We learned that after the 9am-6pm day we had today, that we still have 151 House bills to vote on tomorrow (Thursday). According to House Rule 65, March 12th is the last day that we can act on House Bills. It is pretty clear that we will not meet that deadline. It is unclear what will happen with any bills that we don’t get to in tomorrow’s session. We’ll find out soon enough. Perhaps if we hadn’t wasted an afternoon reprimanding State Reps for not attending Sexual Harassment Training, and if we had met for session one other day last week, and if committees had finished with their bills in a more timely manner, and if we weren’t rehashing all of the bills that were vetoed last year, we wouldn’t be in this pickle. All I know is that the House Majority Democrats are the ones driving this bus.
Speaking of reprimands, we further learned the sudden lack of urgency to reprimand the remaining 6 House Representatives for not attending Sexual Harassment Training. Rep. Comeau made a motion to have the House deliver to him his reprimand. He demanded “speedy judgement” from the House and the Speaker, and moved for the Deputy Speaker, Rep. Lucy Weber, to read him his charges. Instead, Rep. Weber moved to Table the reprimand which passed 210-115. Justice will just have to be served another day when the press is there to record it.
We learned that Rep. Vose was allowed to enter Representatives Hall, once he was declared Corona-Free by the Speaker since it had been reported that someone at Epping’s polls was not feeling well the night before. There are two other State Reps that are self quarantined. The entire House Chamber was also sanitized for our protection before we arrived for session and will be sanitized again before we return Thursday. Nice to know that my “NO” button will be relatively germ free.
We learned that the House Majority Democrats voted to raise the marriage age to 18 (HB1516). That might be all well and good, except that the previous change to statute in a prior legislative year made 16 and 17 the age of sexual consent. So now we might have 16 and 17 year olds getting pregnant and unable to get married until they turn 18. This bill also removed the current legal means of parental and judicial consent for marriage for anyone under the age of 18. Because of this bill, we may see a lot more unwed young mothers in NH. Furthermore, if a 16 or 17 year old gets pregnant by her boyfriend who is in the armed forces, she won’t be able to get Tricare health benefits for prenatal care because she won’t be able to marry him here in NH. This is all really bad news for young couples who want to marry and start their family. This may just push young couples to get married out of state, which could end up being costly and inconvenient for them. To add insult to injury, the effective date is January 2021, so any young couples who have a deposit on a wedding venue in NH for early next year may not be able to get a refund. It’s a tragedy for Romeo and Juliet.
We learned that the House Majority Democrats felt that we needed to regulate and license “art therapists” (HB546-FN). You can bet that future legislation will include mandated insurance coverage for such services. While they were at it, they established a committee to study see why some Granite Staters still do not have insurance coverage (HB1166). Well, for one thing, if they keep passing legislation regarding what services and treatments are mandated to be covered by insurers such as early intervention services (HB1233-FN) and co-payments and zero deductibles for all insulin (HB1280-FN) and antibiotic therapy and insurance coverage for tick borne illness (both HB1287-FN and HB1633-FN) then of course the cost of everyone’s insurance will go up. Maybe that is why people don’t have insurance… they can’t afford it.
We learned that the Nanny Staters were happy to make businesses employ food allergy awareness procedures (HB1102), and allow dogs on their open air patios (HB1483) and take cash for payment (HB1589-FN) but that businesses must discourage the use of plastic straws (HB1472) and ban polystyrene foam take out containers (HB1546-FN) and they must set up recycling receptacles for single use plastics (HB1701-FN) . They also want to make certain that landlords tell renters they need renters insurance (HB1320) and forbid vape shops from selling flavored vaping products (HB1410). One does not have to worry about running a business anymore since these legislators seem to know exactly how people should run their establishments and what is best for all of us!
We learned that while the House Majority Democrats mean to change the labeling of bottled water (HB1274) in NH to indicate purity, they felt it acceptable to drop state labeling requirements for schools who produce, bottle and sell their own maple syrup (HB1470).
We learned that the anti-gun bills were back on the agenda. Two anti-gun bills passed in today’s session and one died. The two that passed the House were the ban on magazines which contain more than 10 rounds (HB1608) and a firearms destruction bill (HB 1374) which allows for the destruction, instead of sale or re-use, of firearms that are voluntarily surrendered to the police. The bill that was thankfully killed was the one which required a locking safety device be provided for all commercial sales and transfers (HB1350). We won’t see the last of this anti-gun foolishness – there is more on the way. I hope that every one of these anti-gun bills comes with its very own special red veto pen.
We learned that penalty for first offense animal cruelty cases will be a class B felony instead of a misdemeanor for first offense and class B felony for second offense (HB1560-FN). No second chances now. Interesting how we care more about serious and purposeful harm or death to animals than fetuses.
Finally, we learned that the Cyberbullying bill (HB1159-FN) was sent off to Interim Study, which means it’s going to be “looked at” some more…. you know, because there’s first amendment rights involved, and trampling on those rights might just have to be taken into consideration. The bill dealing with the Statute of Limitations on sexual assault cases (HB1586-FN) also went to Interim Study because erasing a Statute of Limitations has huge implications in equal justice for the accused and the accuser. Reliable evidence and witnesses become a real problem for prosecution and defense the longer the years go by. But that did not stop Rep. Altschiller from a teary eyed half hour long speech which sought to overturn the Interim Study recommendation. In both cases, for these two bills, the wisdom to study the issues on a deeper level prevailed.
So hold onto your popcorn… we have 151 more bills before us… and a deadline. So it’s going to be a very, very long Thursday session.