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Steve Winter
State Representative District 3


April 12, 2012
"You win some, you lose some."

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).

 

"You win some, you lose some. Some get rained out." 
Ė Satchel Paige (1906-1983)


Thatís how it is in the NH legislature. Working hard on bills to get them right just results in wondering what the NH Senate will do to them. Itís not always pretty.

HB 137 is from the 2011 session. Itís actually been around longer. It has to do with updating the NH building and fire codes. Hearings began in 2009 with a couple of bills. One of those bills created a committee to study the conflicts involved.

The Executive Departments and Administration Committee (ED&A) began working on HB 137 early in 2011. Since its inception in 2009, this bill has had more than 40 hearings and work sessions. The issues involve a conflict as to which set of codes has primacy. The problem is that when there is a disagreement between the code enforcers as to which code prevails, construction stops, perhaps for a month or two. When it involves a private home, it is an inconvenience. When it is a large commercial project, it is an economic disaster.

Stakeholders include a number of different state agencies and virtually all of the building trades. Most of the stakeholders invested a considerable amount of time in the various work sessions contributing to the knowledge of the committee. At the end, we believed that we had resolved virtually all of the issues after a period of three years.

Now, however, we are told that some in the Senate consider the result too cumbersome and want to kill the bill. What an absolute waste of time and money.

HB 1521, on the other hand, is a bill that I worked on solo. A performance audit was conducted on the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) which administers the retiree health care benefit plan. The audit report contained 10 "observations" for correction. Seven were accepted by the department but three needed legislation to correct.

The administration had formerly been in the hands of the NH Retirement System (NHRS). When DAS took it over, they continued all of the benefits that the NHRS offered. But in three instances, DAS had no legal authorization to offer those benefits. The chair of ED&A said, "Steve, see if you can clean this up."

The current law (RSA 21-I:30) was a jumbled mess so I took it upon myself to completely re-write the statute. I re-organized various sections and addressed each of the legislative issues in the audit, closing some barn doors in the process.

One example was that the retiree could name absolutely anyone as a beneficiary. A three year old grandchild could be the beneficiary. That would mean that the state would have to provide a free health benefit for the life of the grandchild. That was changed so that only a spouse could be a beneficiary.

HB 1521 passed both the House ED&A Committee and the Finance Committee unanimously. It then passed in the House on the consent calendar. We are now waiting to see what the Senate will do with it.

 

Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire 

Telephone:  603-271- 3125 and 271-3319
Email: libertynh@myfairpoint.net

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