Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, out of an abundance of caution the General Court has suspended all legislative activities through May 4th. During this time, the State House will be closed to legislative members, legislative staff, and visitors.
No in-person caucus of Republican members is scheduled at this time. Republican members may receive information for conference call caucus by email.
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement upon the approval by the House of Representatives of HB712, relative to a mandatory family and medical leave insurance program funded by a 0.5% tax on wages.
“New Hampshire has never had a tax on wages. We know we can provide family and medical leave coverage on a voluntary basis without a tax on wages. The governor has a plan, and we can support that concept. Democrats insist that the tax on income that they included in SB1 and HB2, which were both vetoed by the governor, is their one and only solution. They have taken family and medical leave hostage, and the ransom is an income tax. It’s unfortunate that they will not work with the governor to get a plan in place that gets the job done without siphoning dollars from everyone’s paychecks to pay for it.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement upon the approval by the House of Representatives of HB687, relative to extreme risk protection orders. The bill passed by a vote of 201-176. 100% of Republican members opposed it’s passage.
“Not only does this bill set an extremely dangerous precedent, but it is also another tool to strip away guns from law abiding citizens. HB687 makes the situation ripe for false accusations and blatant abuse of the law by suspending second amendment rights without adequate due process,” Hinch said. “Under this bill, a mere accusation can cause a warrant to be signed for the seizure of firearms. Then if the person was deemed not a risk, and the order vacated, they would have to go to court in order to get their property back. That’s an egregious infringement on a basic right. If this bill was really meant to help those at risk of harming themselves, it should go on to include knives, prescription drugs, and so on.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) called on House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff (D-Concord) to apply disciplinary sanctions on Rep. Deb Stevens (D-Nashua) after reviewing comments made by Rep. Stevens on Facebook alleging that supporters of Trump are, “planning to start a Civil War,” and, “planning to use their guns to deliberately harm others,” among other things, if President Trump loses the 2020 election.
The post was brought to the attention of the Speaker by Republican members throughout the week via email, and personal meetings and communication by Republican Leadership. The Speaker has yet to denounce the comments, and issued a non-specific scolding of members’ use of social media in his House Calendar announcement released Thursday.
“Rep. Steven’s comments are offensive, inflammatory and set a dangerous tone. Casting aspersions like this on decent, law abiding citizens is unbecoming of an elected official, and show her bigoted views towards gun owners, Trumps supporters, and Republicans alike,” Hinch said.
“The Speaker needs to publicly disavow these comments and tell us how he plans to discipline Rep. Stevens, as he has done to Republican members, over public comments. We all support freedom of speech, but as elected officials, there is also an expectation of decency and respect towards the citizens you represent. With these comments, Rep. Stevens has demonstrated she is unable to provide objective representation to the people of her district, and can’t be trusted to give a fair shake to citizens coming before her committee who may own guns, support the president, or any other condition she has expressed as being a danger.”
“If I were the Speaker, I would apply the same standard to Rep. Stevens as he did to other members of the House, mostly Republican, who saw consequences for public comments. If he doesn’t take action, it must mean that he agrees with her,” Hinch concluded. “There cannot be accountability for some, and not for others.”
Rep. Stevens’ original post was deleted, but she reposted a similar article with identical language. You can view it at the link HERE.
House Republican Leader Responds to Fiscal Committee Denying $46 Million Federal Grant to Charter Schools
Concord- House Republican Leader Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) released the following statement in response to the Democrat controlled Fiscal Committee voting on party lines to not approve $46 million in federal funding that would directly benefit charter schools in New Hampshire. This comes after tabling the item last month.
“Declining $46 million in federal funding to benefit our charter schools is short-sighted, irresponsible, and damaging to our education system. Students do not learn in a one-size fits all environment and it’s extremely disappointing to see the Fiscal Committee denying New Hampshire children an opportunity for educational success.”
“Our state currently has 3,932 students enrolled in charter schools. Democrats will have you believe that there are 1,000 empty seats currently in charter schools. According to the Commissioner of the Department of Education, that is a flawed analysis. There are 1,000 students on waiting lists to enter charter schools, and some communities do not currently have access to charter schools. This federal grant would put NH on a pathway to open more charter schools to better serve students in those areas.”
