2019 Legislative Session Wrap Up

With last week's passage of the state budget, the 2019 legislative session is finally coming to a close. Thanks to the help and support of our hundreds of advocates, session was overwhelmingly successful for New Futures in advancing public health in the Granite State. Our collective efforts have led to the defeat and passage of many critical bills and the eventual agreement on a state budget that invests in many public health priorities.

This bipartisan budget compromise addresses several important areas of need facing the health and wellness of Granite Staters. This includes increased Medicaid reimbursement rates, which are essential to building a workforce better equipped to address the ongoing addiction and mental health crises, support for critical programs and services including substance use and mental treatment, a comprehensive children's system of care, and Early Childhood supports like Medicaid home visiting. In addition to the state budget, lawmakers acted on a number of bills impacting the health of our state.

See below to learn more about some of the standout bills that New Futures followed over the course of the session.

2019 Legislative update

ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS LEGISLATION

HB 481: Marijuana Commercialization (RETAINED IN COMMITTEE!)

This irresponsible legislation would have fully commercialized the retail sale of marijuana and all high potency marijuana products without regard for the health of our youth and communities. Youth Marijuana use, when young brains are developing, can have long-term negative health effects and can increase risk for substance misuse later in life. The commercialization of Marijuana raises complex public health and safety concerns for our state and would threaten New Hampshire’s quality of life. Thanks to the strong advocacy from many partners, our lawmakers recognized that it was the wrong bill at the wrong time for New Hampshire and they voted to retain it in committee. This bill is likely to come up again this coming legislative session.

HB 511: Youth Access to Vaping (PASSED!)

This bill adds vaping to the existing law restricting youth access to tobacco products and restricting vaping indoors. This legislation will reduce the negative impacts of vaping on youth in New Hampshire. Exposure to nicotine or marijuana via e-cigarettes can cause addiction or harm young people’s developing brain. This bill was signed into law by Gov. Sununu.

HB 323: ALCOHOL ADVERTISING (DID NOT PASS!)

New Futures opposed HB 323, which intended to remove any prohibitions on brands advertising alcohol outside a licensed premise, like a liquor store or bar. Studies show that when underage youth are exposed to brand alcohol advertising, they are more likely to drink alcohol, negatively impacting their long-term health. HB 323 did not pass and was voted Inexpedient to Legislate on March 19, 2019.

CACR 1: ALCOHOL FUND (RETAINED IN COMMITTEE)

New Futures supported CACR 1. This constitutional amendment would provide a portion of liquor revenues to support evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery. A fully funded Alcohol Fund uses 5% of the state’s gross profits from the sale of liquor for prevention, treatment, and recovery.CACR 1 has been retained for further study.

HEALTH LEGISLATION

SB 290: Granite Advantage Health Care Program Reform (PASSED!)

This bill takes steps to make the Granite Advantage Health Care Program, or Medicaid expansion, more accessible by modifying the work and community engagement requirement and allowing for the suspension of the requirement under certain circumstances. This bill was signed into law by the Governor on July 8th, and the work requirement was suspended that same day.

SB 4: Codifying the Affordable Care Act (PASSED!)

This legislation codifies in state law elements of the federal Affordable Care Act. Amidst the ongoing uncertainty around the federal law, this bill ensures access to health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and requires insurance plans to have the 10 Essential Health Benefits. SB 4 was signed into law by the Governor.

hB 552: tRANSPARENCY AND STANDARDS FOR ACQUISITION TRANSACTIONS IN HEALTH CARE (PASSED!)

New Futures supported HB 552, which increases the oversight of the Director of Charitable Trusts when a non-profit New Hampshire health care facility (hostpital/doctors' office) merges with another health care facility. HB 552 was signed into law by Gov. Sununu. on July 29, 2019.

SB 226: PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGERS (PBMS) (PASSED!)

New Futures supported SB 226, which would establish registration and regulation of Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBMs) by the NH Insurance Department.  This bill will help shed a light on how PBMs may be impacting rising pharmaceutical costs. SB 226 was signed into law by the Governor.

EARLY CHILDHOOD LEGISLATION

SB 274: Medicaid Home Visiting (PASSED!)

This bill removes barriers to accessing Medicaid home visiting, a program that provides supports and services to families and children in their own homes, where they are most comfortable. It allows more children and parents access to quality home visiting services, which supports and strengthen families and enables us all to thrive. Gov. Sununu signed this bill into law on July 19.

SB 261: Grand Families Access to Services (PASSED!)

This bill gives families access to quality childcare by ensuring grandparents who are the primary caretakers of their grandchild be provided with childcare as a preventive or protective service. This bill was signed into law by the Governor.

HB 310: WELLNESS AND PRIMARY PREVENTION COUNCIL (PASSED!)

New Futures Kids Count supported HB 310, this bill reorganizes membership on the Wellness and Primary Prevention Council (WPPC), a body that encourages and facilitates a network of Family Resource Centers, to help them improve the health of Granite State children. HB 310 was signed into law by the Governor on May 15, 2019.

CHILDREN'S BEHAVIORAL HEALTH LEGISLATION

sb 14: rEFORMS THE SYSTEM OF CARE FOR CHILDREN'S BEHAVIORAL HEALTH (PASSED!)

New Futures and the NH Children's behavioral health collaboration, a partner organization that New Futures provides with structural assistance,  supported SB 14. This bill  transforms New Hampshire's child and family serving system using the System of Care framework, as recommended in the July 2018 NH Division for Children, Youth, Families Adequacy Enhancement Assessment. SB 14 further integrates New Hampshire's child protection and juvenile justive system and creates statewide access to community based mobile crisis response and stabilization services for children. SB 14 was signed into law on June 3, 2019 by Gov. Sununu and the state budget includes full funding for this comprehensive bill.

ACCESS TO TREATMENT LEGISLATION

SB 308: HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE (PASSED!)

New Futures supported SB 308, which takes a comprehensive approach to addressing NH’s health care workforce shortage. This shortage negatively impacts the state economy and is preventing Granite Staters from getting the health care they need.  Following a positive vote in the Senate, the bill was tabled. But, thanks to your advocacy and presence at events like the Health Care Workforce Rally, many of the provisions were passed as part of other bills and much of the funding was written into the legislature’s budget proposal. HB 127 and HB 637, which contain parts of SB 308, were signed into law. Funding for health care workforce efforts was included in the state budget that has been signed into law.

HB 113: MENTAL HEALTH LICENSURE (PASSED!)

New Futures supported HB 113, which helps address our workforce shortage by making it easier for substance use and mental health treatment providers to expand their scope of practice. HB 113 was signed into law by the Governor on June 18, 2019.

SB 100: Fair chance hiring (VETOED)

New Futures supported SB 100, which would have eased barriers to employment for individuals with criminal histories, helping to support those in substance use treatment and recovery with gaining employment. SB 100 was vetoed by the Governor on July 19, 2019.

THANK YOU!

Thank you to all supporters and advocates for all your work during the 2019 legislative session. We are looking forward to a great 2020!