Legislative Update - week of 3/26/18

Dear Friend,

This week, bills that were approved in the House or the Senate “cross-over” for consideration in the other chamber. When they do, a new round of committee hearings and work sessions begin. To give committees time to consider each bill, neither the House nor the Senate will meet this week. However, this will be an extremely busy week for committee work. Hearings and work sessions will be held on several key bills I’m sponsoring orcosponsoring.

  • Two environmental bills I’m cosponsoring that have already passed in the Senate will receive public hearings on Tuesday, March 27.
    • SB 309 would require the Department of Environmental Services to establish groundwater and surface water standards for the presence of perfluorochemicals (PFCs).
    • SB 240 would require parties responsible for contamination of wells to monitor those wells to ensure contamination levels don’t exceed ambient groundwater standards. If they do, it would compel them to provideran alternate source of clean water.
  • Also on Tuesday, several of my bills which have already passed in the House will receive hearings in the Senate. Two of the most important:
    • HB 1315 would stop university system funds from being spent to oppose the formation of unions and collective bargaining units.
    • HB 1565 would require the commissioner of the Department of Corrections to apply to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals seeking to accreditation of the the secure psychiatric unit of the state prison as a psychiatric hospital.  We need to stop warehousing mentally ill criminals and start getting them the treatment they need.
    • HB1807- relative to elderly abuse on Tuesday at 1:30pmin room 101 of the legislative office building.
    • HB1281 establishing an executive order registry on Thursday at 9:30am in room 103 of the State House.

Also, worth noting is HB 1766--a bill I sponsored that requires the Department of Environmental Services to order the Coakley Landfill Group to clean up contaminated wells--has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the Senate. However, the City of Portsmouth has announced that it will send Mayor Jack Blalock to the Senate hearing to testify against it for “legal” reasons. If you or someone you know of has been personally impacted by contamination at Coakley, please make plans to come to the hearing once it’s been scheduled and testify in favor of the bill. The alternative if this bill fails to pass could be years of additional waiting for the EPA to order action to be taken at Coakley.

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Other Bills Coming Up This Week

  • SB-313: Medicaid Expansion executive session will be held on Wednesday 3/28 at 2pm.  This is a really important bill that would take health insurance away from 50,000 people if not passed.  There are problems with the bill that the committee will try to address.
  • SB 164: The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee will meet on Wednesday for a hearing on a bill that would establish a commission to study repealing of statute of limitations for sexual assault. In the year of the #MeToo movement, this bill puts the needs of victIms first and is a solid first step in ensuring that more offenders are held accountable for their crimes.
  • SB 525:  The House Education committee will also meet on Wednesday to consider a terrible bill that passed the Senate that would end adult education financial assistance to students who are not legal residents. This bill targets immigrants on their way to citizenship who enroll in these courses to improve their language skills and job skills. It’s nothing less than a bill that seeks to kill the American Dream.
  • SB 527: The House Election Law committee holds a hearing on this bill on Thursday. It makes the already difficult process of absentee voting even more difficult. It would likely result in more ballots being disqualified and I will oppose it when it comes to the House for a vote.

 
Recap: Week of March 19-23
 
Ups

  • In a big victory for working families, a bill to create a voluntary, state-administered Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program (HB 628) was approved by the House. It is now way to the Senate.
  • Two toxic anti-choice bills were stopped. HB 1721 would have criminalized advice from doctors that could be perceived as encouraging a woman to have an abortion. HB 1707, which would have established a mandatory 24 hour waiting period before woman can obtain an abortion, was sent to Interim Study--effectively killing it. A third bill that would have dealt a severe blow to women’s reproductive freedom was tabled but bears watching because it could come back later in the session. HB 1680 would outlaw abortions any time after the moment when a fetus could be subjectively considered “viable” outside the womb--with no exceptions, even in situations where the health of the mother is in jeopardy.
  • HB 1592 was approved by the full House and now crosses over for consideration in the Senate. One of many environmental bills I’ve sponsored or cosponsored in this session, this one requires the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to update standards for acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic contamination is one of the primary causes of bladder cancer.

 
Downs

  • In a week when many of us took part in the March for Our Lives to end gun violence, the Senate killed an amendment to a school safety bill that would have given local school boards the ability to control the presence of firearms on school grounds. I also voted against another bill that unfortunately passed the full House that makes it legal to carry loaded firearms on snowmobiles and ATVs. (What could go wrong?)
  • A bill I proposed to require labeling bottled water with annual test results for PFCs, MBTE, and arsenic (HB 1632) was killed. Chalk up another victory for the lobbyists and big money at the expense of consumers.
  • Also killed was HB 1610. This pro-consumer bill would have required property sellers to disclose the presence of environmentally hazardous sites to buyers within one mile of the property.
  • Another bill I proposed was tabled by the full House and is likely dead for this session. HB 1701 would have required the Coakley Landfill Group to open its records under the state right to know law.
Kimberly Sychterz