“Fiscal Committee Democrats sent Commissioner Edelblut a list of over 50 questions to respond to regarding this federal grant and implied countless times that innovative learning is undermining the current education system. I applaud Commissioner Edelblut for not only giving detailed answers to their dog and pony show, but also the commissioner should be applauded for securing the largest grant in the country through this program that Democrats have now thwarted.”
“This action of throwing away a federal grant is disgusting and an absolute disgrace. Considering Democrats in the legislature have consistently asked for more funding for education, they should be embarrassed by their actions today. Their claims are hollow and this is nothing short of playing politics with thousands of children’s education opportunities and chances of success.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement after learning that House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff (D-Concord) had removed Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown) from the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee.
“Rep. Burt had serious concerns about how the Fish and Game Department was being managed, and he has a right to express those views, which he did without the use of vulgarity. His removal is a convenient distraction from the fact that a member of the Speaker’s leadership team used profanity towards private and religious schools, and gets an inconsequential suspension. Frankly, this is a double standard,” Hinch said. “Using profanity towards institutions that educate thousands of New Hampshire students is beyond the pale. For the Speaker to not apply the same standard, or a higher standard, to members of his own team shows how partisan his administration has become. The Speaker must be more worried about his reelection and backlash from the progressive wing of his caucus than he is about holding all members to equal standards.”
“The Speaker’s anti-second amendment allies are busy filing several bills for next year that will be before the Criminal Justice committee, and I’m sure they take satisfaction in silencing a strong advocate from the committee. I’ve always known John to act in good faith in committee, and it’s unfortunate that they’ve tied his committee membership to opinions unrelated to the work and policy scope of his committee.”
According to information released by the New Hampshire Department of Education, across New Hampshire, educators in more than 130 non-public schools are teaching more than 16,000 students, from pre-school to post-graduate.
Rep. Tamara Le serves as an Assistant Majority Floor Leader.
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement after learning that House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff (D-Concord) had not permanently removed Rep. Tamara Le (D-North Hampton) from the House Education committee after making offensive online comments regarding private and religious schools.
Rep. Hinch first learned of the Speaker’s decision by reading an online news article, and has not received official notice of the terms of the suspension. The article states that the Speaker opted to suspend Rep. Le for a period of 3 months, with a reevaluation to occur at the end of the period.
“I was shocked to read that the Speaker chose to take this relatively meaningless step to reprimand Rep. Le. The committee will have very few meetings over the next few months, which makes most of the suspension period moot. If he didn’t intend on putting her back on the committee, he would have made this permanent. That means she’ll be back on the committee in time for major policy debates, at which time anyone representing the interests of private or religious schools before the committee will have to consider whether or not they’ll get a fair review from a State Representative who exhibited online rage towards their institutions.”
“I am reiterating my call for the Speaker to remove this member so our constituents know lawmakers, especially members of his leadership team, will be held to reasonable standards of public decorum. As a graduate of a Catholic high school, I would expect him to take personal offense to what she said. I would also like to invite the Speaker to communicate with my office so we don’t have to hear about these types of announcements by reading the news.”
Rep. Tamara Le also serves as an Assistant Majority Floor Leader.
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the party line vote in the House Science, Technology & Energy committee on HB735, relative to carbon pricing. The bill would establish a tax on carbon emissions that would gradually increase over 4 years, resulting in up to $800 million per year in costs to New Hampshire consumers, businesses, and municipalities. The committee voted 10-8 to recommend the bill ought to pass with amendment, with Republicans voting unanimously in opposition.
“Just as New Hampshire is gearing up to heat our homes, schools, and businesses this winter, Democrats have decided to move forward with their $800 million carbon tax that will hit heating fuels, in addition to gasoline and other fossil fuels, and have a wide ranging negative impact across our economy. This will cost small businesses millions, increasing the costs of goods and services, and it will definitely increase costs to state, county and municipal governments, which will have a severe impact on property taxes and other taxes. If you’re looking to croak our economy and send jobs to other parts of the country, this is the bill for you. No other state has this type of carbon tax scheme, and there’s a reason for that. It’s just wacky to think New Hampshire can afford this type of dramatic policy shift.”
