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House, Senate OK $125M capital budget

CONCORD — The House and Senate Wednesday approved a $125 million capital budget that includes a new $38 million women's prison in Concord.

A new women's prison has been the Department of Correction's top priority for some time, but lawmakers have failed to approve it until this year. The state faces a lawsuit claiming women prisoners do not receive the same level of services as men.

"From Coos to the sea," said House Public Works and Highways Committee Chair David Campbell, D-Nashua., "jobs are going to be created because of this bill."

The capital budget includes $10 million for a new software system for the Liquor Commission to process credit cards and money for three new liquor stores in Salem, Epping and Warner, and major renovations to the I-95 stores in Hampton.

The bill includes $4.7 million to repair the North Hampton seawall this year rather than over several years.

The budget includes $8 million for University System of New Hampshire capital projects and the Community College System of New Hampshire will receive $13 million.

Also included is $5 million for the state's match for a $25 million federal TIGER Grant application for repairs to the Sarah Mildred Long Bridge in Portsmouth. Maine is also expected to approve $5 million for its share of the match.

There is $10.4 million for a new Marine Patrol headquarters on Lake Winnipesauke and $1 million for a new voting system for the House and communications software for the House and Senate.

In other action, the House and Senate approved:

HB 242: Children up to seven years old and 57 inches in length will need to be in child passenger restraint seats. The House passed the compromise agreement on a 224-126 vote, while the Senate approved it on a voice vote.

HB 260: The Children in Needs of Services program would be reinstated and reformed.

HB 295: Criminal background checks would be required for volunteers and employees at youth skill camps. Background checks are currently required for recreation camps. The House passed the agreement on a 241-114 vote, while the Senate approved it on a voice vote.

HB 542: The state's renewable portfolio standards would be adjusted and lawmakers would make it clear that the telecommunications industry is deregulated and the state does not consider Voice over Internet Protocal and Internet Protocal services regulated utilities.

HB 599: A single Liquor Commissioner will head the agency, with a deputy commission instead of the current three-member commission. Gov. Maggie Hassan included the change in her budget. The House approved the compromise agreement on a 316-23 vote, while the Senate approved it on a voice vote.

HB 635: The Department of Transportation will be required to submit a procedure for seeking proposals for sponsorships or naming rights for the state's rest areas. The proceeds will be used to fund existing rest areas.

SB 48: Changes would be made to school performance and accountability guidelines and definitions in line with the state's request for a waiver to release the state from No Child Left Behind requirements.

SB 119: The Joint Historical Committee would be required to study the restoration of State House flags and to commission a portrait of suffragist Marilla Marks Ricker to hang in the State House.


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