CONCORD – Gov. Chris Sununu on Wednesday signed omnibus education and healthcare bills and vetoed legislation dealing with annulling criminal records.
Sununu signed HB 1558 relative to discipline of students, addressing students’ behavioral needs, and making an appropriation. It also addresses kindergarten funding, violence in schools, policies for students with head injuries, child sexual abuse prevention education and training, and authorizing the issuance of bonds or notes by a municipality.
State Sen. Jay Kahn, D-Keene, said the bill combines efforts of many House and Senate members, Republicans and Democrats, as well as stakeholders, to bring together legislation that makes improvements for schools, students, towns and municipalities.
“Every child and teacher should have the support they need in school to be successful. This legislation provides guidance for schools to assure safety, have access to behavioral health resources and training programs, have greater flexibility to address fiscal concerns when budgets and revenues are uncertain,” Kahn said.
Sununu vetoed Senate Bill 311 dealing with criminal annulments saying it had serious unintended consequences.
This bill would provide individuals with a shorter waiting period, in certain circumstances, to petition for annulment of their record of arrest, conviction, and sentence for simple possession drug-related crimes that were committed when the person was under the age of 25, Sununu wrote in his veto message.
“As written, the bill creates potential for confusion and serious unintended consequences as we continue to battle an opioid crisis and global pandemic. In previous sessions, I signed bills that decriminalized the possession of small quantities of marijuana and that allow for annulment of arrests and convictions for said possession,” Sununu said.
Co-Sponsor of the legislation and Vice Chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, Rep. Beth Rodd, D-Bradford, said: “During my tenure on the Criminal Justice committee, we heard testimony too often of the disparity in the corrections system between those who had the financial means to seek annulment and those who did not.”
Sununu also signed HB 1639, relative to health care that provides insurance coverage for tick-borne illness, clarifies the patients’ bill of rights, and establishes the drug overdose fatality review commission, among other provisions.
Rep. Lucy Weber, D-Walpole, chair of the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee, said COVID-19 has strengthened the notion that at the end of the day, health is all that peoplehave and that healthcare is a human right.
“There should be no barriers to appropriate healthcare and mental health services and this legislation takes enormous action in improving Granite Staters’ access to critical services like our ‘in and out’ medical assistance policy, treatment for tick-borne illness, and treatment for substance use disorders,” Weber said.
Sununu also signed HB 1245, a 79-page omnibus bill concerning state agencies, into law.
Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, issued the following statement in response:
“Yesterday, Governor Sununu vetoed HB 1234, a non-partisan bill containing requests from his own department heads, and in his veto message questioned the integrity of the legislative process, falsely claiming that the legislation lacked a public hearing.
“I am pleasantly surprised to see that just 24 hours later, the Governor has signed HB 1245 into law. I’m glad he has so quickly reversed his position on omnibus legislation and I thank the Legislature for its diligence in crafting this bill.”