We learned that the Majority Party Democrats haven’t learned anything from last year’s session with regard to vetoed bills because some of them were back today with different bill numbers and nearly identical language. The result was passage in the NH House of these bills, but we all know that if they survive the NH Senate they will ultimately get vetoed by the Governor for the same reasons as before, and the vetoes will be sustained yet again. One can only wonder why they are wasting legislative time this way. Everything from the same old anti-gun legislation to net metering bills to special marriage officiant licensing. It’s all coming back like that bad chili you had for lunch. It also reminds me of the shampoo bottle instructions… lather, rinse, repeat. It’s expensive shampoo too, since NH taxpayers are laying out money to pay for all the mileage these legislators are racking up to attend committee hearings and sessions to deal with these resurrected bills.
We learned that the House can easily spend an hour to an hour and a half on one bill. One of the first bills we dealt with was HB1601-FN which encompassed a very delicate and thorny issue having to do with aggravated felonious sexual assault within marriage. The Majority Party Democrats do not want to keep the State out of the bedroom especially when it come to senior citizens, or others, who may have a severe disability, Alzheimer’s or dementia. The question of consensual sex was brought into great debate as various scenarios of “what if” were expressed. Does it really constitute rape if grandma has dementia or a severe disability and is unable to express consent to grandpa? What if the old folks enjoy intimacy but can’t express consent to sex? Does that constitute rape or sexual assault? Would a person with a severe disability, Alzheimer’s or dementia even be able to file charges or express that they have been sexually assaulted? Would a senior citizen whose spouse has dementia or is non communicative automatically be a felon because no “consent” can be obtained? How is this law even enforced? Then there was the issue of consent in a marriage of a younger spouse (13-16 yrs old) to an older spouse who may be in a position of authority. Needless to say, the bill passed and now goes off to Criminal Justice for more consensual intercourse discourse.
We learned that fast tracking a net metering bill (HB1218-FN) ahead of all the other bills actually gave Rep. Howard Moffett (D) an hour’s worth of time to talk about it while Republicans who were told it would be brought up in the next day’s session had to think fast on their feet to present their side of the argument. In the end, Rep. Vose (R) did a great job talking about how this bill would upset the market prices of customer generated power with a pricing scheme that was included in a previously vetoed bill (SB159). This bill (HB1218-FN) will shift costs to ratepayers, but of course the Majority Party Democrats passed it anyway. Language from the Governor’s net metering bill (HB1402) was tossed into HB1218-FN but in the end, this awful bill (HB1218-FN) will likely be vetoed, because it will end up costing ratepayers more and overall it’s just a flawed bill. It appears the Majority Party Democrats fast tracked HB1218-FN so that they could refuse to pass the Governor’s municipal energy net metering bill (HB1402) on its own. It’s a shame because HB1402 was a workable energy bill designed to help NH municipalities waiting for this renewable energy legislation, and one that the Governor would happily sign into law. The moral of the story is that the Majority Party Democrats would rather squash something that moves New Hampshire’s clean energy policy forward (HB1402) and simultaneously blame the Governor for vetoing renewable energy bills that will cost ratepayers more. Simply put: Our donkey bill good… your elephant bill bad.
We learned that with these two passed bills, NH insurance rates will go up because insurers will be required to cover epipens (HB1281-FN) and towns will be paying more money ($37 Million) into retirement pension funds for teachers and employees (HB1235-A). Now if we can only locate the trees where the money is growing on, we’ll be all set.
We learned that firearm waiting periods passed (HB1101-FN), and so did protective orders for vulnerable adults (HB1660-FN) and now they will be shipped off to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee along with (HB1350) requiring locking safety devices for commercial firearm sales and transfers. That committee is going to be busy with those bills along with regulating the use of drones (HB1580-FN) and new penalties having to do with cruelty to wild animals (HB1606-FN). Brace yourself for more hearings and prepare to camp out in that committee room.
We learned that NH legislators showed some common sense when it came to NH pets and their owners. In the “Live Free or Die” state we maintained that animal owners do not need people from other states, specifically California, to tell us how to take care of our animals. HB1389-FN, an all encompassing “animal cruelty” bill, was also summarily killed. It would have penalized owners for keeping dogs outside in 32 degree, or colder, weather for more than 15 minutes, even if Spot loves to roll around in the snow banks. This bill also would have dictated nanny state specifications for dog houses which would have put our entire State Police Dog Unit in noncompliance and cost NH a ton of money to replace the lovely new aluminum dog kennels which already house our 29 hard working State Police dogs. The bill (HB1683-FN) that prohibited docking of ears and tails of dogs was also killed, as it was recognized that for certain breeds of dogs there were legitimate medical necessity for these surgical procedures and that the decision to employ these procedures are best left to the owners and their veterinarians. The same determination was made for declawing of cats (HB1387) which is a procedure that is not often performed and is discouraged by veterinarians anyway. In many instances declawing prevents a cat from being euthanized or bounced around from home to home. All in all, it was felt that our current animal cruelty laws work just fine and that pet owners should be free to make decisions with their veterinarians with regard to procedures and care. It’s time to be like a dog… kick some grass over those bad bills and move on.
As for Thursday’s session…. There’s more to come!