Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shea-Porter Blasts McCutcheon Decision on House Floor

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 2, 2014
Contact:
Ben Wakana, 202-295-7608
Shea-Porter Blasts McCutcheon Decision on House Floor
“The worst affront to democracy since Citizens United”
Shea-Porter does not accept money from Corporate PACs or DC Lobbyists
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (NH-01) voiced outrage on behalf of millions of average Americans whose voices will be drowned out by today’s Supreme Court decision to give wealthy campaign donors even more influence over Congress.
“Today’s Supreme Court McCutcheon decision is the worst affront to democracy since Citizens United,” Shea-Porter said on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Today’s ruling will increase the role money plays in American politics. According to the AP, the Court’s conservative majority said that Americans have a right to give the legal maximum to candidates for Congress and president, as well as to parties and PACs, without worrying that they will violate the law when they bump up against a limit on all contributions, set at $123,200 for 2013 and 2014. That includes a separate $48,600 cap on contributions to candidates.
The ruling overturned decades of precedent on the overall campaign contributions the biggest individual donors may make to candidates, political parties, and political action committees.
Speaking for the dissent, Justice Breyer said, “today’s decision eviscerates our Nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve.”
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My comment:  

The five Republican appointees on the court, Roberts, Alito, Kennedy, Thomas and Scalia, know full well the ability of money to influence, and the ability of money to corrupt.  Yet, in Citizens United v FEC, and McCutcheon v FEC, both 5-4 decisions, the court concluded there was no connection between unbridled political spending and quid-pro quo corruption.  It decided that its overwhelming interest was in somehow "leveling the playing field" between rich and poor political participants/contributors by unleashing the overwhelming political power of the rich over the poor.  Its reasoning is based, in part, on its determination that corporations are people; thus, as with real people, corporations have a right to speech.  A 1976 court ruling determined that money is speech. The confluence of this logic merged in the court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United v FEC, the effect of which is now greatly expanded in the April 2, 2014 ruling in McCutcheon v FEC.  

The same 5 Republican appointees in another inexplicable 5 - 4 ruling last year gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965, even as some states were engaging in voter suppression.  And that suppression continues, no more outrageous than in a key swing state, Ohio, where denying Ohioans their right to vote is legendary. Justice Ginsburg speaking for the minority observed that gutting the Voting Rights Act was like "throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet."  

There is no silver lining to the rulings by our 5 - 4 "conservative," pro-business U.S. Supreme Court in Citizens United and McCutcheon … other than an angry electorate rising to a new level of involvement, determined to find trusted sources of information, using their common sense to escape the fog of bunk, and voting en mass.  An effective means of identifying the source of potential bunk is a legally enforceable disclosure law in New Hampshire… that is, a law requiring special-interest organizations engaged in political spending to register their existence with the state, and reporting their expenditures and the target of those expenditures on a timely basis.  Such a disclosure law exists in SB 120, currently winding its way through the legislature.  

Much more on debunking the myth of voter fraud and the far more effective way of altering election results in future posts.



Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

The Supreme Court Gutted the Voting Rights Act. What Happened Next in These 8 States Will Not Shock You. on Mother Jones 
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/04/republican-voting-rights-supreme-court-id


Image Credits:

Monday, April 14, 2014

What are the Differences Between Traditional Public Schools and Public Charter Schools in New Hampshire

Funding Public Education

Among the many bills considered on Wednesday, January 8, 2014, was House Bill 435 relative to funding for chartered public school pupils. This bill was considered by the House Education Committee, and because it has an "FN'" (fiscal note) designation indicating a cost to the general treasury, it was sent to a second committee, in this case, the House Finance Committee for consideration of that fiscal impact to the state's treasury and its taxpayers.  The House Education Committee report of January 8 is shown below, as well as the House Finance Committee report of March 19. 
 
EDUCATION
HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS
Rep. Anne C. Grassie for the Majority of Education. The committee felt the needs of charter schools for more financial support as well as traditional public schools are apparent, but the formula in HB 435 is not the best way to remedy these issues. Vote 10-9.
Rep. Ralph G. Boehm for the Minority of Education. This bill increases funding for charter schools to be 50 percent of the most recently available statewide average cost per pupil for public school pupils as calculated by the department of education. Charter schools are public schools but are only funded by approximately 1/3 of the cost of regular public schools. State charter schools do not receive any local funding. As a policy committee the minority believes that charter schools are a benefit to children and thus should receive more funding. 

Speaking to the bill in support of the majority committee report that day was Rep. Mary Gorman (D-Nashua), whose presentation was so informative in its description of the differences between public charter schools and traditional public schools, I post it here for general review.  Used with permission.

HOUSE BILL 435      2014  #3
 
Madame Speaker and honorable colleagues, I rise in support of the committee recommendation of inexpedient to legislate on HB 435.
 
House Bill 435 proposes to index payments to charter schools to the state’s average cost per public school pupil at the rate of 50 cents on the dollar. This is objectionable for the following reasons:

By indexing charter school funding to the state average cost per public school pupil, this bill falsely implies a relationship between the charter schools’ cost per pupil and the public schools’ cost per pupil.

Charter schools do not bear the fiscal responsibilities of public school districts. They do not have the costs associated with owning and maintaining school buildings and grounds. They are not responsible for the cost of special education, of providing alternative education, of expanding career and technical education, and providing after school sports programs. They do not pay for transportation within district. They do not have the expenses related to speech, hearing, and OT services, English Language Learner teachers, and out of district placements. They also do not serve, proportionately, sped students, students with behavioral issues, the disabled, children eligible for free and reduced lunch, or English language learners. Therefore they do not employ the specialists necessary to serve the needs of challenged students.

House Bill 435 would raise payments to charter schools by $652 per pupil for Fiscal 2013, according to the DOE estimates, when charters already receive $2000 per student above the adequacy amount awarded to public school districts

HB 435 is a request for a tax increase and undermines the State’s requirement that charter schools be self-sustaining. Charter schools purport to do more with less. They have entered into an agreement with the state knowing full well they are responsible for the fiscal sustainability of the school. This is a condition of authorization and renewal of a charter school

Under RSA 194-B:16  the state board of education may revoke a school’s charter if the school becomes insolvent or financially unstable.

Finally, by indexing charter school funding to the state average cost per public school pupil, HB 435 weakens the Legislature’s purview over adjustments to charter school payments by making them automatic.

Please join me in support of the committee report of ITL by pressing the green button
 
Thank you

Outcome:  On a roll-call vote of 129 - 156, the majority committee report of inexpedient to legislate (ITL) was defeated.  On a division vote of 168 - 134 on a motion to reconsider, the motion was adopted.  On a roll-call vote of 132 - 169 on a motion of ITL, the motion was defeated.  On a division vote of ought to pass (OTP), the motion was adopted.  Thus, the majority committee report of ITL was overturned, despite what I felt was a very persuasive presentation by Rep. Gorman.  

Below is the outcome, re:  Floor action on the House Finance Committee recommendation of refer for interim study of March 19, 2014.  

FINANCE
HB 435-FN, relative to funding for chartered public school pupils. MAJORITY: REFER FOR INTERIM STUDY. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. Susan M Ford for the Majority of Finance. This bill increases the amount paid to charter schools per student from 40% to 50% of the most recent available average cost per pupil for public school pupils, including any differentiated aid for which a pupil is eligible. The fiscal note indicates that this would increase state expenditures by $2,763,092 in FY 2015 and by an indeterminable amount in each year thereafter. In FY 09 the total General Fund expenditure for charters was $3.5 million and the estimated expenditure for next year is now over $23 million and that is without HB 435. HB 435 creates an unpredictable, but ever-increasing, General Fund obligation. If HB 435 is approved, the Department of Education projects (March 03, 2014) that it will likely cost the state $130 million over just the next 3 years as compared to $100 million under the current law. Education funding is complicated and there are many demands being made on the general fund budget by towns and cities including building aid and the need for an increase in catastrophic aid. Currently, many towns and cities are losing money to the adequacy cap and others are looking for more state support to alleviate property taxes.
With 4 new schools opening in 2015 and 10 more charter schools that are in the application process the majority of the committee was concerned with the huge, unknown, long term fiscal implication to the general fund. Educational funding of charter schools is a part of the budget, but without having solid information about the long term implications of raising the funding rate from 40% to 50%, HB 435 is irresponsible. It is the intent of the majority of the Finance Committee to analyze the charter school funding and make a recommendation based on long term predictions and for this reason moved to interim study for HB 435. Vote 13-8.
Rep. Kenneth L Weyler for the Minority of Finance. The policy of the New Hampshire Legislature is to support charter schools. HB 435 was passed out of the Committee on Education, and by the House. It was sent to the Finance Committee to assure that all the money was available to fund the increase in per student aid that the bill called for. Subsequently, the successes of the various charter schools led to requests to increase enrollments. These factors, and an increase in the average cost per student led to a requirement to decrease the per student stipend from 50% of the average annual student cost to 47.5% of the annual cost per public school student, now $13,459.40. In order to not exceed the available charter school appropriation for 2015 the stipend to each charter school student would be $6,393.22.
Although the bill, with the proposed amendment, would restore the relationship of the charter school per pupil spending to nearer what it was when the $2,000 stipend was first added, it would still fall far short of receiving the support that other public school students receive. The majority of the committee wanted interim study to be assured that going forward the extra stipend would be supported in the future. Since that vote, I have had time to look at future trends and will be presenting those figures at the debate, to show that study is unnecessary and the money is there for 2015 and for the next two biennium. 

