The legislative session can be a busy time of year with upwards of 1,000 bills being introduced, voted on and sometimes signed into law by the Governor within the six month period. 2018 had some significant pieces of legislation introduced with a few key pieces that passed through or fortunately, failed to get the majority of the votes to become law.
The 2019 legislative session will be a busy one with it being a budget year. We most likely will see the school voucher bills work their way through the legislature again trying to dismantle public education. We hope to see the family and medical leave insurance program to be worked through in a way that will benefit families and not be enough on a burden on employers to gain enough support to pass this session.
Below are a few highlights of the bills in the 2018 session.
This bill had many different elements to it. One of the most important to us and our community is the $5.4 million that it appropriates to the developmental disability waitlist. When an individual with a developmental disability turns 21 they age out of the school district for services and into the area agency system of community supports and services. Most of these supports are provided through the developmental disability waiver. If there is no current funding for that individual they are placed on the waitlist until funding becomes available. While they wait for services they are at risk for losing their skills they worked hard to achieve, their place of employment and could face segregation from the greater community. Families and other advocates worked hard to get SB590 passed with funding included to support the DD Waitlist. The bill was signed into law on June 28, 2018 by Governor Sununu and there was a signing ceremony held at Crotched Mountain on July 11th.
HB1816 was a significant piece of legislation that passed. It prohibits the Medicaid managed care organizations to be the service delivery system for the long term supports and community services delivered currently by the area agency system. This includes the waivered services including the In Home Supports Waiver (IHS), the Developmental Disabilities Waiver (DD), and the Acquired Brain Disorder Waiver (ABD). Individuals with disabilities, their families and strong partner organizations fearlessly advocated for this bill to pass to STOP step 2 of Medicaid managed care. We feel strongly that individuals with developmental disabilities and acquired brain disorders receive the best individualized supports and services when they are able to build partnerships with local agencies that are able to develop a person centered plan of services.
To see the full text, voting records or more information on the bill visit the link below to the docket.
SB 193 was a bill that was introduced in the 2017 legislative session and retained in the House Education Committee. There was more work done in the 2018 legislative session and despite passing out of a few different committees and once the full House, it was referred for Interim Study at the end of the 2018 session. It is a voucher bill that would allow students and families to take money that would go to a public school and use it for a private school of their choice. One concern is that if a large number of students participate in this program, it could lead to a higher ratio of individuals with disabilities in the public schools versus typical peers. In addition, this legislation will pull dollars out of an already under funded public school system (most notably in special education). It could also lead to the state needing to pay additional dollars to support individuals more intensely or longer after graduation if their needs are not being met throughout the years they are in school. SB193 will be worked through again in the upcoming session.
To review past activity that has happened with this bill or to read the full text visit the link below.
This bill would allow for certain employees an option to contribute to a family and medical leave insurance program that could provide a percentage of their pay if they need to take time off to handle a family medical situation. The bill was retained in committee from the 2017 legislative session and worked on throughout the summer and fall. With an already existing workforce crisis in the State of New Hampshire, this will help to allow individuals to stay in the workforce despite needing to take some time off to provide care to themselves or others. This legislation has the potential to assist both families and staff of the Area Agency system. The bill passed the House in the 2018 session and was referred to Interim Study by the Senate.
To see more information related to this bill visit the site below.