Legislator collapses during floor session; 27 bills discussed, from cat-declawing to legalizing LSD

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CONCORD, NH –  State Representative Tim Horrigan (D-Durham) briefly collapsed during discussion of HB 524, the 22nd of  27 bills deliberated upon March 16 by the New Hampshire House of Representatives.

Horrigan returned to his feet within moments. Initially, individuals near him believed he may have had a seizure, but it was later believed that he swallowed a cough drop and choked. He was transported to Concord Hospital and onlookers described him as lucid as he left the building. He later returned home and reported that he was feeling okay.

Here is an overview of the other bills discussed on the house’s regular calendar.


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Horrigan is helped up on March 16, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 497

This bill modifies the confidentiality of records within the Division of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF).

What supporters said:

Jim Kofalt (R-Wilton) and J.R. Houle (R-Dunbarton) said this bill helps those accused of a crime involving a minor while balancing the rights of privacy regarding children.

What opponents said:

Pat Long (D-Manchester) and Heather Raymond (D-Nashua) said this would require DCYF to seek a court hearing every time there is a request for records in a case under investigation, delaying those investigations.

Votes:

Ought to Pass (OTP): 178-173

Reconsider: 174-182


HB 76

This bill imposes a three-day waiting period before purchase and delivery of a firearm.

What supporters said:

David Meuse (D-Portsmouth) said that this can help law enforcement officers with the time they need to perform background checks and also helps create a “cool-down” period for those seeking to commit suicide, stating that those who attempt suicide with firearms have a 91 percent success rate.

What opponents said:

Jennifer Rhodes (R-Winchester) noted that there are exceptions for the rule for some hunters, law enforcement personnel, active military members, anyone who has obtained a valid restraining order or anyone that tells a law enforcement officer that they fear for their own personal safety, with the last exception being so broad to make the bill unenforceable.

She also took exception to the concept that a woman should need to wait three days before she defend herself from sexual assault or domestic abuse.

Votes:

OTP 168-193


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Terry Roy (R-Deerfield) on March 17, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 89

This bill allows the state legislature to grant posthumous exonerations and annulments.

What supporters said:

Jason Janvrin (R-Seabrook) said this bill would help bring justice to Goodie Cole, a woman executed during the colonial era after accusations of witchcraft, as well as justice for others, expanding the powers currently held in the executive branch to provide such apologies.

What opponents said:

No one spoke in position to this bill.

Votes:

Amendment – adopted by voice vote

Ought to Pass as Amended (OTPA): 317-45


HB 328

This bill legalized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), mescaline, psilocybin and peyote for anyone over 21.

What supporters said:

Kevin Verville (R-Deerfield) said that none of these drugs are gateway drugs or addictive. Some mushrooms containing LSD are already legal and the only way to kill someone with LSD is to crystallize it and drop it on someone’s head.

Verville later apologized for remarks made against Terry Roy (R-Deerfield), an opponent of the bill.

What opponents said:

Roy said there is another way for LSD to kill someone: the user of LSD getting behind the wheel of a car. He also said that in recent years, many states have legalized marijuana even though it is lilegal at the federal level and if states legalized too many things, the federal government may become less lenient of state laws that conflict with federal laws regarding controlled substances.

Votes:

Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) 290-76


HB 360

This bill legalizes cannabis for therapeutic purposes for anyone over the age of 21.

What supporters said:

Verville noted that vetoes were overridden on limited marijuana legalization in the past with no ill consequences. He also noted that government interference does not play a role in this bill .

Jodie Newell (D-Keene) also said that cannabis should have never been made illegal in the first place.

Allisandra Murray (D-Manchester) said that neighboring states have already legalized cannabis to this extend and voters demand this.

What opponents said:

Roy reiterated the caution regarding conflict with federal laws he noted in HB 328. Dennis Mannion said that most of the members of the Criminal Justice Committee felt this bill was good in principle, but there were other bills better suited to achieve its purpose.

Votes:

OTP: adopted by voice vote


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Jonah Wheeler (D-Peterborough) on March 17, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 444

This bill prohibits firearms within 100 feet of a polling place.

What supporters said:

Horrigan said that if someone cannot be without their gun during voting, they have the right to cast an absentee ballot.

Loren Selig (D-Durham) said that possession of a firearm in a polling place is a form of voter intimidation and law enforcement officers are there to protect voters.

What opponents said:

Roy noted the severe winter storm on Tuesday that made it difficult for law enforcement officers to get to some polling places. He also said that in hundreds of years of voting in New Hampshire this has not been an issue and if intimidation had been an issue, gun-rights advocates would never lose elections.

Votes:

ITL 202-167


HB 596

This bill prohibits racial profiling in law enforcement and judicial activities.

What supporters said:

Several speakers spoke of personal experiences they or others they know facing racial profiling at the hands of the police. It was noted that this bill would provide guard rails against such profiling while allowing law enforcement officers to still do their job.

