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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: 1 down, 2 to go
With about three months to go in the session, two issues are still alive, though while the eulogy is being written for casino gambling, no bill has a stake through its heart until lawmakers go home in June.
The House has approved Medicaid expansion three times since the beginning of the two-year legislative session and is expected to do so a fourth time.
The bill's prime sponsor, Sen. Jim Rausch, R-Derry, told his colleagues last week when the Senate gave the bill preliminary approval on a 14-9 vote: "It has been a long, rough, bumpy road filled with numerous potholes."
With the backing of 10 Democrats and four Republicans, the bill is likely to finally make it out of the Senate when it meets March 27, despite the strong opposition of Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, who wants to pay for increased highway and bridge rehabilitation and construction with revenues from a casino.
Divestiture: House Bill 1602 has received scant attention this session, though it would essentially require state utility regulators to quickly determine whether Public Service of New Hampshire should sell its fossil-fuel burning power plants.
The scrubber, divestiture and stranded costs are a triangle that lawmakers, regulators and the company are trying to resolve, but to date have been unsuccessful.
Abortion: Last year and so far this session the Legislature has been relatively free of abortion debates.
That is about to change.
Supporters say the bill is not about abortion, but pro-choice activists disagree and say similar bills have been used to restrict abortion rights in other states.
The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends House Bill 1501 be killed. The bill would require outpatient abortion clinics such as those of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, the Concord Feminist Health Center and the Joan G Lovering Health Center, formerly the Feminist Health Center of Portsmouth, to be licensed by the state.
The same committee on the same vote recommends that House Bill 1502, to collect data on the abortions performed in the state, be sent to interim study, which is a polite death in the second year of a legislative session because the next legislature has no obligation to do anything with the bill.
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Award for Dupont: Ed Dupont, former Senate president and former chairman of the University of New Hampshire Board of Trustees, was honored this month by The New England Board of Higher Education.
"He led the board through the most significant governance changes in the system's 50-year history," the NEBHE noted.
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