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Legislative Update - week of 2/23/2018
Dozens of bills were voted on, including last week on the House floor including six bills I sponsored or cosponsored.
- One of the biggest disappointments was the rejection of a billasking Congress to support a constitutional amendment to regulate the role of big money in elections and redraw legislative districts so they don't favor any political party. How are we ever going to get big money out of politics if our legislators lack the courage to even ask Congress to act?
- Another disappointment was the tabling of a bill that would have given employees of the legislature the right to unionize. Before we could even present our arguments for the bill which included an amendment that the Speaker ruled non-germaine. This amendment would have clarified that organized legislative employees would have the right to mandatory sexual harassment prevention training -a topic that Speaker Chandler knows too well from direct experience.
- Another head-shaker was the rejection of a bill establishing acommittee to look into alkali-silica reaction deterioration at the crumbling Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant. Nextera told us in committee hearings that more than 50% of the concrete structures at Seabrook are considered Stage 3, the most deteriorated.
Three of my bills (HB 1590, HB 1618, HB 1727) that would have set specific standards and required monitoring of perfluorinatedchemicals were killed in committee. However, some of the issues were cut and pasted into a Republican-sponsored bill --at least in part--as amendments to HB 1101. While this bill doesn’t set actual standards for PFCs (as my bills did), any progress made towards increasing awareness and monitoring of PFCs is a good thing.
But there were some good moments too.
- By a huge majority, the House approved a bill annulling convictions for possession 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana or less that occurred before September 16, 2017. Anyone this applies to will need to petition a court for an annulment and pay a $100 fee. But assuming the Senate and the governor agree, this lets those convicted of this victimless crime to have it removed from their record.
- An encouraging vote that indicates the NRA may finally be losing its death grip on our state, a bill that would have allowed handguns to be carried on university and community college campuses was thankfully defeated.
Four bills I’m sponsoring or cosponsoring passed and now move on to the Senate:
HB 1565 requires the psychiatric unit at the state prison be accredited as a psychiatric hospital. New Hampshire is one of the few states that allow people to be put in prison who haven’t committed a crime. This bill is a good first step to help ensurethey get the care they need.
HB 1356 requires the department of environmental services and the department of health and human services to share data regarding health and environmental information collected by each agency. With so many environmental issues facing our state, I was surprised they don’t. So were a majority of my fellow legislators and now we’re on our way to fixing this.
HB 1446 establishes September as childhood cancer awareness month in NH.
HB 1282 requires the governor to post all executive orders made by the governor’s office on the governor’s website within 72 hours.
The upcoming week is a light week in the NH House. However, while the full House won’t be in session, several of my bills will be debated in committee.
- HB1766: This bill is a very important bill that would compel the State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to use their existing authority to compel the Coakley Landfill Group (CLG) to clean up the mess they should have done right in the first place in 1994. CLG, funded in large part by the City of Portsmouth, the Town of North Hampton and Town of Newington taxpayers, is paying five lobbyists and at least one attorney to fight my legislation this session. How do taxpayers feel about the CLG using taxpayer money to fight legislation intended to protect public health? The executive session will be held on Tuesday sometime after10 am in room 203 in the Legislative Office Building.
- HB 1315: Would prohibit state universities from 1) spending funds to discourage employees from joining or forming a labor union and 2) taking disciplinary action against those who do.
HB 1764: Requires commissioner of the department of employment security to conduct an annual cost of living study using current economic data to estimate the minimum yearly cost of goods and services necessary for individuals and families to achieve and maintain economic self-sufficiency.
HB 1592: This bill requires the NH Department of Environmental Services to develop an ambient groundwater quality standard for arsenic
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