Accepting Federal COVID Funds Doesn’t Hold NH to Mandates
New Hampshire Attorney General John Formella has concluded that accepting federal COVID-19 grants does not bind the state to any potential mandates.
The possibility was a concern of the Executive Council and some Republican legislators including former Fiscal Committee chair Ken Weyler if the $27million as part of the American Rescue Plan were accepted.
Formella said the governor asked him to specifically look at two sections, items #9B and #9D, which had been tabled at the Sept.15 Executive Council meeting.
The federal grant award language seemed to claim the state must comply with “future
directives” regarding the control of the spread of COVID-19 including possible vaccinate mandates, quarantines and isolation orders.
Formella said the answer is no.
"Federal grant conditions must be unambiguous and the United States Constitution places significant limits on the federal government’s ability to utilize funding conditions to require the states to adhere to federal directives," Formella said.
He said there would be "strong legal grounds to challenge any guidance or directive that created broadly sweeping new and different conditions, such as a vaccine mandate or quarantine provision.”
“I appreciate that the Attorney General has been very clear in his determination that these contracts do not bind the New Hampshire state government to any sweeping federal mandates, ensuring our state’s sovereignty in how we manage the COVID pandemic," Sununu said in a statement.