Mario Ratzki Reports from Concord: March 2014

Bills passing, bills failing

By Mario Ratzki, NH Representative

The pace has picked up tremendously in Concord, with the State of the State by our Governor, Maggie Hassan, and the announcement of a possible agreement on Medicaid Expansion with a New Hampshire label. The bill is being drafted, and we will vote on it before recess.

There have been a slew of defeated bills:

GMO labeling, HB 660, was killed by an alliance of the Republican party and the House Democratic leadership concerned about labeling costs and the role of Federal law. The 162 reps who voted for it just wanted to know what was in our food.

The wind farm moratorium, HB 580, was struck down by a similar alliance.

Background checks, HB 1589, was slain by an alliance of Republicans mindful of their second amendment rights constituents, allied this time with approximately two dozen Democrats in purple districts. The idea was to close loopholes in gun purchases to ensure that fewer weapons would fall into the hands of the criminal, the criminally insane, felons, and domestic abusers.

Opponents were suspicious of the slippery slope towards a registry of weapon owners in the hands of the Federal government. In view of the recent NSA domestic spying scandal, who can blame them? The fact remains that 89% of the population of New Hampshire favored this bill, including supporters of the second amendment who understood that denying felons, criminals, and domestic abusers the right to bear arms is common sense.

Bills passed: HB 569, which would favor energy projects that buried transmission lines in New Hampshire, a not-too-subtle shot at Northern Pass, went 171 to 139.

HB 485, allowing Keno to be played wherever alcohol is served. This gambling bill passed 202 to 141; yours truly was one of the 141. I just could not see kids exposed to this in restaurants.

Still to come: death penalty repeal; a couple of casino bills; medicaid expansion, of course; minimum wage (which I support); and a four-cent rise in the gas tax introduced by Senator Rausch, a Republican senator. This bill may pass this year, giving the DOT approximately $28 million per year, which is less than one third of what the DOT needs.

I have been remiss in answering some e-mails, and I apologize. It has been a hectic schedule in the last month. That's my excuse, and I am sticking to it.

Last but not least, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) signing period has a Monday, March 31 deadline. Many have signed and are happy with the results. So here again are the contacts for people who can help you sign up: Donna Toomey at 934-1464 and Melanie Young at 228-6625. They are navigators for the ACA. Their services are free and confidential.

I am always available at 735-5440 and at MarioRatzki@nullgmail.com.