Outcome:  The road to interim study was circuitous.  Ultimately, on a roll-call vote of 167 - 151 on the majority committee report of refer for interim study, the motion was adopted.  6 Republicans and 161 Democrats voted in support of the majority committee report; 13 Democrats and 138 Republicans voted to defeat the majority committee report.  The final vote means the House Finance Committee has retained possession of the bill for the purpose of further study. 
I have cautiously supported charter schools in the past, recognizing their value to certain students.  I also recognize the nationwide effort to undermine the public school system, criticized by too many as "government schools," under the guise of "choice," and "freedom," attempting to move students away from the public school system and into charter, private, and religious schools.     

Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources


Image Credits:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

AARP on Chairman Ryan’s Budget Proposal

For Immediate Release
April 1, 2014
CONTACT: AARP Media Relations   

WASHINGTON, DC—AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond released the following statement in reaction to House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s FY2015 budget proposal:

“As AARP reviews the details of Chairman Ryan’s proposals, we encourage members of Congress to consider the impact on real people when looking for ways to address our nation’s financial challenges.
“Chairman Ryan’s proposed budget fails to address the high costs of health care and instead shifts costs onto seniors and future retirees. Repealing the benefits of the Affordable Care Act ignores the progress we’ve made to improve access to health care and protect against discrimination based on age, gender or medical history. Removing the Medicare guarantee of affordable health coverage for older Americans by implementing a premium support system and asking seniors and future retirees to pay more is not the right direction.
“Now is the time for Congress to identify sensible changes across the healthcare system that reduce costs, including, improving care coordination between health providers, lowering drug prices and speeding up access to generic drugs, reducing unnecessary testing and services, and cracking down on fraud, waste and inefficiencies in the health system. Congress must also look at payment incentives based on quality care and improving patient outcomes rather than just the number of services performed.
“As retirement security grows ever more elusive for Americans of all ages, Medicare and Social Security have grown more important for older Americans and their families. AARP believes it would be wrong for the President or Congress to attempt to balance the budget by weakening the programs that provide the very foundation of health and retirement security for current and future generations.”
AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, with a membership of nearly 38 million, that helps people turn their goals and dreams into real possibilities, strengthens communities and fights for the issues that matter most to families such as healthcare, employment and income security, retirement planning, affordable utilities and protection from financial abuse. We advocate for individuals in the marketplace by selecting products and services of high quality and value to carry the AARP name as well as help our members obtain discounts on a wide range of products, travel, and services.  A trusted source for lifestyle tips, news and educational information, AARP produces AARP The Magazine, the world's largest circulation magazine; AARP Bulletin; www.aarp.org; AARP TV & Radio; AARP Books; and AARP en EspaƱol, a Spanish-language website addressing the interests and needs of Hispanics. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to political campaigns or candidates.  The AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. AARP has staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 
##

While the AARP's critique of the Reverse Robin Hood Ryan budget is related to its interest in matters involving older Americans, the Reverse Robin Hood Ryan budget extracts cash from the pockets of the 99 percent, and directs it to the pockets of the wealthy.  

It is important to note in the article below that rooting out fraud, as mentioned in the AARP piece, above, is critical to the financing of the Affordable Care Act; thus, a serious incentive to the success of the ACA, and a reason for the public to be confident that investigating and prosecuting fraud will remain a serious priority.              

Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

AARP   www.aarp.org.

Medicare Fraud Busts: Nearly 100 Charged In 8 Cities According To Kathleen Sebelius, Eric Holder on Huffington Post  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/14/medicare-fraud_n_3273747.html

Image Credits:

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Paul Ryan Federal Budget Takes Aim at the 99 Percent

Attention:  Mid Term Voters!

The MSNBC videos below provide some insight into the Paul Ryan federal budget, which has been submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.  Once again, Ryan's priorities are skewed to benefiting the wealthy.  According to some media reports, Republicans are confident the Ryan budget will pass their chamber, though the tea party folks are voicing dismay that the cuts are not deep enough.  As you will note, 69 percent of Ryan's budget cuts affect the middle class, and he is adamant:

America cannot afford to insure those with pre-existing conditions, nor can America afford to keep children on their parent's health plans up to age 26.    

Outlandish conclusions drawn by the congressman from Wisconsin who taxpayers support at the rate of $174,000 per year, and who, according to a 2012 Huffington Post report, puts Ryan's total wealth at $4.9 million.  

In sharp contrast, economist David Cay Johnston, in his 2006 book entitled Free Lunch, indicated the middle class has no more spending power today than it did in 1973.  Last week, however, he updated the comparison, once again in inflation-adjusted dollars, concluding the middle class has no more spending power today than it did in 1966.  
  


I don't know if anyone actually considers Rush Limbaugh to be an underpaid, benevolent spokesman fighting for the underclass, but just in case …

Celebritynetworth.com reports Limbaugh's net worth at $370 million, earning an annual salary of $70 million, derived from an eight-year, $400 million contract with Clear Channel Communications that began in 2008; and broadcasts his show from a $26 million ocean-front home in West Palm Beach, Florida.  Limbaugh also owns a penthouse condo on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.  

In a June, 2013 post, Forbes magazine cites his annual salary at $66 million.

In a 2008 post, Business Insider reported his annual salary at $38 million per year for 8 years, with a $100 million signing bonus, his contract ending in 2016.  

Whatever the actual numbers, there will be those who conclude he is a straight shooter and worth every penny.  There will be those who believe he is a well-paid propagandist who, like the rest of us, will one day worry about his health, but not his healthcare … able to travel anywhere to access the best treatment the world has to offer, and eliminate piles of paperwork by paying cash for services rendered him.

I note here that HB 790 was signed into law on July 17, 2007, by Gov. John Lynch.  It had passed the Democratically controlled House of Representatives on a motion of ought to pass by a roll-call vote of 231 - 118, and was sent to the senate for consideration.  The Democratically controlled senate amended the house version, passing it on a roll-call vote of 13 -10.  It was sent back to the house for consideration of the amendment.  The house agreed with the amendment, and on a motion of ought to pass with amendment, the motion was adopted by voice vote.  

Thereafter, effective September 15, 2007, insurance companies doing business in New Hampshire were required to allow children under the age of 26 to remain on their parent's health insurance plan.  Its passage has surely benefited thousands of New Hampshire families  This protection has since become one of the benefits provided through the Affordable Care Act on a national scale, now benefiting millions of America's families.  Since one congress cannot bind a future congress, and one state legislature cannot bind a future state legislature, laws are only laws, and they can come and go, depending on who occupies the chairs in Washington and in the states.

It is not too early to mark your calendars:  The New Hampshire State Primary Election is Tuesday, September 9; the New Hampshire State General Election is Tuesday, November 4.  

Much more to come on the Ryan budget and personal accounts of how the Affordable Care Act has already changed people's lives for the better.      

Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

Dangerous ideas’ from the Ryan budget on MSNBC

Comeback story of the year? Obamacare on MSNBC


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Thursday, April 3, 2014

Portsmouth Forum on Campaign Finance Reform April 7

Campaign Finance Reform April 7, 2014

Portsmouth - On Monday, April 7, at 7:00 pm the Portsmouth Democratic Committee will host a forum entitled “Saving Our Democracy: The Need for Campaign Finance Reform.”  The event will focus on the legislation in Congress and the New Hampshire Legislature aimed at reforming the way political campaigns are funded.

