State House Update 1/19/19
Public hearings and committee meetings at the State House are well underway. I will continue to provide updates on key bill hearings and developments on Facebook and weekly blog. Stay tuned for state budget news, too, as our state budgeting process is well underway. I’ll have a more timely perspective serving on the Finance Committee this term.
Last week, House and Senate Finance and Ways & Means committee members attended economic briefings at the State House. Economists, commissioners and analysts provided us with their perspective on our state’s revenues, economy and future outlook. The prediction from economists was clear: economic growth will slow in 2019 and decline further in 2020.
Brian Gottlob of Polecon Research warned legislators of a potential ‘hangover’ in 2020. Gottlob also explained, “Without the anomalous growth in the BPT & BET, revenue growth from economically sensitive revenues would be modest.
Much of the growth in business tax revenues this past year has been linked to anomalous (one-time) tax payments, associated with repatriated income from overseas. As we begin our state budgeting process, we need to be sure not to equate recent business tax revenue growth with long-term economic growth and develop a clear understanding of our state’s revenues and the true health of our economy.
State Budget Process
In House Finance, the Legislative Budget Assistant provided us with an overview of the state budget process and timeline. Agencies began their briefings to prepare us for budgeting as well. This week we heard from:
- Department of Corrections
- Department of Agriculture, Markets & Food
- Department of Business & Economic Affairs
- Department of Administrative Services
- Department of Justice
- Department of Information Technology
- Department of Environmental Services
- Judicial Branch
- Drug Court
- Judicial Council
- Lottery Commission
- Office of Professional Licensure & Certification
- Retirement System
- Department of Revenue Administration
I enjoyed hearing from several of you this week as you inquired about specific bills and their public hearings. There was a hearing in Election Law on HB 408-L which aims to recognize existing law but also gives town moderators the authority to postpone a meeting in the event of a weather emergency.
In House Education, HB 131, (for which I am a co-sponsor) generated a lot of support and interest. This bill aims to establish a much needed commission to develop and promote mental health programs to support our youth in Kindergarten through grade 12.
Your Priorities = My Priorities
Property tax relief and state support for our public schools are two of the top priorities you’ve shared with me in Milford. I have sponsored several key bills that aim to address both. This upcoming Wednesday at 1:00 in Legislative Office Building Room 306, there will be a public hearing for HB 497-FN, which would require the state to pay (reinstate) 15 percent of contributions of retirement system for group I teachers and group II members. As I’ve posted before the downshifted burden of retirement costs from the state to towns has cost Milford taxpayers millions over the past few years. I am a co-sponsor of HB 497 and plan to testify for much needed property tax relief.
Here is a link to next week’s House Calendar which posts all public hearings and meetings. As usual, please reach out to me with your input — that’s how I can be sure to best serve you and our Milford community!
Happy New Year!
Best wishes for health and happiness as we begin this new year.
With gratitude and hope.
Looking Ahead to 2019 Session
After serving on the House Ways & Means Committee for the 2017-2018 legislative session, I’m honored to now serve on the House Finance Committee for the upcoming 2019-2020 session.
I’ve been appointed as Vice Chair for Division III Finance. The Finance Committee oversees state appropriations; Division III focuses on health and human services appropriations.
The legislative opening session will be held next Wednesday, January 2nd. To review proposed House rule changes, refer to page 4 of next week’s House calendar. Committees will also begin meeting next week and the week of January 7th. Meanwhile, bill drafting continues as we make final changes to our legislative service requests. I’ve signed off on bills to provide property tax relief, improve public school funding, and establish a family leave program, to name a few.
Before the Christmas holiday, the Children’s Caucus hosted Joe Ribsam, Director of DCYF. Joe provided Caucus members and legislators in attendance with a historical overview of DCYF. He reviewed several components of his proposed 2019-2020 budget request which would address current gaps in our state’s child protection services. We need to have a “robust enough system to support families and keep kids safe @ home.”
Officially sworn in 12/5/2018
I was excited to officially begin my second term in the NH House, representing our great community of Milford.
Organization day was busy: it was an honor for me to give the second nomination speech for our Speaker of the House, Steve Shurtleff, who won easily (with a 237-152 vote). Congratulations Steve! I’m so looking forward to your House leadership as Speaker.
It was a pleasure to welcome fellow Milford State Representatives Paul Dargie and Peter Petrigno, as well as Kat McGhee (Charlie Burns was absent).
Opening session is scheduled for January 2, 2019. Meanwhile, work on LSRs/future bills continues these next few weeks. Committee assignments will be finalized soon so I’ll keep you posted.
Thank you, Milford!
Thank you Milford, for your vote of confidence! It’s an honor to serve you and to be a voice for our amazing community. I’m proud to continue as your NH State Representative. My commitment to serve as a voice for you and a vote for Milford is stronger than ever.
THANK you to all of my family, friends and supporters who helped with my re-election. Whether you hosted a JOELLE for Milford sign, drove me around neighborhoods, helped me knock doors, donated to my campaign, or shared your message of support and hope, I could not have done it without you!
As you know my work has already begun — bills are being drafted, meetings on priority issues are underway, and my door is always open. Please stay in touch.
Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for your support:
President Obama Endorses Milford State Representative Joelle Martin
Rep. Joelle Martin campaign recognized as a critical race by our 44th President
Milford, NH – Today Representative Joelle Martin has received the endorsement of former President Barack Obama in her re-election race for NH State Representative, Hillsborough District 23.
“As a former state legislator himself, President Obama recognizes the importance of electing strong leaders at the state level,” said Rep. Joelle Martin. It is quite an honor to receive the President’s endorsement and know that he believes in our campaign and our fight for an economy and community that works for everyone. This distinction fuels my commitment to continue serving our community and give the people of Milford the representation they deserve.”
“With over 6,000 races on the ballot this year, we are excited to join forces with President Obama to highlight the amazing men and women like Representative Joelle Martin running in must-watch races for their state legislatures,” said Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee (DLCC) Executive Director Jessica Post. “We stand united and will do everything we can to elect candidates like Joelle who will stand up for democratic values and work to move our nation forward.”
You can check out Rep. Joelle Martin’s website here to learn more about her, her priorities, why the race is critical to expanding Democratic power in New Hampshire, and to support Joelle’s re-election campaign.
For more information or to schedule an interview with Rep. Joelle Martin, please email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the DLCC, or to schedule an interview with DLCC Executive Director Jessica Post, please email Mara Sloan at email@example.com.
# # #
Thank you for your support!
Thank you all for your ongoing support and for continuing to reach out to let me know what your concerns and questions are. It was nice to see so many of you at the polls on Tuesday at the Primary! Thanks for coming out to vote!
Here are some of the primary result highlights:
Again, thank you so much for your support. I am more committed than ever to serve as a voice for you and a vote for Milford at the State House.
I will continue to Fight for Property Tax Relief
As I outlined in the Milford State Representative Candidate Forum held on September 7th, I am co-sponsoring a bill for the upcoming session to provide much-needed property tax relief for Milford residents. This continues to be one of the top concerns I hear from you. Although my reconsideration motion for property tax relief this past session, along with bipartisan colleagues, was shy of passage in the House by only one vote, I won’t stop!
Work continues in Concord
This past week was veto day at the State House. There were six bills vetoed by Governor Sununu. With bipartisan votes of two-thirds majority, we overturned two of those vetoes:
HB 143, permitting the Adult Parole Board discretion to refer parole violators with substance use disorders to receive treatment
SB 365, supporting a key source of NH energy, biomass.
REP Joelle Martin to Represent NH at State Legislative Leaders Foundation Program
Last week I had the opportunity to meet with State Legislators from across the country. (See the full press release below). The State Legislative Leaders Foundation hosted their annual Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. I had the unique opportunity to represent our great state of New Hampshire and was honored to participate. This unique program “recognizes the importance of state legislators as consensus builders and facilitators of compromise and aims to develop the leadership potential of emerging policy leaders for the challenges of the 21stcentury.”
“I am very pleased and proud that Representative Joelle Martin has been selected to attend the prestigious Emerging Leaders Program to be held this summer at the University of Virginia,” stated Representative Shurtleff.
Spending the week at Darden with this bright and dedicated group of state legislators — studying and discussing today’s economic and social issues and challenges with them — was invaluable.
It was rewarding to find common ground and connect as politically, socially and culturally diverse policy makers.
We not only shared policy challenges and potential solutions but connected personally as well. I am truly thankful for this opportunity that allowed me to connect with my esteemed colleagues from across our nation, and for the new friendships that will last a lifetime!
NH General Court Concord, New Hampshire * House Democratic Office
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 27, 2018
Joelle Martin to Represent NH at State Legislative Leaders Foundation Program
Every July the State Legislative Leaders Foundation hosts up to 50 of the “best and brightest state legislators from across the nation” to participate in their Emerging Leaders Program. Milford’s State Representative, Joelle Martin, has been selected to represent New Hampshire at the Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program this year.
The State Legislative Leaders Foundation relies on the recommendations of each state’s leadership – House Speaker, Senate President, and House and Senate Minority Leader – to nominate first- and second-term legislators to apply for the program. The selection committee makes their final decision based on a candidate’s demonstrated capacity as a state legislator, dedication to public service, and potential to serve as a next generation legislative leader.
NH House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff nominated Rep. Martin to represent New Hampshire at the event. “I am very pleased and proud that Representative Joelle Martin has been selected to attend the prestigious Emerging Leaders Program to be held this summer at the University of Virginia,” stated Representative Shurtleff. “Her selection is partly in recognition of her hard work as a State Representative, as well as her ability to work across party lines for the common good.”
Held on the campus of the University of Virginia, in partnership with the distinguished Darden School of Business, the Emerging Leaders Program provides legislators from across the country with the opportunity to share their experience with a politically, socially and culturally diverse group of peers. The Foundation recognizes the importance of legislators as consensus builders and facilitators of compromise and aims to develop the leadership potential of emerging policy leaders for the challenges of the 21stcentury.
Martin looks forward to participating in the program and working with fellow legislators from across the country. “In this time of political divide, it is critical that legislators work together to solve problems and create policies that provide real solutions,” Martin said. “After completing the Emerging Leaders Program, I plan to bring back to NH the skills I acquire to help me be a better legislator and to represent my constituents more effectively.”
It’s official! I have filed to run again for State Representative. My commitment to serving as a voice for you and a vote for Milford is stronger than ever.
I am listening, and with your support, I will continue to work collaboratively to develop creative solutions and support smart policies that foster:
- an economy that works for everyone; and
- strong, healthy families and communities.
We need a transparent, just government that truly represents all citizens. I am committed to serving you with integrity, listening to your concerns, and working to secure a BETTER FUTURE for you, for our kids, for Milford, for New Hampshire.
Thank you for your support!
Although 2018 Legislative sessions has wrapped up, policy work certainly continues!
I enjoyed meeting with several of you this past week to answer your questions about specific issues and bills. I’ll be hosting office hours at Town Hall again later this month — please stay tuned for details.
Policy highlights for me this week included the bill signing for SB 564. This was a big day
for NH and for medical science! I was honored to be able to support this bipartisan legislation and to participate in the bill signing which sets up New Hampshire as the industry hub for Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing. Inventor Dean Kamen, who earlier last year set up the nonprofit Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute (ARMI) after receiving an $80 million grant from the U.S Department of Defense, has already raised an additional $200 million in capital for this initiative. The combination of efforts in support of this new industry will provide incredible new job opportunities and a tremendous boost to NH’s economy. Here’s a link to WMUR’s coverage of the bill signing.
On Thursday, Congresswoman Kuster visited the Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley. She invited community leaders and members of our prevention coalition, CAST, to have
a discussion with her about what we are doing in our community to combat the opioid crisis and the impact it is having on our children and families. It was great to hear her insights as well as share information on our collaboration and initiatives. Thank you, Congresswoman Kuster, for listening and caring about our community.
Milford’s #MemorialDay parade this morning was a beautiful tribute to those who paid for our liberty and freedom with their service and ultimate sacrifice.
We are forever grateful.
The 2018 state legislative session wrapped up this past Wednesday. As I reported last week, both the House and Senate had a number of Committee of Conference recommendations to vote on. I’ve included the highlights below. Please feel free to email/call me with any questions. In addition, I will be hosting office hours over the next few weeks. I’ll post the specifics later this week.
- SB 438’s committee of conference report reverted back to the Senate’s original version of the bill which gave the Secretary of State the authority to allow or block requests by town moderators to postpone local elections due to weather emergencies. The House voted overwhelmingly against the COC report on Wednesday (118-225), however; restating our position that local elections should be decided by towns. The current law remains confusing so there will most likely be a new bill introduced next legislative session to clarify state statute to uphold local authority.
- The COC report for SB 564 (which aims to establish NH as the industry hub for advanced regenerative manufacturing — engineered human tissues and tissue-related technologies, including organs) was adopted by both the House and Senate. I’ll be attending the bill signing this upcoming week at the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute’s offices in Manchester.
- HB 1614 was amended in the Senate to include the language from a controversial semi-trailer registration bill, HB 579. Luckily the House had the votes (150 YAY -187 NO) to stop this bill which would have downshifted additional costs to Milford and other towns.
- HB 1817 overwhelmingly passed the House with a vote of 242-92. This important bill included a number of end of year amended solutions. There was great bipartisan effort/compromise to allocate these one-time surplus funds to critical needs (and to ensure the rainy fund is secure).
- funding for red listed bridge repair
- salary increased for state employees
- additional allocation for transitional housing for individuals leaving mental health and/or substance used disorder treatment
- settlement with hospitals regarding DSH (Disproportionate Share) payments
Hopefully you’ve had the chance to follow the latest state policy developments via my Facebook and Twitter posts, as well as in the media over the past couple of weeks. It’s been a very hectic few weeks. To recap some of the major bill decisions:
- SB 313, reauthorizing Medicaid expansion: the Senate concurred with the House’s amendments by a vote of 16-6. Bill goes to Governor next for signature.
- House voted NO to a committee of conference on HB 1636 (&SB 193 and vouchers/ed freedom savings accts). The Reconsideration vote also failed which kills education freedom savings accounts/vouchers for this session.
- NH House says conversion therapy has NO place in NH and voted NOT to send the bill to committee of conference and to adopt the Senate version of the bill and send it to the Governor to become law.
This past week we worked with our Senate colleagues to finish our work on the remaining bills via committee of conferences. These bills included bills that passed both chambers but with different versions/amendments. Therefore, appointed members from both the Senate and House were charged to worked together to try to reach a consensus on each bill. This process was new to me, but interesting. In most cases, the committee of conference included members from the relevant Senate and House committees and both parties. Overall, I’d say the process worked well and details were ironed out in a bipartisan manner. However, in many cases, when non-conceding members refused to concur, the Senate President and Speaker of the House replaced them with members that would. The Silly Season article below provides a very good but unfortunate example of how the committee of conference process can go awry. All committee of conference recommendations will be voted on this upcoming Wednesday and Thursday by the full House and Senate. Please reach out to me and your other Milford Reps and Senator regarding your perspective. I always appreciate your input — it helps me make better decisions for our community.
Here’s a recent report by Rep Marjorie Porter on SB 438, Postponement of local elections, as well as the downside of our Committee of Conference process…
Straight Talk May 18, 2018 edition Rep. Marjorie Porter
It’s Silly Season once again at the State House. Legislators are meeting in Committees of Conference.
