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House votes to repeal RGGI

Last modified: 3/29/2012 12:00:00 AM
The New Hampshire House overwhelmingly passed a bill yesterday that would withdraw the state by 2015 from a regional cap-and-trade program intended to reduce carbon emissions.

House Bill 1490 sailed through on a voice vote with an amendment that passed 237-110, a margin that would comfortably override a potential veto from Gov. John Lynch. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is a multi-state compact designed to cut participants' carbon emissions 10 percent by 2018. Republicans argue the RGGI program acts as a built-in tax on power producers that is passed down to consumers. A state report found RGGI adds 46 cents to the average monthly electric bill.

Advocates of New Hampshire's involvement in the program, which Lynch signed into law in 2008, say it will bring down energy costs in the long run, with state revenue from carbon allowances purchased by the power companies going toward energy efficiency projects.

The bill faces an uncertain future in the Senate, where Senate President Peter Bragdon, a Milford Republican, was an early supporter of the state's involvement in the RGGI program. Lynch vetoed the House's attempt to repeal the program outright last year, and the Senate fell short of the votes to override the veto. Supporters of the House bill say they hope delaying full repeal until Jan. 1, 2015 will win more support in the Senate this time.

 IB program

Lawmakers approved a bill yesterday that forbids the state Department of Education from approving any school unless it "promotes state and national sovereignty and is not subject to the governance of a foreign body or organization."

The original version of the bill would have allowed parents to pull their children from any school using the International Baccalaureate program. It was prompted by concerned parents in the Merrimack Valley School District.

A House Education Committee amendment adopted on the floor yesterday, however, changed thjat.

The bill, which passed 209-102, also establishes a committee to study the International Baccalaureate program. Rep. Ralph Boehm, a Litchfield Republican, asked the House, "Do we want our students indoctrinated to be world citizens or citizens of the United States?"

In the opposition, Mary Stuart Gile, a Concord Democrat, said "this is the 21st century and our children, whether you like it or not, are the next generation of global and American citizens."Welfare verification

The House voted to require welfare recipients and applicants to go through a new verification check.

Republican House Speaker Bill O'Brien proposed the new system, which was approved by the House yesterday by a vote of 245-84.

O'Brien argues the state could save potentially millions of dollars by cross-checking information provided by welfare applicants and recipients against a variety of public databases, such as immigration status. He says using technology to root out fraudulent claims will restore the public's confidence in the system.

But the Department of Health and Human Services says it is already doing much of what O'Brien proposes and that "hits" of possible discrepancies in databases still have to be checked to see if they are fraudulent claims.

The Senate next considers the bill.Health exchange

The House voted to form an interstate health care compact, rejecting an effort to instead study the cost implications for New Hampshire if the state assumed control for health care within its boundaries.

The House voted 221-131 to send the bill to the Senate. The bill proposes that New Hampshire join with other states in delivering health care to its residents. Under the bill, the states would receive block grants from the federal government and would take over Medicare and Medicaid. Congress would have had to approve the compact for it to take effect.

House Republican Leader D.J. Bettencourt sponsored the bill which seeks to free the state from the mandates of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The bill would supersede any federal health care law.

(Matthew Spolar can be reached at 369-3309 or mspolar@cmonitor.com. Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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