Mario Ratzki Reports from Concord: January 2015

Introduces four-year term for governor again

By Mario Ratzki, NH Representative

We had our first House session of 2015 on January 7. Concealed weapons were again allowed anywhere in the State House, reversing the previous House stand.

A new rule requiring the support of 20 members instead of 10 to ask for a roll call was tabled 343 to 36.

Representative Bill O’Brien’s attempt to have the Speaker appoint the Republican caucus winner (O’Brien) as the majority leader in the House failed 260 to 120. The majority thought that the Speaker should continue the tradition of appointing his own majority leader. This exemplifies the rift that has occurred in the Republican party, leading some in the House to call it a three-party system.

I am once again a member of the Public Works and Highways committee, and David Karrick is again a member of Ways and Means. My chairman is former Speaker Gene Chandler.

Governor Maggie Hassan spoke at a joint convention of the House and the Senate on January 8. Highlights of her speech included a pitch for expanded rail to Nashua and one for establishing a higher minimum wage than the federal $7.25 an hour. Representative Cilley has introduced a bill to bring the minimum wage to $14.25 an hour over a three-year period.

Missing from the Governor’s speech was any reference to a casino, although Senator D’Allessandro has introduced casino legislation.

Four-Year Term for Governor

Upon reflection, I have reintroduced my constitutional amendment to have a four-year term for Governor. I believe it is essential for our top executive to be able to fashion a long-term vision for the state. The Governor has one year to do this now, the second year being taken up by campaigning.

I also introduced HB 176, calling for the flood control payments to be made good for 2013. (We did get 2012 payments). We recouped $1.1 million from the state of Massachusetts last year. The Commonwealth is sending us an additional $654,000 for year 2013 and 2014, and I expect Salisbury to get its share.

PSNH has sued New Hampshire towns to have its property assessments and taxes reduced. The Board of Selectmen of Andover has asked me to support LSR 460 (the global resolution) and LSR 928 in an effort to resolve this issue through legislation rather than litigation. I intend to do so.

Proponents of broadband expansion in Danbury have introduced a warrant article to establish a committee of five to study the issue and are asking for a $500 contribution from the Town of Danbury to get it going.

Senator Forrester has introduced a bill at the behest of Ragged Mountain Resort to establish a village district on the mountain. At time of writing, the Town of Danbury has not taken an official position on this bill.

Fuel assistance is available in New Hampshire. To find out more, please call Celeste Lovett at 271-8317 or Robert Ditman at 271-2685.

I am always available at 735-5440 or