It was also noted that New Hampshire has a law to prohibit profiling of motorcyclists.

What opponents said:

Jonathan Stone (R-Claremont) said that racial profiling is already illegal under Title 18 of US Code and laws are not appropriate vehicles to make statements on a topic, noting that supporters of the bill wished to send a message that racial profiling is not acceptable. Instead, he said laws must be actionable and specific items, which he felt this legislation did not achieve.

Roy also said that this bill sent a message that New Hampshire does not trust its law enforcement.

Votes:

Amendment 0596h – 178-186

OTP 186-185

Reconsider 187-185


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Corinne Cascadden (D-Berlin) on March 16, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 71

This bill repeals a department of education report on chartered public school funding. There was no debate.

Votes:

OTP: voice vote


HB 104

This bill addresses multi-stall bathrooms and locker rooms in schools.

Rick Ladd (R-Haverhill) said that this bill was very complex and addressed several infrastructural issues that still needed to be examined.

Votes:

Table: 345-28.


HB 170

This bill requires the teaching of cursive handwriting and multiplication tables.

What supporters said:

Arlene Quaratiello (R-Atkinson) said that this does not require how the cursive and multiplication is taught, only that it is taught, and doing so helps improves test scores and make children feel like they have unlocked a code.

What opponents said:

Corinne Cascadden (D-Berlin) said nobody knows how to teach cursive anymore and it attempted to tell teachers how to do their jobs.

Votes:

OTPA: 199-174


HB 394

This bill requires co-operative school districts to hold meetings in various areas in their districts.

What supporters said:

Ladd said that this provides smaller towns more of a voice and also allows them to become more invested by hosting meetings

What opponents said:

David Luneau (D-Hopkinton) said this circumvents the will of voters, who could already do this if they want to, but don’t want to. He said it would also cause confusion over meeting locations.

Votes:

ITL: 226-196


HB 399

This bill allows students to take a test that lets them graduate from high school early.

Votes:

Table: adopted by voice vote.


HB 514

This bill prohibits the dissemination of obscene materials by schools.

Votes:

Table: 200-175


HB 590

This bill allows the removal of political advertisements from public spaces if they appear to be coming from a candidate, basically

Votes:

ITL: Voice vote


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Judy Aron (R-Acworth) on March 16, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 231

This bill prohibits the declawing of cats.

What supporters said:

Diane Kelley (R-Temple) said this procedure was cruel, effectively cutting off the cat’s fingertips. Nick Germano (D-Keene) said that the CDC no longer recommended the procedure, that it often did not correct behavioral issues it is meant to address. He also said that it is unknown just how often it is performed.

What opponents said:

Judy Aron (R-Acworth) said that the procedure was rarely performed as it is and is a last resort that should be preserved . Also, the practice has only been banned in Maryland and New York State.

Votes:

OTP: 225-147


HB 58

This bill prohibits sub-minimum wages

What supporters said:

Kris Schultz (D-Concord) said that the U.S. is the only country in the world without a universal minimum wage, which stems from the legacy of slavery. She also said that it was important to make sure everyone could afford to live in New Hampshire.

What opponents said:

Will Infantine (R-Manchester) said that in his discussions with people who earn less than minimum wage due to getting tips felt that there was no problem, as they receive wages on average above what they’d receive from a minimum wage.

Votes:

Amendment 0070h – 184-182

OTPA 176-194

ITL: 192-182


HB 125

This bill limits the number of hours a minor can work when enrolled in school and the evening hours they can work while school is in session.

What supporters said:

Mike Cahill (D-Newmarket) said the bill is a compromise to help teenagers focus on their schoolwork while also getting an opportunity to earn extra money. He also said that the Department of Labor is only looking for significant infractions.

What opponents said:

Brian Seaworth (R-Pembroke) said that heard people extoll the virtues of teenagers working, sharing the story of one young man who used part-time work as a way to escape a difficult home situation.

Houle also said that this bill would require employers having teenagers working until 9 pm to find people to replace them for after that point, even if it is only for an hour or two.

Votes:

Amendment: 183 – 183 (fails)

OTP: 175-195


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Troy Merner (R-Lancaster) on March 17, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 208

This bill establishes greenhouse gas emission goals for the state and establishes a climate action plan.

What supporters said:

Jacqueline Chretien said that this bill has a reasonable timeframe to help the state agencies to adjust and elements of the bill would make the state eligible for federal grants. She said that the majority of New Hampshire residents want this and renewable energy sources are becoming exponentially cheaper and that other nearby states are already doing initiatives such as this.

What opponents said:

Michael Vose (R-Epping) said that this bill was dangerous and that its goals were draconian, stating that it would fundamentally change the way New Hampshire residents live their lives, impacting how they do things like decide where they work or go on vacation.

