Submitted by Representative Carol McGuire.
This week, we started into the legislative process. My committee heard six bills, and acted on three of them. HB91, moving the celebration of General John Stark day from the fourth week of April to the second, was supported by five students from the Founders’ Academy. It seems that the fourth week of April is spring break for many New Hampshire schools, so it’s a problem properly celebrating the holiday. The students spoke very well, no one opposed the idea, and the committee voted 15-0 to recommend to pass the bill. HB107, adding a very small manufacturing company representative to the Advanced Manufacturing Education Advisory Council, was also very simple, well presented, and unopposed: we voted 17-0to recommend this bill as well.
HB219, creating a demographic study committee, had the longest presentation so far. This study committee passed the first test of reasonableness: the sponsor and one other representative agreed to serve on the committee.
HB 254, changing the membership of the assessing standards board, turned out to be much more controversial than I had expected. At least fifty people – assessors, town officials, utilities and their lobbyists, other taxpayers – showed up to argue for or against the changes, taking more than two hours. This bill went to subcommittee to let the warring sides get together. SHB255, adding “or designee” in two places for the director of administrative services, was very quickly presented and almost as quickly voted, 10-1, to recommend to the House. CACR 4, making the Attorney General a constitutional officer, elected, like the Secretary of State and the State Treasurer, by the House and Senate together, had no opposition but a long history of attempted changes to this position. We didn’t make a recommendation, wanting to take some time with this issue. The committee also held an orientation meeting, introducing ourselves and explaining what ED&A does. I have four brand-new representatives to bring along, along with the old stalwarts.
Representative Michael Brewster from Pittsfield is on this committee for the first time, so I’ll try to help him be more effective. We also had a presentation from the retirement system, as pension bills will be coming to ED&A this term. It was quite an education for some people – and gave others the chance to show off how much they knew about the system! Next week we’ll have three days of hearings, so we can get to work on the problematic bills.
I was unable to present HB117, my bill exempting standby generators from property taxes for the handicapped and elderly, so Dan introduced it and a number of constituents testified in favor.
Reports had it that there was a lot of support for the handicapped exemption, less so for the elderly since 65 isn’t as old as it used to be! I may have to change it to the very old (say, 75 or 80).
See also the January 5 newsletter.