June 21 – The House and the Senate have reached agreement on the budget.
Medicaid expansion will not happen now, but a commission will study expansion and report later this year at which point we will get a chance to vote on it again.
In great news, flood control payments were 100% restored by the Senate and agreed to by the House for fiscal years 2014 and 2015. Some of the money is coming from the Attorney General Office budget as an incentive for that office to pursue Massachusetts for the flood control payments it owes New Hampshire. The Attorney General is in Massachusetts as we speak to do just that. In the meantime, Salisbury has got some money coming!
June 18 – There is precious little to report from Concord. As I write this, the New Hampshire House and Senate are still in conference committees trying to bridge their differences so as to present us with a budget. Points of contention:
Revenues estimate: the House sees $57 million more in revenues; the Senate does not and threatens to lay off 700 state workers, perhaps more.
Medicaid expansion, which would cover thousands of uninsured families in New Hampshire, has been taken out by the Senate; the House wants it back.
The Senate wants the full voter ID law to take effect. The House wants to repeal full implementation, arguing that any photo ID (student, military, etc.) be allowed.
The reconciled budget is meant to be voted on on Wednesday, June 26. At this point, I cannot tell whether it can be reconciled. We will have to wait and see.
In other news, Caroline and I recently came back from an Azerbaijan/Turkey/US conference in Baku, Azerbaijan and in Istanbul, Ankara, and Izmir, Turkey. I applied and was selected to participate along with four other members of the New Hampshire House. (See a photo here.)
While in Baku, we were hosted by the president of Azerbaijan, Mr. Aliyev, and the Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, Mr. Ali Babajan.
In all three Turkish cities, we were often a breath away from the demonstrators. We were tear-gassed a couple of times due to the gas wafting toward us. So it was ironic, and also sad, to hear the ruling party extol the great economic achievements of the economy, while we could see armored vehicles and battle-clad policemen rushing a block away to quell the demonstrations. These demonstrations, originally caused by a dispute over a park, morphed into a confrontation between secularists and Islamists.
The conference was paid for by the Turkish Council, and not a single penny came from the State of New Hampshire. There were about 200 US state representatives, congressmen, and senators, and you will be happy to know, and we were all proud of it, that our New Hampshire legislators' salaries were the lowest of them all, by a very long shot. Hawaii: $67,000 a year; California: over $100,000.
The trip turned out to be a great opportunity to make friends with Marjorie Smith (D-Durham), Peter Leishman (D-Hillsborough), Lenette Peterson, (R-Merrimack), and Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderrry).
Finally, Senator Forrester and I were the prime sponsors of a bill allowing Ragged Mountain Resort to place a better sign in Danbury to advertise the mountain. The governor invited us, plus David Karrick and Tom Schamberg of Wilmot, for a signing ceremony.
I will not hold constituent meetings over the summer, but will still be available at 735-5440 or MarioRatzki@nullgmail.com.