Bill Would Create Panel to Review Grant-in-Aid Requests

DOVER – Lawmakers filed a measure Friday that would create a new joint legislative committee to better review and consider grant-in-aid requests.

Sponsored by House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst and House Minority Whip Deborah Hudson, House Bill 260 would create a bipartisan, bicameral, six-member committee similar to the Joint Finance, Bond Bill and Joint Sunset committees. The new panel would be charged with reviewing requests for grants-in-aid from nonprofit groups, fire companies and other applicants. The Joint Finance Committee, which also writes the state operating budget, currently handles these requests.

“JFC has done the best it can with limited time and resources to put together a Grant-in-Aid bill each year, but their focus should be entirely on our operating budget each year,” said Rep. Longhurst, D-Bear. “We need to be able to determine if an organization – whether it’s a senior center, a children’s recreational center or a health support group – is performing the functions it promotes and is the best recipient for our limited state funds.

“This new committee will be able to more thoroughly review applications, conduct on-site visits and examine performance standards. It will make sure we are effectively providing funds to organizations that do the most public good.”

Under HB 260, the Grant-in-Aid Committee would look at performance measures when considering funding requests. The panel would consist of six senators and representatives, with two members from each majority caucus and one from each minority caucus.

“The nonprofits in the Grant-in-Aid bill should save the state money by offering services cheaper and more efficiently than a state agency. Assessing that value requires a legislative committee committed exclusively to determining whether the mission of the organization is met and at a cost effective price,” said Rep. Hudson, R-Fairthorne. “I expect members to use the full six months to visit (announced and unannounced) the agency and interview provider employees and recipients. A casual check of these organizations, collectively receiving $40 million or more in taxpayer dollars annually, is just not enough.”

The committee co-chairs and members would be paid the same as the Bond Bill and Sunset committees pay: $4,578 for co-chairs and $3,852 for members.

HB 260 would take effect on January 1, 2018. It has been assigned to the House Administration Committee.