New Hampshire state legislators held public hearings on a number of bills on Tuesday, many of which infringe on liberties and/or increase taxes. From the parts of the hearings I sat in on, the majority of speakers and spectators opposed the anti-freedom bills.
“Please don’t take our freedom”, pleaded Representative Boehm at the end of his testimony. The Republican Represents the town of Litchfield and is seen in his Facebook cover photo riding without a helmet. Boehm was one of the many speakers against HB1621. The Democratic bill would mandate that any rider or passenger on a motorcycle or ‘motorized bicycle’ wear ‘correctly sized’ and government-approved helmets. In addition to the many legislators who opposed the bill, the large number of bikers and ordinary citizens who opposed the bill caused the hearing to be conducted in the 400-seat Representatives Hall, the largest chamber in the House. Republican House Floor Leader, Jeanine Notter, simply walked up to the microphone and said ‘LIVE FREE OR DIE’ and then left the room to attend the other hearings. Another Republican House Floor Leader, Al Baldasoro, mentioned in his testimony that if the government ought to pass laws that keep people safe and healthy, they should criminalize all contributing factors to the state’s number one killer: heart disease. This would mean that sugar, cholesterol, salt, and smoking would all be illegal. In addition to Baldasaro, many other legislators and citizens mentioned that they joined the US military and fought for our freedom, and that the sponsors of the bill are now seeking to take away the freedom they risked their lives to preserve. Others asked how cops could possibly determine whether helmets were ‘correctly sized’. The few supporters of the bill were seemingly all sponsors of HB1621 and made the case to the Transportation Committee that helmets may save lives in the event of crashes, which will save money for society, because ‘we are all in this together’.
The House Executive Depts. & Administration Committee held a public hearing for HB1580, a bipartisan bill that seeks to regulate the use of drones by the government. I did not get a chance to attend that hearing, but the bill text tells an interesting story. The bill initially says that no government/law enforcement agency in New Hampshire should use a drone, but it then lists some exemptions. Many exemptions. Many broad exemptions. These seem to include any scenario in which the law enforcement agency obtains a warrant, any potential terrorist situation, training officers in the use of the drone technology, or “To increase situational awareness in understanding the nature, scale, and scope of an incident which has occurred and for planning and coordinating an effective and legal response, provided the incident is limited geographically and in time.”, which could easily be assumed to cover nearly 100% of law enforcement operations. It is unclear what the current restrictions for government use of drones are, but this bill does not seem to effectively restrict the use of drones for spying purposes by government/law enforcement agencies.
The House Environment and Agriculture Committee held a hearing on HB1448, a bill sponsored by two Republicans. The new law would increase the quarantine period for dogs, cats, and ferrets entering the state from a 48-hour period to 14 days. It would also require the animals to be tested for Brucella canis and mandate that they all receive a ‘health certificate’. Among the many reasons that the many citizens in attendance opposed the bill were the increased cost to the state and/or citizens in the adoption process of animals, the cruelty of keeping a pet alone in quarantine for 14 days, and the increased regulation and bureaucracy which could cause taxes to be increased. Representative John Burt also told the story of how he may never have been able to adopt his dog, Annie, from a shelter if this law had been in place when he first took his beloved dog home to his family.
*We will continue to update this article as more information becomes available.