Legislative Update - week of 3/4/2018 

The upcoming week is a busy one for the New Hampshire House. We will be in session Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Hundreds of bills will be voted on, including 19 bills that I am sponsoring or co-sponsoring.

Here are some highlights:

  • My bill to compel the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) to force the Coakley Landfill Group to install a groundwater capture and treatment system at the Coakley Superfund site (HB 1766) will be voted on by the full House following a committee recommendation along party lines to kill it. If you haven’t been following this one closely, over the weekend the Portsmouth Herald broke a story that the federal government provided over $5 million to build a water extraction treatment system years ago at the site to remove contaminants that was never built. If no treatment system is built, all of that money will need to be paid back. We have a known cancer cluster and families in the area are terrified. What are we waiting for? Astonishingly, Mike Wimsatt of NHDES opposed the bill even though he sent a letter to legislators in July stating that the surface water contamination coming from Coakley dump is unacceptable.
  • House Bill 1701 is also coming to the floor this week.  The bill would require the Coakley Landfill Group, which is composed of certain municipalities and which is responsible for remediation at the Coakley Landfill, to submit to the department all records pertaining to the remediation. CLG has maintained its record are not subject to the right to know law.
  • Several of my bills which sought to create lower drinking water and surface water standards for perfluorinated chemicals were recommended inexpedient to legislate by Democrats and Republicans alike on the House Resources and Recreation Committee. House Republicans sponsored HB1101 and cut and pasted my legislation onto their bill.
  • House Bill 1591 was also voted inexpedient to legislate which would fill a gap in our rules that would give citizens exposed to toxins the right to sue parties in civil court I will be leading a floor fight on this bill because I think it is important to give people rights in this area when we have many large contaminated drinking water sources in our state. Mike Wimsatt of NHDES opposed the bill citing flimsy reasoning.
  • House Bill 1659 would establish a committee to study possible health and safety impacts of the alkali-silica reaction on the seacoast,” is sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton. The bill would have created a six-member committee of House and Senate members to “study the possible impact on the health and safety of the public from the alkali-silica reaction in the concrete of the Seabrook atomic plant,” and provide health and safety recommendations by the end of the year.
  • Not unexpectedly, my House Bill 1632 which would compel bottled water manufacturers to concentrations of arsenic, MTBE and perfluorinated chemicals on their labels was voted inexpedient to legislate.  This was heavily fought by bottled water industry including Coca-Cola.  I may pull it off consent just to have a conversation on the floor about the need to protect tap water since FDA regulations on bottled water are less strict.
  • Protecting the elderly and other vulnerable adults has been a top priority for me this session. HB 1807 is a bipartisan bill that would beef up legal protections for vulnerable adults and make it easier for the courts to intervene in situations of abuse.
  • Public money should never be spent trying to bust unions. UNH spent $240K to hire a premiere union-busting firm. HB 1315would prevent university funds from being spent to oppose the formation of unions and collective bargaining units.
  • There’s a strong chance that this week we’ll be well on our way to banning gender discrimination in New Hampshire. HB 1319comes up for a vote with an Ought to Pass recommendation and I am a co-sponsor of this bill.

Also This Week - Unfortunately, women's access to reproductive health care is under attack in Washington and in Concord. I find this ironic since it is Women's History Month and this week Thursday is International Women's Day.  In addition, the legislature will look at ways to prevent violence and transgender rights. 

  • On Tuesday, I will vote in favor of a motion by Rep. Lee Oxenham to suspend House rules so that a bill can be introduced on Wednesday that would 1) limit the sale of firearms to anyone under the age of 21 and 2) prohibit the sale of bump stocks. This is a critical piece of gun violence prevention legislation that NRA supporters in the legislature will be fighting hard to block.
  • Four anti-choice bills that would sharply curtail reproductive freedom in New Hampshire will also be up for votes. 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. But another has been recommended for Interim Study and one of the most restrictive--HB 1680-- would outlaw abortions any time after the moment when a fetus could be considered “viable” outside the womb. There is no exception even in situations where the health of the mother is in jeopardy. These are horrible bills and I'm hoping that HB1680 will be tabled immediately.
  • The battle continues this week as the GOP majority continues to try to chip away at voting rightsHB 1265 would require college students to meet stringent state residency requirements in order to vote--something that directly conflicts with our state constitution. I will vote against this bill as well as any other attempts to disenfranchise college students and other classes of voters.

Did You Know?
You can view the House when in session, by selecting "LIVE" in the "General Court News and Hot Links" box athttp://www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Recordings are posted soon after each session on the Streaming Media pagehttp://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/media/default.htm.

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- Mindi

Kimberly Sychterz