Sometimes a bill sounds like a good idea until you dig into the details of the actual language and then it isn’t so good or it doesn’t actually do what people say it does. One such bill was SB-202 which was supposed to ban testing of cosmetics on animals. Everyone on the Commerce Committee agreed that we would like to see an end of animal testing, but SB-202 would not have done anything that wasn’t already being done. At the end of the day, we tabled this bill 320-8, even having the support of the Humane Society in doing so.
The first bill we discussed on Thursday morning was SB-234 requiring student identification cards to include the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. The parents of a teenage boy who had killed himself were present in the gallery as we unanimously passed by voice vote this bill named in their son’s honor. Hopefully, we can identify why so many young people are getting to a place of such hopelessness that they kill themselves so we can address that issue and so the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is no longer needed.
SB-367 passed 198-128 to encourage advanced recycling of plastics by creating clear regulatory structure for this emerging industry.
Once again, we dealt with bills related to professional licensure enabling some professions to not need licenses, enabling licensure of telehealth professionals located outside the state of NH, and enabling ease of licensure reciprocity.
Election integrity remains an important issue (at least to Republicans). The House passed SB-366 177-139 requiring an audit of ballots cast in the 2022 primary and general elections.
Republicans killed several bills that would expand government or permit greater government intrusion into our lives, but sadly, a couple of bills passed that would expand government, such as SB-422 establishing an adult dental benefit until the state Medicaid program. This is an expansion of an entitlement that Republicans allowed to pass 205-109.
The House was in session again this week. We wrapped up all bills originating in the House so that those that passed could go on to the Senate.
We had a couple of good wins: HR-17 passed 178-159 opposing all federal and state efforts to establish a carbon tax on fuels for electricity and transportation. If this bill passes the Senate and gets signed by the Governor, you will be grateful when you actually have electricity.
We defeated HB-1093 186-161 which sought to allow nonresident aliens living in the state to obtain a driver’s license. Why would we want to defeat this bill? Because it is one giant step toward nonresident aliens voting in our elections.
We also passed HB-1401 189-160 prohibiting the number of miles everyone drives from being shared within certain authorities without consent. Why would we want to pass this bill? Because this would very quickly turn into a mileage tax.
We passed 218-100 a one-time $500 cost-of-living allowance to certain retirees in the state retirement system.
And we preserved HB-1609 – the Fetal Life Protection Act. The amended bill that passed 231-114 clarifies the language of the current law regarding ultrasounds and adds provision for fetal anomalies incompatible with life.
In the loss column…
A couple of election integrity bills got tabled: HB-1064 which would have required the use of hand-marked, durable paper ballots for all elections and HB-1473 authorizing a forensic audit of the November 3, 2020, election results in Merrimack County.
CACR-27 was defeated 254-85 which would have provided that all state court judges be subject to recall and removal by petition and subsequent vote of registered voters. This means, if a bad judge gets appointed, we can’t get rid of that judge until he/she quits, retires, turns 70, or dies.
HB-1417 passed 186-159 which provides that the state will pay 7.5% of contributions of retirement system employers other than the state for group 1 teachers and group 2 members. This means cities such as Nashua and Manchester (not known for fiscal responsibility) can start handing out benefits packages to more teachers and the rest of the state gets to pick up the tab. Just for reference, the current amount that the state is paying is 0%.
Next up in the House…Senate bills!
The House was in session for three days this week – it was grueling! In the end, we got a lot of good things accomplished, and I am delighted to rattle off some of those victories.
1) We voted to repeal HB-1165 – the Granite State Family Leave Plan – by a vote of 172-164. This was the program that got stuffed into the budget trailer bill last year that would provide a tax-payer paid-for benefit to the 11,000 state employees at a cost that is still unknown.
2) We passed (179-153) HB-1337, relative to the duration of time a person can draw unemployment benefits. This bill ties the maximum duration for drawing unemployment benefits to the unemployment rate. This would encourage people to get back into the workforce quicker and thereby also help reduce businesses unemployment insurance costs.
3) We passed HB-1194 (183-146) to make it more difficult for municipalities to override tax caps. This bill would require a 2/3 majority instead of a simple majority.
4) We also passed HB-1667 (205-127) to expand the definition of a veteran to include National Guardsmen and Reservists for the purposes of obtaining veterans tax credits.
5) We voted to protect NH residents who work remotely for out-of-state companies from having to pay taxes on their income by passing HB-1221 (177-141).
6) We passed HB-1459 (167-145) to begin establishing the proper mechanism for the recycling of solar panels.
7) We defeated multiple efforts to eliminate or gut Education Freedom Accounts – HB-1669, HB-1672, HB-1683). I think the key take-away is that Democrats HATE the idea of parents being able to make choices regarding their children’s education.
8) We passed several bills that regard parents’ rights. HB-1434 (availability of curricula materials), HB-1431 (Parents Bill of Rights), HB-1280 (vaccine freedom), and many others.
9) We passed several bills related to professional licensing. HB-1171 exempts certain niche beauty services from license requirements; HB-1330 relative to the board of registration of medical technicians; HB-1560 relative to non-resident licensure by the board of barbering, cosmetology, and esthetics. These are all designed to help people get going in their chosen professions. These unnecessary licensing requirements have proven to be great hindrances to the job market for many people.
10) We passed HB-1022 (183-159) permitting pharmacists to dispense Ivermectin via a standing order.
11) We passed HB-1439 so people will not be left alone to die in hospitals.
12) We passed several other bills related to medical freedom.
13) We passed a repeal of the “buffer zone law”.
14) And one of the most important victories – despite a ferocious attempt to completely repeal of dismantle the Fetal Life Protection Act, we passed on a voice vote to pass HB-1673 with an amendment that keeps the Act in place and clarifies the language pertaining to the ultrasound provision.