Legislative Update: January 19, 2018
You have to start somewhere
The House this week held public hearings on almost two hundred bills as they began the task of clearing their desks of the nearly 650 bills representatives filed this session. Although Wednesday’s snowstorm affected attendance in some committees, it did not postpone hearings by either chamber. The Senate, which must deal with almost 300 bills filed by its members, held hearings on more than fifty of them this week, as well as a full session on Thursday.
Show them the money
Two House committees this week struggled with issues for two programs that have bi-partisan support, but also present some budgetary challenges. The House Finance Committee is reviewing a bill that would use state money to seed a program to create college and career savings accounts for children. The bill has supporters on both sides of the aisle, but some members believe that funding it would require $5 million in cuts to the budget that passed last June. The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee took testimony on a paid family leave and medical care bill. Some states that have passed such bills mandate employee participation, which New Hampshire likely will not, a situation that creates difficulties with participation rates, premium costs and other factors. The House passed the bill earlier this month on its policy merits, but it still must pass muster on fiscal concerns before facing another House vote. The Finance Committee is also looking at a more controversial bill that would use education adequacy grants to families for school choice options.
No software for you, Comrade
The House Executive Departments and Administration Committee heard testimony on a bill that would prohibit state agencies from using software made by the Russian company Kaspersky Labs. The company has been the subject of allegations about ties to the Russian government. Commissioner Denis Goulet of the Department of Information Technology testified in support of the bill, saying it would be a positive step forward in cybersecurity. An aide for U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who sponsored legislation at the federal level to ban Kaspersky software, also spoke in favor.
The Senate will meet in session on Thursday, Feb. 1. The next House session is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 7.