By Denis Parker, NEA-New Hampshire
WE’RE IN THE MONEY
Oh Happy Days! The state’s year-to-date tax collections are finally in the black thanks to strong business tax collections and money from a national tobacco settlement. Revenue collections for April were $48 million above projections with $18 million from business taxes and $21 million from a settlement of litigation with tobacco manufacturers. The state also counted $6 million from a lawsuit over gasoline additive, MTBE. The state is now about $34 million ahead of where it expected to be a this point in the fiscal year.
GOOD BYE CHEECH AND CHONG
Despite having received strong support in the House, the State Senate said, “thanks but no thanks” to legislation decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. HB621 would have reduced the penalty for possession of less than a quarter-ounce of marijuana to a violation or the equivalent of jaywalking. Opponents of the bill said it was fatally flawed because it would require both the possession of a small amount of marijuana and the sale, distribution or cultivation of the drug for someone to be guilty of a violation. Interestingly, the House approved the bill overriding the policy committee recommendation to kill the measure. The house vote was 214-115 in favor of the bill.
AT THE END OF THEIR ROPE
The Senate also appeared to be in no mood to pass legislation legalizing industrial hemp as an agricultural crop. HB153, which would have removed industrial hemp from the controlled drug section of criminal law, is going to study committee. Industrial hemp is still illegal under federal law.
WHO IS IN MY WATER
The Senate said no to a bill that would have allowed for a new method of cremation. HB316 would have allowed the process of alkaline hydrolysis to be used by funeral homes to reduce bodies to bone fragments and a water-potassium hydroxide solution. Backers of the bill argued that the process would be cheaper and environmentally safe. But opponents of the bill didn’t agree believing the disposal of the liquid could end up in the groundwater or aquifers.
ONE POTATO, TWO POTATO, THREE POTATO MORE
New Hampshire will now have an official vegetable. Yes, the white potato made it through grueling rounds of public hearings and legislative debates to win the honor. The idea for the introduction of HB535 came from students from the Derry Village School. According to their research the North American white potato was first planted in a field near their school in 1719. Congratulations!