For one thing, we learned that the Canadian Consul General lacks any kind of manners since he came to OUR House and criticized our President’s trade policies in his speech to the House. I mean really…. do you go to someone’s house and complain about how things are run at their house? No, you don’t. That would be RUDE. Of course, the Majority Party Democrats applauded loudly, but maybe it was also because they were anticipating the free lunch provided by the Canadian Consul General later on.
We learned how incredibly awesome the Winnisquam Chamber Singers are. They came and sang our National Anthem at the opening of the Session. At least some part of the morning was patriotic, uplifting and inspiring. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObVsbkeVbtU
We learned that we could do 2 days of work in 1 day and work on over 40 bills from 10:00 am until 6:30 pm with an hour and a half for lunch. It’s amazing too, how much costly damage can be done to a State, its municipalities and businesses in that time frame. Since we dealt with many energy bills which will end up costing ratepayers more, I couldn’t really decide if the word “Green” took on a whole new meaning regarding those energy bills or perhaps it was the word “Power”. Either way, the Majority Party Democrats seem giddy with both. I couldn’t possibly list everything we voted on, but below are some highlights.
We learned that the Majority Party Democrats passed a bill (SB293-FN) that would now require NH Health and Human Services to pay for healthcare services incurred by people who are Medicaid enrollees but do not meet the work requirement (aka community engagement requirement) and are suspended from Granite Advantage Healthcare, which leaves them and healthcare providers in a problematic situation since the Federal Government won’t pay for suspended Medicaid enrollees. Meanwhile, for job training programs (SB2-FN), they plan to take $4 Million from the unemployment trust fund to be used in a manner for which it was not intended. Somehow do you think the job training program could be used to help able bodied Medicaid enrollees find “community engagement”? The prospect is unclear, but either way it will be expensive for businesses and taxpayers.
We learned that the Majority Party Democrats are still hot on creating more study committees and commissions. We are somewhere over 70 now. They passed SB167-FN which will cost $100,000 to create a commission which will determine energy resource procurement and there will be no one appointed to this commission that really has any idea about that topic. They apparently think it is wise to interject a legislative commission into the procurement process when electric utilities have a much better handle on what is going on in the field. But hey… “stakeholders” seems to be the latest buzz word and no one really seems to care about the resulting cost of energy.
Speaking of energy, we learned that legislation gets passed through committees with no public hearing for a 9 page amendment in hand at the last minute, that many have neither fully read nor understand (SB204). The PUC doesn’t even want this legislation! But hey… energy storage… it’s the future and who cares what it will cost ratepayers!
We learned that Zero Emission Vehicles will be required for purchase for our State fleet of cars and trucks by 2039 (SB275-FN), with goals for cars and light duty trucks by 2026 and heavier vehicles by 2031. Costs for replacement of the State fleet is astronomical and not all costs have even been considered! Of course they want you to believe this is a bill with “aspirational goals”, so you can just ignore the words “require”, “transition plans”, “targets” or “incentives”. You can also just forget thinking about doing any kind of small scale pilot program to even see if any of this makes sense!! All I can say is that there WILL BE zero emissions when some ZEV plow truck is stuck in the White Mountains, or other highway after running its battery out while plowing and running a heater and its required lighting in the NH winter. But hey… ZEV … it’s green like the money it will cost taxpayers to pay for it all.
We learned that the Majority Party Democrats don’t care that state funded public works projects will become more expensive by instituting a prevailing wage requirement. But hey, it’s only taxpayer money. (SB271-FN)
We learned that while NO ONE advocates for discriminatory policies anywhere, the House passed new anti-discrimination policies which will likely cause school systems all sorts of costly legal challenges and headaches with respect to sports programs, policies and hiring practices (SB263). They inserted Gender Identity as a protected class and included the Human Rights Commission into the process. This bill wasn’t even supported by the School Board Association. Municipalities better lawyer up now and taxpayers better get ready to pay for those future lawsuits.
We learned that “period poverty” is a thing and that young ladies would rather stay at home from school during that time of the month because they do not have the money to purchase menstrual supplies. So the Majority Party Democrats passed another unfunded mandate to school systems (SB142-LOCAL) mandating that they provide free menstrual products in their schools, even though school nurses have historically always had such items on hand. Now we truly will have “padded” school budgets. Do you suppose that the anti-discrimination bill (SB263) mentioned above might be in conflict with this bill since now boys will also be seeking “free stuff” for “puberty poverty”, such as condoms or Axe, in their bathrooms? Meanwhile, the Majority Party Democrats passed legislation that would cut back allowable work hours (SB20) from 48 to 40.25 so that these young school aged ladies will be even more unable to afford menstrual products when they get a paycheck. Go figure.
We learned that the Majority Party Democrats continue to want to take away legislative authority on rate setting and give it to unelected bureaucrats. Case in point, SB205 would allow the NH Public Utility Commission to raise the Energy Efficiency portion of the System Benefit Charges (which is a tax) on its own motion by an order, without legislative approval. Do these people not want cheaper energy? And while they are at it, they want to form a commission (yes, another one) to see how they can interfere with local planning and zoning laws (SB43) and institute “development density/smart growth/pack and stack housing” across the state to deal with issues like the lack of low income housing. Rep. Abramson was excoriated, by the Speaker and the Majority Party, for daring to suggest that cities like Manchester are suffering as a result of such poor land use policies which have contributed to higher crime rates and other problems. Too bad he wasn’t afforded the same freedom of speech in House Chambers as the Canadian Consul General.
We learned that Rep. Harrington probably gave the best Parliamentary Inquiry in the history of this House Session suggesting that rather than waste time with PI’s we should just shut up and sit down. It capped off a very long day. You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdXZagNbUEE
Finally, we learned that on occasion the House can work together as we passed the establishment of the Lafayette Trail (SB217) and an amendment which fixes the Department of Environmental Services solid waste permitting time frames (SB163). The former was a bill I co-sponsored and the latter was my very first presentation at the well of a floor amendment which won an unanimous “Yea” voice vote! It might very well be the only Republican floor amendment which will receive such results this session. 🙂
Next week, more Senate Bills hit the House and possible votes on the latest Governor Vetoes.