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…)

MacKay Praises House Concurrence on Bipartisan Bill on Grandparent Guardianship

Today, the House approved the Senate version to HB 629 by a vote of 283-32. The underlying bill is a bipartisan act establishing a preference for the appointment of a child’s grandparent as guardian of the minor in certain cases, whose prime sponsor is Representative Mariellen MacKay (R-Nashua).

The bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to make benefit eligibility information available on the department’s website as well as to grandparents seeking guardianship over their grandchild. HB 629 also places the burden of proof on the petitioner to demonstrate that guardianship is in the best interest of the child in situations where guardianship was brought on due to the parents substance abuse. This bill also establishes a preference for grandparents to be appointed as guardians in cases where it is sought as a result of a parent’s substance abuse.

Representative Mariellen MacKay (R-Nashua) issued the following statement:

“I am pleased that the House today overwhelming approved HB 629. With this legislation New Hampshire is leading the way in giving grandparents a voice when it comes to the guardianship process in cases dealing with substance abuse. This important legislation will keep children out of the foster care system and allow them to stay with their families. HB 629 is about love, passion, family, and just doing the right thing, and I couldn’t be more proud to see this bill overwhelmingly pass the legislature.”

Background: An amendment approved by the Senate last week used this bill as the vehicle to provide emergency funding for the Department of Health and Human Services. The amendment did not modify the underlying bill which previously passed both chambers by a voice vote.

Statement by Speaker Shawn Jasper with regard to the resignation of Rep. Robert Fisher

“Rep. Robert Fisher has informed the House Clerk of his resignation from the NH House, effective at noon today.  It is unfortunate that the debate surrounding his actions while serving in the House have detracted from the good things that we have accomplished this session.  But I welcome his resignation for the good of the institution and I hope that we can now move forward with our important legislative agenda.”

House Majority Pleased With House Approval For Infrastructure Aid Package

SB 38, making an appropriation for local highway aid and municipal bridge aid, passed the House today on a voice vote. House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) released the following statement in response to the passage of SB38.

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

“This bill will send $30 million back to municipalities for the purpose of constructing, reconstructing, and maintaining roads and $6.8 million in bridge aid. This aid package comes in addition to the dollars that flow back to communities through existing formulas. This session we’ve made it a priority to send money back to cities and towns. We are proud we can make local needs a priority. The passage of this bill further strengthens our commitment to improving our state’s infrastructure. The health of our roads and bridges are important investment for our communities and local economies.”

House Majority Leader Praises Strengthening NH’s Rape Shield Law

House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered the following statement in response to the passage of SB9, relative to the admissibility of proffered evidence in sexual assault cases. The bill passed the House by a 328 – 30 vote.

House Majority Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack):

“This is an important piece of legislation that protects the privacy of sexual assault victims, their families, and strengthens New Hampshire’s rape shield law. This will ensure that a victim’s sexual history will remain sealed from the jury, public, and press while not infringing upon a defendant’s rights or jeopardizing due process.”

“Although in line with practices in New Hampshire, SB9 is a critical clarification in the law that will not leave victims of sexual assault forced to choose between their right to privacy and their right for justice. I commend the House for passing SB9, and I look forward to it being signed into law.”