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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Lawmakers enter 'crunch time'
We are about to enter either crunch time, or the world series of lawmaking, depending on your perspective.
The House and Senate will try to reconcile different versions of the same bill in what are called "committees of conference" - when four House members and three Senators negotiate, but not always successfully.
Differences can be resolved in a quick walk between the offices, but sometimes it takes days to get from one side of the building to the other.
All the cards are on the table, although most of the time the numbers and suits are invisible. Often, a half-dozen bills are intertwined not by subject matter, but strategically so one bill won't move forward without agreement on the others attached.
If all goes as planned, there will be a joint conference committee on Senate Bill 369 and House Bill 1613.
The House version would clarify lawmakers' intent to use the MET revenue for health care programs and eliminate a provision allowing the money to go into the general fund.
That's not a lot of common ground.
If it did, that would leave only the House bill and the Senate plan, but the House negotiators would be in charge.
Those little details are taken into consideration by the Senate leadership and its staff when determining what actions to take on bills.
The Senate may agree to the change or, even if there is not strong objection, ask the House to negotiate because there are other issues that need to be resolved and the bill can be used as a bargaining chip.
This is the time of year a degree in psychology is helpful, as well as tennis shoes and an extra pair of glasses to follow the bouncing balls.
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Medicaid Expansion: Key elements of the state's Medicaid expansion plan - or NH Health Protection Act - will go before the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee this week, including a waiver request that would provide additional federal money to help cover existing services.
County matching funds are all from correctional facilities. Those for cities and towns are from health care and administration costs.
Last week, Senate President Chuck Morse, R-Salem, who has long-pushed Toumpas and his agency to pursue the waiver, said he believes more work needs to be done on the waiver to make it acceptable to him.
Along with the waivers and state plan amendments, the committee will also be asked to approve Gov. Maggie Hassan's executive order to freeze general fund spending for hiring, equipment or out-of-state travel.
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Small Turnout: The House on Thursday did not have a working quorum when the day began at the early 9:30 a.m. start time.
Without a working quorum, every action requires a two-thirds majority which means the minority rules.
Later in the day the numbers fell again but it just squeaked through on a majority vote 162-100.
Representative's Talent: Singing the national anthem before the House session is a shared responsibility in that representatives are often tapped to lead the singing.
One day last week, Miss New Hampshire 2014 Megan Cooley did a more than admirable job with the piece that is very difficult to sing well. But the next day, House members heard another polished rendition from one of their own, Rep. Jane Cormier, R-Alton.
Cormier lists her occupation as a music performer and teacher in the legislative Blue Book.
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