NH lawmakers approve $13.5B finances package deal | New Hampshire

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CONCORD, N.H. — The Republican-led New Hampshire Legislature on Thursday handed a two-year state finances that features not solely $13.5 billion in spending however tax cuts, abortion restrictions and controversial teaching programs and insurance policies.

When Democrats managed each chambers two years in the past, Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the finances and compelled the state to function below a short lived spending plan till a compromise was signed into legislation three months later. And although Republicans received management of each the Home and Senate in November, that didn’t guarantee a smoother path this 12 months.

Divisions amongst Home Republicans had threatened to derail the method, with some objecting to the inclusion of Sununu’s paid household and medical depart proposal and what they considered as inadequate limits on the governor’s energy throughout a state of emergency. However ultimately, the Home accepted the spending invoice on a vote of 208-172 in addition to companion laws that features each associated and unrelated coverage adjustments on a vote of 198-181. The Senate vote on each payments was 14-10, and Sununu is anticipated to signal them.

“Historic tax cuts, property tax reduction and Paid Household Medical Depart delivered multi functional sweeping motion is a win for each citizen and household on this state,” he stated in an announcement.

The compromise laws accepted Thursday spends about $300 million lower than what Sununu proposed in February and roughly $150 million lower than what the Home initially accepted in March. Republicans touted the finances as each fiscally accountable and attentive to the wants of the state because it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

“It has been a troublesome 12 months for all of us. Let’s give the individuals of New Hampshire a vivid gentle and optimism for the longer term,” stated Rep. Laurie Sanborn, R-Bedford. “With passage of this invoice we ship a sign to our individuals and the world: New Hampshire is popping out of this pandemic stronger, extra free, extra inexpensive, extra beneficiant and extra enjoyable than ever earlier than.”

Democrats, in the meantime, argued the finances ignores the state’s neediest residents whereas together with tax cuts that can assist rich residents and firms, together with $10 million to reimburse reckless traders who misplaced cash in a Ponzi scheme. The proposal contains reducing the meals and rooms tax, decreasing the enterprise enterprise tax and enhance the brink for submitting and decreasing the enterprise earnings tax. It additionally contains step one towards phasing out the curiosity and dividends tax.

“Are we stealing from the poor and giving to the wealthy? I feel so!” stated Sen. Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester. “Robinhood in reverse is the picture that’s pervasive in New Hampshire right now.”

Right here’s a take a look at a few of the different key provisions:

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ABORTION

The finances would prohibit abortions past 24 weeks gestation, with exceptions solely to avoid wasting the lifetime of the mom. Well being care suppliers who present abortion after 24 weeks gestation would face felony expenses that carry penalties of as much as seven years in jail.

“We’re solely one among seven states on this nation that doesn’t put any form of a restrict on abortions,” stated Sen. Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry. “Forty-three states on this nation have agreed that in some unspecified time in the future you need to contemplate the lifetime of the toddler.”

Underneath the invoice, anybody searching for an abortion process can be required to have an ultrasound. Sen. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, expressed his opposition to that provision by displaying a vaginal ultrasound probe, whereas Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, stated lawmakers shouldn’t be making such mandates.

“I’m not a health care provider, however I’ve by no means understood how a 424-person Legislature might slot in a health care provider’s workplace and insert themselves between physician and affected person, ordering medical procedures resembling ultrasound with out regard to medical necessity, affected person security or value,” she stated.

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EDUCATION

The finances contains the creation of voucher-like “schooling freedom accounts” that can be utilized towards personal or house faculty bills. It additionally contains much-debated provision associated to schooling and race. An earlier model, echoing a now-rescinded Trump administration order, sought to ban dialogue of “divisive ideas” in colleges. The accepted language, pitched as an effort to strengthen anti-discrimination legal guidelines, would prohibit instructing kids that they’re inferior, racist, sexist or oppressive by advantage of their race, gender or different traits.

Opponents stated the availability robs younger individuals of an inclusive schooling.

“True historical past, if we’re trustworthy, we will agree it was painful, dangerous and price of examination,” stated Rep. Latha Mangipudi, D-Nashua. “This refusal of fact is insidious as a result of it denies the truth we see with our personal eyes and expertise ourselves. Residing in denial of our previous makes us doomed to repeat it sooner or later.”

Rep. Safiya Wazir, who got here to the U.S. as a refugee from Afghanistan, stated the availability undermines “what makes America a spot of freedom.”

“We name ourselves the best nation and we must always enable dialogue,” she stated.

One notable omission from the finances was Sununu’s sweeping proposal to mix the state’s 11 group faculties and four-year faculties and universities into one “seamless system” college students. Lawmakers saved their funds separate within the finances for the following two, with the aim of revisiting the concept subsequent 12 months.

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EMERGENCY POWERS

Underneath present legislation, the governor can declare a state of emergency and renew it each 21 days so long as she or he finds it needed to guard public security and welfare, although the Legislature can nonetheless vote to terminate it. That’s what Sununu did when the pandemic started and continued the renewals till earlier this month.

The finances’s trailer invoice contains new language that may require the governor to handle a joint session of the Legislature 90 days from the declaration of a state of emergency and each 90 days after that. The Legislature shall then vote on whether or not to terminate the state of emergency by a decision adopted by a majority of members voting.

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Related Press Author Kathy McCormack contributed to this report.

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