Legislative Update from Marge Shepardson

Legislative Update

March 5, 2017

Here are some of the bills that NH House has voted on in the last few weeks.

  1. The House (and I) voted against Right to Work, which would have undercut unions in NH by saying people who work where there is a union would no longer have to pay a fee as their part of salary negotiations. This does not mean that everyone is required to join the union or pay full union dues.
  2. There was an attempt to repeal the education tax credit but it failed, so the tax credit still stands. Businesses are allowed to redirect 85% of their state Business Profits Tax and Business Enterprise Tax from state revenue to a school choice scholarship fund. While this may sound like a good idea to some, it means the state lost $385,000 in 2016 while 70% of these school choice scholarships went to students attending religious schools. We end up with less money to fund public education and other key items, while paying for religious schools – something I am not in favor of. I voted against the motion of ITL (Inexpedient To Legislate).
  3. HB 276 allows parents to opt their children out of the state-wide assessment. It fails to recognize the NH Supreme Court ruling that identifies the assessment as a means to determine an adequate education and it could jeopardize federal dollars for NH schools and districts if the 95% participation rule is not met. I voted against it but the bill passed the House.
  4. HB 191 would have allowed towns to issue bonds for an expansion of broadband infrastructure in their town. Officials from Keene, Peterborough and Hanover testified that they wanted this bill because businesses and residents need better broadband services than they are currently getting. However, this enabling bill was voted ITL by 193-168.
  5. HB 597 would have recalculated the cost of an adequate education; it would have restored the 2008 adequacy funding formula providing significant funding to school districts with higher proportions of economically disadvantaged and high risk students. I voted in favor of the bill but it failed to pass by 186-165.
  6. HB 203 would establish an independent redistricting commission for the 2020 census and redistricting, in a non-partisan fashion. It would help change the gerrymandered districts that we currently have. Unfortunately the bill was ITL’d 190-164 along party lines.
  7. HB 413 would have the state once again pay something (15%) toward retirement benefits for state employees. It’s less than the state used to pay but since 2012 they have paid nothing, putting the total burden on local property taxes. This bill passed the House and moves on to the Senate. If enacted, it will help reduce property taxes.
  8. HB 569 was a bill I proposed to reimburse raided funds if there was a budget surplus at the end of the biennium. In the recent past funds have been taken from LCHIP and from the Renewable Energy Fund. Democrats supported the bill but it was ITL’d by the Republican majority.

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