Mayor, elected officials following the money

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MANCHESTER, NH –  In order to stay on top of legislation that directly affects the city, the mayor on Monday met at City Hall with members of our state delegation, to review initiatives involving rail, education, manufacturing, schools and the opioid crisis. The entire meeting can be viewed above – the action begins about seven and a half minutes into the video. A summary of the meeting is posted below:

Manchester’s General Court Delegation Meeting with Mayor Craig

February 5, 2018

11 a.m. Aldermanic Chambers

Representative Long opened the meeting by welcoming everyone and clarified the intent:

This meeting is for informational purposes only; the intent is to allow the delegation to hear from the Mayor and Department Heads on the positive or negative impact of particular bills that are making their way through the General Court. This meeting is not intended to tell any member of the Delegation how to vote. Our hope is to inform with greater detail of the impact to the city of Manchester as it pertains to specific bills.

Mayor Craig listed and spoke on several bills that her office and Department Heads have testified to at the State House or are following.

Economic Development

Including Funding for Next Step in Passenger Rail in 10 Year Plan – HB 2018

  • Governor Sununu included funding for an environmental and engineering assessment in his 10-Year transportation plan.
  • This funding would utilize toll credits, meaning there is no impact to taxpayers.
  • According to the initial Capitol Corridor report released in 2014, bringing rail to Manchester could have a profound economic impact—adding thousands of new residential units, almost 2 million square feet of additional retail and commercial space, and creating thousands of new jobs.
  • This is a priority of the Manchester business community, as evidenced by the recent announcement of the NH Business for Rail Expansion coalition just last week.
  • Currently, HB 2018 is in the House Public Works and Highways Committee.
  • The Mayor, along with many Manchester business leaders, testified in support of this funding at the public hearing last week.
  • Mayor Craig supports including this funding in the 10-Year Plan.

Tax Incentives and Workforce Development for Regenerative Manufacturers – SB 564

  • This legislation would do two things: establish tax incentives to attract and retain regenerative manufacturers and develop a workforce for these businesses.
  • Make no mistake; this legislation is designed to help businesses like ARMI (Advanced Regenerative Manufacturing Institute) in Manchester. This legislation has the potential to greatly impact Manchester’s economy.
  • This legislation, sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, is being heard in the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday.
  • The Mayor will be sending a letter of support for this legislation in advance of the public hearing.
  • Mayor Craig supports SB 564.

Combatting the Opioid Epidemic

Reauthorizing NH Health Protection Program – HB 1811 and yet-to-be-released Senate Bill

  • We face many challenges in Manchester in combatting the opioid epidemic, but if the NH Health Protection Program were to end, it would devastate our community’s response.
  • The NHHPP covers SUD treatment, meaning more people can access treatment and recovery services and provides a stable financial environment to stand up more programs and attract more providers.
  • HB 1811 is on the House floor this week with an Interim Study recommendation.
  • We also understand that there will be a Senate Bill, sponsored by Sen. Bradley, to reauthorize the program.
  • The Mayor testified in support of HB 1811 and plan to do so with the Senate Bill.
  • Mayor Craig supports passage of these reauthorization bills.

Full Funding of Alcohol Fund- HB 1743 and CACR 21

  • Both bills take different approaches, but accomplish the same thing—fully-funding the Alcohol Fund.
  • This would mean an additional $3.4 million for prevention, treatment and recovery services that are desperately needed.
  • HB 1743 is currently in the House Finance Committee and CACR 21 is currently in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • In advance of the public hearing on CACR 21, the Mayor sent a letter of support to the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Mayor Craig supports HB 1743 and CACR 21.

Emergency Opioid Crisis Funding – SB 542

  • This bill would allow the state to use Rainy Day funds for a public health emergency.
  • There is no doubt that we are in such an emergency and this legislation would inject up to $10 million in funding for the opioid crisis.
  • SB 542 is currently in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • In advance of the public hearing on SB 542, the Mayor sent a letter of support to the Senate Finance Committee.
  • Mayor Craig supports SB 542.

School Funding

Education Vouchers/Savings Accounts – SB 193

  • Board of Mayor and Aldermen and the Board of School Committee have voted to oppose; Superintendent Vargas has sent a letter of opposition, and I have testified against this bill.
  • Under current language, Manchester could lose over $400,000 a year if this legislation passes.
  • Currently in the House Finance Committee.
  • Mayor Craig, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Board of School Committee, and Superintendent Vargas all oppose SB 193.

