SESSION NOTICE: The next House session will be Thursday, May 19, at 10:00 a.m.
CAUCUS NOTICE: There will be a Republican caucus on Thursday, May 19th at 9:00 a.m. in Representatives Hall.
CONCORD – House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) and House Majority Leader Richard “Dick” Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered the following statements on the passage of legislation aiding in the state’s response to the opioid and drug epidemic in New Hampshire. Today the House passed:
SB533, which appropriates $3,000,000 in FY 2017 to the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery, for the purpose of funding contracts for program services, and $2,000,000 in FY 2017 to the New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, for the purpose of funding supportive housing projects for persons with substance abuse disorders. SB533 passed on a voice vote.
SB485, establishing a state grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in addressing the opioid crisis SB533 passed 213 to 95.
SB522, making an appropriation to the office of professional licensure and certification for technology upgrades for the controlled drug prescription health and safety program. SB522 passed on a voice vote.
SB464, establishing a statewide drug offender grant program, establishing drug courts or alternative drug offender programs. SB464 passed on a voice vote.
“Late last year we formed the Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Epidemic in order to review and prioritize proposals for this legislative session, “ said House Speaker Jasper. “The bills approved today, along with the bills the legislature passed earlier this year and the increase in funding we included in the legislature’s budget, help fulfill the commitment we made to act on this crisis.”
“There is no silver bullet when it comes to solving this crisis, but we believe the measures passed in the House today will aid in the state’s fight against addiction in several important areas including treatment, prevention, enforcement, and the judicial process,” said Rep. Hinch. “Our work won’t stop here, but this set of solutions, we believe, will continue to improve the state’s ability to respond.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Richard “Dick” Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered the following comments relative to the House vote on CACR27, a constitutional amendment providing that the state shall not spend more on operating budget expenses than it receives in revenues plus any surplus from the previous budget period, or use the proceeds of any instrument of indebtedness to fund its operating expenditures. CACR27 received a majority vote of 201 to 139, but lacked the necessary 3/5 majority required to move forward, in order to appear on the November ballot for ratification by voters.
“Voters expect responsible spending and budgeting by their elected officials, just as they do in their own household, and not spend more than we take in. This amendment sought to take those simple values on fiscal responsibility and place them in our state constitution,” said Hinch. “We believe it sets reasonable parameters for state spending. It passed the Senate 23-1. It’s unfortunate that House Democrats voted so strongly against this responsible spending measure today, thereby taking away the opportunity for voters to weigh in on this important issue in the Fall.”
CONCORD – Prime Sponsor of HB1616, New Hampshire House Speaker Pro Tem Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry), issued the following statement on the signing of the bill that addresses New Hampshire’s compliance with federal identification laws, commonly referred to as REAL ID. HB1616 provides a mechanism to transition New Hampshire State issued IDs to a compliant version, which will in turn ensure that current IDs are acceptable for travel and other common purposes during a 5-year transition period.
“This is a very important piece of legislation that will ensure New Hampshire citizens don’t need to carry multiple forms of identification when they travel or visit federal buildings,” Packard said. “As soon as the federal government alerted us to the fact that they would begin to enforce federal ID standards in the coming year, we got the pieces in place to ensure that the legislature can solve the problem before it becomes a problem.”
“No one has to worry about changing their license right away. By passing this New Hampshire specific bill, we will still be able to use our current IDs without a problem for travel and other purposes during a 5-year transition period,” Packard continued. “We are giving citizens the ability to opt-in to the REAL ID program. If they object to providing certain personal information required for a federally accepted ID, they can get a traditional ID. We believe that most granite staters will choose to opt-in and have an ID they can use universally.”
Under the bill, if a New Hampshire citizen opts-in, the Department of Safety would keep their social security number and photo on file. Should they decide not to opt-in, they can keep and use a traditional license, and, at their request, their social security number and photo will not be kept on file. However, if they decide not to opt-in, their passport will be required to travel on domestic flights and enter certain government buildings. The non-compliant cards will incorporate a unique design and clearly indicate that the document may not be accepted for official purposes.
“Important to note,” said Packard, “is that our compliance with REAL ID will not create a national ID card, it will not put New Hampshire citizens in a federal database of driver information, and federal authorities will not have access to any state data.”
CONCORD – House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered the following comments relative to the monthly report of state revenues indicating business tax revenue continued to perform above expectations. In the report business taxes performed 14.5% above plan.
“The fiscally responsible Republican budget and revenue plan continue to meet and exceed expectations. At the outset of this legislative term, House Republicans were adamant about building our budget on conservative revenue estimates to protect taxpayers. We were able to fund New Hampshire’s priorities on those estimates, without raising a single tax or fee in the budget, and build the foundation for continued economic growth,” said Hinch.
“Less than one year ago, Governor Hassan admonished the business tax cuts contained in the Republican budget, and by her veto, demonstrated her lack of foresight on this issue. Not only have her claims of massive budget holes been roundly disproven, the opposite is happening,” Hinch added. “The legislature is moving forward in a cautious manner as we prioritize where any additional funds might be utilized. Addressing our state’s continuing drug crisis and rebuilding our Rainy Day Fund are very important. The governor has come to us with a shopping cart full of spending proposals, but before we think about heading to the checkout, we’re looking at what is necessary and what is possible.”
CONCORD – House Majority Leader Richard “Dick” Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered the following comments in response to correspondence from Governor Hassan to Speaker Shawn Jasper and Senate President Chuck Morse outlining proposals on how to allocate potential surplus revenue.
“Let’s remember that the governor vetoed the legislature’s budget last year which delayed deployment of much needed resources to help combat the drug crisis. We need to be reassured that there is a management plan in place to make sure the currently allocated resources are being fully utilized and are producing positive outcomes before we commit to a laundry list of other spending,” said Rep. Hinch, “Our Ways and Means and Finance committees are actively reviewing the merits of several legislative proposals dealing with issues the governor discusses in her letter, but our revenue position for the entire biennium remains to be seen. That is why we are not committed to rolling out the rubber stamp until we weigh some important factors.”
“We are fully committed to allocating the necessary resources to continue to combat the drug crisis, but we shouldn’t play shell games in how we pay for them. We believe the legislature’s role is to be stalwart stewards of state finances. In that role we’ll continue to look towards those items we believe will have the greatest impact and produce positive outcomes,” Hinch added, “We’d like to believe the governor in that bipartisanship led us to our current economic outlook, but her record shows otherwise. Less than one year ago, the governor admonished and vetoed the legislature’s budget that contained no new taxes or fees, doubled the balance of the Rainy Day Fund, and provided the first business tax relief in 20 years. We believe this tax relief will play a major role in keeping New Hampshire more economically competitive and keeping our economy growing.”