June 29, 2022

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N.H. Senate aligns pot and booze laws for driving | New Hampshire

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CONCORD, NH – Having an open container of marijuana in a vehicle may face the same penalties as having an open container of alcohol under a bill passed by the Senate on Thursday.

Under the Senate 60 bill, anyone caught with an open container of marijuana in the passenger area of ​​a vehicle would be fined $ 150 and their license suspended for 60 days or a year for a second offense.

“This is an attempt to bring marijuana laws into line with drinking laws,” said Senator Sharon Carson, R-Londonderry. “If the marijuana (medicine) is in a sealed container and labeled as such, there shouldn’t be a problem.”

But if it’s unsealed, or if there’s an open container of alcohol or pills “lying around in your car,” she said, “you’re going to have a problem.”

Bill’s main sponsor, Senator William Gannon, R-Sandown, said while alcohol driving incidents had decreased, marijuana driving had increased.

“The police came to us and asked us to keep the roads safe,” Gannon said, noting that Massachusetts and Vermont have similar double-punishment laws.

He said many states with medical marijuana programs were enacting similar laws when they realized the problem.

“It keeps our roads as safe as anyone else’s,” said Gannon.

He said the idea was to keep an open container of marijuana as far away from the driver as possible, in the glove box or in the trunk.

But Senator Jay Kahn, D-Keene, said the bill was to blame just because it had an open container.

“An unsealed container indicates no usage,” he said.

“We really want to make sure that no one is operating a vehicle that is impaired.”

At a time when the Senate was passing a law requiring written police consent to search a vehicle, they were now discussing assuming the guilt of having a container of a minimum amount of marijuana.

“I just can’t get there,” said Kahn.

The bill went 21-3 and goes to the house.

Broadband expansion

The Senate voted 24-0 for a bill to establish a suitable grant program to help municipalities and communications districts expand broadband across the state.

Although there is no funding in the bill, the sponsors believe the money from the US public works bailout recently approved by Congress could be used to fund the related grants.

“Access to reliable, high-speed broadband is critical for New Hampshire citizens, businesses, health services and educational institutions,” said the law’s main sponsor, Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro. “The pandemic made it very clear to us that not all communities in our state have equal access to the Internet. I am confident that SB 85 will go a long way towards eliminating these differences. “

However, Kahn asked if the bill would prevent cities and towns that have already approved new broadband projects and signed contracts with businesses from accessing the relevant grants. The draft law prohibits the financing of projects already under construction.

Kahn asked Bradley if the signing of a contract was considered under construction or if those communities would still be eligible for appropriate grants if construction had not started.

Bradley said he wasn’t sure but would be willing to work on changes to the bill once it reaches the house.

Postal vote

The Senate voted 24-0 to pass a bulk voting law that would allow absent voters to correct mistakes they made on the envelope or affidavit before the votes are counted on election day.

One of the measures contained in the bill is a section that allows preprocessing of postal voting slips. This was approved for the final election due to the pandemic and people’s fears of contracting the virus by participating in the virus.

Senator James Gray, R-Rochester, said preprocessing was extremely popular with election officials and would allow mistakes in the affidavit to be corrected so that the person’s vote would count.

Higher tax threshold

Companies making profits less than $ 75,000 would no longer have to pay corporate income tax. The current threshold is $ 50,000 and has not been increased since 1994.

Senate Bill 101 main sponsor, Senate Minority Chairwoman Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, said the price to the state is small to lose revenue, but it saves small businesses a lot of time and effort.

“The passage of SB 101 is a win for New Hampshire’s small businesses,” said Soucy. “This simple but critical change will relieve our small businesses of unnecessary financial and administrative burden at a time when many of them are grappling with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The bill goes to the house for action.

Police training

The Senate adopted one of the recommendations of the LEACT commission to educate and educate law enforcement on de-escalation, ethics, implicit bias and cultural diversity.

Senate Bill 114 requires the training that the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council has already started.

“I am very proud of today’s adoption of SB 114 codifying the critical training recommendations of the LEACT Commission,” said the Act’s main sponsor, Sen. Becky Whitely, D-Hopkinton. “This work was carried out in partnership with Chief Scippa of the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council and is translating into law their ongoing plans to provide ethics, diversity and de-escalation training.”

She said she would have preferred if the original text of the invoice had been included, but a section was removed during an earlier meeting.

She said, “This is an important first step in making New Hampshire a safer, more equitable place for all.”

Originally, the bill would also have asked the departments for natural and cultural resources and fish and game to develop protocols for the safe use of public recreational areas without fear of violence through discrimination.

The amended bill was passed 24-0 and goes to the House.

Remote meetings

Government agencies’ use of remote meetings is being investigated this year to see if they should continue under Senate Bill 95. The bill also increases the penalty for invading someone’s privacy.

The study would determine whether some form of remote meetings should continue, Carson said, or whether ending the pandemic should end remote meetings as well.

“We have a limited ability to connect with one another on a personal level,” she said. “So we have to carefully examine what is gained and what is lost and what needs to be optimized.”

Under the law, remote meetings could continue until July 1, 2022, and a study committee would report its results by November 1, 2021.

The bill’s main sponsor, Senator Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, D-Portsmouth, said remote meetings have increased efficiency and participation in cities and towns.

She said she put the bill in place at her request to allow remote meetings to continue, and the bill would give time to look into the situation and develop plans for what needs to be done.

The bill passed 24-0 and goes to the house.

Charitable gambling

A Senate-approved collective bill on state revenue contains a study of the state’s nonprofit gambling activities and their dissemination.

Senator Lou D’Allesandro, D-Mancheser, one of the Senate’s biggest proponents for expanded gambling over the years, said a study into nonprofit gambling was long overdue.

Charity gambling has spread across the state, he said, and it has been years since lawmakers investigated the situation.

He said he would like to know if the charities are getting the percentage of profits set by law.

“There are as many casinos in New Hampshire as there are in Las Vegas,” said D’Allesandro, “and it is time we looked at them fully.”

The bill was approved 24-0 and goes to the house.

Held to work

The Senate tabled two bills on the state pension system to continue discussions.

A bill, Senate Act 72, would require the state to contribute 15% of the employer’s contribution to the pension scheme for city, school and district employees.

The state contributed 35% of the local and district governments’ share of system contributions for many years, but reduced the percentage during the recession that began in 2008 and then eliminated it.

“This bill would require the state to deliver on its promise to share the burden of employer costs for community workers by restoring a modest 15% of payment responsibility,” said main sponsor of the bill, Senator Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua. “I am grateful that my Republican colleagues have decided to reverse their original position on ITL as this move represents $ 53 million in property tax relief and that we can continue this critical conversation.”

The other bill, Senate Bill 119, would allow families to receive the full benefit a member is qualified for if they died before earning the benefit, rather than the current 50%.

The bill’s main sponsor, Senator Kevin Cavanaugh, D-Manchester, said filing the bill would allow the conversation to continue.

“The families of our lost police officers, firefighters and other key workers shouldn’t be left behind because of a paperwork problem,” he said. “SB 119 does not create a new benefit, but rather exposes the pension system to make money with our lost officials and their families by fixing a simple but critical problem.”

The pension system estimates that the bill would add $ 1.38 million to benefits for benefits beginning in fiscal 2024.

Garry Rayno can be reached at garry.rayno@yahoo.com.

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