House Majority Leader Reacts to Special Session Petition

CONCORD – House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered the following comments relative to a petition for a special legislative session initiated by Rep. Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord). The purpose of the special session would be to modify laws relative to the ability of Secretary of State Bill Gardner to release New Hampshire voter information to the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity.

“I have a high level of respect for Secretary of State Bill Gardner and it’s unfortunate that Representative Shurtleff and others in the Democratic Party have chosen to suggest he would divulge information that is not public. Secretary Gardner has indicated that he will only provide voter data that he is legally able to provide and that is already publicly available. He has served the people of New Hampshire honorably in his position for over 40 years. He knows the law.”

“This is political grandstanding meant to make President Trump’s Commission out to be something it most assuredly is not. I’ve read the request, and the Commission respectfully asks only for what is publicly available under the laws of the state. I know of no better steward of laws and information than Secretary Gardner, and I believe him when he says sensitive data will not be included in any data release.”

“Voter lists with basic information have been available for public review for decades. They are the basis for how our political parties and candidates contact voters. If Democrats had a genuine concern about the availability of the data, they had decades to change the law. By petitioning for a special session they demonstrate their political motives and their disregard for the usual and customary legislative process.”

“Election integrity is important to me and it is important to the voters of our state. I will not support meeting in special session for this circus-like endeavor.”

Background: RSA16 provides the ability for members to petition for a special session. If the requirements for the petition are met, the Secretary of State will mail ballots to every member of the House and Senate asking, “Are you of the opinion that the general court should meet in special session?”

House Leaders’ Statements on Committee of Conference Budget Passage

CONCORD – House Republican Leaders issued statements following the affirmative vote of the State Senate and House of Representatives to send HB144 and HB517 to the governor’s desk for signature. The committee of conference report on HB144 received a 198-169 vote, and HB517 received a 212-161 vote on Thursday, after months of public input, review, and analysis by House and Senate budget writers.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson):

“This is a budget the legislature and the people of New Hampshire can be proud of. This budget provides increased resources to address the opioid crisis, mental illness, domestic violence, and includes several reforms to state government while keeping spending in check. We’ve achieved a balance that ensures our citizens will have access to the services they need while reducing the tax burden. Members of the House and Senate have worked tirelessly on this budget, which in my opinion makes sense for our state, our communities, and our constituents.” (more…)

House Leaders Applaud Committee of Conference Agreements on Budget

CONCORD – House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) and House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued statements following conclusion of the committee of conference negotiations on the final state budget proposal.

House Majority Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack):

“Voters sent Republican majorities back to Concord to continue managing our state in a fiscally responsible manner. This budget, like our current budget, meets the needs of our state, and addresses our priorities. We achieve these goals while continuing to make New Hampshire more competitive by reducing the tax burden on our business community, and reducing electricity bills by repealing a tax on electricity consumption. We’ve already received a high level of positive feedback from House Republicans, and I look forward to working with my colleagues in the House to pass this budget next week.”

House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson):

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Majority Leader Applauds House Passage of SB3

Today, the House passed SB3, relative to domicile for voting purposes. The bill as amended by the House eliminates the domicile loophole that allows voters to register without proving their domicile while also shifting the responsibility of proving domicile on to the voter. The bill also creates a clear process for verifying an individual’s domicile and clarifies how municipal and state officials should address questions of domicile. The bill passed the House today by a 191-162 vote.

House Majority Leader Richard “Dick” Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued the following statement:

“I applaud the hard work of our Election Law experts in the House and Senate and am pleased to see SB3 pass the House. New Hampshire holds more local and state elections than any other state in the nation, with numerous outcomes being decided by single digit margins. SB3 will help maintain confidence in our elections by eliminating drive-by voting and removing the domicile loophole by making domicile a verifiable act.”

“SB3 holds all residents to an equal standard and makes sure that every duly qualified voter who shows up to the polls has the opportunity to vote.”

“I look forward to getting this important legislation to the Governor’s desk as quickly as possible.”

Majority Leader Responds to Passage of SB8

House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) released the following statement in response to the House passed SB8, relative to school attendance in towns with no public schools. SB8 passed the House on a bipartisan vote of 210-147.

House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack):

“The passage of SB8 is an important step forward in school choice. This bill will give school boards and parents more choices in order to send their students to the best possible school. SB8 guarantees all students will have the chance to receive an adequate education, whether it’s a public school or a non-sectarian private school. We applaud the committee’s hard work on this important piece of legislation, and we look forward to it getting to the Governor’s desk.”

House Majority Leader Statement on Approval of HHS Emergency Funding

Today, the House approved the Senate version to HB 629 by a vote of 283-32. An amendment approved by the Senate last week used this bill as the vehicle to provide $33.2 million in emergency funding for the Department of Health and Human Services.

Representative Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued the following statement:

“This is an unfortunate but necessary use of the surplus funds. For a number of reasons, including missed projections for reductions in standard Medicaid caseloads, and lack of information on provider rates, this budget gap appeared, and we had to act. The legislature never likes to be the position of having to rescue agencies or programs, but it’s our responsibility to make sure the operation of government and services like Medicaid are able to continue without significant disruption.”

Background: The Senate amended the House-passed portion of the bill to deal with an anticipated deficit of $66.5 million almost entirely in the Medicaid managed care program at the Department of Health and Human Services.  To deal with this, the department is reducing its expenditures and finding additional drug rebate revenue in the amount of $34.2 million. The Senate amendment adds an appropriation of $33.2 million to the Department. Together, this should cover the total HHS anticipated deficit. The additional appropriation will come from the 2017 surplus, with the “rainy day fund” expected to remain at $100 million. (more…)