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…)

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.”