After the House or Senate passes one of its bills, it is sent to the other chamber for their consideration. This most often leads to the bill being changed in some way. The changes can be as simple as adding a comma, or as complicated as a complete rewrite of the bill.
Before it can be sent on to the Governor for signing, both chambers must agree to the changes.
We in the House have several options when the Senate returns an amended bill. We can concur, or agree with the changes, at which point the bill moves on to the Governor. We can non-concur, or not agree, at which point the bill dies.
Or we can non-concur and request a committee of conference. That’s when Silly Season officially begins.
Committees of conference are supposed to iron out the differences between the two versions of the bill. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. If they don’t, the bill dies.
The committees are made up of seven members—three senators, four representatives—who are chosen by committee chairs with the approval of the Senate president or the speaker of the House.
House members on the committee are supposed to defend the House position on the bill, and only those who voted in favor are supposed to be appointed. But, as I learned this week with SB 438, that is not always the case.
You need some background here. SB 438 deals with the postponement of local elections and was drafted to address the problems created when major winter storms hit us on the town meeting day two years in a row. One section of current law was interpreted by municipal lawyers to grant authority to postpone local elections to town moderators and other local election officials. The Secretary of State’s office disagreed. They read the law differently, and said no one had the authority to postpone.
The bill that came to us from the Senate set up a process to be used, and gave the authority to postpone local elections to the Secretary of State.
Needless to say, local officials were not very happy.
The hearing in the Election Law committee lasted for hours. Almost all the testimony we heard was against the bill. Although the Secretary of State has authority for state and federal elections, moderators and town clerks have always had sole authority over local elections where local boards and town officials are determined. They are in a better position to know the conditions on the ground than someone in an office in Concord.
Election Law worked hard to find a solution. Two different amendments were proposed. One, drafted by a Rep Moynihan, D-Dummer, amended current law by setting up a process, similar to the Senate version, but maintaining the moderator’s authority to postpone. The other, drafted by the committee chair, set up a different system, and kept the Secretary of State, and also the Attorney General, involved. The committee voted for the Chair’s amendment, 11-9. The other was presented to the House as a floor amendment.
This really should not have been a partisan issue at all, and indeed it wasn’t. The committee amendment was rejected by the House by a bipartisan vote of 155-176. This was a division vote, no names attached. The floor amendment was adopted, by a nonpartisan vote of 178-158. This was a roll call vote, so we know how each member voted. The final bill as amended passed with a voice vote. Remember this. It is important.
The Senate asked for a committee of conference. And here’s where I began to learn new things. House members appointed are supposed to have voted in the majority. They are supposed to defend the House position.
Of the four House members originally appointed, only one (me) had voted in the majority. At that time, I was the only Democrat. When I questioned, I was told there was no way to know how anyone voted because the final vote was a voice vote.
But of course, there was—that roll call vote on the amendment just prior to the voice vote made it clear how people voted. I was the only one of the four who voted with the majority. In fact two of the members were the committee chair and vice-chair, who obviously voted for their own amendment.
Just before the conference met, the chair was replaced by Rep Moynihan, the sponsor of the amendment that passed the House. House members were now divided 2-2.
It was clear from the beginning the Senate was not interested in the House’s position. Two of the three Senators live in cities, and their concerns made it obvious they had little understanding of how town meetings work. Rep Moynihan and I worked hard to explain the reasons for the House’s position. To their credit, the other two reps stayed silent until asked their opinion, and were honest in their response. They offered a solution which was a large part of the failed amendment. We recessed until the next day.
When we reconvened, the Senate offered to amend their bill to include part of the failed amendment. Because the House conferees were split, we went to the Speaker to ask for a solution.
He gave us one. He took Rep Moynihan and me, who were defending the House position, off the committee. House committee members now include the Election Law vice chair, a member of the House leadership team, and two new members who live in cities and have no familiarity with the bill.
The final meeting was today at 10:30. The new committee chose to disregard the voices of local officials and agreed to the original senate bill, unchanged. With no one left to support it, the House position has been scrapped.
I’m angry. The House did not follow its own rules. This is not the way things are supposed to be. Unfortunately, it’s the way things really are.
If you believe the Town Moderator should have a say re: rescheduling local elections (as the full House voted 178-158), let your Reps and Senator know. Have them vote NO this upcoming week on SB 438’s Committee of Conference Report.
We are in the final weeks of this year’s legislative session and it’s a very hectic time! I will continue to keep you updated on the daily twists and turns via Facebook and Twitter. Please keep in touch with your question and perspective!
Here’s a wrap up of some of the key legislative developments last week. I’ll start with some positive news. After excellent bipartisan collaboration, the following bills were passed in the House:
- SB 313 (reforming New Hampshire’s Medicaid and Premium Assistance Program) passed on a strong voice vote in the House! The Senate has reported that it will concur with the House’s amendments; and, if this happens, this Medicaid Expansion bill will be headed to the Governor for signature into law.
- SB 592 would strengthen DCYF services and bolster DCYF staff to support children and families in crisis. This bill passed the House on a strong voice vote. SB 590 also passed the House on a 315-14 vote, bolstering the funding for the developmental disabilities wait list.
- The House voted in favor of adopting the floor amendment to SB 438 and passed this bill OTPA. This is a win for towns — basically saying the Secretary of State cannot stand in the way of postponing local elections because of weather (or other disasters). I heard from many of you on this bill, including our town Moderator and Town Manager, and voted to support this version of the bill and local control. Here’s a link to the roll call vote. We’ll see if the Senate votes to concur/agree with the House’s position.
- The full House also overturned the House Commerce Committee’s recommendation to NOT pass/Interim Study SB 189, voting in favor of 3D mammograms for all Granite Staters. According to the CDC, NH has the highest rate of breast cancer in the country. A bipartisan majority agreed that Granite State women need to have access to the best diagnostics (here’s a link to the roll call vote).
In the Senate last week:
- The Senate agreed (by too narrow a vote: 14-10) to update our nondiscrimination laws to prohibit discrimination against transgender Granite Staters by passing HB 1319. This is a bipartisan triumph for transgender equality!
- The Senate also voted along party lines to pass HB 1264, relative to construction of the terms “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency.” I’ve heard from a few of you regarding this bill — mostly with concerns about the impact this would have on young voters. A recent episode of NHPR’s the Exchange (at the 9 minute mark) discussed the controversy around the impact this legislation would have on young voters’ ability to vote. Although many claim neighboring states, Maine and Massachusetts, have similar voting restrictions, this bill would impose much stricter restrictions on college voters and require them to register their vehicle in NH and obtain a NH license in order to vote here (neither Mass. nor Maine require this). Those residency requirements are not linked to vehicle registration in Maine or Massachusetts — college students are exempt from this. Concerns regarding this bill in NH include this extra burden/cost of vehicle registration, as well as the lack of access to DMV offices and hours across our state. Governor Sununu had previously stated he would Veto HB 1264; but now he’s expected to support this bill.
An update on SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts, aka the “school voucher bill:”
The NH House voted in a bipartisan manner (TWICE) to send SB 193 to Interim Study; once on Wednesday and then again on Thursday (reconsideration). So, in theory the next step was a vote by the Senate to concur/not concur with the House’s position. However, in a late session move in the Senate last Thursday night, the language of the original SB 193 was added to another bill HB 1636 — aiming to get SB 193 passed through this year. The Senate voted ought-to-pass as amended.
This Thursday, the House will vote on whether to agree/concur with the Senate on the amended HB 1636. Unfortunately, I anticipate that the political maneuvering will continue. If my GOP colleagues thought they were being whipped this past week, they’ve felt nothing yet. The Governor and the GOP leadership seem to be ideologically focused on the concept of school choice. The critical issue at this point — for both Republicans and Democrats against the bill– is not the concept of choice but the financial burden it would create for property taxpayers and public schools!
The majority of the emails/calls I received from Milford were overwhelmingly against SB 193 and the detrimental impact it would have on our public schools and property taxes. Only a few people have asked that I vote in support of SB 193 ( and no on Interim Study).
It was a busy week in the NH House this past week. Here’s a summary of some of the key votes, along with votes on bills many of you inquired about:
- SB 593, relative to the penalty for capital murder, passed the full House with a vote of 223-116. This repeal of the death penalty also passed in the Senate but the Governor has said he plans to veto the bill.
- Although “Marsy’s Law,” CACR22, failed to pass in the House (284-51), SB 391 — relative to sexual assault survivors’ rights– did pass 315-22. CACR22 received early bipartisan support in the Senate and from the Governor, but as reported in the media, many were concerned that “some provisions could create unintended consequences, including hampering fair trials for those accused of crimes, increasing costs for local prosecutors and limiting information available to the public about crimes.” Overall, the majority of legislators agree that citizens deserve a fair justice system and that everyone deserves a voice. The N.H. Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence will be working with legislators to develop a new version of the bill for next session.
- The close vote in support of SB 451, relative to wildlife trafficking, ensures endangered species protection by prohibiting sales in our state.
- SB 564, relative to a business tax exemption and a workforce development program for regenerative manufacturing businesses, passed with a strong bipartisan vote 241-50. As House leaders Rep. Hinch (Republican) and Rep. Steve Shurtleff (Democrat) explained in their recent letter to the editor, SB 564 provides the state with an incredible opportunity — offering a “targeted, strategic economic development plan for a groundbreaking industry.”
In the Senate, the House-supported paid family medical leave bill was “struck down along partisan lines.” The Senate also voted against the House-supported bill requiring additional pollution cleanup of the Seacoast’s Coakley Landfill Superfund site.
- SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts. As I’ve mentioned on Facebook, the House Finance committee voted to recommend this bill “Interim Study” 14-12 earlier this week. “Interim Study” at this point in the term would “kill” the bill until next session. This is very good news as the downshifting impact would cost local property taxpayers $99 million !! I’ve heard from so many of you with concerns about this bill. Please contact your Milford State Reps to let them know that you DO NOT support SB 193 and ask them to vote YES on the “Interim Study” motion this week!
- House Finance members’ strong bipartisan recommendation (24-2) is to pass SB 313 (reforming New Hampshire’s Medicaid and Premium Assistance Program).
- They have also recommended SB 592 ought-to-pass in a unanimous vote of 23-0. This bill adds more than 30 new positions to DCYF staff. In addition, funding would be restored for voluntary services, which are offered to families who have been referred to the agency as “at risk” (but whose circumstances do not yet warrant the opening of a formal case). This funding has been cut since 2011 — and was cut in last year’s budget by GOP leadership. For years, families in this “voluntary services” category have fallen through the cracks. As the Concord Monitor reported, “Advocates (say) the committee’s plan comes several million dollars short of the Senate’s version, which included about $8 million in overall funding and passed unanimously. And while it restores funding to voluntary services, opening doors for at-risk families, it eliminates $1.5 million in incentive funds – designed to go to counties and municipalities for prevention programs – that the Senate version had included.” There will be room for potential negotiations in Committee of Conference should the bill pass the House floor next week.
- The Senate will be voting on a committee recommendation to “Kill” HB 1319; however, we’re hopeful that the full Senate will agree with the House that our nondiscrimination laws need to be updated to prohibit discrimination against transgender Granite Staters. I’ve heard from so many of you about the need for this bill and fully agree with you. I recommend that you reach out to Senator Daniels and encourage him to vote against the committee recommendation of ITL/Kill and to support passage of HB 1319.
- Senate Election Law committee voted along partisan lines to support the NH domicile voting bill, HB 1264. The bill would merge the definitions of “domiciled” people and “residents” for the purpose of voting. Supporters say it would clear up confusion, however, combining the definitions would require those who vote to be full residents and therefore, restrict college students and other temporary residents’ ability to vote in NH. This will be voted on by the full Senate this week.
Last week, House Ways & Means finished the last bills assigned to our committee this session. The bulk of our efforts were focused on SB 564, relative to a business tax exemption and a workforce development program for regenerative manufacturing businesses. With the recent Department of Defense contract award to the Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute right here in Manchester, our state has the opportunity to become the hub for a new industry. With great bipartisan effort, we made quite a few changes to this bill and are recommending (with a strong bipartisan vote of 22-1) that the full House pass the amended version. The full House will vote on SB 564 during House Session this upcoming Thursday, April 26th. Other key votes this week will include Marsy’s Law, CACR 22, as well as the potential repeal of the death penalty. Here’s a link to the full House Calendar. As always, please keep your emails coming — your input helps me to better serve you and our Milford community.
As the 2018 session approaches its last few weeks, there will be significant additional activity at the State House this week. The Senate Session on Thursday will vote on 100+ House bills. One of these bills, HB 1614 has been amended to include HB 579 — a bill that was tabled in the House. I’ve written about this “sneaky” bill before and spoke on the floor against it. No bill is a small bill — this is a great example. Here’s a link to my floor “Parliamentary Inquiry” HB 579 PI which I gave earlier this month. It outlines how this bill would negatively impact Milford. Please reach out to Senator Daniels (Gary.Daniels@leg.state.nh.us) — and ask him to vote NO on HB 1614 to avoid more property tax increases!!
In House Ways & Means this week, we will meet to analyze annual state revenues to date and begin our fiscal year-end projections. The House Finance Committee will consider the final bills in its committee this week — including SB 193, also known as the school voucher bill; SB 313, Medicaid Expansion; and SB 590/592 which aim to remedy the child welfare shortfalls, including voluntary services. I’ll keep you posted on key decisions.
I was thrilled to welcome Milford High School students, Meg and Sofie, to the State House this past Wednesday. They eloquently shared their ideas about school safety as well as presented a student petition to me and House Minority Leader, Steve Shurtleff. The future’s looking bright w/young leaders like these!
Other good news this past week, during House Session on Thursday, the full House voted to pass SB 553 which aims to establish a commission to study the incidence of PTSD in first responders & appropriate workers’ compensation. This heads to the Governor’s desk next.
I spoke to my House colleagues again this week about the importance of fiscal responsibility and stopping the practice of downshifting costs from the state to the local level.
I will continue to speak up and vote to support our community and to protect the property taxpayers of Milford and all Granite Staters.
Office Hours this Friday, March 16th
It was nice to see so many of you at the polls yesterday for town elections!
If you have questions about issues or specific bills at the state level, please stop by my office hours this Friday afternoon, March 16th. I’ll be at Town Hall in the Selectmen Room from 3:30-4:30.
Your perspective helps me to better serve you and our Milford community.
NH House will be in session this upcoming Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Here’s a link to the full calendar. The bills that will be up for discussion are found on pages 36-79 of the Calendar.
I’ve heard from many of you in support of HB 1319 which would add gender identity to NH’s Nondiscrimination Act. I’ve also received a number of emails/calls with concern about HB 1485, which would allow landlord’s to charge up to two months rent for security deposit. Please FB message or email me with your input.
Your perspective helps me to make better decisions for you and our Milford community!
2/24/18 Quotes in the news this past week…
“State Rep. Joelle Martin said Milford should demand more from Concord. ‘The adversarial dynamic’ pitting taxpayers against schools ‘does not have to be that way,’ she said. ‘We can have tax relief and high quality schools’…”In last week’s Cabinet article about Milford School Deliberative Session.
