State House Update

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Rep. St. John (Hollis), Rep. Petrigno (Milford) and me 2019 session

In my last blog post, I promised to give you an update on what I’ve been working on since heading to the the State House.

Some people know that I lead a warrant article effort by writing and conducting training on the issue of Citizen’s United and money in our politics back in 2014. I passed that warrant in Hollis. 69 towns passed warrants that year, asking the state of New Hampshire to petition Congress for a Constitutional Amendment to undo the supreme court decisions that led us to ‘Get the Money Out of Politics.’ I stayed involved with subsequent bills in the State House on this topic in the years’ since.

As a newly elected member of the House, I decided to ‘be the change I seek’, by entering a House Concurrent Resolution (HCR5), which I was able to pass in the House on ‘pi day’ 3-14!

It turns out the Senate has a weird rule that says they do not have take up House Concurrent (meaning the House & Senate concur) Resolutions without bipartisan consent – so I’m still waiting to find out if HCR5 will be fully passed this year and make New Hampshire the 20th state to insist the we ‘Get the Money Out of Politics’.  

As a new member of Science, Technology & Energy (ST&E), I have had a busy term visiting power stations, listening to the testimony of energy stakeholders and advocates and trying to keep up with all the proposed policies aimed at helping New Hampshire move forward to meet the moment. I had some experience with NH’s energy portfolio from prior stints as the Chair of Hollis’ Pipeline Taskforce and the Hollis designee of the NRPC’s Energy Facility Advisory Committee.

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Granite Ridge Power Station

I sponsored one ST&E bill with amendment HB412 to study how we can attain a clean energy electric grid by 2030. After hearing many worthy bills, I was longing for an overarching plan to figure out how the pieces fit together to achieve the goal of lowered emissions. My study bill was retained and I will be able to resume working on it later this year.

I signed on to several Municipal Government bills sponsored by Hollis Republican colleague Rep. Jim Belanger, one passed the House HB149 on apportionment formulas. I supported Rep. Joelle Martin’s (Milford) bill HB680 to add vaping as a smoking product under the cigarette statute (passed House/retained by Ways and Means). Vaping has been widely adopted across the state and it seems appropriate to acknowledge these products in our statutes.

I delivered the floor speech from ST&E on Rep. Rosemary Rung’s (Merrimack) bill HB614 to increase fines for water and air polluters to help NH DES deal with offenders (passed House/Senate report pending). This bill came from her work in Merrimack on the St. Cobain PFOA water contamination and clean up efforts.

I co-sponsored four Senate energy bills from Senator Fuller-Clark (SB13, SB122, SB123, SB284). My House Committee Chair recently tapped me to Chair a Subcommittee for one of these Senate bills: SB284 a statewide, multi-use online energy data platform to be overseen by the Public Utilities Commission and operated by the state utilities. 

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Me with Senator Fuller Clark

This bill came over to ST&E having passed in the Senate with the reputation that it was likely to be retained. I was given 10 days to run a bi-partisan SubCommittee and get all the parties on board. After several, large, 2 hour meetings, the PUC’s Consumer Advocate and the utilities came together to amend the bill language in order to have an agreed upon goal. Everyone had aired their concerns and identified benefits to NH’s electric customers and our deregulated electric market.

I stood in the well on the floor of the House of Representatives on May 8th and all those who worked so hard to reach this milestone on the energy platform project were gratified to see SB284 pass 218-133!

The Science, Technology & Energy Committee worked very hard on energy policy to incentivize greater adoption of clean energy and to properly fund energy efficiency programs. From bills that fund low-income customers, school districts and municipal renewable projects, to those that raise the net-metering cap or set a state fleet goal of 100% zero emissions vehicles by 2039, we are finding ways to increase NH’s response to climate disruption, while being conscious of electric rates. The balancing act is a good one and one I’m happy to make sure we do it well.

My first-year goal was to build credibility among peers & leadership and to learn the ropes of lawmaking. I got to make 3 floor speeches and each bill passed – so I didn’t embarrass myself in ‘the well’ ;-). I’ve not seen any pettiness or wasted efforts by Democrats in moving an ambitious agenda and that is a comfort. We’ve been focused on fixing the issues those who elected care about – stability for families – healthcare/mental health/addiction/opioid response/family medical leave, property tax relief – public school adequacy funding, & rebalancing the state/local cost sharing .

Women in White for Suffrage

If there is a difference in the parties agendas, I’d say it is that we understand that we cannot improve with a cuts-only mentality. We have to invest our money wisely in order to provide a return on your tax investment. I have attended finance hearings that discuss a solid plan (short, medium and long-term) to improve support for mandatory infrastructure and social funding for schools & healthcare.  If the voters will stay with us, the quality of work we are doing will pay off for families, towns and businesses.

I’ll keep working hard for you and working across the aisle wherever possible, but make no mistake – it is oh-so-nice, to have the majority and be able to get important work done!

Tired of one step forward, two steps back? #DemsDoTheJob

Feel free to reach out with any questions.

Warm regards,

Kat

kat.mcghee@leg.state.nh.us