EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

June 30, 2013

What the N.H. Legislature did and didn't do

By John Toole
jtoole@eagletribune.com

---- — CONCORD — What the Legislature didn’t do this year could be its lasting legacy.

House and Senate lawmakers disagreed over licensing a casino, raising the gas tax and expanding Medicaid in debates that dominated the session.

Two of the three issues could get revisited soon. Studies will take place in the coming months concerning both the Medicaid expansion and casino issues.

The Legislature did approve a $10.7 billion state budget, along with a capital budget that would pay for a kindergarten project, new liquor store and new technical school in Salem.

The budget did represent key policy decisions. Lawmakers said it did not raise taxes or fees, but boosted funding for colleges and college scholarships, as well as enabling a tuition freeze.

It also provided funding to put more state troopers on the highways and boost economic development and tourism.

Legislators characterized juvenile service legislation as the most important in 30 years, saying it will expand the Children in Need of Services program and leave only the most dangerous offenders in the Youth Services Center.

Lawmakers took another look at the state’s controversial voter photo ID law approved in the last session.

They agreed to postpone for two years a requirement that people who refuse to present an ID have their photo taken by election workers. They also kept in place provisions letting students use college IDs.

A plan to permit use of marijuana for medical reasons won approval, making New Hampshire the last state in New England to do so.

The Business and Industry Association praised legislators for updating laws affecting how corporations operate in the state, saying the action amounted to a pro-economic development, pro-jobs decision and a win for the business community.

The Legislature raised the speed limit to 70 mph on Interstate 93 from north of Concord to the Vermont border, except for a section of the highway through Franconia Notch.