Legislative Update - week of 3/11/2018
This week the full House meets at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 15th. Three of my bills will be up for floor votes.
- HB 1632: My bottled water labeling bill requires manufacturers of bottled water to have it analyzed at least annually for perfluorinated chemicals, MBTE, and arsenic to ensure it is safe for drinking. Test results would also need to be posted on the label. This bill came out of committee with an inexpedient to legislate or “kill” recommendation. I have pulled it off consent so that I can speak to the importance of protecting our tap water in NH since bottled water is less regulated than tap water!
- HB 1592: My original bill set a specific standard for the maximum acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water that matched a level adopted by several other states. But this amended version requires the NH Department of Environmental Services to set the level. DES has already admitted the current standard is too high and a reduction would have a direct impact on certain forms of cancer, such as bladder cancer and lung cancer.
- HB 1701: Taxpayers have a right to know how the Coakley Landfill Groups spent $27 million over three decades while never spending a dime to install a water capture and treatment system water despite being given over $5.25M from the Department of Defense and about $5M from the state for that purpose. This bill requires the Coakley Landfill Group to open its records under the state Right to Know Law. This request would not only cover public entities, such as the City of Portsmouth which is already subject to the right to know--but also private companies that hauled or dumped hazardous waste and trash at Coakley.
Also Coming Up This Week
Four anti-choice bills originally scheduled to be voted on last week were moved to this week because of Thursday’s snowstorm. These bills would sharply limit a women’s access to reproductive healthcare in New Hampshire. The good news is that two of the worst--HB 1721 and HB 1787--came out of committee with strong recommendations for the full legislature to kill them. HB 1680 is the worst of the lot and is recommended for Interim Study. This bill would outlaw abortions any time after the moment when a fetus could be considered “viable” outside the womb. There are no exceptions even in situations where the health of the mother is in jeopardy. Email all House Representatives about these bills! Here’s what you can say:
Vote against the committee recommendation of OTP on HB1680-FN (An Act relative to abortions after viability) and instead vote in favor to kill the bill.
Vote in favor of the committee recommendation to interim study HB1707-FN (An Act relative to information regarding abortion).
Vote in favor of the committee recommendation to kill HB 1721-FN (An Act relative to coercive abortions) and HB1787-FN (An Act relative to the rights of conscience for medical professionals).
The House Finance Committee will hold an Executive Session on SB 193 on Wednesday where a vote is likely. After passing in both the Senate and the House, funding mechanisms are being debated in committee regarding this toxic bill which uses money from public school budgets to fund private and religious education. This bill is a pet project of Americans for Prosperity, which is supporting similar irresponsible bills in states across the country.
Recap: Week of March 5-9
- HB 1319--which bans gender discrimination in New Hampshire passed the House! The gallery exploded into cheers when the overwhelming results of the roll call vote were announced. The victory of HB 1319 represented a clean sweep for transgender rights after another horrible bill failed that would have prohibited gender reassignment treatment for minors.
- There was also huge news for families impacted by the Coakley Landfill Superfund site. My bill requiring the NH Department of Environment Services to compel the Coakley Landfill group to clean up contamination at the site (HB 1766) was approved 207-118. It now moves onto the Senate. Another bill I’m cosponsoring (SB 309) that requires the Department of Environmental Services to set state standards for PFCs in drinking water was also approved in the Senate.
- We also won one for the rights of workers to organize. The legislature approved my bill (HB 1315) which bans the state university system funds from being spent to oppose the formation of unions and collective bargaining units.
- An effort by Rep. Lee Oxenham to convince the House to suspend the rules to allow new legislation banning bump stocks as well the sale of long guns to people under age 21 to be considered in this session was defeated in a tone-deaf vote by NRA supporters.
- Another head-shaker was the rejection of a bill that would have required modern radiation monitoring equipment to be installed along our seacoast. The seacoast is wedged between the concrete-crumbling Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant and nuclear submarines at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard--and the nearest modern monitoring equipment located 50 miles away in Concord--this is another short-sighted decision that will likely be revisited next year.
- In the ongoing GOP war against voting rights, the legislature approved a bill that changes the definition of residency and would force voters using out-of-state licenses for identification to register cars they own in NH within 60 days of voting. This is a naked attempt to disenfranchise out-of-state college students who have a legal right to vote under our state constitution as long as they are domiciled here.