Farmers’ Market Food Assistance Program Bill Won’t Advance After Legislature Balks at Amendment – New Hampshire Bulletin

A deal to advance a bill providing for the funding of a food aid program on farmers’ markets collapsed ahead of Thursday’s legislative deadline for lawmakers to approve final negotiations.

Rep. John Hunt, a Republican from Rindge, declined to sign House Bill 1099, and Speaker of the House Sherman Packard did not replace him with another representative willing to accept the provisions of the bill. Without the signatures of all committee members, the bill cannot move forward, which means the food aid program and the other three provisions of the bill will not move this session forward.

Hunt was not present at the committee meeting on Tuesday to express his concerns due to COVID-19, he said in an interview Friday. He said he opposes part 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, chaired by Hunt, voted 17 to 1 to kill him. The proposed initiative reappeared as one of many amendments to HB 1099.

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

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

James V. Payne