The event will be held at the Portsmouth Public Library, 175 Parrott Avenue, in the Levenson Community Room.  Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

Speaking at the forum will be John Rauh, Chair of the Board of Americans for Campaign Reform; Martha Fuller Clark, State Senator from Portsmouth representing District 21; Bob Perry, State Representative from Strafford who serves on the Election Law Committee; and Jeff McLean, Executive Director of Call a Convention and a leader in NH Rebellion.  Norm Patenaude of Portsmouth will be the moderator.  There will be ample opportunity for audience questions.

“Reforming our broken campaign finance system is absolutely essential to keep our democracy alive,” said Larry Drake, Chairperson of the Portsmouth Democratic Committee.  “With the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and billionaires like the Koch Brothers pouring millions of dollars into attack ads, this is a top priority.  I encourage anyone interested in learning more about this important subject to attend.”

WHO: Portsmouth Democratic Committee

WHAT: Forum on Campaign Finance Reform

WHERE:  Portsmouth Public Library, Levenson Community Room
                   175 Parrott Avenue, Portsmouth, NH 03801

WHEN: Monday, April 7th, 7:00 PM EST

###

Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

Portsmouth Democratic Committee   http://www.portsmouthdemocrats.org/  

A Storm's Coming on Campaign Finance on ThinkProgress  http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2009/06/30/176652/a-storms-coming-on-campaign-finance/

Image Credits:
http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2009/06/30/176652/a-storms-coming-on-campaign-finance/

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 25 and 26, 2014 Legislative Session Day Highlights Medicaid Expansion Bill Signed Into Law

Regular Calendar - Part 1

FINANCE

HB 1372-FN-A, making an appropriation for the ongoing training and education of pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT. MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Bernard L Benn for the Majority of Finance. This bill passed the Children and Family Law Committee on a 14-0 vote and the House on a voice vote. As stated in the report, “New Hampshire is in dire circumstances with regard to examination and protection of children who have been sexually abused. We are now down to one physician in the entire state certified to do these critical evaluations”. Finance held a full committee hear- ing and Division I held two long work sessions to understand the nature of the proposed expenditures needed to create a pediatric sexual assault nurse examiners training program. Testimony indicated the urgency to establish this program to train additional qualified examiners; “when there are concerns about possible sexual abuse, a prompt, accurate and comprehensive evaluation is imperative” in order to prosecute the guilty and protect the innocent. The department of safety joined the law enforcement community in support of this bill and program. The majority of the committee recommends amendment #0881h which simplifies the original bill by combining separate expenditures for software and training into one appropriation for the training program. The single, one time $20k appropriation can be made, without changing any line item in the current budget, from an unanticipated $27k surplus from the Massachusetts flood control settlement payments. Vote 15-10. 
Rep. Lynne M Ober for the Minority of Finance. While the Minority found this bill well intentioned, it had a number of issues. The bill, as amended, proposes to provide $20,000 in 2014 for one year’s worth of expenses for the pediatric sexual assault nurse examiner [SANE] training program, which would require reopening this biennium’s budget to add budget lines and an appropriation. The money would be given by DOJ to a third party as part of their grant program. Because this is a grant program with money given to a third party, there will be no state oversight of expenditures or purchases. Nor will the required state bidding process for large purchases be followed. A budget was provided during Finance Division I committee deliberations show- ing how the $20,000 is expected to be spent. Basically that amount would be divided into two equal parts of $10,000 each. Expectations for $10,000 is that one part would be used to lease software needed to support the one week training class and the other part would pay a stipend to Dartmouth Hitchcock Technical Staff. The second $10,000 would be paid to the only pediatric sexual assault doctor in New Hampshire to provide clinical oversight of records for those who complete the one week training program. The issues that the minor- ity could not resolve during the time we had to work on the bill were: 1. There is only one pediatric sexual assault doctor currently practicing in NH and this program will not train other doctors. 2. No one explained why Dartmouth-Hitchcock technical staff was being provided a stipend of several thousand dollars. 3. No one explained why technical staff at Dartmouth-Hitchcock were chosen especially as we have software and network experts in our own department of information technology. 4. No estimate for number of nurses to be trained if money for was provided. 5. No estimate of the number of existing and practicing SANE nurses in NH if money was provided, but we did learn there is only one doctor. 6. This is not a new need as sexual assault, unfortunately, has been around for generations. Additionally there has long been a well-documented need for qualified medical and health professionals to deal with sexual assault victims. Therefore, we felt this should have been part of last year’s extensive budget review, including a review and oversight by the governor before she presented her budget to the legislature. 7. We already have a number of programs that have been approved but are not receiving monetary support or full monetary support. Examples are school construction aid, a variety of HHS programs, catastrophic aid for children and we were concerned about starting a new program when we cannot support our existing base of approved programs. 8. No one would respond to questions about funding for this program in 2015 or following years except to say they hoped they would get a federal grant. What if they don’t? 9. We have not been paying for training for other professionals who are required to take continuing education courses in order to continue working. Examples of this are teachers and school nurses. Faced with these unresolved issues and concerned about the questionable fairness to existing, but unfunded programs, the minority believed this bill should not be passed.
Outcome:  On a voice vote to move the majority committee amendment 0881h, the committee amendment was adopted.  By a division vote of 188 - 119, the majority committee report of ought to pass with amendment (OTP/A) was adopted.   

HB 1581-FN-A, relative to the bonding of project costs for certain department of transportation bridge capital projects. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. Robert J Elliott for the Majority of Finance. The intent of HB 1581 has 3 parts. First, it allows the New Hampshire department of transportation to issue bonds on the credit of the State of New Hampshire to repair or replace state owned red list bridges. Second, the borrowing authority is restricted so that at no time shall total highway fund bonded obligations exceed 50 million dollars under this section of RSA 228 and total debt service does not exceed 10% of the unrestricted highway fund revenues for the previous fiscal years. Thirdly, this is a tool for DOT to make emergency repairs to red list bridges and any debt service incurred against the highway fund will reduce funding for routine maintenance and repairs of the highway system. Vote 20-3.
Rep. Dan McGuire for the Minority of Finance. The purpose of this bill is to allow the department of transportation to quickly borrow money should an emergency cause a bridge to be unusable. However, the language of the bill is too broad. It allows borrowing for red list OR closed bridges. Since repair of red list bridges is a normal DOT function, the bill would allow bonding of operating expenses. The minority’s amendment closes this loop hole.
Outcome:  On a voice vote to move the majority committee amendment 0869h, the committee amendment was adopted.  On a voice vote to move the minority floor amendment 1137h, the amendment was adopted.  By a division vote of 260 - 56, the majority committee report of OTP/A was adopted.
SB 413, below, represents the culmination of months of pubic hearings and negotiation among house and senate conferees to expand healthcare/health insurance to 50,000 of New Hampshire's working poor.  Expansion of Medicaid was originally a mandate under the Affordable Care Act, but upon court challenge, the mandate was lifted, leaving the decision to expand Medicaid to the states.  

