This week, my committee met to review the performance audit of the liquor commission’s division of enforcement and licensing. The Commerce Committee, which usually deals with the liquor laws, joined us and provided a unique perspective.
For example, when the audit called out that there were dozens of different licenses, with overlapping qualifications and restrictions, I and my committee immediately thought to rationalize the statute and make it simpler to understand and enforce; Commerce thought of the history of all the exemptions and special licenses and considered that they were providing customer service to their constituents!
In any event, the fiscal committee has already taken the commission’s corrective action plan and is monitoring it monthly. We asked the commission to report on statutes that are unclear, inefficient, or difficult to enforce, and will likely be doing some cleanup (not as thorough as I would like to see!)
We also heard our first Senate bill, SB 105, which was a small (three-part) omnibus bill on commemorations. Part one adopted “My 603” as a state song; part 2 proclaimed metastatic breast cancer day; and part 3 established solar eclipse day. “My 603” has won a number of country music awards and was written and sung by a long-time resident of Candia.
However, when we asked about copyrights and freedom of use, neither the sponsor nor the songwriter could reassure us that there wasn’t a problem. (and New Hampshire is due to get a second area code sometime soon, so the title could be obsolete.)
Since we already have multiple cancer days and months, plus the federal breast cancer month, we weren’t very supportive of metastatic breast cancer day. Beyond that, the committee has seen that once a “day” gets put into statute, its supporters lose enthusiasm and start to forget about it. We believe it’s more effective to rally your supporters every year and petition the governor for a declaration.
Finally, we all liked solar eclipse day (we’d passed it unanimously last year) especially once one member realized it was a one-time observance and wouldn’t be put into the law books. I had an amendment to take out sections one and two, which passed, 13-5, after rather more discussion than I would have thought necessary. The amended bill passed 14-4, and will likely be debated the next time the House meets.
We also voted to approve HB 533, reorganizing the lottery commission to have an enforcement division, with a clarifying and grammar-improving amendment.
On HB 187, legislative review of emergency orders of the HHS commissioner, we debated it and added an amendment to state that the oversight committee could not “rescind” such an order. A committee of the legislature cannot have the authority of the full-body, so it cannot overrule the executive. (Persuade and plead, yes!) The amendment called for a resolution that would be passed by the legislature to rescind an order, similar to the resolutions authorized for JLCAR.
HB 433, restricting renewals of emergencies, was voted to kill, since it’s redundant to HB 417 (which we also debated but decided a new amendment was needed.) HB 275, the last bill on emergency powers, was retained to catch any changes we learned later.
We also heard SB 21, which simply repeals a change to the quorum requirements of the Pease board of directors, which was a change that was incompletely backed out last year. We voted immediately to recommend it to pass.
SB 15 is an update to the state building codes, identical to HB 72 before amendments. We heard it, and agreed that since it’s ahead of HB 72 (which will go to the Senate after the House session) we will amend SB 15 with all the updates since December and ask the Senate to retain HB 72.
SB 106 had two different sections, the first repealing a voluntary certification for fire system installers.
The fire marshal asked for this since the program has dwindled, the rules have expired, and the requirements for fire systems are included in the electrical and fire codes already. The other section set up a study committee on adopting the 2018 code updates, which the Senate took so seriously that it consisted of three Senators! (Senators resist most study committees since the 24 of them must support all committees, and they typically cut the number on any study committee to one.)
We debated this bill, with general agreement on part two, and some confusion on the first part. We voted to pass it 12-7, but I decided to hold onto it while those 7 members researched how their towns handle fire systems.
SB 42 simply adds “services” to the current ban on self-dealing by elected officials. It seems perfectly obvious that selectmen should not sell their services to their towns any more than their products. Most of the committee agreed, but others asked questions about how the limit was calculated (was it per sale, per year, or what?) and wondered how it could be enforced. We agreed to do some research in our towns before voting on this bill.
We also heard the new amendment to HB 141, which required any town or county that wanted to exempt their administrator from the retirement system to pay the employer’s share of the unfunded liability. This in essence would exempt the individual but not the position from the retirement system. We agreed that this amendment resolved our concerns and voted unanimously to recommend it to the House.
This completed the committee’s work on House bills, so we will take a week off. The following week has three days of session, including the vote on the budget.