NH News
6:12 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Lawmakers Pass Budget, Med Marijuana, and Voter ID Change

Credit Ben McLeod / Flickr Creative Commons

On this day, there were a lot of floor speeches pretty much like this.

"I would just like to rise and applaud the sponsors of this bill, the house committee the governor, the governor’s staff the senate committee for making this come forward."

That was Hollis Senator Peggy Gilmour moments before the senate passed a medical marijuana bill on a voice vote.

Collegiality, bi-partisanship, a no shortage of self-regard was on display all day long at the state house. Particularly in the state senate, and perhaps with reason: A budget process that some predicted would stall ended with a $10.8 billion dollar plan sailing through 24-0.

"Ours was a thoughtful, balanced proposal that meets our state’s need within existing revenue."

Chuck Morse is the Senate’s top budget writer, and the republican-controlled chamber's stamp is all over this budget, from revenue estimates, to its rejection of new taxes and fees, to it's call to study Medicaid expansion before moving ahead.

But even so, Senate democrats were also full of praise. David Pierce is from Etna.

'More people will be able to afford college. More people and families struggling with mental illness or developmental disabilities will get the help they need, and they will get it sooner."

The budget also won wide bipartisan support in the House, passing 337-18. But there was some debate over how to see the plan. The House’s top budget writer, Democrat Mary Jane Wallner cast it as deal where all sides gave a bit so the state could better fund initiatives in areas ranging from higher education and social service, and conservation.

"These program had been very badly hurt in the last budget and restoring them was a priority for both the house and the senate."

Former House Speaker Bill O’Brien meanwhile argued this budget was validation of what lawmakers did two years ago.

"The conferees have done a service for the state of N.H. They have extended the O’Brien budget for yet another term.  They have increased the O’Brien budget by the rate of inflation and it serves N.H. well."

But fighting words were relatively rare on this day.

Not even Voter ID, an issue that often breaks neatly on party lines  could derail the cooperative mood.

When a controversial compromise that that would allow student IDs to be added to the list of allowable forms of identification was put to a vote it cleared the House 231-121, with 34 republicians in favor. The Senate also backed it 14-10, with three republicans, including Senate President Peter Bragdon breaking ranks to vote with democrats.