Mario Ratzki Reports from Concord: July 2014

Hospitals settle; state on track for balanced budget

By Mario Ratzki, NH representative

While June 4 was the last session scheduled for the year in the legislature, we will have to go back at least once to vote on the governor's vetoes.

Governor Hassan has already vetoed HB 1244, which would have prohibited the disclosure of lottery winners names. I thought not releasing lottery winners names was incredibly short-sighted, that it would lead to people questioning the legitimacy of our lottery system, and I am glad to see that the Governor is on the same page. Whenever State funds are disbursed, transparency is paramount.

The governor did surprise a lot of us who were wringing our hands in despair at the Medicaid Enhancement Tax debacle. She managed to get 25 New Hampshire hospitals to settle with the State, reducing the State liability from $180 million for one year to between $45 and $100 million for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. The hospitals would also drop their claims for tax refunds for fiscal 2014 and 2015. SB 369 passed the Senate, and the House concurred on a bipartisan vote of 278 to 72. All in all, a good deal for the State, and one that will allow us to finish the year on track for a balanced budget without painful cuts.

The House and the Senate passed the Pay Equity Act overwhelmingly, asking employers to pay women the same as men for equivalent work.

The Senate was successful in conference committee with the House in restoring fiscal 2012 flood control payments to 18 New Hampshire towns , including our district town of Salisbury. We will have to come back next year to get the State to reimburse our towns for fiscal 2013, and I will introduce a bill to that effect.

Medicaid Expansion will start on July 1. The health care insurance program will be open to residents between age 19 and 65 with incomes within 138 % of poverty level. Interested parties should call 888 901-4999 or visit NHEasy.nh.gov or Healthcare.gov. Do not hesitate to call me if you have any problem signing up.

We still have committee meetings in Concord to deal with interim study bills which, if approved, would have to be refiled for next year.

In other news, I was happy to see that the meeting we had with the DOT last year resulted in the Rail Trail acquiring 15 granite markers. Also, I had a conversation with Bill Cass of the DOT regarding the state of the road between the junction of Routes 4 and 11 towards Franklin, and while I know that the DOT had planned to do so, I was thrilled to see the road resurfaced so rapidly.

In local news, the Danbury Shoppe of Cosmetology (hairdresser and massages) opened in Danbury, where I had my hair cut. They are located across the street from Audrey Pellegrino's Danbury Country Store. I also want to congratulate Donna Sprague and Charlotte McIver for the fantastic work they have done with others to raise funds for the Blazing Star Grange Hall's curtain restoration project.

I wish everyone a Happy Fourth of July. I will be available on the Village Green in Andover on the Fourth, and always at 735-5440 or MarioRatzki@nullgmail.com.