Property tax relief and high quality public schools are the top two concerns I hear about. As elected representatives, we need to listen to the priorities of our constituents and take action on them, not cater to special interests and lobbyists.
In the February 18th edition of the Concord Monitor, the front page featured an article, Researcher: NH School Choice Bill Could Create ‘Tax Shelter’ for Rich, that covered a controversial bill in the House Ways & Means Committee.
“… high-income interest-and-dividends taxpayers can actually make a profit from this if they take advantage of this particular education tax credit and then go ahead at the federal level and use that as a deduction,” said Rep. Joelle Martin.
As you can see from the article, this bill which would expand the education tax credit to individuals, instead of just businesses, would enable rich, savvy taxpayers to stack the state tax credit along with a federal deduction for charitable giving – and end up saving more in taxes than what the donation was worth.
The Interest & Dividends Tax provides the state with close to $100 million in revenues annually; these revenues are critical. “…this (tax shelter) could snowball into a huge reduction in state revenues,” Martin said.
And we know what happens when there is a cut in revenues at the state level…costs end up being shifted down to your local property taxes. A tax shelter for the wealthy which would put upward pressure on local property taxes? No! HB 1686 heads to the House floor the week of March 5th where there will be much debate. You can count on me fighting it. Reach out to our other Milford Representatives and tell them to vote NO on HB 1686.
Recently in the House Ways & Means committee, I introduced an amendment to HB 1821. This amendment aimed to provide Milford, and other school districts who chose to offer full-day Kindergarten, FULL adequacy grants for every full-day Kindergarten pupil. This would have provided Milford with additional guaranteed funding (beyond the $1100 keno grant), independent of Keno revenues.
Unfortunately the amendment (see attached 2018-0197h) was not adopted.
Stay tuned though…I remain committed to the issues I hear most from Milford residents, including state support for our public schools and local property tax relief!
Last week, I spoke on the House floor urging House colleagues to prioritize property tax relief. Our amended HB413 aimed to restore a state contribution to cities and towns for retirement costs for public school teacher, police and firefighters.
The vote for reconsideration was narrowly defeated 170-171 — we only needed two more votes to make property tax relief a priority in the next budget cycle. This bill will be back at the start of budget planning. Timing wasn’t ideal today but I’m listening: property tax relief continues to be the top concern I hear from you in Milford.
After a full day in Concord, I drove to the high school for the School Deliberative Session. There, several parents spoke up in support of the school budget as well as the warrant for full-day Kindergarten. Others expressed concern about the property tax impact of both.
Property tax relief and support for our public schools can co-exist. These are the top two priorities I hear about from you, my Milford neighbors. Please speak up to your State Senator and State Representatives. We can do better at the state level to support our public schools as well as offset our property tax burden.
It was nice to see so many of you at our Milford Town Deliberative Session yesterday.
This upcoming week in Concord, we will have full House Session on both Wednesday and Thursday. Here is a link to the long list of bills we’ll be considering:
I received several emails asking me to support the House Transportation Committee’s recommendation to kill/ITL HB 1328, relative to motor vehicle inspections. The bill aims to change the annual inspections to every two years. I’ll support the committee’s recommendation. Thank you for your emails.
This week we’ll also be voting on the House Municipal & County Government Committee’s recommendation to Interim Study HB 1749, relative to the state’s authority to prohibit or regulate firearms and relative to the selectmen’s authority to manage town property. I attended the committee’s Executive Session last week and was pleased to see Milford Town Manager, Mark Bender, in attendance as well. This bill names Milford and includes potential fines for the town and Selectman due to the adoption of the Police Chief’s proposed policy to limit shooting on the Brox property.
I’ve heard from several of you in support of HB 628, relative to family and medical leave insurance. This had a favorable vote on the floor earlier in January and surveys show an overwhelming majority of Granite Staters support the establishment of this insurance program. Unfortunately, the Commerce Committee is recommending the House kill/ITL the bill. Here’s a recent article from the Union Leader on this.
Again, here’s the link to the full slate of bills to be voted on this week. The regular calendar begins on page 20 and continues through page 34. Please continue to contact me with your perspective (email or phone 603/836-4356). This helps me to better represent you and our Milford community.
This week at the State House…
For the most part, House committee focus in Concord this week will be on work sessions and/or executive sessions to discuss bills already heard. There are a few additional hearings as well. For a full list, refer to the House Calendar and Senate Calendar.
On Wednesday, January 24th, beginning at 10:00 a.m. (Room 301 in the Legislative Office Building), the House Municipal & County Government Committee will hold an executive Session on several bills, including HB 1749, relative to the state’s authority to prohibit or regulate firearms and relative to the selectmen’s authority to manage town property. This is the bill that refers to our town of Milford and has been discussed at the Board of Selectman meeting and in the media. There are several amendments that are expected to be presented/discussed.
On Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 in Senate Finance (State House Room 103), there will be a public hearing for SB 540, relative to funding for full day kindergarten. As the law currently stands, Milford will only receive partial state adequacy funding per full day Kindergarten pupil, until keno revenues reach a threshold. The aim of this bill is to provide the full state adequacy amount to schools for full day students, independent of keno sales.
Last week was a busy week and as highlighted on my Facebook page, bipartisan efforts included:
- House and Senate passage of SB 247,an act preventing childhood lead poisoning from paint and water; read about it in the Concord Monitor.
- Bipartisan effort announced to support a NH Constitutional Amendment for victim rights and Marsy’s Law.
In addition, along with Rep. Dick Ames, Senator Feltes, Senator D’Allesandro, Rep. Edith Tucker, I co-sponsored a bill to restore a protective trigger to the next round of business tax cuts. This bill aims to minimize the state’s risk of revenue shortfalls and protect Granite Staters from cuts in critical services and downshifted property tax increases. I’ve included a copy of the press release here (to the right) and a link to the bill.
This week at the State House …
Tuesday, Jan 16th, will be a packed day with the following public hearings in House Committees in the Legislative Office Building (LOB):
Children & Family Law (LOB Room 206) beginning at 10:00 a.m.several underage marriage bills, including HB 1287, relative to the age at which persons may marry; HB 1586, relative to judicial review for underage marriage; HB 1587, raising the minimum age for marriage and relative to the emancipation of minors; HB 1661, relative to the protection of minors who petition the court to marry; HB 1377, relative to the emancipation of minors.
Commerce (LOB Room 302 ) 11:00 a.m. HB 628-FN, relative to a family and medical leave insurance program. This bill passed the full House but will now be debated by Commerce.
Finance (LOB Rooms 210-211) 1:30 p.m. SB 193-FN-A, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students, aka the “voucher bill.” As I noted on my FB page, the major concern with this bill is not school choice for parents, but how these vouchers and the stabilization grants will be funded. There are no details regarding the fiscal note and the source of the bill’s funding. Without a state commitment to funding this school choice option, local property taxes will end up having to absorb the consequences — yet another example of downshifting the costs from the state to cities, towns & local property tax payers.
Health and Human Services (LOB Room 205) 2:15 p.m. HB 1811-FN-A, relative to the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. This bill addresses the December 31, 2018 sunset on the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan, or NH’s Medicaid Expansion plan, critical to 50,000 NH citizens. The continuation of NH’s HPP is one of the biggest issues this session. There is bipartisan commitment to continue this key program but the devil will be in the details. Currently 50,000 Granite Staters rely on NH HPP for health insurance. Formerly, the federal government paid 100% of the cost for this program. This federal funding has been decreasing and will eventually be reduced to 90%. The biggest question remains how the state will fund the 10% not covered by federal funds while maintaining critical healthcare coverage for Granite Staters…
Last week’s session vote highlights:
I’ve shared a series of my FB posts below to provide you with a snapshot of some of the votes taken in the full House during last Wednesday’s session.
HB413 which would have provided local property tax relief to towns & cities AND TAXPAYERS by reinstating part (15%) of the state’s portion of police/fire/teacher pension payments to towns was narrowly defeated in NH House 172-166. Several of us aimed to overturn the House Finance’s recommendation to kill/ITL HB 413 (this bill passed the full House last February with an overwhelming majority but was tabled during the budgeting process). Local property tax relief continues to be the top concern I hear about from you in Milford. The opportunity to overturn this committee recommendation and then pass our amendment to make it a priority in 2020 was narrowly defeated. As a co-sponsor of the amendment, I will work with colleagues to reintroduce this measure. Voters, continue to speak up to your State Reps and Senator: demand that they also make local property tax relief a priority!
NH House kills HB 592-FN-A, attempting to repeal RGGI, the regional greenhouse gas initiative. This bill will be heard in House Finance next.
Amended HB656 passed the full House 207-139, giving preliminary approval to legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. This amended version of the bill drops provisions that would have created a regulatory system for selling and taxing the drug. It heads to House Ways & Means next.
Looking ahead … this week in Concord
The House will continue Session on Tuesday (postponed from the snow day last Thursday). The remainder of retained bills from the 2017 session are on the docket. HB 413, which would reinstate to towns part of the state’s payment for teacher/fire/police pensions funds — providing relief to local property taxes — is one. Although this bill passed the full House overwhelmingly in February, Finance retained it and did not include funding for local property tax relief in the state’s budget. I am working with colleagues on an amendment so that local property tax relief is a priority at the state level. This is the number one concern I hear from Milford neighbors.
Other retained bills to be considered include several energy bills (including a potential repeal of RGGI, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative). I’ve heard from many of you concerned about preserving RGGI.
On Wednesday, House Committee work for the 2018 session kicks off. There are several key hearings this week, including HB 1749, relative to the state’s authority to prohibit or regulate firearms and relative to the selectmen’s authority to manage town property. This controversial bill was a topic of discussion in December at our Milford Selectmen meeting. Milford is named in the bill and it is inferred that our town is in violation of state statutes. The bill also proposes fining towns and town officials to prevent “violation of state laws.” Our local town officials listened to the people of Milford and made a decision about what was best for the majority of the community. This bill targets Milford and represents a state overreach to say the least; the legislators who created it are stuck in their ideology and NOT representing the people in their communities.
HB 1743 on Wednesday in House Finance. This bill aims to protect Alcohol Funds from being raided for non-alcohol and drug abuse related expenses as well as attempts to restore funding for NH’s opioid crisis. In October, NH DHHS Commissioner Jeff Meyers reported to the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Prevention, Treatment & Recovery that for fiscal year 2018, the state has $4 million less to allocate to prevention, treatment and recovery services than we had in fiscal year 2017. The Commission voted to support HB 1743 of which I am a co-sponsor. At a time when NH has been in the news as one of the top states in the country for drug related deaths, it is not the time to be cutting resources dedicated to this crisis.
As my OpEd in the Concord Monitor points out, New Hampshire should be in the national news highlighting our effective, innovative solutions that are addressing the addiction crisis (drug courts, safe stations, youth prevention coalitions, etc.) and for our dedication to the health and well-being of all of our residents, not for our continued leading status for drug overdose death rates.
Highlights…Opening Session NH House, January 3rd
Our day began with a legislator briefing about childhood lead poisoning prevention. We were provided with an overview of the details of SB 247, a bill aiming to reduce allowable blood lead levels for NH’s children. Bipartisan efforts over the past six months refined the details of this bill.
SB 247-FN-A passed the House later that morning with a vote of 266-87. This is a great example of positive bipartisan work for NH’s kids!
In line with your calls and emails, I voted against SB 193 yesterday but it passed the House with a close vote of 184-162.
The floor debate went on for over an hour with many questions, especially about its constitutionality and funding. One key concern raised included how the bill’s stabilization grant would cause local property taxes to increase. I am supportive of the concept of school choice for parents but I am NOT going to vote for higher property taxes. This bill poses too many potential negative consequences for our Milford public schools and our local property tax rates. The phone calls and emails I received from you were overwhelmingly against the bill.
I will keep you posted on the bill’s next steps in House Finance.
Happy New Year, Milford!
I am honored to serve as your State Representative and I remain committed to being a voice for you and a vote for Milford at the State House. Thank you for your feedback and input in 2017. I’ve really appreciated your emails, tweets, Facebook messages, and phone calls. I’ve enjoyed meeting so many of you at Town Hall during my office hours. Your concerns and priorities are important to me and your perspective helps me to make better decisions for you and our Milford community, so please keep in touch!
Our 2018 legislative session kicks off this Wednesday, January 3rd. The session will begin with votes on retained bills (those 2017 bills that were held over in committee). I’ve highlighted a few of these key retained bills below, including ones I’ve received input and questions on from you.
The number one concern I’ve heard from you is our rising local property taxes. Retained bill, HB 413, aims to restore payments by the state to towns for their portion of teacher and state employee retirement costs. The State used to pay towns 35% of these costs which yielded millions of dollars to our town and school budgets. Downshifting decisions like this one which began in 2009 imposed a huge cost burden to towns, causing our local property taxes to surge in order to make up the difference. HB 413 aims to provide Granite Staters with local property tax relief by reinstating 15% of state funding for state employee retirement costs. Although I, along with a majority of my House colleagues, voted 267-83 to pass this bill in February, the Finance Committee retained it during the budgeting process last spring. Unfortunately the majority of House and Senate Finance Committee members chose NOT to include local property tax relief as a priority in the state’s final budget; and HB 413 was buried. This week in the House, we will vote on Finance’s new recommendation to kill (ITL) HB 413. I will be voting against killing it, and will be working with colleagues to try to reverse this decision and pass HB 413 so that we can bring much needed property tax relief to Milford.
I’ve also heard from many of you on SB 193 which would establish education freedom savings accounts for students. This bill would allow eligible parents to pay for private school tuition and home schooling expenses with state public school funds. Were this bill to pass, parents could access adequacy funds ($3000+ per student) that would normally go to public schools. According to the Concord Monitor, if this bill passes it would become one of the furthest reaching voucher-style state education programs in the country.
I have heard from many of you about SB 193 — the overwhelming majority expressing concern about the potential loss of revenues for our school district and along with that, resulting local property tax increases. This is a very complicated bill that also poses many constitutional questions. Once again, thank you for your emails and phone calls. I plan to be a voice for Milford and vote against this bill. There has been a lot of media coverage on this bill. Click on the articles below for more information and feel free to email me with your input and/or questions. We will be voting on SB 193 this Wednesday or Thursday.
- School Choice Bill Up for A Vote, NHPR’s the Exchange, discussion
- SB 193: Analysis of Potential Impact on Tax Rates in Rural New Hampshire
I remain committed to listening to you, my constituents, and to collaborating with my fellow legislators to solve our community’s and state’s challenges. I will continue to work in a bipartisan manner to develop creative solutions and support smart policies that foster a strong community promoting Milford residents’ well-being, as well as strong economic policies to support our working families, children and seniors.
Here is a link to the full list of retained bills to be voted on this week in the House. Please take time to email me and your other Milford State Representatives with your input. Please stay tuned and continue to provide your input. Thank you and Happy New Year!
