The last full moon of winter, known as the Worm Moon and a sure sign of spring, shown rising at the Lewis Farm in Concord.
What's happening this Week:
HOUSE SESSION DAYS
The NH State House will sit in full-day sessions on both Wednesday and Thursday this week to vote on more than 300 bills. The following are bills that I am either sponsoring or co-sponsoring that we will vote on in the House this week:
I am planning a barn burner of a floor speech in support of for HB1444, adopting the California Clean Air Act. This bill brings NH in line with all of the surrounding states in the Northeast and enables NH residents to test drive low and zero-emissions vehicles by directing manufacturers to deliver cars and light duty trucks that meet the California Clean Air Act, Section 177, to auto dealerships in NH. Auto manufacturers will not deliver these vehicles to NH unless NH closes the donut hole and joins the existing 13 states who have adopted Section 177. Last year approximately 1,100 zero and low-emissions vehicles that meet this standard were registered in NH. Unfortunately, this represents around $36 million in vehicles sold out of state and imported by their owners into NH, all because Section 177 vehicles are not available in NH. The number of Section 177 vehicles on the road have doubled year-over-year in NH, ME, and VT, resulting in significant NH business revenue loss. The extended emissions-related warranty provisions of Section 177 of up to 15 years and 150,000 miles would be a cost benefit to NH consumers. This bill represents a compromise with the NH Automotive Dealers Association and creates a retroactive two-year credit bank for all vehicles delivered to NH lots prior to implementation on January 1, 2022 in order to build credits and ease the transition to providing Section 177 vehicles to NH. The vote will likely happen on Thursday afternoon.
HB1212, codifying the NH Murder Probate Statute received an Inexpedient to Legislate recommendation out of the Judiciary Committee and will likely be voted on the House floor on Wednesday. I'm ok with bringing this bill back next year, with some NH Probate Experts who are able to educate the committee about the probate process. Please message me if you are or you know someone who can help with this project.
HB1215, which reduced the requirement for installing solar panels on a Condo or Homeowners Association to a simple majority, rather than a 2/3 or 3/4 supermajority vote also came out of the Commerce Committee with a recommendation for Interim Study (death with dignity in the second year, unfortunately). I'm enthusiastically supporting HB1535, which did get a recommendation of Ought to Pass with Amendment from the same committee because it takes a baby step to get to enabling solar on existing residential developments, when the unit owner has control over the use of the unit's roof. We are racing against the clock to incentivize solar in these large existing developments, as residential solar installation Federal tax credits are due to expire (unless renewed) in 2022.
HB1342 establishing a program for installation of heat pumps for low-income housing came out of Science Technology and Energy Committee as Inexpedient to Legislate. This bill provides program-specific funding for high performance air source heat pumps for buildings funded by public funds. The goal is to direct NH renovation and new construction projects that use public funds away from relying on fossil fuel heat sources and instead incentivize renewable energy sources. The bill is based on similar legislation in Maine where the state has successfully ramped-up implementation of both solar installations and heat pumps for residential customers in order to transition away from natural gas. Unfortunately, because the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program is still refunding all funds, except the first dollar collected, to electric rate payers, there are no renewable energy program funds available in order to make this program a reality. In a nutshell, and I am editorializing, we need a new governor to fix the RGGI funding issue in order to move forward with energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives because we keep falling further and further behind the rest of the Northeast, and our electric rates continue to be far higher than the rest of the participants in the Northeast energy pool.
HB1418, authorizing funds of the department of agriculture to be used for increasing farm energy efficiency was unfortunately referred to Interim Study by the House Environment and Ag Committee. This bill would have used funds from the Agricultural Nutrient Management Program to help farmers improve on-farm energy efficiency. The committee felt that this would be better brought forward in a budget year, and interim study will allow for better crafting of the bill. This bill would have had a positive impact on modernizing farms and provided real cost savings for farmers in NH, and I look forward to seeing it again in better form next year.
HB1704 directs DES to establish best practices for facilities that compost organics and received a unanimous Ought to Pass recommendation from the Environment and Ag Committee. My family farm will directly benefit from this bill as we currently accept residential compost but cannot take any compost containing meat and dairy until DES promulgates composting rules for these food-based waste products. NH is in the midst of a waste crisis, and studies show that we will run out of space in our current landfills in approximately five years. We need to encourage composting as a method of reducing the volume of waste in state landfill sites. This enabling bill starts us down the path of making composting mainstream, which has the potential to remove around 13% of the organics in trash that currently goes to landfills out of our waste stream.
HB1711, establishing a committee to study the appeals process for child day care violations received a unanimous Ought to Pass recommendation from the ED&A Committee. This is a huge victory for childcare business owners, and I am looking forward to working collaboratively to come up with solutions this summer. This bill establishes a legislative committee to study the creation of a neutral appeals process to review violations committed by a child day care agency.
HB1713, relative to continuing education requirements for child day care workers came out of the ED&A Committee with an Inexpedient to Legislate recommendation. This bill reduces the continuing education training hours required for child day care agency workers from the 18 hours, currently required in rules, to at least 6 hours. First aid, water safety (when applicable), and CPR training, all which can take up to six hours in the first year, do not count currently towards continuing education hours in NH. A compromise was reached with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to count first aid, water safety and CPR training courses towards the 18 hour training requirement. DHHS staff has committed to implement the compromise through the rulemaking process within the next few months. I will be watching this closely because a change to the DES rules is much simpler that a legislative fix, but only if/when it actually happens.