Legislative Update – April 19, 2019
House and Senate committees met throughout the week, holding public hearings and voting on legislation that came over from the other chamber. The Senate held a brief session on Thursday.
Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho….
The House Health Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee voted 16-5 to recommend passage of a bill that changes the state’s work/community service requirement in the Medicaid expansion program. The bill adds some exemptions, but at the heart of it is a provision that would repeal the mandate if 500 or more people lose their health coverage due to an inability to complete the requirement. Earlier this session, the committee voted to retain a bill that would have repealed the work mandate entirely. Last year, the two parties crafted a compromise in which they agreed to extend the Medicaid program for five years, if it included the requirement. This year, some in the new majority have proposed ending or changing the requirement, which has brought protests from Republicans, who say Democrats are reneging on the agreement. Thursday’s debate and vote were reflective of the feelings on both sides.
The Senate this week passed a House bill on net metering, the program that allows residential and commercial customers to sell their unused renewable energy back into the electric grid. The bill would raise the cap for renewable generators from one megawatt to up to five, allowing some larger projects to join the program. The Senate amended the bill to mirror their version, passed earlier this session. Supporters say the bill would help reduce the state’s peak electricity usage and jump start the renewable energy industry, which they say has been stalled under the current cap. Opponents say the bill will increase costs for all ratepayers. Last year Governor Chris Sununu vetoed a similar bill.
Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim and New Hampshire gotta have a debate on casino gaming every year. Longtime champion and bill sponsor Sen. Lou D’Allesandro of Manchester and other supporters told the House Ways and Means Committee this week that the projected $60 million in revenue from licensing two casinos is needed by the state. Opponents said the live casino market is already saturated, with several more gaming facilities due to open in Massachusetts. The committee has until the beginning of May to show its cards.
Twice as safe
The Executive Council on Wednesday filled two top spots at the Department of Safety. The council unanimously approved the appointments of Bob Quinn as Safety Commissioner and Perry Plummer as one of two assistant commissioners. Quinn, formerly head of the State Police, moves up from an assistant commissioner role. Plummer has been serving as Director of Homeland Security.
House and Senate committees will continue with public hearings, subcommittee work sessions and executive sessions next week. The Senate will meet in session next Thursday, April 25.