Legislative Update for February 28, 2021

During the month of February, the House and Senate were in full session and also conducting Zoom committee work and meetings. This past final week of February, the State Senate took a break and didn’t meet. The House chose not to enact rules to allow for a virtual meeting of the 400-member body. Thus, the House members met in a sports dome in Bedford and spent two days voting on about 100 bills, with some contentiousness on multiple issues. This included killing a bill (HB 246) that CSNI supported. HB 246’s goal was to protect “vulnerable adults” including people with disabilities from exploitation.

The adult dental Medicaid bills have had their public hearings, showing widespread support for the new benefit to go live in mid-2022. The issue will have to be funded in the budget to become a reality.

The House full session and Senate break meant there was a small break in the “Zoom Committee work” of the past five weeks, but these are expected to ramp back up in March.

State Budget:

As a reminder, the biennial budget process (New Hampshire prepares a two-year budget) is a long one. It starts with the Governor’s budget, which was presented in mid-February. The House will work on and then present its version of the budget during March and April, followed by the Senate taking a turn on their version of the budget. The final step is when the reworked budget (agreed on by both House and Senate) is returned to the Governor for his signature (or veto), by June 30, 2021.

The House Finance Committee Division III continues to meet with senior DHHS staff to review their portion of the Governor's budget. We are continuing to monitor those meetings, which will continue through March.

The Governor’s budget numbers are fairly straightforward for programs like Family Support, ESS and the In-Home Support waiver for individuals under age 21. They are essentially funded at present levels (FYE June 30, 2021).

The Developmental Disability Waiver is still an area of potential concern, in part because pandemic and workforce issues have made it more difficult to services.

We will keep you posted as things progress, and send out alerts for legislative advocacy as they arise. Your advocacy is critical to this process – make your voice heard in Concord!