Legislative Update – April 26, 2019
House and Senate committees met throughout the week for public hearings, deliberations and votes on some of the more than 400 bills that are still alive this year. The Senate held a brief session on Thursday.
End at zero
The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee on Wednesday voted to recommend passing a measure requiring that all state-purchased vehicles be zero-emission by the year 2039. The vote was 12-8 along party lines, with Democrats prevailing. Republicans criticized the bill as a mandate. They also challenged the idea that the necessary charging infrastructure would be available and that the market would be able to support the requirement. Proponents said zero-emission vehicles will be the norm before long, and that the bill has exceptions that would only require the state to buy the lowest emission vehicle that is available, if feasible for its intended use.
Ban the box
The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitation Services Committee is considering a Senate-passed bill that would have employers wait until at least the second phase of the hiring process to ask applicants if they have a criminal record. Under the bill, employers would still be able to ask in face-to-face or phone interviews but would not be able to include a “box” or space on the initial application that requires an applicant to disclose the information up front. The bill includes exceptions for some federal and other jobs that are not open to people who have certain criminal convictions. Supporters said the bill would reduce recidivism by allowing qualified individuals with criminal records to get a fair opportunity to apply for work. The bill has been before the legislature in the past, but disagreements over the impacts and the details of implementation have led to its demise.
Nothing’s in the water
The House Fish, Game and Marine Resources Committee this week voted to recommend killing two Senate bills relative to boat ramps. One involved a proposal to build a new boat ramp at Hilton Park in Dover. The other would have created a pilot program at five non-motorized boat launch areas to determine the safety of swimming near boat ramps. The committee rejected both measures in bipartisan votes. Meanwhile, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to recommend passing a bill that would create new requirements at ramps for cleaning aquatic growth and invasive species from boats.
Doobie doobie doo
Supporters and opponents of legalizing recreational marijuana faced off in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. Supporters said the war on drugs has failed and the time has come to legalize the drug, as nearby states have done. Opponents said the effort to legalize recreational marijuana is based on greed and money, would be costly and would have significant public health impacts. The bill passed the House, but Governor Sununu has vowed to veto it.
Both the House and Senate will meet in session next Thursday, May 2.