CarriageTowneNews.com, Kingston, NH

June 14, 2012

My Opinion: June 14, 2012

By NH State Rep. L. Mike Kappler

RAYMOND — This week's article is a continuation on with bills of the May 15-17 Session that were passed on the Regular Calendar:

SB-376 - extending the committee to develop a plan for privatizing the (NH) Department of Corrections (DOC). As amended bill: (1) extends the study committee, which was created by HB-2, in 2011, to November 1, 2012, because of delays in creating the RFPs required. (2) HB-2 directed the DOC to issue RFPs to privatize New Hampshire's prisons, setting up this committee to review the process, but deadline was inadequate. (3) House amendment allows the committee to confidentially examine the vendor submissions and summarize their findings without revealing any vendor-specific information. (Amendment - A) A-2194h passed on (Division vote - D - a count recorded vote, but not by name) D 220-101. Although DOC opposes privatization, spending about $200M annually, the bill passed (Ought to Pass - OTP) OTP on a VV (voice vote - VV).

SB-401-FN - relative to reporting the average daily membership of pupils in the public schools and relative to adjustments to adequate education grants. Adequate education payments to school districts are currently based on three-year-old attendance figures. This bill shortens the process so that one-year-old data is used. State aid is thus more accurately allocated to where it is needed. Districts may adjust these estimates by up to 5% to ensure that they will never overspend their revenue. A-2120h and bill passed OTP-A on voice votes.

SB-409-FN - relative to the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. Bill establishes a procedure for the medicinal use of marijuana. A-2143h passed on voice vote. Bill passed OTP-A D 228-91.

SB-17 - relative to evidence of admissions in medical injury actions and (/) and relative to offers of judgments. The (/) is break point in title where 2nd half of title is a non-germaine amendment added to bill by House. On this bill, House added

the text of previously passed HB-1181, passed it OTP-A (roll call - RC) RC 226-93, and sent it back to Senate, who since voted not to concur (NCC) with House, killing bill.

SB-273 - relative to vexatious litigants and (/) relative to confidentiality of police personnel files. As amended, the bill changed the definition of "vexatious litigant" from one who has filed 2 frivolous lawsuits to 3. Floor (Flr) amendment added a House bill text that was previously killed by the Senate which clarified the confidentiality provision regarding use of police personnel files as evidence in criminal cases. Although bill passed OTP-A on a voice vote, the Senate since voted NCC on a voice vote, killing it.

SB-354 - relative to the escrow fund for court facility improvements, the Circuit Court, and (/) funding of the E-Court initiative for the Judicial Branch. (1) Bill made technical corrections regarding the escrow fund for court facility improvements, including changing the name of the fund to the escrow fund for Judicial Branch facility improvements. (2) Made certain changes in the administration of the Circuit Court, and (3) increased the capital appropriation for the E-Court initiative for the Judicial Branch. Bill passed OTP-A on a vote (Division) D 235-95, the Senate since voted NCC on voice vote, killing it.

SB-359 - relative to civil actions involving accessibility for public buildings. (1) Bill provides that in an action to enforce accessibility standards for public buildings the court may award attorney fees to the prevailing party. (2) Provides enforcement authority for the New Hampshire protection and advocacy system. (3) If probable cause exists that a public building violates accessibility standards, then the owner shall have 30 days to respond to a compliance letter and then 270 days to bring the building into compliance. (4) If the owner does not bring the building into compliance, then an action may be brought in Superior Court to compel compliance. (5) The court may award reasonable attorney's fees and costs to the prevailing party. Bill passed OTP on voice vote.

More bills from this session will be reviewed next week.

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