CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

May 17, 2012

My Opinion

By NH State Rep. L. Mike Kappler

RAYMOND — The Rockingham County Executive Committee held its review of the County's 2012 first quarter budget. We debated several line items that were a little high, but found them to be things normally done and do not follow quarterly spending, such as bulk purchases which are done as needed The total appn./expenditures were 25%.

On the revenue side, the grand total was 14%. Our County employees have worked hard keeping costs down. The biomass plant will be on-line this month, and we estimate that with the cost of the wood chip contract, we may save $400K this year. That would be great. Facilities Director Jude Gates has done an outstanding job making this happen, while still performing all her other functions. A big "Thank You" to all our County employees, for their hard work.

Now let's continue with the action taken at our April 25th session. The following are more Senate bills that we passed from the Regular Calendar:

SB-404-FN - relative to funding for pupils enrolled in vocational education programs. This bill does five things affecting current state education policy regarding career and technical education (CTE) programs: (1) it changes the definition of "sending district" in an attempt to clarify the entity responsible for paying the tuition of a student attending a CTE program outside their resident district with the House's language in HB-1202. (2) returns the percentage of local tuition responsibility to the current 25%. (3) enables the state Board of Education, through its rule-making authority, to develop a new formula for determining the tuition and transportation cost for CTE programs, and new procedures for disbursement of funds. (4) removes a prohibition from the bill regarding chartered public school, chartered public school students, or any school districts in which a chartered public school is located, from receiving tuition and transportation reimbursement funds. (5) restores the ability for any district providing a CTE program to charge a "differential vocational education rate" to out of district students. Bill passed (OTP - A) and sent to Finance Committee

SB-314-FN - relative to state-owned vehicle fleet management. The original bill addressed the belief that state employees were using state vehicles for personal use, in the range of 1.5M miles per year. Bill established a mileage reimbursement procedure for use of state owned vehicles by employees based on the information attempting to recoup what was believed to be significant personal mileage reimbursements. The bill, as amended by the House, adds a new section to promote fiscal responsibility in the use of state vehicles as is currently being monitored by the Vehicle Utilization Review Committee. Amendment also establishes clear, precise, and commonly understood definition of the terms "personal use" and the IRS term of "non-business miles" and establishes the conditions under which employees must reimburse the state for their personal use miles. Bill passed OTP-A. Since it was amended by House, bill now goes back to Senate for concurrence.

SB-343-FN - establishing an independent Board of Psychologists. Bill allows NH licensed psychologists to establish their own independent board to regulate their profession. Currently they are governed by the Board of Mental Health Practices. Bill passed and sent to Ways & Means

SB-407-FN - relative to the purchasing policy of the Department of Information Technology, increasing the amount required for competitive bidding, and relative to the transfer of federal grant funds. This bill sets up a procedure that the Department of Administrative Services, Director of Plant and Property Management, and the Office of Information Technology will use for procurement of computer hardware, software, and other related items. It allows departments, with the prior approval, to transfer federal grant funds between class codes to avoid lapsing funds. The amendment will allow agencies to procure items on the approved standards list up to $5K versus the current $500. It also keeps in place the $500 limit on items not on the approved list. Bill passed and sent to Ways & Means.

SB-287 - relative to confidential prescription data and relative to the medical records law. Bill implements the ruling of the Supreme Court in "IMS Health, Inc. v. Sorrell, 131 S, Ct. 2653 (2011) which held that a prohibition on the use of prescriber-identifiable data in prescription records for commercial purposes violates the first Amendment. It also clarifies the release of a patient's medical information. Bill passed and goes to Governor for signature.

SB-409-FN - relative to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Bill permits the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes in New Hampshire. This legislation takes effect on July 1, 2012, allowing time for any needed changes and will sunset on July 1, 2015.

SB-256 - relative to public utilities commission (PUC) contracts with consultants. Bill brings the PUC in line with other state agencies by requiring that PUC contracts with consultants above certain dollar amounts be approved by Governor and Council. Bill

Several bills were pulled from the Consent Calendar, so as not to be confused with violating House Rule #51 which states "No bill shall be on a Consent Calendar if it has a fiscal impact or appropriation".

SB-203-FN-A - relative to limited liability companies. This bill completely rewrites the law for limited liability companies (LLC). It expands the current LLC law, which has 85 sections, to 204 sections, clarifying many confusing issues. Bill passed and was sent to Ways & Means.

SB-311-FN-A - establishing a Director of the Division of Weights & Measures and relative to the setting of weights and measures fees. This division is primarily responsible for ensuring the accuracy of gas pumps, fuel gauges, grocery scales, etc. While the division is part of the Department of Agriculture, the bulk of their work is not with farms. Bill passed and sent to Executive Departments & Administration.

SB-286 - relative to a controlled drug prescription health and safety program. Bill creates a new program to monitor controlled drug dispensing. Bill passed and sent to Ways & Means.

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