Legislative update week of February 19th

Last week:

  • New Hampshire House says there’s no place for Hate in the Granite State: After a nasty attempt to table my Anti-Hate Resolution (HCR 13) the motion was summarily slapped down by a vote of 132-191. Then the full New Hampshire House of Representatives approved by a vote of 234 to 69. Representatives John Cloutier of Claremont and Latha Mangipudi of Nashua spoke about their experiences with hate in New Hampshire. The testimony was moving and I believe the passage of the Resolution is healing. The New Hampshire House has sent a statement to the world that we condemn hate crimes and any other form of conduct that constitutes racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination based on disability, age, marital or familial status, sexuality or gender discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus contrary to law. After 2017’s attempted lynching of a mixed race child in Claremont, this resolution sends a strong statement to the rest of the country that there is no room for hate in New Hampshire. 
  • One of my bills, HB1561, drew no less than 7 lobbyists flown in from across the country to testify against it this week in a hearing. The bill was to ban use of cancer-causing crumb rubber on children’s playing fields. The lobbyists who were flown in to oppose my bill represented the Synthetic Fill Company, Turf Council, and the Tire Industry Association. Three elected officials including myself and one resident testified in support.  We had no chance without strong advocacy.
  • Did you know that bottled water is less regulated than your tapwater?? Another bill of mine, HB1632, opposed by lobbyists was a consumer protection bill requiring bottled water companies to test for cancer causing PFCs, arsenic and MTBE, and include test results on labels. This bill was also heavily opposed by Coca Cola and the International Bottled Water Association. 
  • Transparency is the heart of Democracy right? Not in the New Hampshire House. HB1557 would have required legislative committee hearings be videotaped and streamed online (so citizens might have a chance to see the influence of lobbyists) was defeated.  It would also allow access to the elderly, sick, or disabled to access state government policy making. The bill was voted down on the floor by a vote of 236 to 96.
  • Another attack on women got thwarted last week. HB1511 intended to make a woman responsible for the death of a fetus at 8 weeks. Thanks to Representative Dan Eaton, this bill was tabled on a vote of 204 to 121

Next week several of my bills will be heard in committee:

  • On Tuesday, HB1766 to require the Coakley Landfill Group to remove contaminants from well water polluted by PFCs will be voted on in committee. Given 30 years of inaction by the EPA, this bill represents the best chance for quick action for families living near the landfill. The bill is one of four environmental bills I’m sponsoring that different committees will be discussing and possibly voting on.
  • Also on Tuesday, HB 1807 a bill I’m cosponsoring to protect our seniors will be heard in committee. This bill makes it easier for vulnerable people in abusive situations to get help without the need to notify the person who is abusing them.

On Thursday, the full House of Representatives will vote on a full slate of bills, including several I am cosponsoring:

  • HB 1565 would require the secure psychiatric unit at the state prison to be accredited as a psychiatric hospital. The would ensure that prisoners get the help they need instead of simply being warehoused.
  • HB 1446 would designate September as childhood cancer awareness month.
  • HB 1646 would require cell phone carriers to provide a monthly report of dropped calls in each zip code. Dropped calls are a huge issue in rural areas and at the beaches - better data will help consumers.

Also this week, the legislature will get its first look at a Senate bill to renew the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. Also known as Medicaid expansion, this bill would preserve healthcare for 50,000 people as well as much of the funding used for opioid treatment. A hearing will be held on the bill at 1:30 pm Tuesday in Representatives Hall.


Kimberly Sychterz