Legislative Update: January 26, 2018
Bills, bills, bills
Both the House and the Senate put in long hours in committee this week, with public hearings on new legislation and votes on bills that committees had finished considering. The House Finance Committee continued working on a bill to create a college and career savings program beginning with second graders, and a much-debated bill involving school choice options. The House Commerce Committee worked on the family and medical leave bill that passed its initial test on the House floor two weeks ago. The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee heard testimony on a bill that would require companies with ten or more employees or two locations within the state to inform employees of their work schedule at least a week in advance. It would also require that certain employees have at least ten hours off between shifts. Representatives of emergency medical service companies, health care associations and other companies where schedules are difficult to predict testified about the problems the bill would create for them. The Senate Judiciary Committee voted to hold over for more study a bill on banning bump stocks for firearms.
Last, but not least
All but one of the 1,102 bills the legislature faces this session have now been released in full, but the one that has yet to seen is arguably the biggest of all. Republican leadership’s bill to reauthorize the Medicaid expansion program will likely bring vigorous debate. A five-year reauthorization under a less expensive managed care model that was recommended by a study commission may be the center of discussion.
Shut it down…Just kidding
Federal employees were at work as usual on Tuesday, as a three-day government shutdown that included the weekend had almost no impact here. The shutdown – feared by some and welcomed by others – kept several hundred National Guard troops from attending drills scheduled for Saturday, but otherwise went pretty much unnoticed.
Paddle free or die
The House Fish and Game & Marine Resources Committee voted to recommend killing a bill that would have established a fee on canoe, kayak and personal watercraft rentals in order to provide more money for Fish and Game Department rescue activities. After debate, the department agreed it can pursue voluntary donations to augment the rescue fund.
Smoke on the water
If the wind is right this coming July we may be able to detect a distinct odor wafting over the Connecticut River from Vermont. No, not their cheddar cheese. Green Mountain State Governor Phil Scott this week signed a law legalizing recreational marijuana, perhaps turning some New Hampshire supporters green with envy. Two weeks ago, the House here gave a tentative nod to legalization of small amounts of recreational marijuana, but supporters still have a long legislative row to hoe.
The Senate will meet in session next Thursday, Feb. 1. The House has not yet scheduled its next session, but is asking members to keep Feb. 7, and Feb. 8 if necessary, open for possible session days.