Here come the study committees

Jul 10, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

When faced with a complex issue, the New Hampshire Legislature will often vote to create a committee to study the issue.  After meeting over the summer and fall, the committee is responsible for recommending any bills the following year.

Here is a summary of some of the major issues committees will consider this summer.

Electricity costs

One committee has the broad mission to “study ways to mitigate the cost of electricity in New Hampshire.”  New England generally has much higher electricity costs than other regions in the United States.  Supporters of the Northern Pass, opponents of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, and advocates for new natural gas pipelines have all used New Hampshire’s high electricity costs in their arguments. 

Renewable Portfolio Standard

A different committee will study the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPF) in particular.  The RPF requires utilities to purchase a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources or pay a penalty.  Those penalties provide subsidies to individuals and businesses working on renewable energy projects.

Involuntary commitment

A commission of legislators, other government officials, and stakeholders is responsible for studying New Hampshire’s process for involuntary commitment to a hospital when a person is suffering from a severe mental illness. The commission must consider the (sometimes excessive) time patients wait in emergency rooms before being admitted to the state hospital. The commission must also consider the status of patients who are transferred to the state prison for security purposes. 

Birth control over the counter

A commission of legislators, government officials, and health care professionals will study allowing pharmacists to prescribe or make available oral contraceptives over the counter.  While supporters hope this would increase access and give women more control over their health care, it might increase costs for women by cutting out insurance. 

Education Funding

Another committee has the large task of studying education funding, particularly the current state formula for calculating funding per pupil. The state recently faced a lawsuit because it capped funding in fast-growing districts.  The state also plans to phase-out “stabilization grants,” which minimized funding cuts for schools with decreasing enrollment.  A recent study from the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies concluded that education funding is just as unequal now as it was in 1990s, when New Hampshire first overhauled its education funding system. 

Marijuana legalization?

The House and Senate passed a bill to study the legalization and taxation of marijuana, but Gov. Chris Sununu has not yet signed the bill. 

Do you have an opinion on any of these issues? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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