Senate backs 25-and-under dependent health coverage

The New Hampshire Senate passed a bill Thursday requiring that health insurance companies that offer family coverage must provide coverage for dependents who are 25 or under.

State law already requires such coverage for students, but supporters thought it should be extended to those in entry-level jobs who don’t have access to such coverage.

Opponents have said that this mandate would drive up the cost of health coverage, encouraging employers and employees to forego it all together.

But these arguments were all heard before, since versions of the bill have already passed in both chambers, so the 13-10 roll call vote did not involve any debate. Because of a minor amendment, the bill still must go back to House for approval before it goes to the governor, who is expected to sign it.

Because of the amendment, those dependents who were denied coverage under the old law would be able to get coverage again during a special open enrollment period in August and September. Also, dependents who have their own dependents would still be able to get coverage.

In other business, the House overwhelmingly voted to permanently ban the burning of construction and demolition debris, except for a three-year window allowing for occasional burning at transfer stations until the state can come up with alternatives.

Supporters have long wanted to make this ban permanent, arguing that burning not only emits toxins into the air. it also attracts C&D waste from out of state.

Sen. Bob Clegg, R-Hudson, was the sole opponent of the ban.

The Senate also passed, 19-5, a $3 million subsidy to dairy farmers, despite concerns of some senators that it was interfering with the free market. Supporters said that it was necessary to save the dairy industry. That bill now goes to the Senate Finance Committee.

Without debate, the Senate also passed:

• House Bill 99, which would prevent 16- and 17-year-olds from working past 9 p.m. without a parent or guardian’s permission. It also allows for increased penalties for repeat violators of youth employment laws. That bill is now headed for the governor.
• HB 426, which allows the Insurance Commission to hold hearings on whether a worker is an independent contractor, and allow it to hold investigations as to whether to charge extra premiums to an employer if a contractor is found actually to be an employee. The amended measure heads back to the House for approval.
• HB 394, allowing the serving of notice of a small claims suit by first class mail, rather than certified mail. This goes to the governor for his approval.

The Senate also killed, without debate, a bill that would legalize industrial hemp, bowing to law enforcement concerns that the cultivation of hemp would mask the growth of marijuana. – BOB SANDERS

Categories: News