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Food assistance proposal for N.H. farmers markets won’t advance after GOP lawmaker balks at amendment

Jason Moon for NHPR
Without signatures from all committee members, the bill cannot move forward, which means the food assistance program and the three other provisions in the bill will not advance this session.

An agreement to advance a bill that contained funding for a food assistance program at farmers markets crumbled ahead of last week's legislative deadline for lawmakers to sign off on final negotiations.

Rep. John Hunt, a Rindge Republican, declined to sign off onHouse Bill 1099, and Speaker of the House Sherman Packard didn’t replace him with another representative willing to agree to the provisions in the bill. Without signatures from all committee members, the bill cannot move forward, which means the food assistance program and the three other provisions in the bill will not advance this session.

Hunt was not present at the committee meeting last Tuesday to voice his concerns due to COVID-19, he said in an interview Friday. He said he opposed a portion of the bill that would have created a pilot program for a new type of health insurance, a group health plan called association health plans. The proposed program was initially in House Bill 286. The House Commerce Committee, which Hunt chairs, voted 17-1 to kill it. The proposed initiative reappeared as one of several amendments to HB 1099.

“I was appointed to the committee of conference for one singular purpose: to get that removed from the bill,” Hunt said. He said he received the amendment without enough time to call other representatives on the committee and voice his opposition.

HB 1099 would have also added the Department of Health and Human Services to the list of public entities prohibited from requiring a COVID-19 vaccination as a precondition for receiving public benefits or services or being eligible for department programs.

New Hampshire Bulletin is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. New Hampshire Bulletin maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Dana Wormald for questions: info@newhampshirebulletin.com. Follow New Hampshire Bulletin on Facebook and Twitter.

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