The last two months have been busy in the legislature, with the House and the Senate swapping bills that have made it this far in the process. Here are six to watch.
- Medicaid Expansionhas gone through some changes but looks like it may pass in the end. Current changes include a 5-year agreement (instead of 2 years) and a work requirement but one that would count things like education and job training as well as being employed. Also the program would change to a managed care system. Everyone recognizes that it has been a big success with about 50,000 NH residents using it at any one time; many people only need it for a short time and then they can switch to another health care plan.
- Voter rights– There is a bill that will make it harder for some people like students to vote in the state because they have to show in-state ID or else sign an affidavit saying they are essentially permanent residents, so then they need to get a NH driver’s license and register their car in NH. The myth that there is voter fraud in NH is fueling this bill. We’ll have to wait and see if it becomes law.
- 3. School choice/ voucher bill– SB 193 would allow families to use public tax dollars to pay for private, religious, or home schooling. The idea of allowing more choice is a good one, but using public dollars for religious schools is most likely unconstitutional and will be challenged if it is made law. It is currently being held in committee and has not yet had a vote in the House.
- 4. Marsy’s Law– This is a bill to guarantee victim’s rights in the state constitution. While it sounds like a good idea and has been passed in several other states, the NH version has some problems. One problem is that the victim would be allowed to be present even when, for example, a juvenile defendant is meeting with his counselor. If the bill passes then it will be put on the ballot in November for everyone to vote on.
- Paid family leave– It is time to guarantee paid family and medical leave for the workers of NH so if they have to stay home and help a dying parent or a new baby they don’t need to worry about losing their job. The first version of the bill was deemed unsound financially, but an amended version shortened the time off and increased the money that would be paid into the insurance fund, and it has now been deemed solvent.
- Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“Reggie”) – This program is potentially being revised again this year. The version being discussed now in the senate is to restore the program to its original form, to use the money for energy efficiency projects in homes and businesses around the state. There’s a huge backlog of homeowners waiting for this program and they may soon get some help.
Rep. Marge Shepardson
Cheshire 10, Marlborough and Troy