Legislative Update February 24, 2017
The House did not hold a session this week, but House committees continued to meet as deadlines approach for them to finish work on bills that originated in their chamber. Senators met in session for much of the day on Thursday, spending most of the morning debating education bills.
And I’m never going back to my old school
The Senate passed and is sending to the House a school choice bill that has the potential to make significant changes to public education. SB 8, involving towns that do not have their own schools, passed the Republican majority Senate on a party line vote. Opponents have warned about challenges on constitutional grounds, based on the possibility of sending public money to religious schools. The House, however, has already amended HB 557, a bill similar to SB 8, to remove the religious school option and resolve the constitutional objections. A state Supreme Court appeal around the SB 8 issue involving the town of Croydon is on hold pending legislative action.
By train or by bus
The House Transportation Committee voted unanimously this week to retain legislation relative to the repeal of the Rail Transit Authority. The chair of the committee said his goal is to work collaboratively with transportation industry representatives through the fall to create a more comprehensive body focused on the development of multiple modes of alternative transportation options for the state.
Death and taxes…and milk
The House Judiciary Committee voted 17-3 to recommend rejecting a bill to expand the state’s death penalty by adding the murder of a child to the law. The House Ways and Means Committee voted unanimously to recommend against a bill that would add to ongoing phased reductions in the state’s business taxes. The committee said the state needs to see the impacts of the ongoing cuts before making further reductions. The Senate passed a bill that would give about $2 million in aid to the state’s dairy farmers.
Make his day
In signing his first bill into law, Governor Chris Sununu lived up to a campaign promise to repeal the requirement that citizens obtain a permit in order to carry a concealed weapon. Effective immediately, the law will see New Hampshire join about a dozen other states that have or are considering similar laws, which are commonly referred to as constitutional carry or Vermont Carry laws.
House committees will be meeting on a limited schedule during school vacation week to finish work on early deadline bills. The House will hold a session on Thursday, March 9, and is reserving the previous day, March 8, for a possible extra session. The Senate will be in recess next week and will hold its next session on Thursday, March 9.