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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Lots of finger-pointing after Medicaid expansion defeat
Afterwards, there was plenty of finger-pointing and blame. Gov. Maggie Hassan and House Speaker Terie Norelli said Senate Republicans dropped the ball for the working poor, while Senate Republicans blamed Hassan for politicizing the issue.
With the change to Democratic majority in the House in the last election, the House now backs expansion along with Hassan, but the 13-member Republican Senate majority has used its advantage to block it.
When Bragdon resigned as president and Chuck Morse took over, expansion supporters were optimistic that if they could make the numbers work in the budget, the new president would not oppose them.
That is where it stood as the three sides negotiated behind closed doors.
Hassan and Norelli said the change to private insurance could not be done within a year: number one, because federal officials would not approve it with Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield the only carrier in the state exchange; and two, insurance companies need more than a year to do their due diligence to decide if they want to offer policies on the exchange. More carriers on the exchange not only is a federal requirement, it also creates competition that in theory drops the price for consumers.
But that issue never really moved front and center as Morse and the Republicans refused to budge on the one-year limit on the bridge year to private insurance, although they were willing to delay expansion until federal approval was granted.
The problem with that strategy is Republican senators did not want to go against Morse on the first major issue of his presidency. The additional pressure poisoned the well and drove Republicans more tightly together.
All this turned up the heat prior to Thursday's session.
Posturing aside, Hassan, Norelli and Morse all said they want to continue talking to come up with a New Hampshire solution to address the poor's difficulty finding access to health care.
BENEFITS: By all accounts, Thursday's special session was long and tedious for everyone, particularly in the House where the Republican strategy was to challenge the speaker's rulings, and anything else they could, call for reconsideration on previous votes and deal with 28 amendments that had no chance of ever passing.
As the raucous session dragged on, several Democrats quietly lamented the fact that O'Brien would not be running again, noting, "He's the best fundraiser we've ever had."
The letter charged that Senate Republicans turned their backs on tens of thousands of New Hampshire families. "We came so close in 2012 - out of 711,000 votes cast across the state, we were only 611 votes short of Democrats regaining the majority. Let's fight back and put an end to the senseless Koch Brothers fueled Tea Party obstruction. Help us today with a contribution so we can finish the job in 2014 and take back the Senate," the letter read.
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UP THE ANTE: Much of the sales pitch last session for approving Senate Bill 152, to allow one casino along the state's southern border, was Massachusetts had approved casino gambling and was a breath away from opening casinos on our doorstep, taking New Hampshire's revenue and sending back problem gamblers.
East Boston voted against a resort casino proposed for Suffolk Downs, and other communities - West Springfield, Milford and Palmer - voted against similar proposals.
Sen. Lou D'Allesandro of Manchester, prime sponsor of SB 152, which was approved by the Senate, had the backing of Hassan, but killed in the House last session - said the uncertainty in Massachusetts "enhances us dramatically."
"People in New Hampshire know if we do it," D'Allesandro said, "we will do it right and we will do it well just as we did with the lottery 50 years ago."
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GETTING RID OF PAPER: Anyone who has ever attended an Executive Council meeting knows there is lots of paper.
Each of the five councilors has at least one bin of paper with the backup information for each item on the council's agenda. With generally more than 100 items every two weeks, that is a lot of paper to recycle or throw away.
Councilors in the past have talked about turning the paper documents into electronic ones, but little has been done, although former Gov. Craig Benson used a laptop instead of the usual binder to go through the council's agenda at the meetings.
Trees are rejoicing.
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