UPDATE End of 2017 STATE HOUSE Legislative Session
Thursday marked the final day of the state’s 2017 legislative session. I’d like to start this final session update with a positive report on a bipartisan effort: state funding for full-day Kindergarten. I’ve been following this issue throughout the session (and well before!) and although the end result is not perfect, from my perspective it is an example of bipartisan “progress.” Currently, 70% of NH school districts provide their families with a full-day Kindergarten program option; Milford, as you know, is not one of those districts. Milford has not been able to afford the cost of offering a full-day option due to the state’s funding of only half-day or only $1800 per student. (The additional cost for offering a full-day program would have had to be picked up 100% by local property tax payers). This latest bipartisan bill, SB 191, however, (which is now law) guarantees school districts that choose to offer full-day Kindergarten programs, another $1100-1800 per pupil — close to the $3600 full-day adequacy that is received for all other “full-time” students. $1100 of the additional $1800 is guaranteed. The bill also allows for up to an additional $700 if the Education Trust Fund receives ample revenues from keno. Is this ideal? Absolutely not, but it is definite progress. The bill allows districts the flexibility to decide when to offer a full-day program. It also provides parents with the option to send their child for half or full day.
Here is a link to the voting roll calls for SB 191 in the House and Senate; Senator Daniels voted against the state funding as well as Representatives Ammon and Burns; I, along with Reps. Biggie and Halstead, voted in support of it. Looking ahead to the 2018 session which will begin in January, there is already a bipartisan effort underway to secure the full additional $1800 in state funding per Kindergarten pupil (vs. partial $1100+), as well as a move to decouple the funding from keno revenues.
As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, the “Committee of Conference” budget did pass both the House and Senate along party lines. Here’s a link to the budget vote in the Senate and House. The major flaw in this budget is the continued drive toward downshifting of state costs to local municipalities and towns, in the name of “tax relief.”
In essence, the claim that this budget will benefit “everyone” is false. To say that the budget offers Milford residents any substantial tax relief is far from the truth. Proponents of this budget (and “downshifting”) are proudly pointing to the ONE (and ONLY) tax cut for Milford residents as “relief”: the elimination of the Electric Consumption Tax. Seriously, this tax cut will mean a whopping 33 cents/year in savings for each one of us!?! (This is NOT the best we can do!!)
HB 413 which was passed by the House in February would have sent $50 million back to cities and towns for local property tax relief, providing some much needed relief from the downshifting of state costs. The overwhelming House vote of support (267 Yay – 83 Nay) for local property tax relief was ignored by House and Senate Finance members and the majority of budget Committee of Conference members as they constructed the final budget. If you have any doubt about how we in Milford have been impacted by downshifting, just take a look at your local property tax bill escalation over the past decade. Downshifting of state costs to the local level have included:
- the elimination of the 35% state contribution to public school teacher and public safety employee retirement pension funds (this cost has had to be fully absorbed by our school budget via our property taxes);
- the state’s public education adequacy formula (~$3600 per pupil) has not been adjusted for inflation or to reflect true public education costs in over a decade — NH towns’ actual average cost per pupil tops $16,000;
- state school building aid has been suspended for nearly a decade (any and all school repair costs in this time period have been picked up by local property tax payers as well);
- critical community services have been underfunded at the state level so municipalities and towns have been forced to secure additional resources locally.
These are just a few examples of how downshifting to towns continues to burden taxpayers. Unfortunately, none of these downshifted costs are addressed or alleviated in the state budget that just passed. This “tax transfer” from the state level to the local level needs to be stopped in order for homeownership and life in Milford to be affordable. Stating that this budget carries “no new taxes or fees” is a blatant misrepresentation. Perhaps there were no new taxes and fees included at the state level, but locally, we know better!
The risk of continued downshifting in the near future due to substantial state revenue loss is almost a certainty given the details of this budget. Unfortunately additional business tax cuts are included in the budget without any accompanying safeguards. A bipartisan recommendation to ensure a trigger was established was ignored. This trigger/revenue threshold would have guaranteed state revenue levels were on target before any business tax cuts kick in (like the threshold that was in place for the past two rounds of business tax cuts). As it stands now, if state revenues drop (it’s predicted that we will lose millions of dollars in revenues from these tax cuts — over $200 million by FY2022), the state’s critical services will end up having to be cut further and the vicious cycle of downshifting will continue.
All legislators agree that we want to make NH a better place for businesses and workers. Top concerns of New Hampshire businesses include a trained workforce as well as reduced energy costs. Neither of these key concerns are addressed in this budget. In fact, when looking more closely at the business tax cuts that were included, the overwhelming majority of financial benefit will go to only a few BIG businesses: 80% of business profits taxes paid in NH are remitted by the 100 largest companies — most of these are out of state businesses.
Although the 2017 legislative session has come to a close, I will continue my work on behalf of Milford and focus on addressing the needs of our community at the state level. My work as a member of the House Ways & Means Committee and the legislative Children’s Caucus Steering Committee will persist over the summer and into the fall. The new legislation filing window for the 2018 session will be September 6-23.
I thank you for your input over the last few months and welcome your continued questions and insights!
June 17th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
I will be hosting office hours this upcoming Monday, June 19th, from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. at Milford Town Hall. Stop by the Board of Selectman’s Room with your questions.
Next Thursday we will be voting on the Committee of Conference’s version of the State Budget for 2018-2019. My concerns about the state budget for Milford have NOT changed (per my notes in last week’s June 11th update). There is NO property tax relief for Milford taxpayers in this budget. (See the full Committee of Conference report on HB 144 and HB 517 at: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/…/B…/fy2018_2019_budget.aspx )
There are a number of additional bills the House will be considering this Thursday as well, including the amended bill for full-day Kindergarten funding. Here’s a link to this week’s House Calendar.
Please reach out to me and your State Reps with your input. Feel free to stop by Town Hall on Monday afternoon, too. I’d love to see you.
June 11th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
At the State House, negotiations are underway for the 2018-2019 state budget. A Committee of Conference (COC) has been established to review the Governor, Senate and House versions of the budget. COC members are currently reviewing the budget line-by-line and are working to come to agreement on budget items that they disagree on. This Thursday, June 15th, is the deadline for all COCs to submit their reports.
I have several concerns for Milford about the budget as it currently stands. The current version includes NO restoration of state funding to towns and public schools (for teacher and town employee retirement and other costs); therefore NO PROPERTY TAX RELIEF for Milford. Making cuts at the state level and shifting the cost burden to local towns is referred to as “downshifting.” For elected officials who support downshifting decisions and then claim to “hold the line” on tax increases, I view this as political tax fraud.
Earlier this session the full House voted on a bill that would have directed $50 million to municipalities (I wrote about supporting this bill in my Feb 25th State House Update). That bill (HB 413) was tabled in House Finance and was not considered by Senate Finance. There is NO local tax relief in the current budget. The current budget DOES, however, include additional business tax cuts.
I continue to hear from Milford constituents about the continued property tax burden; the Senate’s budget does nothing to address this burden yet provides big businesses with another round of business tax cuts (after two rounds in FY 2016 and FY 2017; the latter of which has just kicked in). NH already ranks #7 in the Tax Foundation’s most recent State Business Tax Climate Index. I am not in favor of across the board business tax decreases (or increases) at this time. I can do the math and will resist a further decrease in state revenues. To move ahead with additional business tax cuts and resulting decreases in state revenues would continue to put the cost burden on hard-working families like you. It is time to stop the downshifting of state costs to local towns and municipalities which has cost towns like Milford millions of dollars. (From the input I’ve heard from you, my constituents, not one Milford resident has asked for a business tax cut; employers continue to cite workforce shortage and energy costs as their top concerns not tax climate).
Also, as far as education goes, the current budget includes increased state funding for charter schools but decreases overall funding to our public schools (this is another downshifting of costs to municipalities and towns; placing additional pressure on local property taxes). The potential for increased state adequacy funding for at least full-day Kindergarten remains; but the details have not been agreed upon. If the COC members decide on targeted town funding; Milford will not be eligible for any increase in state adequacy funding; if they agree to fund all towns who offer a full-day program (vs just targeted), Milford could benefit. I’ll keep you posted.
Another concern I have with this budget is the inadequate funding for our opioid crisis/substance use disorder treatment. As I’ve noted on my Facebook page, even though Granite Staters feel the opioid crisis is the most important problem facing NH (@UNHSurveyCenter), NH has the second lowest access to substance abuse treatment in the country (just above Texas).
As I mentioned, Thursday, June 15th, is the deadline for the CoC to submit their final report on the budget. On Friday, June 16th, the NH Fiscal Policy Institute will host a webinar on the budget report from 2:00 to 3:00 PM. If you are interested, register here. I will also plan to provide a summary of the NHFPI’s insights and other budget updates, especially regarding business tax cuts.
Meanwhile, keep your emails and calls coming. Please reach out to me and your State Reps and your Senator regarding your priority concerns and questions. In the full House, we are scheduled to vote on the COC budget on June 22nd.
May 27th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
The highlight of my week was meeting the NH Boys & Girls Clubs’ Youths of the Year at the State House on Thursday morning. These future leaders shared their amazing stories with us. Each one of them exhibited incredible character and leadership. At Thursday evening’s banquet, our Boys & Girls Club of Souhegan Valley Youth of the Year, Shelby Houghton, was selected as the state of NH’s Youth of the Year! She will go on to compete in the regionals and will proudly represent our club and our state. Congratulations Shelby — we are so proud of you!!
In the House this week, committees were focused on wrapping up work sessions on outstanding bills for this session. House Finance made recommendations on a series of bills, including SB 191, SB 247, SB 38, SB 131, SB 155 and SB 101.
Full-day Kindergarten update
The House Finance committee is recommending SB 191-FN-A, “ought to pass as amended,” OTP-A. The full House will vote on this version of the full-day Kindergarten bill this upcoming Thursday. As I reported a few weeks ago, the full House supported SB 191 and funding full-day programs for any district that chooses to provide it. The amendment from Finance drew some controversy as it directs funds from keno to the Education Trust Fund to cover the majority of the cost for full-day K programs. However, the funds are not dedicated; the committee just wanted to clearly indicate where the funds for this newly expanded program would come from — keno would be a new source of revenue. The amendment also allows towns to offer parents the choice of enrolling their child in half-day or full-day Kindergarten. From Milford’s perspective, SB 191-FN-A is a better approach than the one in the Senate; SB 191 would provide additional state funding to our school district if/when we choose to offer a full-day program; the Senate version only provides state funds for targeted school districts (NOT including Milford).
Election Bill SB 3
In the House Election Law committee this week, members voted 11-9 to recommend that SB 3, the bill, OTP-A. The full House will vote on this recommendation this Thursday. The latest amendment still includes additional requirements for same-day voters and individuals who register to vote within 30 days or less. Amendment language includes: “the registration form shall require the voter to identify and provide evidence of a verifiable action he or she has taken carrying out his or her intent to make the place claimed on the voter registration form his or her domicile.” In addition, those individuals “…must mail or present evidence … within 10 days following the election, or within 30 days in towns where the clerk’s office is open fewer than 20 hours weekly.” The Town Clerk’s office will be required to verify whether each of these voters provided evidence or not. As you’ve probably followed in the news, and as indicated by the committee’s close vote of 11-9, this bill is controversial. The question at hand is whether this bill is necessary. So far, there has been no evidence of fraud in our NH elections but some folks believe we need to tighten voting requirements. From the other perspective, folks are concerned that this bill will suppress voting by intimidating individuals who recently relocate to NH as well as college students. Refer to page 13 of the House Calendar to view the committee’s majority and minority opinion reports.
Here is a link to this week’s House Calendar. Pages 5-20 reflect the bills we will be voting on, including SB 191 and SB 3.
Other bills of note include:
SB 38-FN passed out of Finance with a vote of support of 26-0 — it includes a $30 million appropriation to the department of transportation for local highway aid and aid for municipal bridges. This would provide needed funds to our town but unfortunately does not include any appropriation for school building aid.
SB 66-FN, includes a fetus in the definition of “another” for purposes of certain criminal offenses. Much of the media missed covering this fetal personhood bill’s recommendation out of committee. The House Criminal Justice Committee voted 12-8 in favor of passing this bill. The bill defines a fetus as “an unborn offspring, from the embryo stage which is the end of the twentieth week after conception or, in the case of in vitro fertilization, the end of the twentieth week after implantation, until birth” and “provide(s) that a viable fetus shall be included in the definition of “another” for the purposes of first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding a suicide.” This is another controversial bill with a close vote of 12-8 OTP out of committee; the minority “has serious concerns about the unintended consequences of this bill as amended by the committee. This bill recognizes a fetus as a person and an independent victim of a crime.” For full majority and minority opinion reports, refer to pages 11-12 of the House Calendar.
Please reach out to me and your other State Representatives and let us know your opinion on these bills!
The Senate completed their proposed draft of the State Budget and will present it to both the full Senate and the full House this upcoming week. I’ve been following the budget process closely and remain concerned that it provides no local property tax relief. My other major concern is that this Senate budget includes additional tax cuts for big businesses (BPT); the House Ways & Means committee voted in an overwhelming bipartisan vote (19-1!) against more business tax cuts at this time (by RETAINING SB 2, a bill that proposed more business tax cuts). In Ways & Means, we recently conducted an analysis, along with the DRA’s input, of business revenues and the recent business tax cuts impact on our economy. Since round two of the already scheduled business tax cuts are just kicking in and it is not clear yet the impact the cuts will have, we felt very strongly that it was too soon to schedule additional cuts at this time. From my perspective, the $20+million that would be provided to businesses via these proposed additional tax cuts could be more wisely spent elsewhere — property tax relief is just one possibility! Here is a link to the NH Fiscal Policy Institute’s comments on the Senate budget as well. I will keep you posted.
Meanwhile, Email me with any questions and keep your input coming!
May 20th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
It was fun seeing so many of you at the Milford Garden Club’s plant sale this weekend.
Reminder: I will be hosting office hours this Monday, 5/22, at Town Hall in the Selectman’s Room from 3:30 – 4:45. Feel free to stop by with your questions.
Last week: Election Law plus…
At the State House last week, committees held hearings for some of their “last” bills for this session, as well as held working and executive sessions on many outstanding bills.
I’ve heard questions from many of you about the status of SB 3, which aims to tighten NH domicile requirements for voting. The House Election Law Committee voted narrowly 11-9 to recommend the bill “ought to pass” in the full House. Although there have been many amendments to the original bill, it still adds registration requirements for voters who register within 30 days of an election (including same-day registrants).
The amended version would allow towns to pass the new “investigation” requirements back to the Secretary of State’s office (instead of having to conduct these themselves!), so our town clerk said that would make the bill much easier to administer. However, many of you remain concerned about the additional restrictions this bill may put on voters. The concerns you’ve shared include potential voter suppression, especially for first time voters and new NH residents, because of the bill’s threats of criminal investigation and potential fines. The full House will vote on SB 3 on June 1st. Reach out to your State Representatives and let us know your opinion on this bill.
Rep. Fisher Controversy
I saw several constituents at the Legislative Office Building this past week. One of the hearings of interest was the Legislative Administrative Committee’s findings on the case against Rep. Fisher of Laconia.
Although the Committee voted narrowly 8-6 to take no action against Rep. Fisher, the ruling was very controversial (and unfortunately political with all 8 Republicans voting NO action; and all 6 Democratic members voting to take action). First of all, Rep. Fisher had acknowledged that he made degrading posts toward women on the Red Pill forum. The majority of the committee found this irrelevant due to the “historical” nature of his posts. New evidence brought to the committee on Wednesday, however, strongly suggested that Fisher was still making misogynistic posts under a new username. The resulting discussion about a potential perjury charge via the Attorney General’s office is thought to be the reason Fisher finally ended up resigning.