SB 413-FN-A, relative to access to health insurance coverage. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS. MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Sharon Nordgren for the Majority of Finance. SB 413 provides affordable health coverage for about 50,000 people in New Hampshire, most of them working and paying taxes, but with low incomes – lower than about $16,000 for an individual. The bill uses 100% federal funding to help people afford private insurance. For people who have access to insurance through an employer but can’t afford it right now, federal funds will be used to pay their premiums and deductibles – about 13,000 people are expected to get coverage this way. The majority of the qualifying population will temporarily attain coverage through private managed care companies, and will then transition to the marketplace in 2016 where they can select a private insurance plan and we will use the federal funds to cover their premiums and deductibles.  Enrollment begins May 1, 2014 or as soon thereafter as is practicable with coverage beginning July 1, 2014 or as soon thereafter as is practicable. There are hard sunsets if necessary waivers are not attained as prescribed and the program is immediately terminated if the federal funding for benefits falls below 100%. Vote 15-10. 
Rep. Neal M Kurk for the Minority of Finance. The minority believes it important that low-income New Hampshire adults have health insurance but in a way that is affordable to New Hampshire taxpayers over the long term. The majority would provide this coverage by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare) but without thoughtful and reasonable financial safeguards. The minority proposed two such safeguards in amendments which the majority rejected. One required federal waivers be obtained before the program begins; the other put participation and dollar “caps” on the program to protect taxpayers against runaway costs.
The majority’s plan terminates if certain federal waivers are not approved and, in any event on December 31, 2016, when the 100% federal funding ends. Common sense tells us that, as a practical matter, the program is very likely to be extended and permanently expand welfare in New Hampshire. It would be naïve to believe otherwise. The cost of insuring the 50,000 able-bodied but low-income adults who, it is estimated, will qualify for the program is significant – about $340 million a year once the program is up and running. This cost will be fully paid by our federal tax dollars until 2017, when the federal share declines until it covers 90% of that cost in 2021 and beyond. Some administrative costs will be picked up by the state. In the current biennium, the net administrative cost will be $3.9 million. But by the 2022/23 biennium, the estimated cost of the state’s 10% share of the health care part of the program will be $40-45 million. This is more than our existing revenue structure can support.
Expanding Medicaid as proposed by the majority creates other problems:
1. Waiting times for medical and surgical appointments, already lengthy, will increase for those of us who are already insured. Despite some claims to the contrary, our health care system on the whole has little slack. 2. Disincentives for low-income individuals to accept additional hours, wage increases or promotions in order to better themselves are built into expanded Medicaid, as those who accept them and see their incomes rise may see their free health care eliminated.
3. The national debt will increase by some $340 million for each year New Hampshire participates in expanded Medicaid.
4. Those individuals buying and paying for part of their health insurance through the exchanges will have a narrow provider network – fewer choices of hospitals and doctors – while, under the bill, those on Medicaid managed care who pay nothing for their care will have a wider provider network. This is inherently unfair. 5. Eligibility for expanded Medicaid is based on income only and not on assets, so that a 50-year old with 250 acres of land and a very low income qualifies for free health insurance – and gets to bequeath the land to his or her children at taxpayer expense. This, too, is inherently unfair.
Expanding Medicaid is not the New Hampshire way to meet the health care needs of low-income adults.
Outcome:  The following motions were all made by members of the minority party:  1)  On a motion to special order this bill to the end of the day with no justification other than this bill not having a deadline of March 27, unlike others on the day's calendar, the motion to special order failed by a roll-call vote of 134 - 186.  Thereafter, a procedural protest was conducted by those who opposed the vote and/or those opposed to expansion of Medicaid.   A procedural protest consists of members approaching the house clerk staff with the members' formal, written objection, which is preserved and recorded.  2)  By a roll-call vote of 137 - 189 to move floor amendment 0116h, the motion failed.  3)  By a roll-call vote of 138 - 191 to move floor amendment 1118h, the motion failed.   4)  By a roll-call vote of 131 - 196 to move floor amendment 1136h, the motion failed.  5)  By a roll-call vote of 137 - 190 to move floor amendment 1138h, the motion failed.  6)  By a roll-call vote of 134 - 193 to move floor amendment 1152h, the motion failed.  7)  By a roll-call vote of 138 - 191 to move floor amendment 1157h, the motion failed.  8) By a roll-call vote of 127 - 198 to move floor amendment 1135h, the motion failed.  9)  By a roll-call vote of 129 - 197 on a motion to move floor amendment 1147h, the motion failed.  10)  On a roll-call vote of 202 - 132 on the majority committee report of OTP, the motion was adopted.  Thus, history would be created with passage into law the next day of expanded Medicaid in New Hampshire, and removal of the State of New Hampshire from the list of states knowingly denying affordable healthcare/health insurance to those with few other options.  
11 Republicans joined with 191 Democrats in support of passage; 1 "Democrat" joined with 131 Republicans in support of defeat.
The issues raised by the amendments were either considered by the Commission which met for months in public session last year, considered by the House last fall,  or were considered by the Senate and House most recently when compromise was ultimately reached, in total being vetted by 5 committees.  One speaker conceded repeal of Medicaid expansion will be impossible in the future because of the program's popularity; thus, today opponents would give it their best shot to prevent implementation.
The Affordable Care Act was key to expanding healthcare/health insurance, given the Act's administrative and economic capacity.  It is highly unlikely any legislature would have acted unilaterally to expand needed medical services in the same way the New Hampshire legislature could act today.  The Affordable Care Act provided the conduit for the New Hampshire legislature to take up the option to expand or deny medical care/medical insurance.  Among the 50,000 assisted by today's vote, many will receive medical benefits for the first time.  SB 413 is not about expanding the welfare state, as critics assert; it is about our moral responsibility as Americans to consider the health needs of others, minimizing the number of folks left behind to fend for themselves in isolation, enabling them to stand on their own two feet in good health with the rest of us.  
Meanwhile, our most notable new resident, Scott Brown, former proud resident of Massachusetts and likely Republican candidate for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, vows to do his best to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  I don't in any way wish him luck in that venture.  Dear reader:  Elections have consequences.  
See photos, below, of the signing of this historic bill into law by Gov. Maggie Hassan, which took place at approximately 12:50 P.M., Thursday, March 26, with public participation at the office of the governor, New Hampshire State House.
Link below to the Governor's presentation immediately prior to her signing the bill into law:
http://www.governor.nh.gov/media/speeches/sb413.htm


HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS

HB 1615, relative to emergency prescriptions. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT. MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Susan J Ticehurst for the Majority of Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs. A pharmacist may dispense an emergency 72 hour supply of medication while awaiting insurance authorization when medication is essential to the maintenance of life or to the continuation of therapy in a chronic condition, or the interrup- tion of therapy may result in physical or mental discomfort. If authorization is denied, reimbursement shall be pro-rated, based on the terms of the provider contract. This bill assures that patients receive essential medication in a timely manner and also that pharmacists are reimbursed for what they dispense. Vote 17-1.
Rep. Richard E Meaney for the Minority of Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs. This bill forces insurers to pay for non-covered, non-contractual prescriptions without opportunity to evaluate the requested non-formulary prescription. The only rationale apparent for such a directive is that insurers have more money than do pharmacists and patients. The minority believes that patients who seek non-covered medications should pay for the medication, rather than forcing a third party to pay for the transaction between a pharma- cist and a patient. Consumers should pay for the products they consume, barring an agreement to the contrary.
Outcome:  On a voice vote to move the majority committee amendment, the amendment was adopted.  By a division vote of 269 - 53, the majority committee report of  OTP/A was adopted.


JUDICIARY

HB 1504, providing that life begins at conception. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. MINOR- ITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Charlene F. Takesian for the Majority of Judiciary. The majority of the committee felt that the deter- mination of when life begins is up to biologists and theologists and not to be determined by the legislature through an RSA. The majority of the committee felt that giving legal status to a fertilized egg would create numerous issues with regard to biologic research and infringe on reproductive freedom of women. Vote 14-3. Rep. Lenette M. Peterson for the Minority of Judiciary. The minority of the committee believes that there is significant scientific evidence which supports the premise that a human life begins at conception. Accord- ing to basic embryology and fetology, a biological human life exists from the moment of fertilization as the creation of a completed and unique strand of genetic material (DNA) is present. In vitro misdiagnoses leading to termination of life, pre-selection of gender as we have seen in other countries, elimination of babies with down syndrome instead of allowing those with disabilities the ability to live, are just a few of the decisions that would be handled differently if the unborn baby were actually considered a human being not a fetus.
Outcome:  By a roll-call vote of 214 - 95, the majority committee report of inexpedient to legislate (ITL) was adopted.  


HB 1591-FN, establishing the right-to-know grievance commission. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT. MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Rick H. Watrous for the Majority of Judiciary. Although the committee heard much testimony about the weaknesses of New Hampshire’s right-to-know law (RSA 91-A) and the need for such a citizen commission, this bill as amended by the committee no longer establishes a right-to-know grievance commission. However, it does strengthen the public’s right-to-know by making two changes to the notice requirement of public meetings under RSA 91-A:2. First, it requires a 72 hour (3 day) notice of public meetings, instead of the existing 24 hour notice. Second, it requires that the agenda of a meeting be posted, so that citizens know what the meeting is about. The majority believes that these simple changes would result in a more informed and involved public, and more responsible governing bodies. Existing exemptions for emergency meetings and legislative committees would still apply. Many governing bodies already post agendas and provide 72 hour (or more) notice of meetings. But some governing bodies don’t bother to inform the public what a meeting is about, and only post notice the night before the meeting. This leaves the public in the dark. Article 8 of the New Hampshire Constitution states that government must be open, accessible and accountable. Requiring that notices and agendas of public meetings be posted 72 hours in advance would serve our citizens and result in more governmental accountability and transparency. Vote 9-8.
Rep. Charlene F. Takesian for the Minority of Judiciary. The original bill had two sections. The first estab- lished a right-to-know grievance commission. The second section changes the timeframe for notification of a meeting from 24 hours to 72 hours and requires that an agenda be posted. The committee considered several amendments to the bill. All the votes were very close but did not pass. The amendment that passed dealt only with the issue of notice. The committee had already passed HB1156 as amended that will make some changes to the right-to-know law and create a right-to-know oversight commission to consider a number of issues including how best to address grievances. The minority felt that if the 24 hours was not being adhered to, changing it to 72 wouldn’t solve any problems and the oversight commission in HB 1156, with a strong public membership, was the more effective way to address all these issues.
Outcome:   On a voice vote to move amendment 0658h, the amendment was adopted.  By a division vote of 248 - 66 on a motion to table, the motion was adopted.  This bill turned out to be popular from a transparency viewpoint, but unpopular among the state's municipalities indicating 72-hour compliance would be difficult at best.  


LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES

HB 1228, establishing a commission to investigate the procedure for public employee collective bargaining. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Linda L Tanner for the Majority of Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services. Although the committee felt there are problems in the current collective bargaining process, it was felt that a large commission would prove counter productive to solving specific problems. HB 178 which was passed by this committee last session works to address some of these issues and those data gathering efforts should be given time to work. Vote 15-2. Rep. Charles F Weed for the Minority of Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services. The minority knows that there are substantial problems associated with RSA 273a, Public Employee Collective Bargaining. This study committee was to look into whether “one size fits all” is the most appropriate process for very different employer management structures and public employee unions. It is especially apparent in the conflict resolution stages of bargaining. When impasse is declared, mediation is attempted; if that fails, then fact-finding occurs. Each side of the impasse can accept or reject the factfinder’s report. At this point, current law states that the factfinder’s recommendations will be submitted to the legislative body of the public employer, which shall vote to accept or reject the report. In cases where management (the board of trustees-USNH v faculty, city councilman v municipal employees, or aldermen v municipal workers)appoints and closely supervises representatives to negotiate for them, management is inextricably related to the legislative body. For all intents and purposes, management is the same as the legislative body. The intent of factfinding was to be the usual end of impasse, but it often leads to an endless cycle of renegotiation, which may explain the inordinate number of contracts in NH that remain unresolved for years beyond expiration dates. In other states, some form of binding arbitration has been adopted to resolve this kind of conflict. The problems of public employee collective bargaining cannot be resolved until an unbiased systematic study identifies current weaknesses.
Outcome:  On a voice vote of inexpedient to legislate, the majority committee report was adopted.  

HB 1499-FN, making changes in the maximum weekly benefit amount of unemployment compensation. OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. Andrew A White for Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services. This bill provides a modest increase in weekly unemployment insurance allowances for many unemployed workers by increasing the benefit from between $3.00 and $25.00 per week. The last increase in unemployment insurance across all tiers took place in 2002 – making it nearly 12 years since most unemployed workers have seen any increase. 
During the time of significant economic depression the business community stepped up and supported gradual increases in the taxable base unemployment tax as well as two 0.5% emergency surcharges, employees also shared in the sacrifice, giving up the first week of payable benefits.
Today the unemployment trust fund is at a very healthy $234 million dollars. Both emergency surcharges have been removed and soon, two additional tax reduction triggers will be hit, saving the business community a total of $106 million dollars annually. That is compared with the annual cost of the benefits increases for laid off workers in this bill of only $4.8 million
The proposed benefit increases will not take effect until January 1, 2015. The current projections for the unemployment compensation trust fund forecast the fund reaching and maintaining a balance of over $275 million thus causing a full 1% tax rate reduction for all employers effective for the 4th quarter of 2014. Therefore, the proposed benefit increases will not impact whether the trust fund performs as currently projected and employers realize the discussed tax savings. This is a very important and desperately needed boost for New Hampshire’s 11,621 unemployed, and also our local economy. Vote 17-0.
Outcome:  On a voice vote to move the committee amendment, the amendment was adopted.  On a voice vote on the committee report of OTP/A, the report was adopted.  

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENERGY

HB 1600, relative to reporting of energy production for net metering. OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT. Rep. Marjorie J Shepardson for Science, Technology and Energy. This bill would make it more financially viable for a homeowner who is producing a small amount of energy with solar panels to apply for renewable energy credits (REC’s). As it stands now, an independent monitor has to visit the home and read a special meter at a cost to the homeowner. The money they would get from REC’s wouldn’t be much more than what they pay out in fees. This bill makes it possible for the owner to report his production electronically and save the fee to have someone come out and read his meter. Vote 14-2.
Outcome:  On a voice vote to move the committee amendment 0785h, the amendment was adopted.  By a division vote of 262 - 49, the committee recommendation of OTP/A was adopted.  

HB 1602, relative to the divestiture of PSNH assets. OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. David A Borden for Science, Technology and Energy. This bill authorizes the Public Utilities Commis- sion (PUC) to determine whether it is in the economic interest of retail customers for the generation assets of Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) to be divested or retired. There is general consensus that the PUC is the proper venue to make this determination in the best interests of those customers. Vote 11-1.
Outcome:  On a voice vote to move the committee amendment 0781h,, the amendment was adopted.  By a division vote of 133 - 180 on a motion to table, the motion failed.  By a division vote of 185 - 134, the committee report of  OTP/A was adopted.



Regular Calendar - Part 1

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY

HB 366-FN, relative to showing a ballot. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT. MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
Rep. Latha Mangipudi for the Majority of Criminal Justice and Public Safety. The Committee amended the penalty part from misdemeanor to violation and made no change in any other part of this bill. Vote 9-6. Rep. Steve Vaillancourt for the Minority of Criminal Justice and Public Safety. Although the Minority agrees that the committee acted wisely in reducing the penalty from a misdemeanor to a violation, we believe this remains a very bad bill. First, it is not needed because we already have laws which prohibit people from sell- ing their votes for financial gain, and that was the only reason supporters gave for passing the bill. Secondly, it is a bill which could never be enforced since no election official will be able to get into the voting booth with a voter. Heaven forbid that we ever get to the point of intrusion into our private lives as this bill in fact contemplates us doing. Thirdly, the Minority believes it is probably not even a good idea to prevent exuber- ant voters from posting pictures of their ballots. Such a posting could lead to more interest in our elections and to more people voting which, presumably, we all agree is a good thing. Thus, if this bill is to pass at all, the Minority suggests a further amendment which would clearly note that posting a photo of a ballot is only illegal if one does it for financial gain. That, according the Secretary of State, was the original intent of this bill. Fine, if that was the intent, we should clarify the wording before passing this bill which sadly would still be a solution looking for a problem that does not exist. As the NHACLU noted told the committee, this bill as drafted is overly broad. As such, it represents an intrusion on free speech. It fights a bogey man, which does not exist, at the expense of yielding even more of our freedoms, in this case free speech, as guaranteed by the Federal and State constitutions. At a time when more states, such as Maine, are moving toward free- dom in the voting process, passing this bill in any form would represent an unfortunate step in precisely the wrong direction. At least, the committee managed to remove the misdemeanor which could have carried the penalty of a year in prison or at $2000 fine. For the simple act of posting one’s ballot on the Internet, now that would have been a travesty.
Outcome:  On a voice vote to move the majority committee amendment 1051h,, the committee amendment was adopted.  By a division vote of 149 - 162, the motion to table was defeated.  By a division vote of 198 - 96, the majority committee report of OTP/A was adopted.


HB 1122-FN, (New Title) relative to the filing with a registry of deeds of a fraudulent document purporting to create a lien or claim against real property. OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. Andrew S O’Hearne for Criminal Justice and Public Safety. The committee heard testimony on HB 1122- FN and felt the penalty should be a higher one than was presented in the original bill. It was also felt this was a problem at the registry of deeds and this would help solve the problem. Vote 15-0.
Outcome:  On a voice vote to move the committee amendment 1052h,, the committee amendment was adopted.  By a voice vote, the committee report of OTP/A was adopted.


