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Legislative Review

House gives preliminary OK to permanent reauthorization of expanded Medicaid

The New Hampshire House has given preliminary approval to SB 263 FN, a top-tier BIA legislative priority, which permanently reauthorizes New Hampshire's Granite Advantage Health Care Program (also known as expanded Medicaid), on a 193-166 roll call vote. It was a victory that did not come without drama. A two-year reauthorization was included in the House-passed version of the state budget, but House Republicans oppose permanent reauthorization and tried everything under the sun to amend and delay the final vote. Over 25 roll call votes were taken on differing floor amendments, but none were successful. Last Thursday's floor action was a critical step in moving the bill forward, but not the final one. SB 263 FN now goes to House Finance for further review, but if the Democratic caucus, combined with a handful of Republican supporters, holds firm, it's hard to see how this critical public health/workforce initiative doesn't get through.

Most sincerely dead

HB 74 FN, a bill opposed by BIA, that mandated all companies with 15 or more employees pay for any accrued but unused vacation time when the employee leaves the company had a wild ride this session, but that came to an abrupt end last Thursday. The Senate, on a voice vote, adopted the Commerce Committee recommendation to find the bill "inexpedient to legislate," killing it for the session. Aside from the questionable premise at its core (that the state should be in the business of designing private sector employee benefits programs), the bill had numerous technical issues that, if passed, would create confusion for employers and employees and most certainly lead to litigation. Even so, it's more than likely the bill's champion, Rep. Michael Cahill, D-Newmarket, will be back next session with a new proposal.

Waiting game

Last week, the House postponed voting on SB 54-FN, a bill supported by BIA, that potentially lowers energy costs for New Hampshire ratepayers by providing the electric utilities the option to issue requests for proposal for technology-neutral, long-term contracts for energy sources. The bill includes safeguards to ensure costs are minimized and ratepayer benefits are maximized. The bill was removed from the consent calendar to address a minor error with a bipartisan floor amendment. At the end of a long session day, House leadership announced the bill would be voted on at a later session date.

Landfill setback bill up for vote Tuesday

The House Environment and Agriculture Committee is scheduled to vote Tuesday, May 23 on SB 61, relative to surface water setbacks for landfills, a bill supported by BIA. The bill would update landfill permitting regulations based on the results of scientific study. The governor urged the committee to pass the bill as amended by the Senate. The committee discussed a variety of potential changes to the bill at the last committee work session.