The 2022 legislative session is nearly over. Last week, negotiators from the Senate and the House met in the Committees of Conference working to resolve differences in legislation that had been amended by either body. Most of the time, Senators and Representatives were able to work through their differences, but sometimes they could not. I served on six Committee of Conferences (4 for Education bills, 1 Executive Departments and Administration bill and 1 Finance bill). My job was to fight for the Senate position on these bills. One of the bills, HB1256 - which was amended on the Senate floor - raises the Medicaid reimbursement rate for ambulance services. This is the first substantive raise in Medicaid ambulance rates in seventeen years. In a true bi-partison manner, I successfully fought for this amendment first on the floor of the Senate and then in Committee of Conference, and yes, I prevailed.
One of the tactics that we saw used this year was the addition of non-germane amendments by the House to bills that had been passed by the Senate. For example, anti-vaccine legislation was tacked on to my priority legislation - the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies Act - which would have expanded Medicaid benefits to pregnant women from 60 days postpartum to an entire year. This effort would have directly addressed the rising rate of maternal deaths in NH. Despite agreement in the Committee of Conference on this language and appropriation, a member of the House refused to sign the final report after the fact, therefore killing this legislation. Mothers and their babies continue to fight for scraps.
I continue to speak out each and every day against HB1431, the Parental Bill of Rights. This bill is not about protecting parents' rights; this bill was written to once again work toward undermining relationships between teachers, school staff, and students. I am a mother. I respected and continue to be thankful for the relationships that my daughter had with her teachers, guidance counselors, and school staff. Students - our children - have rights. In particular, this legislation targets LGBTQ youth, not respecting their rights. Let's not spend time and effort on sending youth, teachers, and staff to school frightened. Let us work to enrich their lives. Governor Sununu has stated he will veto this bill should it make it to his desk.
Out of the 10 bills I put forward as a prime sponsor, I am proud that seven were passed by both the Senate and the House. Here is a run-down:
I fought hard to advance the priorities we laid out as I was running for office: public health, social justice, reproductive rights & healthcare, property tax relief, and economic recovery for all. We saw some victories, and we were able to defeat some bad legislation. But there is much more work to do. I am more committed than ever to returning to the Senate to fight for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies Act and other legislation that will make a difference in the lives of Granite State families and communities.
We have one more week of the legislative session left, and then it will be time to hit the campaign trail once again. I look forward to seeing you!
Senator Sue Prentiss
New Hampshire State Senate, District 5