Household, Medical Go away Is Final Funds Stumbling Block


CONKORD – The $ 13.5 billion budget approved by the negotiators for the next two years will be very similar to the budget approved by the Senate earlier this month.

One of the key provisions in the Senate budget, however, is the only sticking point for a final agreement, which must be reached by Thursday afternoon to meet the legal deadline for filing committee reports.

The Senate and House of Representatives made progress on other important issues Wednesday, but adjourned at 10 a.m. Thursday morning to try to decide whether the state should proceed with a voluntary paid family and sick leave program proposed by Governor Chris Sununu , but was rejected by the House of Representatives, removing it from its approved budget. The Senate put it back in its budget.

The vacation program is the final hurdle to a fairly smooth round of negotiations on the budget package with two bills, which is due to come into effect on July 1st.

The Senate budget numbers in House Bill 1 were agreed quickly last week, but the provisions in House Bill 2 or the Trailer Act are taking longer to decide.

The Budgets Committee also bypassed the work of another conference committee on a House Bill 417 that would curtail the governor’s authority during a state of emergency. The compromise would allow the House of Representatives and Senate to end any emergency ordinance or executive order by majority vote, but not give lawmakers the power to decide whether to extend the state of emergency.

The conference committee resolved two of the other final sticking points on Wednesday – the closure of the Sununu youth center and a Medicaid dental service for adults. The Senate’s proposal for the Sununu center was largely accepted by the conference committee, while the House stood firm and refused to add adult dental care to the state’s Medicaid program.

Sununu Center

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate want to close the federally-funded Sununu Youth Center, but it is much larger than what is required today, with an average of around 15 to 18 young people detained each day.

The center would be closed until March 1, 2023, and a new facility for housing young people would open, which is also locked up until that date. The house had proposed closing the center on July 1, 2022.

Under the agreement, a committee made up of three members of the House of Representatives and two Senate members would decide on recommendations for the closure of the center and plans for a new facility, including the conversion of the current buildings.

The committee would finalize its report by November 1 and recommend legislation for the 2022 meeting, including projected construction and operating costs.

As part of the Senate budget, the center is funded for eight months in the second year of the biennium, including funds to accommodate the centers in other facilities.

Dental benefits

The house refused to provide Medicaid dental services to adults as they are available to children.

The Senate proposed adding the benefit in the final quarter of the second fiscal year of the biennium, which is expected to cost $ 1.6 million, or about $ 7 million per year.

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, said adding the benefit would improve not only oral health, but physical health as well, thereby increasing the state’s workforce.

“Unfortunately, the cost savings were never described in any analysis,” said Bradley, “although every medical professional has testified to it.”

He said that in Medicaid expansion cases, the state-federal game would be 90 percent federal and 10 percent state, while the rest would be 50 percent each for the state and federal government.

“That would bring in significant federal funds for New Hampshire,” he said. “This is a very worthy program and the Senate has long supported it.”

However, the House of Representatives said the Senate never submitted its dental benefits bill to the House of Representatives, so its members never had an opportunity to explore the program.

Conference committee chairman Lynne Ober, R-Hudson said there had been no public hearing on the plan in the House of Representatives, which she said will cost about $ 11 million annually.

“I hope the Senate will send us its bill so we can hold a public hearing,” she said. “Right now there is no additional $ 11 million to tie up the budget.”


Following a compromise supported by both the governor and the House and Senate leadership, the governor would not need legal approval to extend the state of emergency beyond the first 30 days.

Instead, the House of Representatives and the Senate could end a state of emergency or an executive order by a majority vote of those present, as long as there is a quorum.

Bradley said the crux of the matter was whether lawmakers had the power to repeal or stop an emergency ordinance or parts of it.

Traditionally, to override the governor, he takes positive action, much like passing a law by majority vote.

Saying that lawmakers must agree to continue an emergency ordinance goes way beyond constitutional controls and balance sheets, Bradley said.

It would be unprecedented to have the House or Senate refuse to agree or even meet to consider an extension, Bradley said.

It normally takes a two-thirds majority in the legislature to overturn the governor’s action, he said, but the compromise would only require a simple majority.

The question has been raised of whether a quorum would be required that would require a majority more than a majority, 201 House Representatives and 13 Senate members to act, and Senate legal advisor Rick Lehmann said the constitution requires a quorum for any action.

The compromise would require the approval of the joint Legislative Fiscal Committee to receive or distribute federal or other gifts or grants over $ 100,000, but includes an exception for an imminent threat to the health and safety of residents.

The governor could bypass the finance committee if it does not act within five days of its request.

The governor would be required to provide the Executive Board with information on all funds received and spent within 30 days.

Under that provision, the governor would be required to notify the Senate President, House Speaker, and Finance Committee chairman of any pending declaration or extension of the state of emergency.

During the pandemic, Sununu declared a state of emergency in March 2020, which ended last Friday, stating it did not require approval from the finance committee to accept or spend funds from the federal government under a law that gives governors extensive powers during a state of emergency. The law was passed after the September 11th terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington DC.

The Democrats, who controlled the legislature and executive council at the time, sued but lost in a higher-ranking court decision.

Legislators from both parties sought to clarify a governor’s powers during a state of emergency, and all tried to involve lawmakers more closely.

House Bill 417, passed by large majorities in both the House and Senate, dealt with the issue, but the House and Senate Committee of Conference Members failed to reach an agreement on what the bill would do on Wednesday and he died.

As a result, the compromise was incorporated into HB 2 by a unanimous vote of the Committee of Conference Members.

Separating concepts

Without comment, the House of Representatives previously approved the language of the Senate to prohibit the teaching of “divisive concepts”.

The Senate’s plan would prohibit teaching students or civil servants that one ethnic group is inherently superior to or inherently discriminates against another.

The House bill banned the teaching of divisive concepts in schools or in training for public employees and even private employees if their companies have contracts with the state.

Governor Chris Sununu and many others opposed the House’s version, including officials, corporations, educators and activists.

The provision is based on an executive order issued by former President Donald Trump.

Opponents argue that the bill would restrict the rights of the First Amendment to freedom of expression and called the Senate version only slightly better than the House version as they opposed both of them.

Family, sick leave

Under Sununu’s plan, a voluntary paid family and sick leave program would begin with government employees and then allow private and other public entities to participate.

The house took advantage of Sununu’s own objections to paid family and sick leave programs that lawmakers had approved in recent years and called it a back door income tax when it was removed from the house’s budget this spring.

The previous programs were compulsory for companies with more than 50 employees that did not offer their own vacation plans.

Sununu used the Democrats’ family vacation program against them in the last election and called it an income tax.

And more

House and Senate negotiators also agreed on a new fund on Wednesday to help small businesses and entertainment venues struggling due to the pandemic. The program would use federal funds.

And the Senate gave in to the House of Representatives and agreed to cut two parts of the budget that would lower keno fees and allow a Keene organization to participate in the new historic horse racing betting program for the benefit of nonprofits, even though the legislation didn’t meet the deadline is adhered to. The bill went into effect earlier this month.

The only Democrat on the conference committee for HB 2, Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, was replaced by Sen. Gary Daniels, R-Milford on the committee because she did not support the agreement.

“Right now, eight Republicans are making decisions on behalf of the state of New Hampshire that will affect us for decades to come,” she said after her dismissal. “I was proud to express my opinion and stand up for the Granite Staters, who will be negatively affected by the ruthless changes being pushed by the House and Senate Republicans.”

Garry Rayno can be reached at [email protected].

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