So kids, what did we learn from today’s House Session (5/2)?

We learned that there will be no shortage of study committees during this biennium! The House passed yet another study bill. This one (SB139) will study options for lowering student debt and this comes on the heels of the House Finance Committee rejecting the Governor’s Budget which included a program to     (wait for it…)     lower student debt! There will also be a commission to study incidents of workplace violence against state employees (SB29) even though some state agency heads are already taking steps to protect employees. I sure hope we have enough money budgeted for all the mileage and fees that will be paid out to all the folks involved in all of the committees and commissions already approved by the House.

We learned that one bill that was retained in the Health and Human Services Committee (HB483) had the same exact language as the bill that the House passed today (SB-232-FN) to adopt a model psychology interjurisdictional compact (PSYPACT) so that licensed psychologists out of state can be accessed by Granite Staters through telecommunications. Sounds like a case of bi-polar legislating, retain one but pass the other. Maybe we need a study committee to determine if duplicate bills waste time or are a strategic necessity.

We learned that “negotiation in good faith” might just be a thing of the past as SB290 passed in the House (relative to the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program). This bill substantially weakened important provisions that were worked out in a bipartisan manner last year relative to the work requirement for enrollees, and this bill also set a dangerous position of allowing general funds to be used for the program. It’s a shame that all of the work, trust and bi-partisanship that SB313 created last year is clearly swept aside now that the political landscape has changed in Concord. Maybe now we need a study commission on “trust issues” with regard to the legislative process.

We learned that passing redundant legislation is of little concern of the House Majority since they are happy to pass bills that already have provisions in the law regarding worker’s compensation issues (SB151-FN). Creating layers of bureaucracy seems to be an acceptable solution and somehow is thought to simplify administrative processes. Do you suppose we need a study committee to examine the difference between simplification and bureaucracy?

We learned that despite the fact that LCHIP (Land and Community Investment Program) funding has been increasing over the years, due to more land and houses being sold in NH’s stronger housing market, that the Majority Party still wants $10 more for deed registry fees for LCHIP which represents a 40% increase in fees; $25 to $35.  LCHIP is a wonderful program, and funds some terrific projects, but it already gets over $3.5 million in revenue. While it is true that $10 might not be much to some, it still represents a fee increase that is not really necessary. Private donations to this worthwhile program seems to be a much better solution rather than forced giving. Maybe it is time to look at other creative solutions to funding this worthwhile program. Wouldn’t that make a good topic for a study committee?

We learned that the House Majority was fine with increasing OHRV and snowmobile registration fees (SB187), but so were the snowmobile organizations, Fish and Game and the Trails Bureau. So with their blessing, recreation in NH just became more expensive. Sounds like a study bill is needed to see what is left in your wallet.

Finally, we learned that autonomous vehicles will be coming to a road near you (SB216-FN). Hopefully, we can study how to repair the potholes and frost heaves on local roads in time for their arrival.

Next week… more Senate bills will hit the House. Any bets on how many more study committees will be created then?