Reversing Reduction in Stabilization Funding – HB 525 and HB 1814

  • Both bills sponsored by Republican Rep. Werner Horn of Franklin.
  • Both are in the House Finance Committee.
  • Right now, Manchester is losing almost $500,000 a year in stabilization funding thanks to a change in law in 2013.
  • This means over the 25 year phase-out, we will eventually get $12.5 million less from the state than we did in 2012.
  • Both these bills would stop the reduction and allow Manchester to continue receiving the nearly $500,000 a year in state aid.
  • Mayor Craig supports HB 525 and HB 1814.

Correction of a Technical Error in Education Aid Distribution – SB 539

  • Sponsored by Republican Sen. Regina Birdsell of Hampstead.
  • This bill corrects a technical error identified by Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, which will send an additional $92,000 in education aid to Manchester.
  • This bill passed the Senate last week and is headed to the House.
  • Mayor Craig supports SB 539.

Full-funding for Kindergarten Aid – SB 540

  • Sponsored by Democratic Sen. Dan Feltes of Concord.
  • Currently in the Senate Finance Committee.
  • This bill eliminates the correlation between KENO and kindergarten funding and fully-funds full day kindergarten, which would bring an additional $1.4 million in kindergarten aid to Manchester.
  • Mayor Craig supports SB 540.

Other State Aid

Partial Reinstatement of State Cost-Sharing for Retirement System – HB 413

  • This bill would require the state to contribute 15 percent of the cost of retirement system employer liabilities to municipalities.
  • Until 2012, the state shared the cost by paying 35 percent, but reduced that to 0 percent.
  • Since that time, Manchester has lost tens of millions of dollars in state aid from this one change in law.
  • If HB 413 became law, Manchester would receive almost $4 million from the state.
  • HB 413 is up for reconsideration this week on the House floor.
  • The Board of Mayor and Aldermen will be discussing this legislation at their February 6th
  • Mayor Craig supports reconsideration and passage of HB 413.

Superintendent Dr. Vargas: spoke on the importance of level School District funding as it pertains to the State. He stated the $2 million extra funding in the city’s FY 18 appropriation was critical in advancing the District. Dr. Vargas has set agenda’s to continue positive improvements to Manchester’s School District. He also gave an overview of the State Retirement funding. He further stated his support of HB 413, HB 1814, HB 525, and his opposition to SB 193.

Health Department- Director Tim Soucy

HB 1811- NH Health Protection Program (Supports)- ON HOUSE FLOOR THIS WEEK

HB 1771- State Toxicologist (Supports)- ON HOUSE FLOOR THIS WEEK

HB 1217- School Nurse Certification (Supports)

SB 434- School Nurse Certification (Opposes)

Welfare Department- Charleen Michaud

HB 1485- Security Deposits (Opposes)

Public Work & Highway Department- Deputy Director Tim Clougherty

SB 450- Environmental Services Advisory Commission (Supports)

HB 1745- Invasive aquatic species (Supports)

SB 321- Group host net metering (Supports)

Mayor Craig also asked about SB 446- net metering limits (Public Works Supports)

City Clerk- Matt Normand

HB 1486- Overvoted ballots (Supports)

SB 527- Absentee voting (Opposes)

HB 1510- Distributing DMV info at polling place (Opposes)

HB 1520- Recounts on Election Night (Opposes)

Assessors Department- Chair Robert Gagne

HB 1381- Valuation of utility property (Opposes)

SB 509- Income/Expense Information for Tax Appraisals (Supports)

SB 510- Notice of leases on tax-exempt property (Supports)

Tax Collector- Brenda Masewic Adams

HB 1673- Interest on late and delinquent tax payments (Opposes)

HB 579- Registration of semi-trailers (Opposes)- ON HOUSE FLOOR THIS WEEK

Police Department- Chief Willard & Office of Youth Services- Director Jonathan Donovan

Fixes to HB 517/Budget Trailer Bill- This 2017 legislation is limiting placements at Sununu Center and allowing parole in 3 months rather than 6. Would support needed changes, but currently there is no bill with necessary changes.

Senator D’Allesandro gave an overview of the bills discussed and of the importance in advancing the city of Manchester. He emphasized the importance of these meetings.

Discussion continued on details of some of the bills flagged.

Mayor Craig thanked the School Committee Members and Aldermen that were in attendance.

The Departments would welcome calls or emails from any State Representative wanting to discuss any bill in further detail.

Meeting adjourned.

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