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Entries in NH Senate (263)

Wednesday
Apr162014

NH Senate President Statement on State Employment Numbers

New Hampshire Senate

News Release

Concord, NH – Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, today issued the following statement on the state’s improving employment picture:

“Over the last year more than 8,600 of our residents have found work here in New Hampshire.  This is welcome news not only for our economy but more importantly for the hardworking men and women of this state who are now able to better provide for themselves and their families.

“Yet while our state’s economic indicators remain stronger than national averages, there is still more to be done to encourage economic growth, job creation, and a welcoming business climate.  In order to regain our standing as the strongest economy in the Northeast, and put even more of our friends and neighbors back to work, the Senate remains committed to controlling state spending and returning to the sound fiscal policies that made New Hampshire the best state in the region to start, relocate, or grow a successful business.”

Friday
Apr112014

NH Senate Commerce Committee to Consider Moratorium on Zohydro 

The New Hampshire Senate

Republican Majority Office

Sanborn amendment would ban the hydrocodone pain pill for up to 18 months

Concord, NH - Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, announced today that he plans to introduce legislation that would prohibit the use or distribution of the painkiller Zohydro in New Hampshire for up to 18 months. 

Zohydro became the only pure hydrocodone pain pill available on the market following approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) late last year.  Since then, attorneys general from 28 states, including New Hampshire, have asked the FDA to reassess its decision and federal legislation has been filed that would require the agency to prohibit the drug.  Massachusetts, Vermont, New York and other states have also taken or are considering action to restrict or prohibit the drug.

“As the state continues to struggle with a growing heroin epidemic, driven in part by a widespread availability of cheap and addictive prescription painkillers over the last decade, I believe the legislature must take a close look at highly addictive drugs like this one that could pose serious new or additional health risks to our population,” said Sanborn.

The Senator will offer an amendment (1322s) to House Bill 584, relative to covered prescription drugs, which would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to impose a year and a half moratorium on the drug.  Under the amendment, the moratorium would be lifted if Zohydro becomes available in an abuse-deterrent form or when either Congress or the federal Department of Health and Human Services takes action on requests to overturn the FDA’s decision.

“By pressing pause on this drug in its current form, I am hopeful that we can encourage the manufacturer to move quickly to bring an abuse-deterrent formula to market to assist patients in need of relief while also protecting the public, and particularly our young people, from the dangerous consequences of potential diversion, misuse and abuse of this drug,” continued Sanborn”

The Commerce Committee will hold a public hearing on the amendment on Tuesday, April 15th at 3:00 P.M.  Copies of the amendment will be available at today’s Commerce Committee hearing and can also be found attached.

“The public hearing on this amendment will be an opportunity for the committee to hear from both sides of this issue to ensure we are moving forward with a policy that carefully balances the needs of patients with our responsibility to protect public health and safety,” concluded Sanborn.

 

ATTACHMENT: Senate Amendment 1322s

Friday
Mar282014

NH Senate Adopts $650 Million Infrastructure Improvement Bill

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New Hampshire Senate

News Release

 

 

Funds completion of I-93, returns millions to communities for road & bridge work

Concord, NH – The Senate today passed legislation that will inject more than $650 million into state and local infrastructure over the next 20 years.  Using a temporary four-cent increase in the state’s road toll, Senate Bill 367 will fund $200 million in infrastructure bonds and significantly increase state aid for local road and bridge projects. 

“New Hampshire’s highways, roads, and bridges are the lifeblood of our economy,” said Senate Transportation Chairman Jim Rausch, “and in order for our economy to grow and thrive, we must be willing to invest in building a strong and healthy state infrastructure.”

The road toll was last increased in 1991 during the tenure of Governor Judd Gregg.  Since that time, the cost of road construction has nearly doubled and rising petroleum costs have driven asphalt prices even higher.  “Economic realities have cut the purchasing power of our road toll nearly in half, and the current funding is simply inadequate to keep up with the work that must be done on our state’s roads and bridges,” continued Rausch.  “This modest, long-overdue road toll adjustment is a pure user fee that asks those who use our roads to pitch in and keep New Hampshire moving forward.” 

As amended by the Senate Finance Committee, the legislation clearly lays out how the additional dollars will be spent.  “The bill puts careful restrictions on these new funds to ensure they go to communities, roads, and bridges,” said Sen. Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, the amendment’s original sponsor.  “The I-93 bond will put these dollars to work immediately, creating new jobs and finally completing one of the most important infrastructure and economic development projects in our state.  Moreover, by working in conjunction with the 10-year highway plan, this bill ensures the state can move forward with other critical project across the state, including the replacement of the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth,” continued Stiles.

