- Associated Press - Sunday, September 27, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The budget battle may be over, but lawmakers won’t be searching for work when they return to Concord in January. So far, nearly 700 requests have been filed for new legislation - and that’s just from the House.

The requests touch on everything from how to fund road and bridge projects to renaming a state beach. But the debate over Medicaid expansion is likely to take center stage, as the program is set to expire at the end of next year without legislative reauthorization.

More than 40,000 newly eligible people have signed up for Medicaid under the expansion. Federal funding for the program will start to drop below 100 percent in 2017, and budget writers estimate it will cost the state about $12 million in this budget to continue the program.

Recurring topics such as allowing a home-grow option for medical marijuana, raising the minimum wage and removing the licensing requirement for carrying concealed guns will also be up for debate.

Here’s a look at likely topics of debate in the upcoming session:



House Speaker Shawn Jasper says he’s hasn’t yet reviewed the bill requests, but he and his leadership team will begin to lay out next year’s priorities soon.

If the House wants to pursue reauthorizing Medicaid expansion, Jasper says he’ll focus on how to continue it without putting state taxpayers on the hook when federal funding drops below 100 percent.

GOP Rep. Norman Major, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, is bringing forward a bill to create a “road usage fee” to generate more money for the state’s highway fund. The highway fund gets its money from the state’s gas tax, which lawmakers raised by 4 cents per gallon last session.

But, some argue, relying on the gas tax means people who drive hybrid or high efficiency vehicles aren’t paying their fair share toward upkeep on the state’s roads and bridges. Major’s bill aims to tackle that by creating a new fee to put all drivers on the same page.

“The basic formula and idea has a great deal of merit,” Jasper said.

Other Republican bills focus on bringing New Hampshire in compliance with the federal “Real ID” law and creating a registry of convicted heroin dealers.



Beyond Medicaid expansion, House Minority Leader Steve Shurtleff said Democrats will focus on repealing the education tax credit law and creating an independent commission for redistricting.

The education tax credit law, passed in 2012, allows business to receive tax breaks if they donate to scholarship funds that pay for kids to go to private or religious schools. Democrats say the law unfairly sends tax dollars to religious institutions. The repeal effort is unlikely to win support from Republicans.

The Legislature now has control over the redistricting process, but a Democratic bill would give that authority to an independent commission. The Legislature last redrew districts in 2012, when Republicans controlled both chambers.



With 400 House lawmakers, there are bound to be bills each year that are a bit odd or narrowly focused on a pet issue. Democratic Rep. Suzanne Smith hopes to give drivers an option to put “Scenic,” the state’s old catchphrase, on their license plates rather than “Live Free or Die.”

Republican Rep. Eric Schleien wants to repeal the licensing requirement for “showmen” who wish to perform in public spaces.

Fellow GOP Rep. Republican Rep. Michele Pecham submitted a bill to rename North Hampton beach the Robert Shaw Memorial Beach.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times is switching its third-party commenting system from Disqus to Spot.IM. You will need to either create an account with Spot.im or if you wish to use your Disqus account look under the Conversation for the link "Have a Disqus Account?". Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide