Lots of big news from the State House in Concord where state representatives have passed cannabis decrim (again), a new jury nullification bill, used heroin needle decriminalization, civil asset forfeiture reform and more! Here’s a handy summary of what happened in March thanks to the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance‘s political director and liberty-oriented state rep Keith Ammon:
HB 1270 will require jurors in court cases to be clearly informed of their age-old right to vote according to their conscience and decide on the justness of a law as well as the facts in the case. This is known as “jury nullification.” The bill passed on a roll call vote with a significant margin.
HB 1420 would have allowed law enforcement to access patients’ private health care information without a warrant from a court. The Health and Human Services Committee recommended that the bill pass 11 to 6. The full House overturned the recommendation and overwhelmingly killed the bill on a roll call vote.
HB 1453 adds ulcerative colitis as an acceptable condition to receive medical cannabis. The HHS Committee recommendation was to kill the bill 9 to 6. The full House overturned the recommendation and passed the bill on a voice vote.
HB 1631 reduces penalties for possession of cannabis. The Criminal Justice Committee wanted the bill killed but the full House overturned the recommendation and the bill overwhelmingly passed on a voice vote, to the consternation of the some in House leadership. When the voice vote passed with near unanimous “Yeas,” the House erupted in cheers. The Speaker scolded House Members for “showing emotion.”
NH House Passes Used Needle Decrim!
The House had another session day on March 23rd. In that session the House voted to pass several education bills that protect student privacy and parental rights (HB 1229, HB 1231, HB 1338) and voted down a bill that would have required 100% of charter school teachers be credentialed by the state (HB 1120). A bill that would have legalized the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use (HB 1610) was “laid upon the table”, a motion which effectively kills the bill.
The House passed a bill that puts more reasonable restrictions on civil asset forfeiture laws (HB 636). Civil asset forfeiture is a practice where the state can charge a person’s property with a crime, and the accused would have to prove the property wasn’t engaged in crime, turning “innocent until proven guilty” on its head. Another bill (HB 1681) passed which removes the criminal penalty for possessing a needle with an unusable amount of heroin or another drug. This reduction in penalty paves the way for private organizations to set up needle exchanges, to help reduce some of the harmful costs of the heroin public health crisis. The sharing of needles contributes to the spread of diseases such as hepatitis and HIV aids.
There’s always something exciting going on at the New Hampshire State House. Come out and get involved. Show your support with time, energy, or financial resources. We can make a significant impact if we work at it together.
674 ballots were cast at the polls this past Tuesday. This represents a dismal 3.8% of the district’s 17,898 registered voters. Last year 1,114 ballots were cast (6.2%). It should be noted that the Keene School District employs approximately 671 individuals.
As usual, voters were given only two options as far as the operating budget was concerned. Both were increases from the previous year. The smaller increase was passed. All other warrants which involved increases in yearly operating expenses were passed overwhelmingly. The average results for all of the school sponsored warrants were 500 for/160 against.
As far as the petitioned warrant articles (3 of which were amended at the deliberative session), the tax cap of 10% failed 298 to 334. The reduction of $500 per student failed 294/349. The withdrawal from SAU29 failed 168/467.
It’s very clear to me that the taxpayers of Keene are being held hostage by a very small percentage of the overall population. In this case I believe a large portion of them are involved directly within the school system. In my four years in Keene, I have encountered an overwhelming majority of keene residents who are unhappy with the out-of-control spending from both city and school and the subsequent tax rate, but for some reason they can’t be bothered to make it out to the polls for 30 minutes out of their day. I won’t lie to you, it is an extremely discouraging process. I can understand completely why so many have given up entirely. Anyways, stand by for next year. I’ll be at it again.
The usual big government suspects came out to support HB 1632 last month, a bill that would make it illegal to provide guns to felons. (Though apparently the bill authors did not know it already is illegal, according to RSA 159:7.) Gun freedom advocates came out to oppose it, but not as many as would on most gun restriction bills, as lots of gun freedom people don’t want to be seen as taking the side of felons.
However, someone had to stick up for felons’ rights, so I testified about how they deserve to be free to defend themselves too. The felons intent on continuing a life of crime won’t be stopped by pesky laws from getting guns, but those who’ve turned their lives around are. They can’t as effectively protect themselves or their families because their “right” to bear arms has been stripped from them.
The committee voted 7-6 to “ITL” the bill. (Inexpedient to Legislate, aka, to recommend the full house kill it.) Here’s the full video of the hearing in the house criminal justice committee:
The horrible bill (HB 1525) that would enact a prohibition on female toplessness went down in flames 18-0 this week in the NH house criminal justice committee. It was a decisive move by the committee and came after a long public hearing where an overwhelming amount of people opposed the bill in verbal and written form.
Sparked by last year’s “Free the Nipple” protests, some prudish state representatives filed legislation that would make it a misdemeanor for women to be topless anywhere in New Hampshire. (They did make an exception for breast-feeding.) A topless lady would be facing up to a year in jail, were this terrible legislation to pass. Men would still be allowed to be topless under the discriminatory bill, HB 1525.
Thankfully, the bill is nearly dead thanks to a unanimous vote to kill it by the NH house criminal justice committee. The committee voted today 18-0 to “ITL” (Inexpedient to Legislate) the legislation. The bill is not yet off the table – that will happen later when the full house votes on it.
Liberty rep John A. Burt put forth the motion to ITL the bill and also wrote the majority “blurb” for the house calendar along with Free State Project early mover and state representative Amanda Bouldin. (Amanda previously had made headlines for defending topless freedom from attack by the prudish reps who proposed the topless ban.) Here’s the text of Burt and Bouldin’s blurb:
This bill expands the indecent exposure law to include the anus (regardless of gender) as well as the nipple and areola (only if female). The committee heard testimony from many who warned that, due to likely acts of civil disobedience, the state would face expensive court fees should this become law. The NHCLU testified that violation of such a law could be considered protected political speech, indicating that the state would be unsuccessful in litigation. The committee sees no sense in passing a law that cannot be enforced.
The committee also believes that this bill violates Art. 2 of the State Constitution, which states that “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of race, creed, color, sex or national origin.” This bill attempts to apply a law to women only. This bill would also place police officers in the uncomfortable position of having to determine the gender of a potential offender. Lastly, an offender (if convicted) would be listed in the state’s sex offender registry after a second conviction, which many considered to be an excessive punishment.
In a state with a nippy average temperature of only 46 degrees, the risk of rampant nudity seems rather low. The committee considers this legislation inexpedient to legislate for these reasons.
Today is a decisive loss for the prudes. To them I say leave topless women alone – your kids will be fine. If you don’t like seeing female areola, then advocate all public property be abolished and turned private. Then you can have a private beach just for people who want to keep their clothes on.
Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on Free the Nipple NH.