It was a busy day in the New Hampshire State Senate yesterday, so we’ll get right to it. 

Jewett St. Elementary School robotics team

The Senate Finance Committee backed Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut’s proposal to expand FIRST Robotics programs to elementary schools across the state.  The committee approved a budget amendment appropriating three hundred seventy five thousand dollars to that end.  The innovative program designed to pique the interest of elementary school kids in science and math got its start in Manchester thanks to a collaborative effort between inventor Dean Kamen and Mayor Ted Gatsas.

In praising the vote, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Reagan, Republican from Deerfield, said the Finance Committee made a smart move.  Quote: 

 These programs play a critical role in engaging students in science, technology, engineering and math [STEM] fields, building important skills for real world applications.

Reagan: Pleased by bills’ passage

Girard at Large also learned that the Senate Finance Committee removed funding for Full Day Kindergarten from next year’s budget.  Said a member of the committee, off the record, 

it was fifteen million dollars we needed somewhere else.  It’s all coming down to the dollars and cents.

The committee also approved an increase in per pupil funding for charter schools.  If the committee’s recommendation is approved, funding will increase by two hundred fifty dollars in Fiscal’18 and by another one hundred twenty five dollars in FY ’19.  Following that vote, Reagan issued a statement saying quote: 

We are required to ensure all students in the State of New Hampshire are provided with an adequate public education, inclusive of public charter schools which, despite their popularity and success, have been severely underfunded in our state.  It is in the best interest of the New Hampshire Senate to support public charter schools because they are proven to create a beneficial competitive educational environment within public school districts, improving student performance in public schools overall.

Daniels:  HHS on the agenda

Meanwhile, in a statement issued yesterday, Senate Finance Committee Chair Gary Daniels, Republican from Milford, released the agenda for today’s meeting of the committee, which focuses exclusively on the Department of Health and Human Services.  Starting at nine this morning, the committee will hold an executive session to review and vote on the budgets for the divisions of Behavioral Health, Community Based Care Services, Elderly and Adult Services, Office of Medicaid Business and Policy, Public Health, Developmental Services, Human Services, Family Assistance, and the Office of the Commissioner.

In releasing the agenda, Daniels said, quote:

I truly believe that the difficult decisions we’ve had to make up to this point will help us to provide the resources targeting some of the neediest citizens in our communities, including those with mental health needs and the developmentally disabled population as we work through the Department of Health and Human Services.

News from our own backyard continues after this.

Avard: Hails tax exemption bill

The New Hampshire Senate voted to approve House Bill 3 1 6, which enables cities and towns to provide property tax exemptions of up to fifty percent for up to ten years, on the construction of new commercial and or industrial space.  Governing bodies in local communities that wish to apply the exemption must vote to adopt the provision and those businesses interested must apply to the communities that have adopted it.  The program currently operates only in Coos County.  

District Twelve Senator Kevin Avard, Republican from Nashua, said the bill leveled the playing field because it enabled all cities and towns to provide the property tax exemption.   District Eleven Senator Gary Daniels Republican from Milford, said the bill would encourage commercial and industrial construction, thereby improving Granite Staters’ access to good jobs.

Birdsell: Sec. of State should investigate

District Nineteen Senator Regina Birdsell, Republican from Hampstead, is crowing about the passage of a bill which would give the Office of the Secretary of State the authority to follow up on returned voter verification letters.  Following the vote, Birdsell, who chairs the Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee, issued a statement saying quote: 

Thousands of verification letters are returned as undeliverable each year and by giving the Secretary of State this authority, a more manageable caseload for further action will be turned over to the Attorney General’s office.  I hope the House of Representatives will concur with the changes that the Senate made so we can better protect the integrity of our elections.

I’m just going to walk away from this for the time being…

That’s News From our Own Backyard, Girard at Large hour ___ is next.