Legislative Update – May 17, 2019
Lawmakers in the House and Senate this week kept going and going with committee hearings and work sessions on remaining legislation for 2019. The Senate met in session Wednesday and dealt with more than 70 measures. Both chambers must act on all remaining legislation in their possession by June 6th.
Will he, or won’t he?
Just a couple of weeks ago the smart money was betting on a budget veto by Governor Chris Sununu. But in politics, especially in New Hampshire, the smart money isn’t always so smart. More and more voices seem to be talking about compromise. Quietly, there is discussion about possible ways of getting to yes on the biennial budget. With several key controversial items potentially being pulled from the proposal, there is at least an inkling of hope that summer vacation plans won’t have to be canceled.
Governor Sununu’s veto of the death penalty repeal may be challenged well before the traditional September day when legislators typically return to Concord to consider vetoes. The House has tentative plans to call for vote at next week’s session. If the House overrides the veto, the Senate has plans to meet within the coming weeks, when all members will be present.
Debate has gone on for years over whether to pull the state out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), or what to do with consumer rebates from the multi-state agreement. The Senate this week decided that rebates from the carbon emissions limitations law should no longer go to residential ratepayers, but instead should be directed to energy efficiency programs. The bill would still rebate all commercial and industrial customers because of the belief that businesses have been doing their part to increase energy efficiency. The idea, which passed the Senate on a party line vote, failed last year. The bill now goes back to House to see if members will accept the Senate version.
A chocolate frappe with two straws, please
The Senate turned down a bill that would have restricted the use of plastic straws. The straws have been a source of environmental concern, but senators accepted evidence that restauranteurs and others are already acting on their own to offer alternatives. The Senate also amended a bill restricting single-use plastic bags, instead opting to use the bill as way to measure municipalities’ progress in the state’s goal of reducing the solid waste that ends up in landfills or incinerators. Having already passed the House, the plastic bag bill now heads back there to see if that chamber concurs with the Senate changes.
Bummer for summer…But don’t have a cow
People expecting to legally use marijuana this summer will likely have to hang loose, maybe for another year or so. The Senate Judiciary Committee this week voted to hold onto legislation that would have legalized recreational marijuana. Although a drag for some, the committee felt the bill was not cherry enough for prime time.
The House and the Senate will both meet in session next Thursday, May 23rd.