NH Legislature Opens 2014 Session-Things To Watch



Legislature Opens 2014 Session-Things To Watch

Medicaid expansion: The House brought back and passed a measure to expand Medicaid. Republicans in the Senate killed a similar bill last year, though. Meanwhile, the state continues to lose taxpayer money (more than $4 million at last check) that could be used to provide health coverage for our state's working poor.

Healthy work environment: HB591 is the SEA-member driven legislation that would help maintain a healthy work environment by prohibiting abuse of state employees in the workplace. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee (ED&A) held over that bill from the last session, and it is now expected to be on the Senate calendar next week. The new program requires all state employees to take part in online training that promotes a respectful and civil work environment.

Pension changes: It now appears that HB 627, which would change the way pension benefits are calculated, will come up next week. Having said that, we do not wish to unduly alarm anyone. While we're watching this bill cautiously, it is important to point out that the NH Supreme Court, through numerous rulings on similar retirement changes, has shown repeatedly that pension promises made to public workers will be kept.

Juvenile offenders:
A final measure of note relates to the age of juvenile offenders. The House overwhelmingly passed a bill that would increase the age when a juvenile can be criminally charged as an adult from 17 to 18. While there are many reasons to raise the age, the most pressing is a need to comply with new regulations that require those under 18 be separated from the general prison population. Without this measure, county jails would need to create space where these 17-year-olds could be isolated from older inmates. With this measure, those 17-year-olds would be allowed to be moved to the Sununu Youth Services Center, which can better serve their needs.