finally address a long backlog of energy efficiency projects, as well as help local towns, low income residents and schools in need of energy efficiency projects. The Department of Environmental Services said the bill would ultimately help lower energy costs. Opponents, such as Americans for Prosperity, the Business and Industry Association and several other legislators, said the bill will increase energy rates, already among the highest in the nation, by reducing rebates to customers to the tune of $10-$20 million per year.
Let’s all join hands and sing Kum-ba-yah
After many years of debate over bonding for broadband infrastructure, the two major opposing sides, municipalities and the telecommunications industry, came together this week in the House Municipal and County Government Committee to support SB 170. A public-private partnership idea that came together during deliberations in the Senate will allow municipalities, if they get approval from voters, to issue bonds to fund the extension of broadband infrastructure to the so-called “last mile” of residents in the most rural and capital intensive areas that remain unserved.
Both the House and Senate will meet in session next Thursday, April 5.