CONCORD, N.H. — Republican Jeb Bradley wants to spend more time snowboarding. Democrat Dan Feltes wants to cut back on cheeseburgers. But beyond eating and exercise, the two state senators and their colleagues also have plenty of New Year’s resolutions for the upcoming legislative session.
The second year of the biennial session starts Wednesday when both the House and Senate meet for the first time in 2018. While that day will be devoted to addressing bills on which lawmakers delayed action in 2017, their focus will soon turn to more than 1,000 new bills covering a wide array of topics.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff, whose personal New Year’s resolution is to lose weight and exercise more, said his top goal at the Statehouse remains reauthorization of the state’s Medicaid program.
Medicaid expansion, made possible through former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul law, subsidizes health care for about 43,000 low-income people, but it will expire if not reapproved by December 2018. In November, a commission studying the program recommended that lawmakers continue it for five years but change the structure to move toward a managed care model.
Expanding Medicaid also expanded coverage for substance use disorders, and efforts to deal with the state’s opioid crisis will continue in Concord. Democratic senators are backing a bill to allow the governor or Legislature to declare the crisis a public health emergency and spend about $10 million from the state’s rainy day fund. Another bill would take some of the money seized from drug arrests and put it toward treatment and prevention programs, while other lawmakers seek to encourage businesses to hire more people in recovery.
Lawmakers also will debate tightening voter eligibility requirements, providing family and medical leave insurance, and allowing medical marijuana patients to grow their own cannabis. And at least a dozen bills seek to address water contamination and other environmental hazards.
Bradley, who is sponsoring a bill to tighten commercial breeding regulations after a high-profile case of animal cruelty in his hometown of Wolfeboro, said that off the clock, he hopes to snowboard down the Northeast’s highest peak in 2018.
“I have skied Mount Washington several times but have not snowboarded,” he said. “We will see what happens this year.”
Feltes, who counts the family and medical leave bill, Medicaid reauthorization, the opioid crisis, and workforce development among his top legislative priorities, said he is also focused on eating healthier, including more salads and fewer burgers.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu wasn’t as open about his plans. Asked if he was making any resolutions, he simply said, “A lot.”