Bill text available here: http://gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/billText.aspx?sy=2019&id=815&txtFormat=pdf&v=current
If the plan were enacted, the Department of Environmental Services estimates revenue as follows:
Calendar Year Tons of CO2 Equiv. Fee Revenue
2020 15,000,000 $20.00 $300,000,000
2021 15,000,000 $30.75 $461,250,000
2022 15,000,000 $41.77 $626,550,000
2023 15,000,000 $53.05 $795,900,000
Bills retained by committees will likely be worked on in the fall, and acted on by the House in January.
Testimony provided to the committee at the time of the public hearing suggested that the proposal would increase gas prices by 15-20 cents per gallon in year one, and 5-10 cents per year as the fee increases. In addition, home heating oil prices could rise as much as $1.22 per gallon. The fee/tax would also apply to other carbon based fuels including natural gas and propane. The bill seeks to rebate some of the revenue back to residents on a per capita basis, and some large industrial entities, but neglects to rebate anything back to small businesses, municipalities or school districts. If energy costs increased by 30-50%, it could have a severe impact on property taxes.
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the party line vote in the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services committee to pass HB731-FN, relative to the minimum hourly rate. This bill as amended would set New Hampshire’s minimum wage at $13/hr, one dollar higher than SB10, which was vetoed by Governor Sununu last session.
“Apparently House Democrats haven’t learned their lesson. Any attempt at passing a job-killing minimum-wage bill will be met with fierce opposition from Republicans. Why they would take last year’s bill, and make it worse, is beyond me. New Hampshire has added over 8,000 jobs in the last year, and continues to have one of the lowest unemployment rates and highest average incomes in the country. This bill would be an unnecessary burden on our state’s small businesses and my Republican colleagues and I look forward to defeating this legislation once again. Looks like Groundhog Day will be celebrated on several days next year”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch issued a statement relative to the public hearing on amendment 2019-2820h to HB559, which has a public hearing at 1:00pm today, Tuesday, November 5th.
The amendment, sponsored by House Municipal & County Government Committee Chair Clyde Carson (D-Warner) requires businesses that distribute plastic and paper bags to customers at the checkout counter provide bags made only of recycled material, and that businesses must charge a fee of 10 cents per bag.
“I believe there are better ways to help consumers make informed decisions other than forcing stores to charge consumers ten cents per bag. This is nothing more than a heavy handed mandate to address a problem that state officials have disclosed does not exist. Many businesses already incentivize use of reusable bags by providing discounts to consumers who bring their own rather than penalizing people who don’t. It’s a slippery slope, and I can only worry that we will see a plastic bottle tax, a plastic straw tax, or a coffee cup fee next. We do not need a bag tax in New Hampshire. Republicans will oppose this every step of the way.”
CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch issued a statement on Monday declaring Republican opposition to legislative service request 2020-2578, a proposal that would include ski area ticket sales under the meals and rooms tax.
LSR 2020-2578, whose text is currently not available*, is sponsored by Rep. Craig Thompson (D-Harrisville), and co-sponsored by Rep. Lee Oxenham (D-Plainfield ), Jennie Gomarlo (D-Swanzey), Joe Schapiro (D- Keene), Michelle St. John (D-Hollis), Matthew Wilhelm (D-Manchester).
“Just as the snow guns are firing up on our state’s ski mountains, Democrats are launching this effort to tax one of our state’s most important industries. There has never been a tax on skiing, and this is an unprecedented attempt to single out an industry,” Hinch said. “It will be a cold, snowy day in hell before we let Democrats pass a ski tax. In fact, I believe hell will freeze over first. This is an unnecessary and egregious tax proposal that will only serve to drive tourists away from New Hampshire, and make skiing more expensive for our own residents.”
“Skiing, snowboarding and related snow sports bring in tens of millions of dollars to the New Hampshire economy each year. The industry supports hundreds of jobs and makes New Hampshire a winter destination for snow sport enthusiasts from around New England, and the Northeast United States,” Hinch included. “Next thing you know, they will propose a tax on hiking or a leaf-peeping tax.”
*Text of legislative service requests are not yet available. LSRs are the preliminary stages of proposed legislation, which are later issued a bill number.