The first few months of a new year is often the time when there is the most legislative activity, with new bills proposed, debated, and sometimes passed into law by federal and state elected officials. This year is no exception, and many high-profile bills are currently being evaluated which may eventually alter rules and guidelines for everyone. From tax issues and healthcare measures to various changes to the criminal code, lawmakers may soon make decisions which enact changes in NH law. It is important for local residents to be aware of these proposals. Some include:
Last month a bill was debated in the NH House Agriculture committee which has been referred to by animal rights advocates at the “Ag-gag” bill. Essentially, the bill requires anyone who records alleged animal abuse on video cameras at private facilities to report the abuse within 24 hours. Failing to do so may bring felony charges.
On one hand, the law may be aimed to ensure animal abuse at large agribusiness plants is acted on quickly. However, many animal rights groups refer to is as the “Ag-gag” bill because they argue that the practical effect will be the exact opposite–it will “gag” whistleblowers. The argument is that many investigations into animal abuse at agribusinesses take weeks (or even months) to fully flesh out–often involving hidden camera footage. However, if that footage must be turned over within 24 hours, then those longer investigations might not be possible.
Gun Control in NH
Intense debate about gun control has raged throughout the country over the last few months, and New Hampshire is no exception. Besides a range of federal gun control proposals, several bills have been introduced in the New Hampshire statehouse which may change gun laws for residents. Those proposals include:
*HB 290: Proposes a ban on open carrying of a weapon in a public building. Violation of this law would be a felony offense.
*HB 609: Would allow individual school boards to vote on whether or not school employees with proper licenses could carry their weapon on school property. Currently, they cannot. An amendment to the original bill has also been proposed which would mandate that school districts allow this option to employees–instead of having different rules dictated by individual school boards.
*HB 396: Creates a committee to study whether safety training or instruction should be required before purchasing a firearm in the state. Unlike other bills, this proposal is just one step which may lead to future changes. Even if it passes it would not change rules to require instruction or certain training. However, the ultimate outcome of this committee bill may indicate whether there is or is not legislative will to push forward with these added firearm license requirements.Of course, the few items discussed here represent just the tip of the iceberg in possible NH law changes. Other issues range from different rules for scholarships to changes in health care in laws. Local residents should be sure to follow along with all news items in the coming weeks to see how federal and state lawmakers actually act (or fail to act) to implement these legal changes.