CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

February 27, 2014

My Opinion: February 27, 2014

By NH State Representative L. Mike Kappler
Carriage Towne News

---- — RAYMOND - The House Session of February 12 was just another day working on legislation. But at least there was not much bickering as in the last couple sessions. Things seemed to move along at a normal pace for the first time this year. Some of the bills of interest that were acted on include:

HB-1589, requiring background checks for all firearm sales. New Hampshire ranks among the safest states in America. The vast majority of gun owners in NH are honest, law abiding citizens. This bill would have done nothing to prevent criminals who have illegally obtained weapons, from committing heinous crimes, and would have infringed on our 2nd Amendment rights by creating onerous new gun regulations. The original bill was unnecessary and superfluous, making it harder and more expensive for people to purchase self defense guns, and could have made criminals out of responsible gun owners. Bill was brought forward because of “Sandy Hook School” incident. New Hampshire is not the big city problem area. Let them make their own rules, and let us live “free”. I understood from conversation in the House that they were going to let two people speak on each side of the debate, but that didn’t happen. The first thing that happened was a motion to Table the bill, which failed on a division (D) vote 153-165. I voted ‘yes’. We then spent twp hours with the following motions: amendment A-0371h passed RC 174-166 (N). floor amendment A-0467h passed RC 177-175 (Y), motion again to Table failed D 173-183 (Y), an Indefinite Postponement failed D 133-226 (Y), Ought to Pass as Amended OTP-A failed D 165-195 (N), then finally a motion to Inexpedient to Legislate (kill) ITL passed D 242-118 (Y).

This killed the bill. Then to be sure it would stay killed, and not be reconsidered, and while we had the votes to do it, a motion to reconsider was made, and motion maker asked that you vote ‘no’. A ‘no’ vote failure to reconsider would permanently kill the bill. Reconsider vote failed D 113-244 (N),which ended this topic for this year. Best thing for New Hampshire.

HB-1595-FN, establishing a condominium dispute resolution board. Another bad bill creating a new Condominium Dispute Resolution Board, which would lower the bar for filing complaints, so it would result in more legal costs for the managers of condominium associations. Bill passed OTP-A D 187-160.

HB-1255, making students whose name appears on the voter checklist eligible for in-state tuition rates at schools in the university system of New Hampshire. Yea, right, just bus them in, put them up, sign them up to vote, and they get in state rates. That is really crazy. It would just increase the cost of ALL in-state students. Bill kill ITL RC 247-105.

HB-1588-FN, requiring suicide prevention education in schools. This bill would have required school districts and chartered public schools to provide suicide prevention education and training to pupils, parents, facility, staff, and school volunteers. Another bad bill, and I believe it would have been a 28A issue, mandating the districts. I mentioned on the House floor, the excellent program Raymond Coalition For Youth was doing, and said it should be up to the district of how to handle this education. Bill was killed ITL D 203-145.

HB-1165-FN-A, relative to the citizen’s petition for redress of grievances by the legislature; establishing a special fund, and making an appropriation therefore. Another bad bill that would have established a $1M fund for compensation of petitioners. Having sat on the Redress of Grievances Committee last term, most of the grievances we heard were filed because the person wasn’t satisfied with the results of their hearing, not that something wrong was done. Bill was killed ITL RC 249-88.

HB-1142-FN-A, relative to the road toll for alternative fuels. This bill creates an equivalent level of the gas tax on alternative fuels, such as compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, and propane, so these vehicles would pay their fair share for road toll taxes that is used on road and bridge work. Bill will require the Commissioner of Safety to adopt rules establishing the conversion rate for alternative fuels to their equivalent in gallons of gasoline based on nationally recognized standards for weights and measures. Bill passed OTP-A on voice vote. Bill sent to Ways and Means Committee as 2nd committee.

HB-1581-FN-A, relative to the bonding of project costs for certain department of transportation bridge capital projects. In New Hampshire we currently have 4000 bridges, with ½ of them state owned. There are 140 bridges on the “red list”, meaning very bad, and currently 9 have been closed due to needed repairs. This bill would allow the Commissioner of DOT to fund bridge capital projects which the department determines are red listed by bonded appropriations, provided the total debt service does not exceed 10% of the unrestricted highway fund revenues for the previous fiscal year. This bill would cut out the normal process of getting legislative approval in HB-25, the budget trailer bill, for such borrowing. Bypassing the HB-25 method would allow the Executive Branch to borrow and spend without legislative involvement. Bill passed OTP-A RC 251-82. Bill sent to Finance Committee as 2nd committee.

(Editor’s Note: NH State Representative Mike Kappler can be reached at l.mikekappler@comcast.net)