HB 1135-FN, relative to penalties for driving without a license. OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Robert R Cushing for Criminal Justice and Public Safety. This bill makes the penalty for driving without a license the same as driving after license has been revoked or suspended – a misdemeanor. The inconsistency in penalties for driving without a license come to light after a tragic crash in Hampton last September involving an unlicensed driver that claimed the lives of 2 people. The committee felt driving without a license is a serious threat to public safety and should be a misdemeanor instead of a violation. Vote 16-0.
Outcome:  On a roll-call vote of 261 - 45, the committee recommendation of OTP was adopted.                                                           
EDUCATION

HB 1239-FN-L, relative to the implementation of new educational standards. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Rick M Ladd for the Majority of Education. For the past seven years the New Hampshire department of education (DOE) has been creating and implementing upgraded educational standards. School districts have been actively transforming their curriculum to these new standards for the past four years. The cost for this transformation has been incorporated into the budgets of school districts as a normal cost of doing business. The majority of the committee was not convinced that there was a need for the cost study as demanded in the legislation. Further, this proposal would bring a halt to the progress being made in transforming schools to meet the 21st century skills needed by our students. Vote 13-6.
Rep. Glenn Cordelli for the Minority of Education. The minority believes that this bill is about open and transparent government. It addresses the ongoing conversations about the cost of the implementation of common core by requiring the BOE, DOE and local district to do an analysis of the costs for implementation. It also requires that for any NEW standards the BOE and DOE to do a fiscal analysis of costs and an evalu- ation of proposed standards. In addition, public hearings will be required in each executive council district. We believe that it is better to have these discussions prior to standard adoption rather than later. There was also a misconception in the committee that this would block common core implementation, but it does not. 
Outcome:  On a roll-call vote of 182 - 124, the majority committee report of ITL was adopted.  


HB 1397, establishing a committee to study whether the department of education is operating within its statutory authority. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS. Rep. Mel Myler for the Majority of Education. The majority of the committee was not persuaded for the need of such a study. For the past several years the education department has been transforming academic standards and measures of student achievement by working with local school stakeholders to ready students for college and career readiness. Also, the division of instruction is an operational title of the legally defined division of educational improvement. The functions of the division are the same as defined in state law. Lastly, the majority feels that the department is acting in accordance with its statutory authority. Vote 14-5.
Rep. Glenn Cordelli for the Minority of Education. The minority believes that this bill raises several issues that should be examined. One such issue is that of departments entering into agreements with third parties that obligate or restrict the state.
Outcome:  On a division vote of 228 - 97, the majority committee report of ITL was adopted.  


HB 1432, delaying implementation of certain statewide assessments and studying the effects of delaying implementation of certain curriculum changes in the public schools. MAJORITY: REFER FOR INTERIM STUDY. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. Judith T Spang for the Majority of Education. The committee considered this bill, and two amendments, at length and decided that while it offered opportunities to study questions around student assessments, it is not ready for prime time. The Interim Study in this case represents a genuine commitment on the part of committee to provide for a comprehensive evaluation of statewide student assessments in general, and as applied to smarter balance in New Hampshire, in particular. Vote 8-7.
Rep. Rick M Ladd for the Minority of Education. Placing HB 1432, as amended, in Interim Study only serves to further delay NHDOE in providing findings and recommendations to the legislative oversight committee regarding smarter balanced assessment and the statewide assessment program.
Outcome:  On a roll-call vote of 183 - 150, the majority committee report of refer for interim study was adopted.  


HB 1496, relative to the objectivity and validity of student assessment materials. REFER FOR INTERIM STUDY.
Rep. Barbara E Shaw for Education. The committee agrees that both HB 1496 and HB 1262 bring out excel- lent points with regards to student privacy and testing assessment validity. In this bill, there needs to be clarification of portions that refer to family educational rights and privacy act (FERPA). Due to the technical and specific nature of questions relating to local and federal law, the committee agrees to study this bill and report it out in the fall. Vote 15-3.
Outcome:  On a roll-call vote of 210  - 123, the majority committee report of refer for interim study was adopted.  


HB 1508-FN, terminating state participation in the common core educational standards. MAJORITY: IN- EXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Rick M Ladd for the Majority of Education. In 2010, the NH state board of education adopted the common core standards in math and language arts. These standards delineate what children should know and be able to do at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college or career readiness in support of RSA 193-C:3.I.(a) and III.(a). Common core is not a curriculum; it’s up to school districts to choose curriculum materials and to provide instruction that leads toward success in attain- ing the standards. The state board of Education has adopted the K-12 standards, and local school boards can accept, reject or strengthen the standards. The standards are supported by the NH Business and Industry Association, US Chamber of Commerce and the NH Business Roundtable. Companies such as Exxon Mobil, Intel Corporation and State Farm Insurance recognize that we need to improve educational outcomes in every subject. The Fordham Foundation rated NH’s old standards against the Common Core standards; NH’s old standards received a “C” in English/Language Arts and a “D” in mathematics. Common Core standards received a “B+” and “A respectively. To remain competitive and to meet future workforce needs, the Granite State needs to raise the standards bar for our graduating students in order that they will be career and college ready. Vote 13-6.
Rep. Glenn Cordelli for the Minority of Education. The minority believes that New Hampshire should strive for the highest standards and do better than common core. Common core is the result of the merging of big business and big technology. It has been adopted in states, including New Hampshire, based upon the car- rot of funds from the federal government. We have heard that this continues local control of education, but we disagree. The standards are copyrighted and can only be changed by 15%. These standards are directly linked to the mandated state-wide assessments. The committee heard testimony from many parents – all in support of HB 1508. New Hampshire can do better.
Outcome:  On a roll-call vote of 201 - 138, the majority committee report of ITL was adopted.  As stated by Rep. Ladd, a retired school principal, Common Core is not a mandated curriculum; it merely sets standards for expectations of proficiency for various grades that, at local option, can be rejected, lowered, or raised.   The new approach to teaching understandably frustrates some parents who conclude they have lost the ability to assist their children with schoolwork.  Contrary to its critics who insist Common Core is a Big Government mandate, it is not;  It is completely voluntary, adopted or not, by local boards after public meetings, having its genesis in the nation's governors and corporate leaders working together to focus educational instruction to prepare students for the global workplace.   

This background, compliments of Wikipedia:  
In the 1990s the "Standards & Accountability Movement" began in the US, as states began writing standards outlining what students were expected to know and be able to do at each grade level, and implementing assessment designed to measure whether students were meeting the standards.[2] As part of this education reform movement, the nation’s governors and corporate leaders founded Achieve, Inc. in 1996 as a bipartisan organization to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability in all 50 states.[3] The initial motivation for the development of the Common Core State Standards was part of the American Diploma Project (ADP).[4]
A 2004 report, titled Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma That Counts, found that both employers and colleges are demanding more of high school graduates than in the past. According to Achieve, Inc., "current high-school exit expectations fall well short of [employer and college] demands." The report explained that the major problem currently facing the American school system is that high school graduates were not provided with the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed in college and careers: "While students and their parents may still believe that the diploma reflects adequate preparation for the intellectual demands of adult life, in reality it falls far short of this common-sense goal." The report said that the diploma itself lost its value because graduates could not compete successfully beyond high school, and that the solution to this problem is a common set of rigorous standards.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES

HB 1189, relative to temporary worker rights. MAJORITY: REFER FOR INTERIM STUDY. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. Charles F Weed for the Majority of Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services. The bill proposes to provide protections to temporary workers; the majority believes that this is a good bill, and that this growing category of workers needs regulatory protection through the state. However, a technical oversight in drafting an amendment requires a delay, and will enable a closer look at some of the few remaining issues that were inadequately addressed in the final amendment presented to the committee before it receives prime time deliberation by the house. Vote 13-4.
Rep. Douglas A Ley for the Minority of Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services. The minority believes this to be a strong and viable bill, however due to technical errors and omissions in the drafting of an amend- ment, the bill fell short of full committee support. The minority preferred to have an additional opportunity to correct the identified and agreed upon errors so as to pass this measure to aid a growing number of tem- porary workers in New Hampshire.
Outcome:  On a division vote of 264  - 30, the majority committee report of refer for interim study was adopted.  


PUBLIC WORKS AND HIGHWAYS

HB 2014, relative to the state 10-year transportation improvement program. OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. David B Campbell for Public Works and Highways. HB 2014 is the Ten-Year Transportation Improve- ment Plan for the State of New Hampshire, covering the period from 2015 - 2024. It allocates over the next ten years the federal transportation projects, turnpike maintenance and improvements, and the state programs of betterment and highway & bridge aid to municipalities.
The approximate allocated totals are: $1,820 million in Federal Highway Aid, $448 million for Aeronautics, Rail and Transit, $415 million for Turnpikes, $245 million in Betterment and $127 million in State Highway and Bridge Aid.
Every two years, GACIT (Governor’s Advisory Commission on Intermodal Transportation) via the Governor submits recommendations to the Legislature, this year as HB 2014. The recommendations are specific to transportation improvements and are listed alphabetically by municipality. Projects and transportation pri- orities are initially set forth with the input of the regional planning offices and numerous statewide public hearings. Because of the declining statewide infrastructure and the dire need to maintain and repair our roads and bridges, this year’s bill as introduced was heavier on preservation of existing infrastructure and lighter on new projects. Significantly, the project to improve and widen I-93 between Exit 3 in Windham and the split in Manchester was still underfunded by $250 million. The Public Works & Highways Committee held a series of public hearings and work sessions on HB 2014.