As a new legislator, I’m relieved that Rep Fisher no longer serves as a Representative. I believe anyone voted into office to serve on behalf of constituents should be held to higher standards (regardless of the timing of their comments/actions). Procedurally, I was surprised and disappointed in the Committee’s findings and process, especially in Chairman Hinch’s decision not to allow a minority report to be published. For every committee decision/recommendation in the legislature, there is an option to provide a majority report as well as a minority report, explaining the committee members’ reasons/foundation for voting. In Ways & Means, even when our committee vote isn’t close (i.e., 19-1 or 17-3), the Chairman always provides those who voted in the minority with the opportunity to explain their vote in a “Minority Report.” In this controversial Fisher case, especially given the close vote of 8-6, it was procedurally suspect for the Chairman to block the publishing of a minority report on this decision. NH citizens deserve transparency.
Emergency House Session
The House held an “emergency” House session this past Thursday to approve an additional $32 million appropriation to our largest state agency, the Department of Health and Human Services. The Department needed these funds to erase an operating deficit due mainly to unanticipated rate increases and above-budgeted caseloads in Medicaid, as well as increases in hospital uncompensated care payments. DHHS minimized their year-end deficit (which was originally forecast to be closer to $66 million) by keeping vacant positions unfilled until July and by making additional spending cuts.
The House also concurred with the Senate on a number of bills on Thursday, including HB 94 which will strengthen NH’s human trafficking law.
As I mentioned on my Facebook page, although news coverage included the Senate Finance Committee’s vote of 4-2 to only include funding for targeted full-day Kindergarten in their draft budget, the House Finance Committee will make a decision this upcoming Wednesday on SB 191, which includes reimbursement for any town choosing to offer a full-day program. The full House voted strongly to support SB 191 earlier this month, with a bipartisan vote of 247-116. This legislation is important for Milford because it would provide the state funds needed to offer a full-day program in our schools and not rely on local property tax increases to fund it. None of the targeted funds would be available to the Milford school district.
As I mentioned above, the Senate Finance Committee is working on their version of the state budget. They’ll complete their proposal this upcoming week and then enter into committee of conference with House members. I’ll keep you posted.
Please Email me with any questions and keep your input coming! If you have a chance, stop by Town Hall on Monday for my office hours: 3:30 – 4:45.
May 13th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
It was a “work in progress” week in the NH House this week.
The House Finance Committee held hearings on both SB 191-FN, relative to funding for full-day Kindergarten and SB 247-FN. Both bills will be discussed during the committee’s working sessions this upcoming week and are scheduled for committee vote/Executive Session on May 24th.
Many of you have been following the controversy surrounding Representative Fisher. The Legislative Administrative Committee held a hearing to review his conduct and affiliation with the Red Pill reddit forum. The Committee is scheduled to discuss last week’s hearing findings this Wednesday morning at 10:30. They will hold an Executive Session at that time which will result in a proposed action for the full House to vote on. The allegations against Representative Sherry Frost will also be discussed then. Here is a link to an overview of the hearings/Representatives’ conduct. I must say I fully agree with Minority Leader, Stephen Shurtleff, and Governor Sununu who have called for Representative Fisher to resign, referring to his comments as “horrendous and repulsive.”
A couple of significant Senate actions to note from last week include their action on HB400-FN which aims to address our state’s mental health crisis. The full Senate voted unanimously to pass the bill. Advocates are pleased with the progress but very concerned that this bill doesn’t do enough. The bill is now headed to Senate Finance for scrutiny of the fiscal impact.
News on our opioid crisis included New Future’s economic impact report on the costs of substance misuse in New Hampshire. According to this report, since 2014 the costs to New Hampshire of substance abuse have increased from $1.84 billion to $2.36 billion. Also this week, UNH’s Granite State poll reflected, for the first time, that a majority of Granite Staters believe drug misuse is the most serious problem facing the state.
Here in Milford, our substance use prevention task force, “CAST,” held its monthly meeting this past week. We continue to focus on how to prevent substance misuse in our youth community, as well as support our children/young adults who have had to deal with this epidemic in their families.
As the Senate works on their version of the state budget over the next few weeks, I will be advocating to ensure we as a legislative body stand behind solutions to combat the drug crisis, and to enhance substance abuse prevention and treatment in our communities.
Also, my office hours for this month will be held at Milford Town Hall on Monday, May 22nd, from 3:30-4:45. Please stop by and share your questions and concerns with me!
May 6th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
Some good news from the State House this past week! As you may have heard in the news, the full House voted in SUPPORT of state funding for full-day Kindergarten (FDK) this week. This bill, SB 191, heads to House Finance next but the overall consensus is that the full House vote was its biggest hurdle. The fact that the bill has bipartisan support and the vote had a good margin (247-116) bodes well for its fate in Finance. I’ll keep you posted; the House Finance committee will discuss the finances of the bill on Tuesday, May 9th, at 1:30. (Follow this link to see how your Representatives voted on SB 191). As House Education Vice Chair, Terry Wolf explained, this state funding for FDK will prevent additional downshifting of school costs to local towns and municipalities.
Also beneficial for local towns and municipalities was the House’s passage of SB 38-FN, making an appropriation to the department of transportation for local highway aid and aid for municipal bridges. This bill sends $30,000,000 back to the cities and towns and adds $6.8 million to the state bridge aid program for municipal bridges. This bill heads to House Finance next.
Last Thursday’s House calendar also included votes on increasing Medicaid reimbursement to schools (SB 235-FN), delaying the second phase of Medicaid managed care (SB 155) and strengthening the state’s Rape Shield Law, (SB 9). All passed and are headed to the Governor for signature.
Some of you have inquired about the controversy surrounding Representative Fisher. The Governor, House Speaker and House Minority Leader have all requested his resignation. The full House voted 307-56 to refer him (as well as Rep. Frost) to the Legislative Administration committee for a hearing next Tuesday, May 9th. Here is a link to NHPR’s report which provides a good summary.
SB 247-FN also passed the full House with an amendment. House Finance will consider this bill’s financial implications this Tuesday at 2:30. The casino bill, SB 242, did NOT pass, in fact, the full House voted to indefinitely postpone this bill which has been reintroduced session after session for 20+ years. Here is a link to the full list of votes from Thursday’s House Session.
Next week, as the Calendar reflects (pp. 4-6), the House committees’ focus will include working and executive sessions. In House Ways & Means, we will provide a revenue projection update based on April’s final numbers. These updated revenue projections will be used by Senate Ways & Means and Finance as they work on the 2018-2019 state budget.
The full Senate will convene on Thursday. Bills under consideration will include HB 400, requiring the department of health and human services to develop a 10-year plan for mental health services, among others (see pp. 3-7).
Email me with any questions — and please keep your input coming!
April 29th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
I’m happy to report on some bipartisan progress from Concord this week!
As I mentioned on Twitter (@joelle4milford) and Facebook earlier in the week, the majority of House Education Committee members voted to amend the Governor’s full-day Kindergarten bill (SB 191) to include state adequacy funding for ALL students who attend public full-day Kindergarten programs; they’ve recommended the bill “ought-to-pass.” The Full House will vote on it this upcoming Thursday. For those of you who have reached out to me in support of FDK, this is a very positive bill for Milford schools. The Governor’s version included targeted aid only, so no funds would have directed to Milford. The new version of the bill, as amended, would provide the Milford School District with full-day state adequacy funds once the district offers a full-day program. Reach out to your State Representatives this week to ask that they support SB 191 as amended. (FYI — Representative Halstead voted against the bill in committee).
The House Education Committee also cast a bipartisan vote of 15-4 to retain the controversial bill, SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students. As I’ve written in previous weeks’ updates, this bill as written could have drained our public school budget of substantial funds as well as caused an increase in our local property taxes. There was also a question regarding its constitutionality. The retention of the bill is the next-best thing to killing the bill — as it will remain in House Education until (or if) they decide to work on it again next year.
In House Ways & Means, we met with the Department of Revenue Administration to review business tax revenues through mid-April. We’ll be meeting again next week to look at this month’s final revenue numbers as well as hear from additional agencies on other key taxes. We’ll provide the Senate with our updated revenue projections which will impact their budget development.
The Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on the budget this Tuesday, May 2nd, beginning at 1:00 p.m. in Reps Hall. What is your priority: what would you like to see in the final budget? Spoken and written testimony will be accepted by the committee. Or, email our Senator, Gary Daniels, who serves on Senate Finance. From what I’ve heard, Senate budget priorities include infrastructure support for municipalities and towns; improving mental health treatment/access; opioid addiction community support (via the Alcohol Fund); and full-day Kindergarten adequacy funding, to name a few. The key will be to develop a balanced budget that adequately funds critical supports for NH citizens (like the priorities listed above). That way, we’ll be able to stop the state’s downshifting trend which, as we have all learned, causes our property taxes to surge. I will keep you posted!
Email me with any questions — and please keep your input coming!
April 22nd STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
The full House and Senate worked together this week to take a step toward ratifying this past March’s postponed Town elections (due to snowstorm). We voted to adopt the House/Senate Committee of Conference recommendation on HB329 Thursday morning. The bill is headed to the Governor’s office for signature; this law will allow the governing board of municipalities and towns (in Milford’s case, the Board of Selectman) to hold a public meeting and then vote to ratify the Town’s election results. (Union Leader summary).
The House Health & Human Services Committee voted unanimously (20-0) to retain the controversial SB 7, which aimed to tighten food stamp eligibility in NH. (This retention is a polite way of killing the bill). So many constituents from Milford advocated on behalf of our community against this bill — well done!
In the House Education Committee, the Governor, a number of bipartisan legislators and parents, along with numerous advocates, testified in favor of full-day Kindergarten and specifically SB 191 on Tuesday. This bill provides adequacy funding for full-day K programs in districts with high Free and Reduced Lunch (FRL) populations as well as a high density of English Language Learners (ELLs). HB 155, which would have provided adequacy funding for any school district that chose to offer a full-day program, was retained earlier this session on a partisan vote (Republicans against; Democrats in support). If SB 191 passes, however, the state is one giant step closer to providing adequacy funding for all districts who choose to offer a full-day program.
Also in House Education this week, there was a working session to discuss SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students (see previous weeks’ coverage on this bill below). I posted Reaching Higher’s coverage of the hearing on my Facebook page earlier this week. Next Tuesday, 4/25, at 10:00 (in Legislative Office Building LOB Room 207) the Committee will be voting on their recommendation to the full House on both bills, SB 193 and SB 191. Email Milford Rep. Carolyn Halstead with your input; she serves on the House Education committee.
Also on Tuesday, the hearing for SB 3, which looks to tighten domicile requirements for voting, was held in Reps Hall. The House Election Law Committee is not scheduled to meet next week but will most likely discuss this bill in a working session in early May.
In House Ways & Means’ public hearing for SB 242, relative to video lottery and table gaming (also known as the “Casino” bill), the testimony was overwhelmingly against the bill. Our committee recommendation to the full House is to ITL/kill the bill (vote of 19-1). The committee retained SB2, which looked to provide businesses with an additional BPT/BET tax cut. This means this bill will not be considered again until next year’s session (at the earliest).
Looking ahead to next week, I mentioned above that the House Education Committee will be “exec-ing” both SB 193 and SB 191 this Tuesday morning (10:00 in Legislative Office Building LOB Room 207). Also on Tuesday, the Senate Health & Human Services committee will hold a hearing on HB 400, which would require the department of health and human services to develop a 10-year plan for mental health services (LOB Room 101 at 1:00). During the hearing, the committee will also consider a proposed amendment that would require the department of health and human services to also establish the positions of associate commissioner and medical director in the department of health and human services and to establish the office of the child advocate.
The Senate Finance committee will continue to host budget briefings by the various departments. The Department of Health & Human Services will make their presentations next Friday beginning at 9:00. Refer to next week’s Senate Calendar (page 16) for more details.
As usual, I’ll aim to keep you posted on Facebook and Twitter throughout the week. Meanwhile, keep the emails coming!
April 16th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
The highlight of my week in Concord was greeting the various fourth grade classes from Heron Pond! It was so nice to see them on their tour of the State House … and to hear their great questions!
I also enjoyed seeing constituents “at work” at a few public hearings. This is democracy at its best — when you speak up for what you believe in!!
The hearing for SB 7, which tightens food stamp eligibility in NH, was standing room only in the House Health & Human Services committee — with some people overflowing into the hallways. The overwhelming majority of folks testified in opposition to the bill. Please read this Concord Monitor editorial which summarizes much of the testimony heard and many points which I have shared with you. This bill will be reviewed by the committee this Tuesday morning at 9:30, along with two other critical bills — SB 235-FN, relative to Medicaid reimbursement to schools for students with medical needs and establishing a home and community based behavioral health services program for children, and SB 247, preventing childhood lead poisoning from paint and water and making an appropriation to a special fund. The committee will forward their recommendation to the House for a full vote at an upcoming session. I have heard from many of you on these bills — thank you for contacting me! (I plan to oppose SB 7; but support both SB 235 and SB 247).
The Senate voted 21-2 to pass a bill designed to allow towns that postponed town or school elections, because of the March 14 snowstorm, to ratify the town election results. The Cabinet‘s article provided an overview of how this impact’s Milford’s elections. The bill is headed to the House next.
Coming up this week, the House Education Committee is scheduled to have a working session to discuss testimony from the hearing that was held earlier this month on SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students. The working session is scheduled for 10:00 on Wednesday in the House Education Committee Room (Legislative Office Building Room 207). As I reported last week, the majority of testimony given at the public hearing was against the bill. Here is a link to Republican Alex Luhtjarv’s letter of testimony; Mr. Luhtjarv is currently the President of the Hillsboro-Deering Federation of Teachers. The emails I’ve received from you are also overwhelmingly against the bill. Most constituents are not against school choice per se, but are very concerned about the negative financial impact this would have to our Milford school budget and resulting increases on our property taxes. Thank you for your input; I plan to oppose this bill. Email Milford Rep. Carolyn Halstead with your input; she serves on this committee.
Also this week, the House Election Law committee will have a public hearing on SB 3, which looks to tighten domicile requirements. This bill recently passed through the full Senate with a party line vote of 14 Republicans for the bill; 9 Democrats opposing. The controversy is around the added requirements to “prove residency.” Please let me know your thoughts, or attend the hearing if you can. The hearing will be held on Tuesday at 10:00 in Reps Hall in the State House.
In House Ways and Means this Tuesday, we will be hearing SB 242, relative to video lottery and table gaming — also known as the “Casino” bill. It is expected to be a well attended hearing — please let me know your thoughts. The hearing will be held in Legislative Office Building Rooms 202-204.
Also this week, I will be hosting office hours tomorrow, Monday 4-17, in the Selectman’s Room in Town Hall from 3:30 – 5:00. Please stop by with your questions and concerns — I’d love to see you!
