Senate passes state retiree cost-of-living adjustment

Monitor staff
Published: 5/23/2019 5:55:41 PM
Modified: 5/23/2019 5:55:31 PM

The New Hampshire Senate passed a bill to create a cost-of-living adjustment for certain state retirees Thursday, joining the House on a measure that has the support of Gov. Chris Sununu.

Under the bill, House Bill 616, any former state employee who retired before July 1, 2014, would be entitled to a 1.5% supplemental annual allowance to their present state pension. That 1.5% bonus would apply to all income for retirees who make $50,000 or less; for retirees who make more than $50,000, it would apply to their first $50,000 in pension allowance.

The bill, which would be the first increase to pension allowance since 2010, was championed by advocates as an overdue measure to address rising living costs for public sector retirees, many of whom have struggled to pay for food or medicine on their present pensions.

But opponents argued the increase would burden towns and cities, forcing them to contribute into the retirement system to pay for the increase and potentially impacting local property taxes.

Sununu came out in favor of the bill last week, holding an event with firefighters and other officials and breaking ranks with his party, which has largely opposed the increase. On Thursday, the bill narrowly eked through; senators voted for it 12-11, with Democratic Sen. Jeanne Dietsch, of Peterborough, joining 10 Republicans in opposition.

Senate approves compromise redistricting commission bill

An effort to remove partisanship from the process of redrawing New Hampshire’s legislative districts is closer to becoming law.

Both the Democratically-controlled House and Senate have passed similar bills to create a 15-member independent commission to redraw districts, over the objections of Republicans who argued the Legislature shouldn’t outsource its responsibilities. The Senate on Thursday approved a bipartisan amendment to the House version that would give lawmakers more control over appointing the commission members.

Supporters argue the current system that puts lawmakers in charge of redistricting allows for gerrymandering, in which boundaries are drawn to benefit the party in power.

While Democrats now hold majorities in both the House and Senate, the current district designations were approved in 2012, when Republicans controlled the Legislature.

The bill now goes back to the House.

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