This Plan makes three major assumptions: 1) because of lack of state funds this Plan assumes (as all Ten Year Plan’s have since 2008) that all state matches for federal projects utilize turnpike toll credits for the state’s fund share, instead of a cash contribution (which results in $30 million a year less in actual road and bridge projects and maintenance); 2) that the level of federal transportation funding remains unchanged; and 3) that the inflation rate of construction is 3% annually over the 10 year period. In its work, the committee recognized both the tremendous financial costs necessary to maintain and repair present state and municipal roads and bridges and the lack of adequate revenue to meet these competing and worthy needs. Therefore, the committee scrutinized the Plan to further reprioritize projects and maximize funding options, in order to fix as many roads and bridges as possible, while continuing to remain committed to the funding of the state’s number one transportation project, the widening of I-93, and the state’s number one red list bridge, the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth.
HB 2014 as amended does the following:
• reallocates the Betterment program’s guard rail replacement ($1.2m each year) in favor of secondary road rehabilitation among the six DOT districts and also transfers the federal monies for renumbering the exits on the interstates to pave rural collector roads ($1.1 million - one-time money).
• addresses the 100 worst (out of 140) state red list bridges (the problem is that more bridges come on the list each year than go off).
• includes bridge preservation work on an average of 25 state bridges per year (to keep even more bridges from going on the red list).
• replaces or repairs the current 24 red list weight restricted (E-2) bridges.
• incorporates some of each regional planning commissions’ highest priority projects.
• reprioritizesoreliminatescertainTurnpikeimprovementswhicharefundedsolelyfromtollplazarevenue. • finances NH’s one-half share for the replacement of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge of approximately $78
million through the use of bonds issued in anticipation of future federal funds (GARVEE bonds), within the total amount of GARVEE bonds currently authorized.
• provides $40 million in federal funds and $11 million in federal highway anticipation bonds to fund an additional $51 million towards the I-93 project, which allows for another major segment of the project to be completed without demobilizing construction crews.
• allocates $8 million in federal funds to complete the widening of about 2 miles of Route 101 in Bedford, which is the most congested and dangerous section of Route 101 west of Route 114 (27,000 vehicles/day and of the 1,324 accidents over the past ten years on this 20 miles of highway, 508 have occurred within this 2 mile corridor).
The increased bonding will result in approximate 9% of future federal highway funds paying the debt service for I-93 and about 5% for debt service related to the Sarah Long Bridge. The Treasurer, who consulted with the state’s investment advisor, advised the committee that this level of GARVEE bonding for the stated pur- poses is still fiscally sound.
This bill is financially constrained and contains only projects which can be funded with existing revenue (with the exception regarding SB 367 explained below). As recommended to the House, it contains, as in past Plans, unfunded priorities for projects using Highway/Federal Funds (I-93) and Turnpike Funds. Significantly, for the first time, the Plan includes removal of the Merrimack toll ramps at Exits 11 and 12 as an unfunded Turnpike priority. Their removal is contingent upon that at such time that the Bedford mainline toll on the F.E. Everett is upgraded, it be located to the south of its present location (to eliminate the expensive present toll diversion at Exit 13 from the south), and the transfer of the currently Turnpike-maintained Continental Boulevard to the Town of Merrimack.
Should SB 367 be enacted in its present form, it would raise the road toll by 4.2 cents and increase transpor- tation funding by approximately $32 million for FY 2015 for which the biennial budget is already in place. The committee felt that the House should have input on where this unanticipated revenue should be spent for FY 2015; namely to exclusively fund roads and bridges statewide. The committee adopted the six district DOT engineers’ specific recommendations for paving priorities, and unanimously voted that the money be spent as follows: $13 million to increase the annual repaving schedule for fair and poor roads (approximately 190 additional miles at about $68,000/mile) and $12 million to rehabilitate/reconstruct 36 critical miles of very poor roads around the state at a staggering $333,000/mile. This number clearly illustrates the fiscal irresponsibility of allowing our roads to slip further into poor condition, which then become exponentially more expensive to reconstruct than repave. (In 2000, about 600 miles of our 4,500 state roads were in poor condition. In 2012, that number had swelled to 1660 miles in poor condition or 37%). The other $7 million dollars are recommended to increase the State Aid Bridge Program to municipalities, which has the effect of allowing about 10 more municipal bridges to receive state aid from a program that is currently full until 2024, and has not seen any additional funding since the mid-1990’s. This will increase paving in FY 2015 by about 230 miles to a total of approximately 580 miles, which is above the annual target of 500/miles per year. The Ten Year Transportation Improvement Plan is a planning document; not a budget bill. Beyond the possible extra money in FY 2015, it is up to the next legislature and its finance committees to address the extremely tough budget considerations of how to allocate Highway Fund revenues (with or without an increase in the Road Toll). While the Committee recognizes that this Plan is hardly perfect, it worked diligently to spread very thin financial resources statewide. HB 2014 as amended partially addresses the state’s top transportation priori- ties, while emphasizing the repair and maintenance of some (but by no means all) of the state’s worst roads and bridges.
Vote 18-0.
Outcome:  On a voice vote, committee amendment 1062h was adopted.  On a voice vote, the committee report of OTP/A was adopted.  A statement made during Rep. Campbell's floor presentation needs repeating here:  More of New Hampshire's bridges are becoming red listed than can be repaired with existing funding.  In other words, the number of New Hampshire bridges falling into disrepair is growing at a faster pace than bridges can be repaired.   Yet, the majority of the users of the state's highways continue to object to an increase in the road-toll tax, perhaps not understanding the state cannot finance the needs of the state's highway system in 2014 with 1991 revenue.  One option is for New Hampshire to sell some of its roads to private corporations, who will then collect road-use revenues directly through a system of toll roads.  This approach has been utilized in multiple states.  Although collection of revenue is assured by this method, because it would be a for-profit enterprise, such a method would not necessarily assure good roads.


