Legislative Update: April 6, 2018

Legislative Update: April 6, 2018


Spring sprang

A couple of somewhat warmer days early this week provided hints that spring may be upon us, and the lack of snowfall allowed the legislature to hold a full week of committee hearings. Both chambers met in session on Thursday, with the House finishing by lunch time.

Another step for Medicaid expansion

The Medicaid expansion reauthorization bill passed its first test on the House floor by a margin of almost 100 votes on Thursday. The bill’s success there sets the stage for a visit to the House Finance Committee, which will look at how the state will pay for the extension in the coming years.  The bill, widely expected to be the most controversial measure of the 2018 session, will face enhanced scrutiny in House Finance.  Having passed the Senate, it has now made it through a House policy committee and its initial test on the House floor.  With no time to catch its breath, the bill was scheduled for a work session in House Finance Division III today.

And that other bill

Another proposal that was expected to sail stormy seas this session, the paid family medical leave bill, is also still afloat.  It had a hearing Thursday in Senate Finance, the latest in a journey that has lasted more than a year and taken it through three House committees and three visits to the House floor.  In that time, it has gone from being a state-run program to being run by the private sector, and now back to being a state program.  Paid leave time in the latest proposal has changed to six weeks from the twelve weeks in the original bill.  To participate, the plan requires a .67% weekly contribution from an employee’s salary. In Thursday’s hearing, the financial components and long-term viability of the voluntary program received heavy questioning.

You can bet on it.  But probably not

A bill authorizing casino gaming is technically still alive in the Senate, but it is on political life support.  After a suspension of their rules allowed senators to remove it from the table for discussion, the bill received a 12-11 vote, which fell short of the two-thirds majority that was ruled necessary for passage.  It’s now back on the Senate Table, where another two-thirds vote would be needed to remove it.  The House would also require a two-thirds vote to even consider the bill. Those realities suggest the bill’s demise for the session.

Breakin’ All the Rules

The Senate this week killed a bill that would have established an oversight commission regarding occupational rules and regulations.  The bill was supported by Governor Sununu’s Regulatory Reform Steering Committee as part of his efforts to reduce government red tape. Opponents who are already established in the regulated professions had objected that they would be at a disadvantage to newcomers, who would not have to meet licensing requirements.  Others questioned the need for the bill, saying it would complicate the administrative rules process. The measure called for a five-year review, with twenty percent of licensed occupations and professions reviewed each year, to determine if state licensing is necessary.

The House and the Senate will meet in session next Thursday, April 12.