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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

House, Senate ramping up for hearings, business sessions

CONCORD – House and Senate Republican leaders are working on completing unfinished business while some House Democrats want to undo what the GOP-led Legislature did two years ago.

After a relatively slow start, the 2013 session of the New Hampshire Legislature ramps up with more than 100 public hearings scheduled and the first business sessions for the House and Senate. ...

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CONCORD – House and Senate Republican leaders are working on completing unfinished business while some House Democrats want to undo what the GOP-led Legislature did two years ago.

After a relatively slow start, the 2013 session of the New Hampshire Legislature ramps up with more than 100 public hearings scheduled and the first business sessions for the House and Senate.

Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, had agreed with Lynch that the state’s popular research and development tax credit for corporations should be doubled to $2 million a year, but the William O’Brien-led House last year tacked onto that bill a requirement that women had to endure a 48-hour waiting period before they could get an abortion.

New Gov. Maggie Hassan called for the change in her inaugural address earlier this month. A Senate panel quickly endorsed the tax credit bill by itself (SB 1) and the Senate takes it up Thursday.

“I’m pretty confident we are going to get a unanimous vote in the Senate, and I hope it’s a sign that we’re going to work together in a bipartisan fashion,’’ Bragdon said in an interview with The Telegraph editorial board.

O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, accomplished quite a lot in his two-year reign but his signature defeat was convincing the House to pass a Right to Work law that makes it illegal for employees to pay dues or fees to a labor union. Then-Gov. John Lynch vetoed that bill and O’Brien couldn’t get the two-thirds, supermajority needed to override the veto.

O’Brien is now a back-bench sitting member of the minority with Democrats in charge of the House, but he’s back with a new version of Right to Work (HB 323) that faces its first public hearing Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Democratic Reps. Timothy Robertson of Keene and Peter Sullivan of Manchester propose to reinstate a state minimum wage.

The Legislature in 2011 did away with the state law that existed since 1949. This meant New Hampshire employers have to comply with the federal minimum that is $7.25 an hour.

Robertson’s bill (HB 241) sets the state minimum at $9.25 hourly while Sullivan’s (HB 127) would raise it to $8 and have it go up each year by the federal inflation rate.

The House meets Wednesday afternoon and its light agenda includes acting on whether to kill a bill (HB 116) to hand down someone’s social networking site to an estate upon that person’s death.

Rep. Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham, said the bill was “premature as well as unenforceable.”

Other hearings of interest this week include:

Eliminate Merrimack tollbooth: Rep. Jeanine Notter, R-Merrimack, wants with her bill (HB 257) to get rid of the toll booth at Exit 12 (Bedford Road) and a House committee takes testimony on it Wednesday. Bragdon has his own bill yet to be taken up that would wipe out all three exit ramp tollbooths on the F.E. Everett Turnpike in Merrimack.

Two-person family benefits (HB 261): The current state budget did away with giving state and federal welfare to low-income families that have two parents; this bill would restore those benefits.

CHINS (HB 358): This would spend $4 million a year to resurrect the Children in Need of Services program that supports spending to treat children who are runaways, truant or criminally delinquent.

Ethanol Ban (HB 362). Rep. David Campbell, D-Nashua, is championing this measure to ban the corn-based product being used as an additive in gasoline.

Storage Firearms Immunity (HB 388): This absolves anyone from criminal or civil guilt in court if a person illegally obtains their weapon and uses it in a crime.

Kevin Landrigan can reached at 321-7040 or klandrigan@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Landrigan on Twitter (@Klandrigan).