WAYS AND MEANS

HB 492-FN-L, relative to the legalization and regulation of marijuana. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.
Rep. Mary R Cooney for the Majority of Ways and Means. This bill is about the legalization of marijuana, not about decriminalization. Under HB 492 all aspects of the marijuana process – cultivation, manufacture, distribution, and sale – would be legal and would result in the development of a full fledged commercial marijuana enterprise in our state with cultivation, manufacturing facilities, and retail stores selling high potency marijuana and marijuana products such as edible products, tinctures, and ointments. Over the last several years it has been the position of the House to move toward the decriminalization of marijuana under which the penalty for the possession of small amounts of marijuana by people aged 21 and older is reduced to a violation level offense. Earlier this year, the House passed HB 492 which was then referred to Ways & Means. The majority of the committee, having looked at the revenue and regulation aspects of the bill, takes the position that there are still too many unknowns to go forward with the passage of this bill. Although proponents of HB 492 point to significant potential tax revenue from marijuana legalization, the majority believes that the revenue estimates are speculative at best, given the lack of comprehensive analysis of the impact of tax rates, the liberal “grow your own” provisions in the bill, and the lack of information about the cost of regulation and enforcement. There is no provision in the bill for regulation start up costs other than the nominal license fees. The majority believes that the regulatory structure proposed in the bill as introduced and even as amended still presents considerable problems. As passed by the House the bill placed all regulatory and enforcement authority in the DRA, not just for taxation but for all aspects of licensing, product safety, and enforcement. The minority amendment sets up a division within the Liquor Commission to deal with marijuana but assigns other regulatory aspects to the departments of agriculture, health and human services, safety, and revenue administration with no provision for effective coordination. In addition, the department of safety does not want responsibility for implementation because of the conflict between NH and federal law. While the bill does allow for a local control ordinance to ban marijuana stores in cities and towns, it does not provide any benefit to towns from tax revenues which may be needed if additional resources are needed by police departments for enforcement. The majority feels that the fact that marijuana remains illegal under federal law remains a major stumbling block to regulation and taxation of this product at the state level. In addition, the Banking Association is not satisfied with the recent guidance from the US Attorney General and the Treasury Department about the circumstances under which banks will be protected from prosecu- tion. This guidance is at odds with that from the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Administration. What will occur if the next administration feels differently? The majority feels Congress needs to change the law before New Hampshire approves legalization. Further, the subcommittee researched the Colorado statutes and current activities and identified a number of problems that have arisen since that state adopted legalization by referendum. A major problem is the regulation of secondary products. It is reported that as much as 50% of Colorado sales are for edible products such as marijuana infused candy, soda, mints, lotions and other products that are not smoked. Many of these products are attractive to children, and en- suring that these products remain out the hands of children and youth is a major concern. This bill contains no regulation of these secondary products, except with labeling, yet the levels of THC cannabinoids in these products can be highly toxic to children. Although there is recognition of possible addiction to marijuana, there is no provision for any required distribution of revenue to address the public health and safety costs that will follow. Only 1 in 10 people seeking treatment for addiction receive it now. An additional concern is the ability of any adult to grow his or her own marijuana. This part of the bill would go into effect July 1st of this year which would allow an adult over 21 to grow up to 6 plants. They could be grown anywhere as long as the plants are out of sight of the public. The quantity of plants would be impossible to regulate since there could be multiple adults in one household. The excess product could be given but not sold to others. The subcommittee which worked on the bill made some major improvements to the bill but in the opinion of the majority taking this giant leap to the full legalization of marijuana is very premature. It should be done after the data are in from the NH medical marijuana program and from the experiment of legalization in the states of Colorado and Washington. Vote 14-5.
Rep. Frank V Sapareto for the Minority of Ways and Means. The Minority of the committee believes much has been learned since the 1st House vote to approve this bill by a 170-162 margin in January. After hearing from the Department of Revenue Administration and other agencies and departments that would be affected by this legislation, an amendment was developed by the subcommittee that dramatically improves both the system of taxation and the regulatory structure of this bill. The amendment was adopted unanimously by a 5-member subcommittee and was then adopted 14-5 by the full committee prior to the bill being voted ITL. The amendment greatly simplifies the system of taxation proposed in the original HB 492 bill, eliminating the 15% retail sales tax and instead applies a single $60/oz wholesale tax on marijuana produced by licensed cultivation facilities. This one-time tax was deemed to be much easier for the Department of Revenue Ad- ministration to collect and administer than a percentage tax at the retail level. Furthermore, rather than relying on the Department of Revenue Administration to license and regulate all marijuana establishments, the amended bill distributes licensing and regulatory responsibilities between the Department of Agriculture (cultivation facilities), the Department of Health and Human Services (testing facilities and product manu- factoring facilities), and the Liquor Commission (Retail stores). Additionally, the amended bill provides much more detail with regard to legislative oversight, and procedures for licensing and regulation. It prohibits vertical integration of marijuana establishments, requires background checks for all employees and principals, and requires that all marijuana and marijuana products be sold with safety issues and/or warning labels. As amended, this bill would allow for the creation of a well-regulated marijuana industry in New Hampshire. The minority of the Committee believes this bill would not only create jobs and produce significant and substantial revenue for the state, but also bring much-needed regulation to an industry that is currently subject to no regulation whatsoever, even though approximately 1⁄2 million ounces are currently consumed in our state. This bill would protect consumers by allowing them to buy marijuana products that have been tested for purity and potency without having to interact with illicit drug dealers (who may introduce them to more dangerous substances such as heroin) and it would protect those under 21 by requiring a valid form of identification for all purchases. The amended bill specifically states that it does not change, in any way, the impaired driving statutes. In short, this bill would replace a failed, expensive, prohibition with a system of sensible regulation.
Outcome:  On a roll-call vote of 192 - 140, the majority committee report of ITL was adopted.  On a division vote of 146 - 181 on a motion for reconsideration, the motion failed.  The motion was made for the specific purpose of eliminating further reconsideration, not for the purpose of overturning the roll-call vote.  New Hampshire's medicinal-use marijuana law is currently being implemented.  According to one of the legislators who spoke on this bill, an estimated 440,000 ounces of marijuana is currently sold in New Hampshire.

HB 1142-FN-A, relative to the road toll for alternative fuels. MAJORITY: REFER FOR INTERIM STUDY. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Joe Osgood for the Majority of Ways and Means. The committee found that propane gas distribution and taxation could be quite difficult under the provisions of this bill. How do you differentiate between pro- pane for stationary machines and for vehicles? It can end up being very cumbersome for dealers and users. We did agree that taxation of alternative fueled vehicles should be done but using a more fair and accurate method. A quick discussion of other methods and safeguards, such as including registration surcharge or mileage impact fees that could be matched to mileage reports from inspection documents, led to the interim study recommendation. Vote 16-2.
Rep. Mary R Cooney for the Minority of Ways and Means. The concept behind this bill is that all users of the state’s road and bridges should contribute to the cost of construction and upkeep of those roads and bridges. The road toll, a user fee, is the primary vehicle for revenue used for this purpose. Over the last decade more vehicles are being powered by compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas and propane. These vehicles are not paying any road toll currently. Fairness dictates that these vehicles should also contribute toward the construction and upkeep of our road and bridges. This bill provides that a road toll will be charged on these alternative fuels based on a conversion rate for these fuels to their equivalent in gallons of gasoline or diesel, based on uniform nationally recognized standards for weights and measures. The tax will be collected at the retail level. The committee probed various alternatives and decided this bill is the best solution. The alternative fuel road toll is subject to current statutory exemptions and refund provisions applicable to the road toll today, namely government entities and non-profit bus companies licensed by NHDOT. The minority feels that this bill could be implemented as written.
Outcome:  After debate suggesting the interim study recommendation be overturned, on a division vote of 102 - 207, the majority committee report of refer for interim study was defeated.  On a roll-call vote of 273 - 41to move amendment 1168h, the amendment was adopted.  On a roll-call vote of 258 - 58, on a motion of OTP/A, the motion was adopted. 
To do nothing meant that the increasing number of fleet vehicles utilizing alternative fuels, mostly propane, would pay nothing toward the maintenance of the roads they utilize. 


HB 1161-FN, relative to the definition of slot machines and the duties of game operators and game operator employers. MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.
Rep. Frank W Davis for the Majority of Ways and Means. This bill would exempt certain electronic table aids from the definition of slot machines. The only speaker in favor of this legislation was the lobbyist for one particular company. This company has questionable financial stability, losing money every year since its inception, and has settled out of court in a Las Vegas lawsuit over improper distribution of its machines. The Committee was concerned about what might happen if these machines were accepted and the company went out of business. Vote 14-3.
Rep. Jordan G Ulery for the Minority of Ways and Means. Despite a through discussion of the failing financial model of a company manufacturing a type of electronic card game, little discussion was offered on the concept itself. All the bill will do is allow people to play already legal games by themselves, sans dealer, electronically. Allowing another form of legal, regulated card play seems only fair, equitable and good for revenue generation. 
Outcome:  On a voice vote, the majority committee report of ITL was adopted.  

                     REMOVED FROM CONSENT 3/19
FINANCE
HB 1114-FN, relative to limits on state expenditures for school building aid. INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. Rep. Thomas L Buco for Finance. The intent of HB 1114 was to remove the $50 million cap on school building aid and instead to replace the cap with a floor that shall not be less than $50 million. The State of New Hampshire is currently under a moratorium on school building aid until June 30, 2015. The debt service for projects previously approved, a.k.a. the ‘tail’, totals $450 million. Estimated needs for FY ‘14/15 total $381 million with potential state obligation of $139 million. There is a great need for state aid for school building projects, however with no funds to supplement the program the committee voted ITL. Vote 24-0. 
In HB 1504, we were asked as legislators to opine on when life begins, as if we are equipped to do so, while also understanding the legal consequences now and forever.  With HB 1114, we are well equipped to understand the consequences of the young students in Newmarket who are forced to learn in a school built in the 1930s, an obsolete building in need of $1.8 million in safety upgrades, and taxpayers understandably rejecting a $45 million replacement. The sad truth is that in order to balance the state budget following the near economic meltdown resulting from the Great Wall Street Recession, school building aid was suspended, and remains under moratorium until next year.  
The two state representatives representing Newmarket, Reps. Schroadter and Cahill, removed this bill from consent hoping to overturn the committee recommendation of 24 - 0, an effort akin to pushing water uphill.  Their objective was to begin the process to provide badly needed building aid with which to provide a beneficial learning environment for the students of Newmarket, as well as addressing their safety and security.
Outcome:  By a division vote of 246 - 60, the committee recommendation of ITL was adopted. 

Bob Perry
NH State Representative
Strafford County District #3
Strafford and New Durham


Additional Resources

Common Core article on Wikipedia  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Core





Governor Hassan speaks to the crowd.

Governor Hassan signs the bill into law.

House Speaker Terie Norelli

Image Credits:
Bob Perry Personal Collection