CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

May 8, 2014

My Opinion: May 8, 2014

By NH State Representative L. Mike Kappler
Carriage Towne News

---- — RAYMOND - Here are some more Senate bills that the House dealt with:

SB-215-FN, authorizing benefit corporations. This bill creates a new class of corporation that, in addition to its other goals, intends to create a “public benefit”. Bill allows corporations with a 2/3 vote of its shareholders to designate itself as a benefit corp. with social goals. I believe since there is no hard definition of such, nor any criteria for evaluating progress towards the benefit, nor any penalties for not doing so (only for failure to report); it’s hard to see a benefit corporation as anything but public relations scam. Bill passed OTP (N) on RC 216-101, and was sent to Executive Departments and Administration Committee as a 2nd committee.

SB-141-FN, establishing the Granite State farm to plate program. The agricultural community represents a significant part of New Hampshire’s economy, and this bill, as amended, expresses support for agriculture, in all its forms, and encourages local and state governments to cooperate and to minimize regulations that would adversely affect agriculture. It emphasizes maximizing federal funds that subsidize agriculture, such as food stamps at farmer’s markets, and milk subsidies. House amendment A-1346h (Y) passed voice vote (VV). Bill passed OTP-A (Y) D 171-143.Bill sent to Finance Committee as a 2nd committee.

SB-204-FN, (2nd New Title) relative to a benefit for certain medical conditions covered by workers compensation and establishing a commission to study soft tissue injuries under workers compensation and to study the feasibility of developing a first responders critical injury fund. This bill: (a) established the first responders critical injury benefit to make awards of additional workers compensation upon warrant by the Governor with approval by the Executive Council for Group II retirement system members, only, who suffer certain medical conditions. (b) establishes a commission to study soft tissue injuries for purposes of worker’s compensation and to study the feasibility of developing a first responders critical injury fund.

Although this bill has good intentions, I could not vote for it because the effective date of the bill is unconstitutional. Part I, Article 10, states “Government being instituted for the common benefit, protection, and security, of the whole community, and not for the private interest re emolument of any one man, family, or class of men...” Article 23 also prohibits retrospective laws, and the effective date in the Applicability section was retroactively set at March 12, 2012, to benefit one Manchester police officer, who was wounded in the performance of his duty. Bill committee A-1427h passed (N) RC 199-120, Floor A-11492h failed (Y) RC 133-189, bill passed OTP-A (N) D 211-111, and was sent to Finance Committee as 2nd committee.

SB-375, establishing a committee to study the creation of a flood mitigation fund for private property owners. This bill establishes a committee to study the creation of a flood mitigation fund for private and municipal property owners.

This bill is unnecessary because “flood mitigation fund” is just another way of saying “flood insurance”, which is a normal function of the private sector. Why should the state get involved in “private” problems? The committee amended.

A-1329h passed (N) D 169-107. Bill passed OTP-A (N) RC 165-124.

New subject. I have a real concern over the newly released Standard & Poor’s report revising the outlook from stable to negative on New Hampshire’s general obligation and state-guaranteed bonds citing, “Relatively low reserves, with a rainy day fund balance of less than 1% of expenditures,” and “Low pension funding level, currently 56.7%, well below that of most other states, which we believe could result in additional pressure on future budgets”, in addition to concern over the recent Medicaid Enhancement Tax court rulings.

We were warned back in January by our State Treasurer, that without a significant change in policy in regards to our Rainy Day Fund, we could see our credit rating drop, but the House Democrat leadership dismissed the warning and continues to spend at will. We really need to pass SB-415, and then get the Governor to sign it, as soon as possible to ensure that last year’s surplus is saved and not spent, and will be available in the event of a revenue emergency. Unfortunately this term, the Republican effort to stop spending has been over-ruled by the Democrats.

(Editor’s Note: NH State Representative Mike Kappler can be reached at l.mikekappler@comcast.net)