Doug Thomas (R-Londonderry) said that New Hampshire is attracting residents from other states so it should not aspire to be like other states.

Votes:

Amendment: 185-186

OTP: 183-187

Reconsider: 186-187


HB 263

This bill addresses the practice of Renewable Energy Credit (REC) sweeping.

What supporters said:

Rebecca McWilliams said that the practice of REC sweeping is an unconstitutional taking of property, namely the energy production of certain energy producers by utility companies. This bill just provides a notice that the sweeping will occur and then allows the producers to seek compensation for their RECs if they so choose. She added that REC sweeping short circuits the state’s solar power goals.

What opponents said:

J.D. Bernardy (R-South Hampton) said that REC sweeping saves rate payers $3 million a year and the REC certification process is a burden most smaller energy producers do not seek to undertake.

Vose compared RECs to coupons that energy producers are entitled to use, but have no value until they are used, and providing notice of the REC sweeping wouldn’t result in more REC usage and just cost everyone more money.

Votes:

OTP: 178-186

ITL: 187-180


HB 523

This bill addresses regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI) funds.

What supporters said:

All energy sectors in the past have required subsidies to develop and would help energy producers up to 5 megawatts see a quicker return on investment.

This re-investment also reduces the strain on high load power lines.

What opponents said:

It was believed that this bill would raise energy costs by much as four times and that the inclusion of renewable energy sources that are not always available (i.e. solar, wind, etc.) requires an equal investment of “any time” power sources to be available when those other energy sources are not available. They added that any subsidies of energy producers beyond one megawatt amounted to corporate welfare.

Votes:

OTP: 182-189

ITL: 189-182

Reconsider: 178-193

 

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Rebecca McWilliams (D-Concord) on March 16, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 524

This bill addresses regional greenhouse gas initiative funds

What supporters said:

Kat McGhee (D-Hollis) said this would shift a small amount of rebates from the RGGI fund to consumers and place it in re-investment to help energy producers up to 5 megawatts see a quicker return on their investment. She added that this will lower energy costs and put NH in line with nearby states.

What opponents said:

Opposition to this bill mirrored that of the previous bill.

Votes:

OTP: 181-185

ITL: 187-180

Reconsideration: 180-187

Print Remarks in the Permanent Record: 260-106


HB 605

This bill addresses solar generation under the state’s renewable portfolio standards.

What supporters said:

Ned Raynolds (D-Portsmouth) said that New Hampshire has no fossil fuels it can extract, leaving it vulnerable to global fluctuations on the fossil fuel market. However, more investment in solar energy would reduce reliance on those fluctuations.

What opponents said:

Michael Harrington (R-Strafford) said that in order to achieve the goals of this blll, significant deforestation would be needed for the amount of land needed to cover with solar panels.

Votes:

OTP: 181-188

ITL: adopted by voice vote


HCR 4

This resolution asks Congress to establish congressional term limits.

What supporters said:

Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord) said this resolution was similar to one that failed last month.

What opponents said:

Scott Wallace (R-Danville) said a convention under Article 5 of the New Hampshire State Constitution is the only method to address this issue, stating that Congress tries to impose its will on the states and that this bill will address that problem.

Votes:

OTP: 145-224

ITL: Adopted by voice vote.


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Will Infantine (R-Manchester) on March 16, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 54

This bill addresses antique car inspection. There was no discussion.

Votes:

OTPA and amendment: adopted by voice vote


HB 93

This bill authorizes municipalities to adopt seasonal speed limits.

What supporters said:

McGhee said the NH Department of Transportation and New Hampshire Municipal Association support this bill.

What opponents said:

It was felt to be too broad, and the bill’s original sponsor felt that they could modify the bill to correct its problems.

Votes:

Table: 205-162


HB 198

This bill addresses people moving into New Hampshire and requirements for driver’s licenses.

What supporters said:

Verville said that people moving into New Hampshire are generally not transferring their driver’s licenses. This bill provides a reminder for those people and then sends them a letter asking why they have not obtained a permanent New Hampshire driver’s license if they now live here.

What opponents said:

George Sykes (D-Lebanon) said that the bill was overly confusing. Daniel Veilleux (D-Amherst) said the bill was meaningless since it had no penalties.

Votes:

OTP 187-182

Reconsider: 181-188


HB 222

This bill requires seatbelt usage for adults during the operation of motor vehicles.

What supporters said:

Veilleux said that most motor vehicle deaths are in connection not wearing a seatbelt. He also noted that people who don’t wear seatbelts become a projectile in a crash.

What opponents said:

Ted Gorski (R-Bedford) said that this bill would not allow police officers to issue a citation solely due to a vehicle occupant not wearing a seatbelt. He added that minors are already required to wear seatbelts and adults can make up their own minds.

Votes:

ITL: 206-162


 

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About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.