The Stiles amendment also details how funds are to be returned to communities – though specific increases in betterment, local block grants, and state bridge aid – and sunsets the road-toll increase in twenty years, once the I-93 bonds are paid in full.  “We’re asking drivers to pay a few pennies more today to provide the capital for these needed projects, and when the work is done the tax will go as well,” concluded Stiles.

Senate Bill 367 now moves to the House for consideration.

Friday
Mar282014

NH Senate Moves to Improve State’s Site Evaluation Committee 

New Hampshire Senate

News Release

Concord, NH – The Senate today unanimously adopted legislation to update and improve the state’s Site Evaluation Committee (SEC), which is charged with approving the locations of power generating facilities and transmission lines in the state.  Senate Bill 245 stems from the recommendations of a legislative study committee which called for changes in how the SEC operates in order to increase efficiency, public input, and community benefit.

“As energy markets change and mature, the process by which New Hampshire makes the critical decisions about the siting of new generation and transmission facilities must also evolve with the times,” said the legislation’s prime sponsor Sen. Finance Chairman Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith.

“This legislation makes the statutory and administrative changes necessary to allow the SEC to fulfill its mission effectively while fairly balancing the interests of property owners and communities with the needs of the state to maintain a strong and reliable energy supply.”

Specifically, SB245 restructures the public hearing and information process, provides the SEC with additional funding and staffing resources, and reduces the number of agency heads who sit on the committee.  The bill also requires that the SEC make a finding of public interest before approving any new projects.

“This legislation is the result of months of conversation and compromise among environmental protection organizations, industry, regulators, and elected officials,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley.  “Together, we were able to put together a well thought-out bill that creates a more responsive, more efficient Site Evaluation Committee that can protect both our environment and our state’s energy infrastructure well into the future.”

Senate Bill 245 now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration

Friday
Mar282014

NH Senate - Crossover Brings Focus on Taxpayer Protection & Economic Development

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New Hampshire Senate

News Release

 

 

 

 

Concord, NH – The State Senate today completed the first half of the 2014 legislative session with a focus on three bills protecting taxpayers and encouraging economic development.

Continuing the Senate’s focus on strengthening the State’s Rainy Day Fund, the body passed Senate Bill 415 which will move over $15 million in surplus from the previous budget into the revenue stabilization account.  “The Rainy Day Fund was created as a way to guard against unexpected economic downturns,” said Senate Finance Chairman, and the bill’s sponsor, Jeanie Forrester, R-Meredith.  “Unfortunately, the balance in the fund has dropped to the point that leaves us ill-prepared for a financial emergency.”  Currently, the state’s rainy day fund balance of $9 million covers less that 1-percent of the state’s general fund revenues, and is well-below the $70 million minimum balance recommended by the State Treasurer and bond rating agencies. 

“Republicans made a commitment to taxpayers that we would work to rebuild our state’s savings account, and today’s vote is an important step towards fulfilling that pledge,” continued Forrester.  “Moving forward, we will continue to closely monitor our current budget and refuse efforts to increase spending in order to further improve our Rainy Day Fund balance, reinforce the state’s financial standing, and protect taxpayers from the costs of unexpected budgetary needs.”

Next, in an effort to preserve the state’s highway fund and improve transparency, the Senate passed Senate Bill 416, which seeks to end the diversion of millions of dollars each year from the fund.  On average, $80 million is moved from the highway fund to cover costs in other state agencies and departments each year. 

“When New Hampshire drivers pay the gas tax or register their car they do so believing those dollars are being used to maintain the roads and bridges they use every day,” said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, the bill’s prime sponsor.  “Diverting these funds from their intended purpose has been a long-held, bipartisan, and unfortunate habit.  This bill will start to end this practice in order to provide some budget transparency and ensure the Transportation Department has the funds they need to keep our highways safe and well maintained.”

Finally, the Senate passed Senate Bill 327, which extends the Economic Revitalization Zone (ERZ) Tax Credit Program through 2020.  “The State of New Hampshire offers three tax credit programs,” said Ways and Means Chairman Bob Odell, R-New London, “and over the last two years we have taken steps to renew and improve each of them,” referring to recent efforts to double and make permanent the Research and Development Tax Credit and to extend the Coos County Job Creation Tax Credit. 

“Today’s passage of the ERZ Credit extension will ensure that this valuable program, which provides incentives for businesses in over fifty communities around the state, will continue to encourage investment, economic development, and job growth through the remainder of the decade,” continued Odell.

All three bills now move to the House of Representatives for consideration.