April 8th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
A bit of a frustrating couple of days at the State House. I tried to keep you updated on the House Budget Sessions via Twitter and Facebook. The most disappointing aspect for me was that the Speaker and Republican Party leaders refused to make any compromise within their own Republican caucus or across the aisle with Democrats. There seemed to be plenty of opportunity to work to find a better budget that a majority could support. As it stood, HB 2 –without any compromises or amendments– would have failed seniors, children & working families. Even the Governor’s BIPARTISAN push for fully funding the Alcohol Fund to fight our opioid crisis and his support of full-day Kindergarten weren’t considered. And the property tax relief they were touting only amounted to $19 per person a year. (A huge crowd of families advocating for additional opioid crisis and Kindergarten funding greeted us on our way into the State House on Thursday >>)
As the Concord Monitor reported, the Republican Majority Whip’s motion to adjourn without a budget agreement at 10:45 a.m. on Thursday surprised most; to me it it was irresponsible (I certainly voted against adjourning). Looking ahead, we’ll need to work with our Senate colleagues on their version of the budget and then, later in June, via committee of conference, the House will have input into the final budget version. I agree with Governor Sununu’s statement, “On matters of economic development, education and our opioid crisis, failure is not an option,” he said in a statement. “Granite Staters deserve results.”
Earlier last week, the House Education Committee’s hearing for SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students, drew such a big crowd that it was moved to Reps Hall. (See my write up on this bill and its potential impact on Milford’s public schools in last week’s update below). It was great to hear that several of you attended the hearing. The majority of testimony given at the hearing was against the bill. The House Education Committee will hold their executive session on SB 193 within the next few weeks. I will keep you posted; meanwhile, email Milford Rep. Carolyn Halstead with your input, she serves on this committee which will be making a recommendation to the full House.
The public hearing for SB 7, which tightens food stamp eligibility in NH, has been scheduled for next Wednesday, April 12th, at 1:00 p.m. in the House Health & Human Services Committee room 207 in the Legislative Office Building. I have heard from several of you with concerns about this bill. As WMUR reported, “State Senate Republicans tried to entice their Democratic colleagues to back their plan to tighten the state’s food stamp eligibility requirements by attaching it to a work program for low-income Granite Staters.” From my perspective, the workforce program in and of itself has merits but it should be a separate piece of legislation. My main concern with the bill as amended is that it potentially eliminates the food supply for 18,000+ NH kids; it also decreases the amount of federal dollars NH will receive (pushing more costs to the local level). Last week’s Cabinet included an article on potential food stamp cuts at both the state and federal levels. “From a Milford perspective, I’m concerned about the impact on our children, families and seniors who rely on these programs for food,” State Rep. Joelle Martin said.
I received several phone calls with concerns about the status of SB 248. Senator Jeff Woodburn led the charge on a compromise amendment for this bill that will allow officials of towns and school districts that postponed their local elections due to the March 14 snowstorm to take action to ratify the results. This passed through the Senate by a vote of 21-2. It heads to the House Election Committee next — I will keep you posted. This is an important bill for Milford.
Here is a link to the House Calendar for a full list of public hearings next week (pages 3-5). The Senate Calendar can be found here. I will be holding office hours on Monday, April 17th, from 3:30-5:00 p.m. Swing by Milford Town Hall’s Selectmans Room with your questions/concerns. I’d love to see you.
April 1st STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
Happy April Fools Day?! We often have to deal with a little snow during spring in NH BUT… I could do without this much (as I’m sure you all agree)!!
The bills and issues I continued to receive the most inquiries about include SB 3, relative to domicile for voting purposes; SB 7, decreasing eligibility for food stamps; and SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students.
SB 3 which looks to tighten domicile requirements passed through the full Senate this week with a party line vote of 14-9. The Senate floor debate lasted 90 minutes — highlighting the controversy about the added requirements to “prove residency.” The bill heads to the House next — I will let you know when the public hearing is scheduled. Here are links to news coverage by Associated Press, Union Leader — please let me know your thoughts.
SB 7, tightens food stamp eligibility in NH. This bill passed the full Senate this week after much controversy. As WMUR reported, “State Senate Republicans tried to entice their Democratic colleagues to back their plan to tighten the state’s food stamp eligibility requirements by attaching it to a work program for low-income Granite Staters.” From my perspective, the workforce program in and of itself has merits but it should be a
“From a Milford perspective, I’m concerned about the impact (of SB 7) on our children, families and seniors who rely on this program for food,” state Rep. Joelle Martin said. Federal Budget May Strain Local Resources — The Cabinet
separate piece of legislation. My concern with the bill as amended is that it potentially eliminates the food supply for 18,000+ NH kids. SB 7 heads next to the House — I will let you know when the public hearing is scheduled.
There will be a public hearing on SB 193, this Tuesday, April 4th, at 10:00 a.m. in House Education Committee Room 207 in the Legislative Office Building. This bill passed the Senate earlier this month along party lines 14-9. The controversy around this bill is that an “Education Freedom Savings Account” allows taxpayer dollars (90% of the public school adequacy funding or approximately $3,250) to be placed in an independently managed scholarship fund for a student. Parents or guardians would then be allowed to use those scholarship funds to pay for private school tuition, homeschooling expenses, or other academic expenses. Looking at the numbers more closely, there are currently ~6,000 home-schooled children and ~17,000 private-schooled children in NH. If SB 193 becomes law, potential millions of dollars could be tapped from public school adequacy funding for these savings accounts — dollars that have never been deducted from public school budgets before. The main concern I’ve heard is the potential inflationary impact on our property taxes to offset the school budget revenue losses. Another constituent expressed, “With $3,500/year, families in low-middle income brackets, like me, won’t able to benefit from these funds.” (Annual tuition for most private schools in the area far exceeds this number). An additional concern raised has been that “most of the scholarship money would go to more financially well-off families who do not need the funds, and put an additional strain on our already tight public school budget.” Is this the right financial approach for school choice and for Milford? Email me your thoughts. Reach out to your other Milford Reps as well.
Looking at the status of the House Budget, the House Finance committee voted on their final draft last week. The full House will be briefed on the budget this Monday; voting is scheduled for Wednesday (and potentially Thursday). We will be voting on several amendments as well, including an amendment to increase funding for full-day Kindergarten offerings (2017-1207h) and an amendment (2017-1200h) that “increases annual funding for the alcohol abuse prevention and treatment fund to 5 percent of the previous fiscal year gross profits derived from liquor sales.” I’ll aim to keep you posted on budget votes from the floor. Meanwhile, keep the emails coming!
March 26th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
It was great to see many of you at my office hours last week — thank you for stopping by Town Hall! Thanks, too, for your emails and phone calls. Please keep them coming. I will be scheduling office hours in April, too. (Date and time coming soon)
The bills and issues I’ve received the most inquiries about this past week include SB 3, relative to domicile for voting purposes; SB 7, decreasing eligibility for food stamps; and SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students.
SB 3 which looks to tighten domicile requirements came out of the Senate Election Law committee with a recommendation of Ought to Pass as Amended. It’s caused a lot of controversy due to the added requirements to prove residency. Joan Dargie, our Milford Town Clerk, attended the Executive Session this past week and has concerns about the bill. NH1’s recent coverage of the bill’s progress, noted that the current version of the bill has eliminated the most controversial provision “that police could knock on new voter’s doors to verify their addresses elicited a lot of push back.” NHPR has also covered the bill’s progress. SB 3 will be voted on in the full Senate soon. Contact our Senator, Gary Daniels with your input.
SB 7, tightens food stamp eligibility and adds several waiver requirements. I included news links about this bill in my update last week (WMUR, NHPR, Union Leader). The Senate Finance Committee voted 3-3 to ITL/kill the bill this week — the next step is a full Senate vote. Our Senator, Gary Daniels, is Chair of Senate Finance and cast one of the votes in SUPPORT of SB 7. The folks at SHARE are concerned about this legislation. To support SHARE and our families who rely on this program, please Email Senator Daniels and ask him to KILL SB 7.
I have also received a number of questions about the House Budget. Many of you are concerned about House Finance Division III’s decision to zero out the Alcohol Fund. Currently, 1.7% of the state’s liquor profits are set aside in this fund to assist with alcohol/drug prevention, treatment and recovery programs. Governor Sununu’s budget actually doubles the Alcohol Fund, increasing much needed community funding for prevention and treatment programs. There remains potential for this decision to be reversed either in the House or Senate (or later in June in Committee of Conference). I will keep you posted. Meanwhile, please reach out to your Milford legislators with your concerns. (Overview of the Alcohol Fund by New Futures; News coverage: Union Leader).
The House Finance Committee Division II’s decision to not allocate any funding for full-day Kindergarten programs also differed from the Governor’s budget which included $18 million ($9 million/year) in targeted aid. Milford would only benefit once full-day adequacy is legislated for all municipalities (not just targeted), and when a full-day program is offered to all students; but most FDK proponents agree that targeted aid would be a step in the right direction toward a state-wide FDK offering. Gov Sununu reaffirmed his support for full-day Kindergarten this week.
The full House Finance committee will be working on their final updates to the House version of the state budget this week. The full House will convene on Monday, April 3rd for an overview/briefing on this budget; a full House vote is scheduled for April 5th.
I’m also including a link to the Facebook page for an upcoming legislative forum sponsored by the legislative Children’s Caucus. I’ve spent time
over the past few weeks working with fellow Children’s Caucus members to organize this event for legislators. Our goal is to take a closer look at how our state policies are (or are not) supporting our children and what changes we should be considering. This event is also open to the public — please let me know if you’re interested in attending.
March 18th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
It was nice to see so many of you this morning at the polls at Milford Middle School. If I missed you, please feel free to stop by Town Hall on Monday afternoon during my office hours, 3:30-5:00. Bring your budget questions and/or share your concerns.
My Office Hours
Monday, 3/30, 3:30-5:00 p.m. Milford Town Hall Selectman’s Room
Stop by with your questions and concerns.
This upcoming week in Concord, the House Finance committee will be busy working on the budget with work sessions scheduled for Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. House Ways & Means will update their February revenue projections. There are also a number of hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday (see pages 7-9 of this week’s House Calendar). Thursday we will have full session of the House — refer to pages 3-6 of this week’s Calendar to view the bills up for full House vote. As always, be in touch with your Representatives with your input on bills of interest to you.
The Senate held session last week. One controversial bill, SB 7, which tightens eligibility for food stamps, passed 14-9. This bill heads next to Senate Finance. It has caused quite a bit of debate (WMUR, NHPR and the Union Leader all covered this). From a Milford perspective, I’m focused on understanding the impact for our children and families who rely on this program for food. The bill as written would decrease the amount of SNAP funds received from the federal government by NH (and therefore, Milford!) and most likely create another wave of downshifting of cost burden to our town-level. SHARE does so much for our community; I worry about the resulting budget cuts for their lean operation and about the food supply for our community members in need. I’ll be following up with SHARE to get their perspective and will keep you updated on this bill.
The full NH Senate supported SB 239-FN, which would create a much needed special Child Advocate Office. This bill heads next to Senate Finance.
Email me with your questions/concerns, or stop by Town Hall next Monday for my office hours.
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
It was a very busy week at the State House last week. I received many emails from you about HB 478, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity, as well as HB 620, relative to compliance with state and federal education mandates. I tried to keep you updated on my Facebook page, and have included further details here.
I was very disappointed in the motion on the House floor to “table” HB 478. I feel strongly that it is our job as elected officials to work on the challenging issues, not to avoid (“table”) them. Due to the vote (187-179) to table the bill, there wasn’t even a discussion or a chance for debate on the bill — there was no time given to ask questions or try to clarify concerns. The motion later in the session day on Thursday to remove the bill from the table for debate was voted down as well (180-168).
“It is our job as elected officials to work on the challenging issues, not to avoid them.”
HB 620, however, reflected a strong bipartisan effort within the House Education Committee to work together to address concerns heard during the public hearing. Representatives Mel Myler and Mary Heath worked with Chairman Rick Ladd and Vice Chair Terry Wolf to introduce a floor amendment to further study the questions/issues:
“HB 620 as proposed was too complex and the education committee did not have enough time to study its impact on the rule making process of the Department of Education,” said Representative Myler. “Under the compromise floor amendment we adopted, all current rules have been grandfathered. A study committee this spring and summer will take the time to seek input from various interest groups and stakeholders regarding how rules impact their concerns. The amendment is an example of how a bipartisan, collaborative effort can focus on mutual concerns.”
Another education bill, HB 557, allows a school district to utilize public school funds to be used in private schools. The House voted in support of this 188-163. HB 370, which aimed to increase state support for childcare costs at the Governor’s proposed $15 million level, was voted down(ITL) 168-166. (69% of NH’s children live in families where all parents are in the workforce; NH childcare costs are among the highest in the nation). Now the House Finance committee will decide what the final appropriation will be.
There were a number of Election Law bills up for House vote on Wednesday. I’d like to thank our Milford Town Clerk, Joan Dargie, for her insight on these bills. Joan attended several of the public hearings and provided me with her view on how each of the bills would impact Milford voting and overall election reform. Her perspective was very helpful especially since the Election Law Committee recommendations to the full House were so close (with many partisan votes of 11-9). Overall the House voted to tighten restrictions on voter registration and rejected bills to increase political finance transparency:
- HB 116, which aims to support an amendment to the US Constitution to address the corrupt influence of money in politics (as a consequence of the Citizens United decision), failed 193-165.
- HB 372, which aims it make it more difficult for NH college students to vote in NH, passed 188-163.
- HB 622, allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot, was voted down/ITL’d 200-145.
- HB 320, which proposed the use of a computer program as a foundation for nonpartisan redistricting failed 184-161.
- For CACR 6, which would prohibit legislators to sponsor, advocate or refrain from voting on legislation which created a financial conflict of interest, the House voted against/ITL’d 208-153.
There were several labor bills up for vote. Unfortunately, in most cases, the results did not favor the worker:
- The House voted to ITL/kill HB 130, which would prohibit an employer from using credit history in employment decisions.
- For HB 115, establishing a state minimum wage, the House voted to kill/ITL 193-169.
HB 578 which aimed to ban abortions after “viability” failed by a vote of 280-82. The House also voted to maintain “buffer zones” at abortion clinics (HB ).
HB 640, decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, passed 318-36. Substance use advocates worked closely with legislators on this bill to incorporate key prevention concerns and to maintain fines. HB 215, establishing a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana passed as well.
All bills that have passed in the House will next head to either House Finance or the Senate.
Public Hearings this upcoming week:
* The House Finance Committee is holding a Public Hearing on the budget tomorrow, Monday, starting at 3:00 p.m. at the State House in Reps Hall. What is your priority: what would you like to see in the final budget?
Otherwise, next week is a quiet week in the House. There are a few public hearings being held — refer to this week’s calendar for details.
The Senate will have Session on Thursday, March 16th. See the Senate Calendar for a list of bills they’ll be voting on. Email our Senator, Gary Daniels, with your input. Those bills that pass, will crossover to the House later this month.
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE, March 4th
For winter break week, it was quieter than usual at the State House but pockets of the House were still busy with budget and subcommittee work. In House Ways & Means, we completed our first revenue projections for this fiscal year, FY17, as well as FY18 and FY19 (for details, refer to page 3 in this week’s House Calendar). As you may have heard in the news the W&M projections were below Governor Sununu’s late January projections but were based on more recent revenue numbers and economic conditions. Revenue projections are critical for the budgeting process. The House Ways & Means committee will update revenue forecasts each month throughout the budgeting process. Our next projections in March will reflect the first glance at actual business returns and refund requests (the majority of NH businesses file in March/April).
The activity this upcoming week in Concord will certainly make up for the lull last week! Budget hearings, bill hearings and full House Sessions will keep us busy. There will be House sessions both Wednesday and Thursday where the full House will vote on over 200 bills. Here’s a link to the House Calendar — the Consent and Regular Calendar sections lists the bills we’ll be voting on (see pages 4 – 53).
Education Bills I have heard from quite a few of you on a number of education bills, especially with concerns about HB 620, relative to compliance with state and federal mandates as well as HB 370 which seeks to increase state support for childcare costs but came out of committee with a close vote of 15-11 against. Thank you for your emails! Based on feedback to date, I’m inclined to vote against HB 620 and in support of HB370.
There are also several bills pursuing school choice and vouchers as covered in the news. A recent report by US NEWS & WORLD REPORT ranks NH’s public schools as #2 in the country! Here are more insights on this ranking. It is my intention to ensure our state budget supports our high quality public schools and dedicated public school teachers. We need to make sure we’re preserving the quality of our top-notch public schools while pursuing innovative approaches.
Election Law bills Many of the election law bills that have been heard in committee will be voted on this week. Almost ALL of the committee votes on these bills were very close with votes of 11-9; 12-8. To view the summary of the majority and minority opinions, please refer to pages 33-36 of this week’s House Calendar. And please Email me with your input!
Non-Discrimination bill, HB 478 I have also heard from many of you regarding the non-discrimination bill, HB 478. Thank you for your emails. This bill aims to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The House HHS committee voted 15-2 in support of the bill — the full House will vote on it this Wednesday. I recently provided my perspective on the bill in response to a question on the Milford Residents FB pg:
Abortion Bill, HB 578 Another controversial bill which has not received much news coverage is HB 578, relative to banning abortion after viability. This bill updates viability of a fetus to “21 weeks or more.” The committee vote was contentious and resulted in a 10-7 recommendation of Ought to Pass. I’m anticipating an in-depth debate on the floor on this vote on Wednesday.
The committee’s recommendation for adjusting the state’s minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, HB 115, is 12-9 ITL/not in favor.
Public Hearings next week
As I’ve mentioned, the Legislature had begun working on the state’s FY2018/2019 budget. I’d like to remind you that the state’s budget is the people’s budget. I’ve spoken to so many of you about your concerns regarding an economy that works for everyone, high quality public education, the opioid and mental health crisis and about local property tax burdens, especially on our seniors. Please consider speaking up about what matters to you. Continue to email your Milford legislators and consider sending an email to the House Finance committee members. Another way to provide input is to attend any of the House Finance committee’s upcoming Budget hearings:
- In Concord, on Monday, March 13, in Representatives Hall, second floor of the State House in Concord, starting at 3 p.m. and going into the evening.
- In Plymouth, this Monday, March 6, at the Silver Center for the Arts, Plymouth State University, starting at 5:30 p.m.
- In Derry, this Monday, March 6, at the Derry Town Hall, starting at 4:30 p.m.
The budget process has just begun and it’s critical to let your legislators know what your priorities and concerns are.
Tuesday public hearings:
- 10:30 a.m. House JUDICIARY Committee Room 208, Legislative Office Building. HB 652, establishing a veterans track within the court system and relative to the inclusion of veterans benefits in the calculation of gross income for purposes of determining child support.
- 1:30 p.m. Senate HHS Committee Room 101, Legislative Office Building. SB 155, relative to implementation of the Medicaid managed care program — proposing that Step 2 of the Medicaid managed care program shall not be implemented until July 1, 2019.
As always, please contact me with your concerns/input. I’d also be happy to talk with you in-person. Please email me to set up a meeting. I will be scheduling March office hours for Monday, March 20th. Stay tuned for hours/location. Thank you!
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE, February 25th
We were in a bit of a lull in the House this week and focused mainly on committee work. In Ways & Means, we’re working diligently on updating the state’s revenue projections for FY17, 18, 19 so that the budgeting process can be as accurate as possible.
There were a few key hearings in the House, including one that drew a lot of attention, HB 478. This bill aims to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. The House HHS committee listened to testimony and voted 15-2 in support of the bill so it heads next to the full House.
The Senate was very busy with several votes on election law, kindergarten adequacy, and more. They voted on several education bills with a focus on school choice and local control. One of the most controversial bills, SB 193, would create a program where parents could receive state funding to send their children to any school they choose, including religious schools. Those bills that passed will head to the House next. The Senate voted against restoring state aid for school building projects, defeating SB 192 in a party-line 14-9 vote. The School Building Aid Program has been suspended since 2010.
SB 7 had a controversial hearing on whether or not to tighten the eligibility for food stamps. Several news sources reported that this bill was written, in part, by a conservative, Florida-based think tank that’s pushed similar measures around the country. I also heard concerns from many of you in Milford.
Please make sure your voices are heard: NH laws should be made in the best interest of the people of NH. My goal is to be a voice for Milford. Be in touch with your legislators and share your thoughts/recommendations. To email ALL of your Milford legislators, click here.
Governor Sununu signed SB 12 into law on Wednesday which allows individuals to carry weapons concealed without a special permit. The Governor also spoke in favor of block grants to “transform” Medicaid this week. Many argue that block grants will mean less money for NH and poorer overall coverage. Ultimately this decision will largely depend on what Congress and the Trump administration proposes.
Other Highlights this week
I had the opportunity to hear a panel of NH employers and economists discuss our economy and future. The #1 concern they shared was workforce shortage and development.
Public Hearings next week
Normally, the House is on break this week for winter vacation, but since it’s a budget year, several committees have scheduled work sessions. Refer to the House Calendar for a list of committee/subcommittee meetings.
Of note, House Finance, Division I, has scheduled a work session on HB 413-FN-A-L, relative to payment of a portion of retirement system contributions of political subdivision employers, on Tuesday, Feb. 28th, 11:15 in LOB Room 212. (This bill passed the House on Feb. 15th and was referred to House Finance). My hope for Milford is that the 15% ($40m) allocation to municipalities stays intact.
The Senate will vote next session on a number of bills that may be of interest:
- SB 94-FN-A, making a capital appropriation for affordable housing. Came out of Senate committee with a recommendation of OTP (ought to pass) 4-0.
- SB 194-FN, authorizing online voter registration. The Committee recommendation was Inexpedient to Legislate (kill), Vote 3-2.
- SB 153-FN-A, making an appropriation for early childhood intervention services. Committee recommended this bill Ought to Pass with a vote 4-0.
- SB 235-FN, relative to Medicaid reimbursement to schools for students with medical needs and establishing a home and community based behavioral health services program for children. Committee vote was 4-0 Ought to Pass.
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE, February 18th
It was very busy at the State House this past week with double House session days, Wednesday and Thursday. Yesterday, I posted a quick update on voting results for a few bills. Here are results for a few more:
- Passed YES OTP-A HB 489, “establishing a commission to study the tax structure of the state.” We need to explore other revenue options at the state level so that we can curb escalating property tax burdens.
- Killed/YES ITL so NO to HB 566, “repealing the community revitalization tax relief incentive.” So, Milford will be able to participate in this effective program if we vote YES on the upcoming Warrant article.
- Killed/YES ITL so NO to HB 597-FN-LOCAL, “relative to calculating the cost of an opportunity for an adequate education and providing fiscal capacity disparity aid.” School adequacy funding continues to be an issue. Increasing adequacy funding at the state level is needed (and will take pressure off of local property taxes). I will keep you posted on additional adequacy bills as well as the budget process.
- Retained for further study HB 621-FN-A-LOCAL, “establishing a road usage fee”
- Killed/YES ITL 204-144; so NO to HB 350-FN, “prohibiting possession of a firearm at a polling place”
As you can see, the motion to “ITL” means “Inexpedient to Legislate” or kill a bill. A YES vote for an ITL motion is a vote against the bill.
A motion of “OTP” means “Ought to Pass” and is a YES vote in support of the bill.
Click here if you’d like to search for House Voting Results by bill number and see how your Reps voted. When searching for a bill’s voting results, be sure to double check which motion was voted on >> Remember: ITL means against/kill; OTP means in support of/pass. Questions? Email me
Public Hearings next week
Tuesday, Feb. 21st:
- 9:30 a.m., Senate Judiciary Committee, State House Room 100, SB 233-FN, relative to the legalization and regulation of marijuana and establishing a committee to study the legalization of marijuana.
- 10:00 a.m., Legislative Office Building House Election Law Committee Room 308, HB 642-FN, relative to eligibility to vote and relative to student identification cards.
- 1:15 p.m. Legislative Office Building Rooms 305-307, (House Health & Human Services Committee), HB 478, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
- 1:30 p.m. Legislative Office Building Senate Health & Human Services Committee Room 101, SB 235-FN, relative to Medicaid reimbursement to schools for students with medical needs and establishing a home and community based behavioral health services program for children.
Wednesday, Feb 22nd:
- 9:00 a.m. State House Room 100, Senate Ways & Means Committee, SB 208-FN, establishing a working families property tax refund program.
- 3:00 p.m. State House Room 100, Senate Capital Budget Committee, SB 94-FN-A, making a capital appropriation for affordable housing.
Quick updates on some key NH House votes this week…some good news & some bad:
* YES to killing “Right-to-Work” (SB 11-FN)
* YES to restoring state funds to towns to cover a portion of state pension costs (HB 413)
* NO to establishing an independent, non-partisan redistricting commission (HB 203)
* NO to allowing Seniors to use assisted living IDs as voter IDs (HB 235)
More news to follow tomorrow in my Feb 18th STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE, February 11th
The snow did not stop work at the State House this week! Committee hearings and executive sessions packed both Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday featured a full House Session followed by Governor Sununu’s Budget Address. Our Ways & Means Committee had the opportunity to meet with the Governor for coffee before his Budget Address on Thursday morning (PHOTO: Rep. Charlie Burns & I with Governor Sununu)
News highlights from this week’s developments at the NH State House:
- Union Leader‘s state house coverage this week included reporting the House Labor Committee’s vote to NOT pass SB 11-FN, “so called” Right to Work. This bill will head to the full House for a final vote this upcoming week.
- Nashua Telegraph reported an overview of the Governor’s Budget, Lawmakers cheer parts of budget but seek detail.
- NHPR also provided additional coverage of the Governor’s Budget, highlighting key measures that might interest us in Milford — including $18 million for targeted full-day kindergarten and the Infrastructure Revitalization Fund which would provide funds to towns for roads and bridges repair.
- The Concord Monitor also reported on the Governor’s Budget, as well as SB 196-FN-A, seeking to restore full funding to the Alcohol Fund.
Public Hearings next week
There are very few hearings scheduled for the upcoming week (see pages 32-35). Committees will focus mostly on Subcommittee and Executive Committee work on Tuesday. The House will convene in Reps Hall on both Wednesday and Thursday for full House Sessions (see pp 7-31).
There are a few Senate hearings (pp. 8-10) to note, including:
Monday, February 13th: ** CANCELLED DUE TO SNOW **
- 9:15 a.m., Legislative Office Building Senate Health & Human Services Committee Room 101, SB 235-FN, “relative to Medicaid reimbursement to schools for students with medical needs and establishing a home and community based behavioral health services program for children.”
Tuesday, February 14th:
- 9:30 a.m., Legislative Office Building Senate Education Committee Room 103, SB 228-FN-A, “establishing the New Hampshire college graduate retention incentive partnership (NH GRIP).”
- 9:20 a.m., Legislative Office Building Senate Election Law Committee Room 102, SB 107, “establishing an independent redistricting commission.”
Bills up for full House Vote this week include:
- SB 11-FN, “prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.” As mentioned above, the House Labor Committee voted 14-7 against SB11 and is recommending to the full House to ITL/kill this bill.
- HB 203-FN-A, “establishing an independent redistricting commission.” Close committee vote 11-9, against this bill.
- HB 350-FN, “prohibiting possession of a firearm at a polling place.” Committee with a close vote of 9-7 recommended against this bill.
- HB 413-FN-A-LOCAL, “relative to payment by the state of a portion of retirement system contributions of political subdivision employers.” This bill passed with support 10-9 out of the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee. It seeks to restore partial state funding to municipalities for retirement costs for teachers, police and fire. For Milford, this would mean lower property taxes! I am in full support of this bill.
- HB 566, “repealing the community revitalization tax relief incentive.” The House Ways & Means Committee unanimously agreed (21-0) to recommend to the full House that we ITL/kill this bill in order to continue this successful and beneficial economic development incentive.
- HB 597-FN-LOCAL, “relative to calculating the cost of an opportunity for an adequate education and providing fiscal capacity disparity aid.” Close committee vote 11-7 against this additional funding.
- HB 644-FN-A-LOCAL, “extending the interest and dividends tax to capital gains, increasing exemptions from the tax, and providing for retirement system contributions on behalf of employers other than the state.” Summary from the Calendar’s Minority report …This complex bill attempts to lower property tax burdens, especially to families with lower-middle incomes and seniors. It would extend the interest and dividends tax to include some capital gains and increase exemptions. 98% of new revenues collected would come from the top 20% income recipients; no taxpayer in the bottom 40% of income recipients would experience a tax increase. Senior exemptions would increase three-fold. The bill also earmarks $45 million of new revenue for payment by the state to municipalities (for pension costs) and provide substantial property tax relief. Another close committee vote 11-8 against this bill.
- HB 489, “establishing a commission to study the tax structure of the state.” Committee voted unanimously (21-0) that this commission be formed.
For a full list of bills that will be voted on this Wednesday and Thursday during the House’s General Session, refer to pages 7-31 of the House Calendar. As always, please contact me with your questions and input, or if you’d like me to add any specific bill vote or hearing to this posting.
I am also including links to your other Milford State Rep’s and your State Senator’s emails here (thanks for the suggestion Marie!).
If you’d like to email ALL of your legislators about a specific issue or bill, click here. Here are individual emails:
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE, February 4th
It was a pleasure seeing Milford neighbors at the State House this week! Thanks for participating in our democracy (and for letting me know you were coming).
News highlights from this week’s developments at the NH State House:
- NHPR‘s overview of State political news includes an overview of the Paid Family & Medical Leave Insurance bill, potential marijuana-related legislation, and more.
- Union Leader includes a write up on a house bill to change NH’s time zone to Atlantic standard time, HB209. There was a very close vote in the House with many State Reps (including me) concerned about an uncoordinated regional approach (the bill only considers Massachusetts’ decision). This bill passed narrowly and now heads to the Senate.
- The Telegraph covered the hearing for Frank Edelblut’s nomination as NH Commissioner of Education. The Telegraph‘s state news also reported on other bills and State House developments.
Public Hearings next week
Tuesday, February 7th:
- 9:30 a.m., Legislative Office Building Senate Education Committee Room 103, SB 191, “An Act relative to the definition of average daily membership in attendance” (specifying the manner in which full day kindergarten pupils are counted in a school district’s average daily membership).
- 10:00, Legislative Office Building House Election Law Committee Room 308, a series of bills related to election rights and definitions. See page 15 of this week’s House calendar for the full list of bills.
