Senate, House still have key issues to resolve
CONCORD - The Senate and House still have a number of key issues and bills to resolve before they adjourn for the summer.
The Senate Wednesday asked the House to try to negotiate compromises on a number of bills. The negotiators have about a week to work out their differences.
The Senate wants to talk to the House about Senate Bill 212, which establishes the parameters for how risk management polls, such as the Local Government Center, Primex and SchoolCare, may operate.
The House version establishes defines reserves and surpluses, sets thresholds for returning surpluses to communities and allows the pools to retain some surplus for rate stabilization, according to Sen. Raymond White, R-Bedford, who tried unsuccessfully to convince his colleagues to agree to the House version of the bill.
He said the bill follows the framework of settlement agreements between the Secretary of State and Primex and SchoolCare. 'Either those agreement will be at risk,' he said, 'or will have two entities playing by a different set of rules.'
But those supporting a negotiated settlement with the House said the changes are significant and worry many local communities. 'A lot of folks who run our cities and towns think these would be dangerously low reserves,' said Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro.
On an 11-9 vote, the Senate agreed to ask the House for a conference committee on the bill.
The Senate wants to negotiate with the House over SB 289, which requires voters to show a photo identification card before they can cast their ballots.
The Senate version of the bill was crafted with the help of city and town clerks as well as the Secretary of State's Office, while House version includes greater restrictions and would go into effect for the November general election, which the Senate version would not.
The House version would have local election officials photograph voters who show up without a photo ID. That picture would be attached to a sworn statement from the voter saying he or she qualifies as a registered voter.
Local election officials said there is not enough time to implement the House's version of the bill in time for the Nov. 6 election.
Last year, Gov. John Lynch vetoed a voter ID bill that required provisional ballots for those without photo IDs, and the Senate sustained the veto.
Senate and House negotiators will try to reach an agreement on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program, although both versions would allow the state to withdraw from the carbon emissions reduction program.
The House version would repeal the program by Jan. 1, 2015, while the Senate version reforms the program by allowing New Hampshire to withdraw if two other New England states do and to use most of the proceeds from the sale of carbon allowances for ratepayer relief.
The Senate and House will negotiate to see if they can reach an agreement on allowing marijuana to be used in the state for medical purposes.
The House changed SB 409 so the program would be funded through donations or gifts.
The House Finance Committee concluded the program should be administered without identification card fees that patients would have been charged in the original bill.
Instead, the committee decided to create 'Registry Identification Card Fund,' which would be allowed to accept gifts, grants and donations of any size, without approval from the Governor and Executive Council.
The fund would be overseen by the state treasury.
The underlying bill would allow a patient or a registered caregiver to possess up to six ounces of marijuana or cultivate up to four plants within a locked and secured facility in a location known to law enforcement.
Senate and House negotiators will try to work our their differences over HB 1383, which would require students receiving in-state tuition from state universities and colleges be legal residents of the United States.
The House bill would have the institutions certify the students are legal residents, while the Senate version would have students or parents sign affidavits saying they are legal residents.
Senate and House negotiators will try to bridge a rather large divide between versions of SB 406, which would allow medical providers to make early offers of settlement with patients injured while undergoing medical procedures.
The bill also contains a House provision prohibiting physicians from recommending medical devices in which they have a financial interest.
The provision nearly killed the bill, but the House has agreed to study the issue instead, according to Bradley, who acknowledged the gap between the Senate and the House may be difficult to bridge on the underlying bill.