RAYMOND - The January 29th House Session was another day of hate and discontent, arguing over nothing, talking on and on instead of saying what you had to say, and just plain trying to interrupt the day’s business. Needless to say, I have not been happy with the sessions we have had so far this year. Representatives on both sides of the aisle need to get down to doing the peoples business, that’s what we are sent there to do.
Some of the bills of the day were:
HB-580, establishing moratoriums on wind turbine plants and electric transmission line projects. This bill would have prohibited the Site Evaluation Committee from approving any wind turbine plants or transmission lines until the Comprehensive State Energy Plan is completed. On one hand, it diminishes the property rights of landowners to put up turbines or transmission lines; on the other hand, it asserts local control, typically neglected by the current process, and legislative oversight by creating incentives for the energy plan to be completed. Republicans attempted to get it passed, but the Democrats killed it ITL RC 194-148.
HB-427, relative to tobacco tax laws. This bill sets an arbitrary figure to define “premium cigars”, which is in violation of the NH Constitution in dividing one class of a product into two separate tax rates. Bill would also have a negative impact on the small businesses that make up the “premium cigar” industry in our state. Unfortunately bill passed OTP-A RC 185-152.
HB-485-FN-A, establishing keno. Bill will expand lottery to include the electronic lottery game Keno in any establishment that pours liquor, which includes bars, restaurants, and non-profits such as American Legion or VFWs. Keno will be operated and licensed under the Lottery Commission, with revenues going to the Education Trust Fund. Bill pass OTP-A RC 202-141.
HB-120, relative to hours of sales by off-premises liquor licensees. Bill would have allowed off-premise sales until 1:00 a.m. Bill killed ITL RC 170-156.
HB-533, relative to the mathematics requirement for high school graduation. Bill requires one year of imbedded math in addition to three years of required math. I believe this bill is a RSA 28A local control issue. Why get the state involved in a school districts business? Passed OTP-A RC 209-125.
HB-292-FN-A, requiring milfoil decals on private vessels registered in other states or countries and operating on the inland waters of New Hampshire. Bill would increase the additional fee for all commercial, private, and pleasure vessels $2.00 (26.7%). Bill passed OTP-A RC 164-127 and was sent to the Ways & Means Committee, as a 2nd committee.
HB-532, relative to energy efficiency and clean energy districts. This bill, as amended, allows towns or village districts to create special districts and borrow bond money to fund some businesses that might be financially marginal by funding certain energy efficiency improvements on private property (primarily commercial property). A significant concern, not answered is what would happen if the property owner or business failed. I see several problems: 1. It would turn the town into a bank. 2. What about any hazard waste clean-up on land if taken by default? 3. No limit on amount of loan? 4. What about favoritism on who town loans to? 5. The NH Constitution, Part 2, Article 5, states “the general court shall not authorize any town to loan or give its money or credit directly or indirectly for the benefit of any corporation”. Even with these problems, the Dems. passed it anyway on RC OTP-A 167-140
(Editor’s Note: NH State Representative Mike Kappler can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)