- 11:15, Legislative Office Building House Legislative Administration Committee Room 104, CACR6, “relating to conflict of interest. Providing that no member of the general court shall sponsor, advocate for, nor vote on any legislation which would create a financial conflict of interest.”
- 1:00, State House Senate Finance Committee Room 103, SB 196, “relative to liquor revenues deposited into the alcohol abuse prevention and treatment fund” (increasing the amount to be deposited into the alcohol abuse prevention and treatment fund).
- 1:00, Legislative Office Building House Ways & Means Committee Room 202, HB615-FN, “reducing the rates of the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax.”
- 1:15, State House Senate Health & Human Services Committee Room 101, SB 153, “making an appropriation for early childhood intervention services.”
- 1:45, Legislative Office Building Senate Health & Human Services Committee Room 101, SB 223-FN, “relative to staffing recommendations from the quality assurance review of the division of children, youth and families.”
Wednesday, February 8th:
- 9:00, Legislative Office Building House Election Law Committee Room 308, a series of bills related to election rights and definitions. See page 18 of this week’s House calendar for the full list of bills.
- 10:00, State House Reps Hall House Labor Committee, SB 11-FN, “prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.”
Bills up for House Vote on Thursday, February 9th
- Senate Bill 12, “repealing the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver.“
For a full list of bills that will be voted on this Thursday during the House’s General Session, refer to pages 9-13 of the House Calendar, “Regular Calendar” section. Please contact me with your questions and input.
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE, January 28th
It will be another busy week in the committee rooms next week! I’ve highlighted a few hearings below that I thought would be of interest to you. I’ve also included hearings for bills that some of you have inquired about. (Feel free to email me if there are other bill hearings you’d like me to include).
- Tuesday, Jan 31st, 1:00 p.m., Legislative Office Building, House Finance Committee Room 210-211, HB 370-FN-A, “making an appropriation for the purpose of meeting new federal regulations relative to child care.”
- Tuesday, Jan 31st, 1:00 p.m., Legislative Office Building, House Education Committee Room 207, HB-597-FN, “relative to calculating the cost of an opportunity for an adequate education and providing fiscal capacity disparity aid.”
- Tuesday, Jan. 31st, 1:00 p.m., the Executive Council will hold a public hearing on the nomination of Frank Edelblut to be the next Commissioner of the state Department of Education. The hearing will be in council chambers at the State House.
- Tuesday, Jan 31st, 2:45 p.m., Legislative Office Building, House Finance Committee Room 210-211, HB 606-FN-A, “establishing a scholarship fund for health care providers who stay in New Hampshire for 5 years and making an appropriation therefor.”
- Wednesday, Feb. 1, 10:30 a.m., Legislative Office Building House Ways & Means Committee Room 202, HB 644-FN-A, “extending the interest and dividends tax to capital gains, increasing exemptions from the tax, and providing for retirement system contributions …”
- Wednesday, Feb. 1, 11:00 a.m., Legislative Office Building House Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs Committee Room 205, HB 536, “directing the wellness and primary prevention council to establish a system of family resource centers of quality.”
- Wednesday, Feb. 1, 10:00 a.m., State House Reps Hall, Senate Bill 12, “repealing the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver.“ This bill has passed through the Senate. This is the House Criminal Justice Committee’s public hearing.
- Wednesday, Feb. 1, 1:00 p.m., State House Reps Hall, HB 640-FN, “relative to the penalties for possession of marijuana.” This is the House Criminal Justice Committee’s public hearing.
- Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2:00 p.m., State House Reps Hall, HB 656-FN-A, “relative to the legalization and regulation of marijuana.” This is the House Criminal Justice Committee’s public hearing — there are several versions of this bill that will be heard over the next few weeks.
- Wednesday, Feb. 2:00 p.m., Legislative Office Building, House Labor Committee Room 307, HB 628-FN, “relative to a family and medical leave insurance program.”
(The debate on Right-to-Work legislation,SB 11-FN, has moved to the House after passing in the Senate. The House Labor Committee’s public hearing is scheduled for the following Weds, Feb. 8, 10:00 a.m. in Representatives Hall).
Bills up for House Vote
For a full list of bills that will be voted on this Thursday during the House’s General Session, refer to pages 7-10 of the House Calendar, “Regular Calendar” section. Please contact me with your questions and input.
News highlights from this week @the NH State House:
- Union Leader’s overview of House Session Thursday, 1/25: NH HOUSE ...
- NHPR’s coverage of Politics this week
READY, SET, ACTION!
I have heard from many of you over the past weekend … how do I ensure my voice is heard at the state level? Who do I contact regarding a bill? How do I let my Representatives and Senators know whether I want them to support or oppose legislation?
Public hearings are scheduled for each bill. You may attend these hearings. You may choose to sign in, either in support or opposition to a bill, or you may provide “testimony.” Testimony can be your statement in writing and/or spoken about why you support or oppose a bill. If you aren’t able to make a hearing, you also may send your testimony via email to the committee where the hearing is scheduled.
You may also simply contact your Milford Reps and Senator. If you are a Milford resident, we have five State Representatives. I have listed our Reps’ emails below, including myself. The General Court website includes a House Roster , which includes Representatives’ contact information. In addition, I’ve provided emails below:
- Barbara Biggie, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Charlie Burns, email@example.com
- Carolyn Halstead, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Joelle Martin, email@example.com
- Keith Ammon, who also represents Hollis and Mont Vernon, firstname.lastname@example.org
Our State Senator is Gary Daniels, email@example.com.
I will continue to provide weekly updates on this site, as well as my Facebook page highlighting some of the key hearings forthcoming. However, if you’d like to follow the bills on your own, visit the General Court website. The House and Senate calendars are published every Friday for the following week.
And please keep your emails and questions coming. I’m happy to answer your questions and would like to hear from you!
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE, January 21st
Here is this week’s summary from the State House in Concord. I’ve included some highlights of this past week’s activity as well as alerts on upcoming hearings and votes. I encourage you to review the General Court website for more details, and to contact me with your questions and input.
Key activity from this past week & Upcoming votes:
- On Thursday, 1/19, the Senate voted 12-11 OTP (ought to pass) in support of SB 11-FN, “prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.” The bill will next go to the House. Contact/email your State Reps and let your voices be heard. Related news articles:
- On Thursday, 1/19, the Senate voted 13-10 in support of Senate Bill 12, “repealing the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver.“ This bill will next go to the House. Contact/email your State Reps and let your voices be heard. Related news articles:
Public Hearings this week that may be of interest:
It will be a busy week in the committee rooms next week! For a full schedule of House and Senate hearings, refer to the General Court website. I’ve highlighted a few hearings below that I thought would be of interest to you. I’ve also included hearings for bills that some of you have inquired about. Please email me if there are other bill hearings you’d like me to include.
- Tuesday, 1/24, 10:00 a.m. in HOUSE Children & Family Law Committee, Legislative Office Building Room 206, HB 355-FN, “relative to criminal record checks in adoption proceedings and foster family home licensing.”
- Tuesday, 1/24, 10:00 a.m. in HOUSE Criminal Justice & Public Safety, Legislative Office Building Room 204, HB 350-N, “prohibiting possession of a firearm at a polling place.”
- Tuesday, 1/24, 1:00 p.m. in HOUSE Children & Family Law Committee, Legislative Office Building Room 206, HB 422-FN, “repealing the child protection act.”
- Tuesday, 1/24, 3:00 p.m. in HOUSE Resources, Rec & Development Committee, Legislative Office Building Room 305, HB 485, “relative to standards for emerging contaminants in drinking water.”
- Tuesday, 1/24, 3:30 p.m. in HOUSE Finance Committee, Legislative Office Building Rooms 210-211, HB 387-FN-A, “making an appropriation to the department of health and human services for the developmental services system.”
- Wednesday, 1/25, 9:20 a.m. in SENATE Ways & Means Committee State House Room 100, SB 74-FN, “relative to economic revitalization zone tax credits.“
- Wednesday, 1/25, 10:00 a.m. in Legislative Office Building Labor Committee Rooms 305-307, HB 115-FN, “establishing a state minimum wage…”
- Wednesday, 1/25, 1:15 p.m. in Legislative Office Building Public Works Committee Room 201, HB 347-FN, “making an appropriation for rural bus service.”
- Wed., 1/25, 2:30 p.m. in Legislative Office Building Labor Committee Rooms 305-307, HB 442, “relative to criminal records checks in the employee application process.”
The next House session is scheduled for Thursday, 1/26, 10:00 a.m. in Reps Hall. This week’s House Calendar lists the voting schedule for the day (refer to the listed “Consent Calendar” items and “Regular Calendar” bills). Here are links to contact your State Reps and your Senator.
STATE HOUSE WEEKLY UPDATE, January 14th
Here is this week’s summary from the State House in Concord. I’ve included some highlights of this past week’s activity as well as alerts on upcoming hearings and votes. I encourage you to contact me with your questions and input.
Key activity from this past week & Upcoming votes:
- On Tuesday, 1/10, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 3-2 OTP (ought to pass) on Senate Bill 12, “repealing the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver.” The bill will go to the full Senate this week for a vote. If you’d like to weigh in on this, contact our Senator, Gary Daniels: Email or phone: (603)271-4980. For background/more details:
- Union Leader: Senate Panel Backs Eliminating Permit Requirement
- Legislative Spotlight: Concealed Carry & Right to Work with Senator Jeb Bradley (R) and Senate Minority Leader, Jeff Woodburn (D)
- On Tuesday, 1/10, the Senate Commerce Committee voted 3-2 OTP in support of SB 11-FN, “prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.” This bill will also go to the full Senate this week for a vote. If you’d like to weigh in on this, contact our Senator, Gary Daniels: Email or phone: (603)271-4980. For background/more details:
- Legislative Spotlight: Concealed Carry & Right to Work with Senator Jeb Bradley (R) and Senate Minority Leader, Jeff Woodburn (D)
- Concord Monitor Hundred Fill Reps Hall for Hearing on Right-to-Work Bill
- On Thursday, 1/12, the House Education Committee hearing on HB 155-FN, “relative to funding for kindergarten programs,” was standing room only. The overwhelming majority of attendees signed in and/or spoke in favor of this bill. The House Education Committee votes on whether to send this to the full House next week. If you’d like to weigh in on this, contact our State Rep who is on House Education, Carolyn Halstead: Email or phone: (603)672-7141. Let her know whether you’d like her to support this bill or not. For background/more details:
Public Hearings this week that may be of interest:
It will be a busy week in the committee rooms next week! Click here for a full schedule of House and Senate hearings. I’ve listed a few that I thought might interest you. Please email me if there are other bill hearings you’d like me to include.
- Tuesday, 1/17, 10:00 a.m. in Legislative Office Building Criminal Justice Committee Room 204, HB 106, “provides that a victim’s testimony in a sexual assault case shall require corroboration only in cases where the defendant has no prior convictions for sexual assault.”
- Wednesday, 1/18, 1:00 p.m. in Legislative Office Building House Election Law Committee Room 308, HB 203-FN-A, “establishing an independent redistricting commission.”
- Wednesday, 1/18, 1:30 p.m. in Legislative Office Building House Commerce & Consumer Affairs Committee Room 302, HB 250, “establishing a commission to assess the benefits and costs of ‘health care for all’ program for NH.”
- Wed., Jan. 18, 10:30 a.m. in Legislative Office Building House Education Committee Room 207, CACR 7, “relating to public education. Providing that the general court [meaning the state legislature] shall have the authority to define standards of accountability, mitigate local disparities in educational opportunity and fiscal capacity, and have full discretion to determine the amount of state funding for education.”
WEEKLY UPDATE FROM CONCORD
It is my goal to write to you, my constituents, each week to highlight the past week’s actions in Concord, as well as alert you to upcoming hearings and/or potential legislation. As we discussed over the summer and fall, it is challenging to follow the activity at the State House and to understand how certain state policy decisions may impact us here in our community. I aim to provide a weekly summary from the House of Representatives and encourage you to contact me with your questions and input.
Upcoming Public Hearings that may be of interest:
- Tuesday, January 10th, 9:00 a.m., State House Room 100: Senate Bill 12-FN, “repealing the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver,” This bill “allows a person to carry a loaded, concealed pistol or revolver without a license…” Click here for full bill text.
- Tuesday, January 10th, 1:00 p.m., State House, Representatives Hall: SB 11-FN, “prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union.” This bill has raised a lot of questions regarding worker’s rights to unionize. Proponents of the bill say it would “protect an employee’s rights to make a choice;” opponents say so-called “right-to-work laws are designed to limit the power of unions and will lead to lower wages for workers.”
- Thursday, January 12th, 1:00 p.m., Legislative Office Building Education Committee Room 207, HB 155-FN, “relative to funding for kindergarten programs.” This bill would increase funding for school districts who offer full-day kindergarten programs (from half-day adequacy to full-day adequacy). The bill does not mandate districts to offer full-day programs, but provides full-day funding if/when they choose to offer a full-day program.
- For the full listing of public hearings scheduled for next week, refer to the Senate Calendar and the House Calendar. If you plan to be in Concord, please let me know. I’d be happy to meet you. Also, please contact me with your questions and input.
Voting highlights from this past week:
- On Thursday, 1/4, the House voted against the Amendment to House Rule 30, to eliminate the House Committee on Child & Family Law, 196-172; therefore, the House Committee on Child & Family Law was restored.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, MILFORD
Wishing you a wonderful 2017!
I’m looking forward to serving as your State Representative. The 2017-2018 legislative session opens this Wednesday. My aim is to keep you posted on upcoming bills on this site and via Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow hearings and legislation that interest you at the NH General Court website. I look forward to hearing from you! Please feel free to email or call: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Thank you, Milford!!
9 November 2016
Good morning, Milford! Thank you for your votes and for electing me as one of your State Reps! I am honored to represent you and am committed to being a voice for you and a vote for Milford at the statehouse.
Let’s keep our conversations flowing — I’ll be creating a website/communication portal soon…stay tuned. Meanwhile, feel free to email me.
Here are the voting results for Milford.
A recent article published in The Cabinet highlights one of the key reasons I’m running for office. In this editorial, Meet Me in the Middle, in the “Purple,” I explained:
“When it comes to making state policy decisions that impact our community, we need to put political ideology aside, listen to our Milford neighbors’ needs and struggles, and then collaborate to make the right decisions to support them…” For the full article, click here.
Securing a BETTER FUTURE for you, for our kids, for Milford
As State Representative for District 23, Milford, I am committed to securing a BETTER FUTURE for you, for our kids, for Milford.
A Voice for You …A Vote for Milford.
So many of you have shared your concerns with me and I am listening. You believe that Milford needs a clearer, more representative voice when it comes to state policy decisions, and I agree. With my collaborative approach, I will develop creative solutions and support smart policies that foster a:
My years of experience as a senior level business executive, preschool teacher and community volunteer have helped me become an:
- Effective Advocate
- Trustworthy Leader and
- Responsible Decision-Maker
As your State Rep, I will apply these skills to secure a BETTER FUTURE for you, for our kids, for Milford.
Please VOTE for JOELLE Martin for State Rep on November 8th!
I will be a voice for you … a vote for Milford.