The State of New Hampshire is home to many things unique, yet the state’s governing branch insists on adding a complexity of proposed bills pushing the envelope on the motto, “Live Free or Die.”
Hundreds of proposed legislative bills have run through the doors of the state house in Concord, NH. The big ones that people will come to hear about are mostly about guns on campus, or the advocacy of legalizing marijuana.
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Perhaps some may remember the harshness of last year’s 45 percent decrease in state funding to public institutions, promptly raising costs for students to go to college where national debt among graduating seniors ranks first in the nation.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives, holding all 10 counties and drafting 400 members from all 103 districts throughout the state. Unlike many other state houses, the New Hampshire house has no aisle, in an attempt to get representatives to focus on bi-partisanship.
Among the New Hampshire House, there are many controversial bills being proposed at a time when many students believe that their individual liberties are potentially at stake and their security at risk.
House Bill 334 would allow any student to effectively carry a gun on campus. The bill did pass the New Hampshire House of Representatives and will go before a hearing in front of the NH Senate. The bill would have to then be approved and signed by the New Hampshire Governor before coming in as law.
There is much opposition to the proposed legislation on and off college campuses in New Hampshire. Keene State College President Helen Giles-Gee issued a statement and said, “Keene State College will take measures to ban guns on this campus.”
Senior Nikki Smith said, “It’d be really scary to even think about having guns on campus here. I don’t know what I’d do if I saw someone with one.” With the memories of school shootings such as Columbine High School and the more recent college campus shootings at Virginia Tech, many individuals such as KSC Senior Stephan Rolfe wonder what has happened.
“How does this stuff even get approved by some people? They’ve got to be nuts to ok these things.”
Many of the proposed bills such as House Bill 1467, sponsored by Rep. Peterson of Hillsboro Country and Rep. Jones of Strafford County directly affect Keene State College. House Bill 1467 would effectively allow anyone with a Bachelor’s degree in the State of New Hampshire to apply for a teaching certificate, despite not having majored in education. A move that has prompted reaction from all over the state, including Keene State College. Dean Melinda Treadwell has spoken outwardly and has written testimony strongly advising against the acceptance of the bill.
House Bill 1692, sponsored by New Hampshire House Speaker Bill O’ Brien and House majority leader D.J. Bettencourt, would eliminate the office of the chancellor at the University System of New Hampshire, a move that students and faculty of the USNH system see as undermining their participation in the student-governmental process. Keene State College President has written testimony against this bill.
Yet another bill affecting Keene State College is House Bill 1377, which would require post-secondary education institutions to collect additional information on pupils taking remedial courses. The bill would also require educators to compile such reports and make the information available on the department of education’s website.
Even more controversial was the universal health care bill that was approved by President Barack Obama in 2011. Seen as a huge win by many Democrats for supporting the case that many in the United States need health care, opposition at the federal level still remains large, while individual states are taking preventative measures to block themselves from forcibly supporting the needy.
The New Hampshire Health Care Compact Bill passed the House of Representatives on Feb. 15 in a veto-proof vote of 253-92. The essence of the bill is looking to create an interstate compact that allows participating states to give up on all federal health care laws, undermining President Barack Obama’s controversial healthcare overhaul plan. This would ultimately give the states back their own rights to develop their own health care policies.
Thomas G. Bunnell, the director of the Institute for Health, Law and Ethics at the University of New Hampshire, said that the layout of this compact bill would be original in the effect that no bill in U.S. history has ever done, and that’s to nullify the effect of a federal law.
The drive of this multi-state bill is being led by the Health Care Compact Alliance, a non-profit organization based in Virginia. Georgia, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas have already passed healthcare compact legislation and none other states have plans to attempt to approve it, including New Hampshire.
New Hampshire House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt of Salem, NH representing Rockingham County said, “The ultimate goal of the compact is for Americans to have greater control over their health care options.”
Bettencourt also wrote in an e-mail to the Keene Sentinel, “The Healthcare Compact is needed because no centrally planned, top-down reform can fix health care throughout the United States.”
Also being talked about is the largely controversial option to sway the Department of Health and Human Services to rescind its rule requiring health plans to provide sterilizations and contraceptives. New Hampshire House Resolution 29 would see the United States Department of Health and Human Services effectively curtailed in the application and learning of contraceptives for both men and women, while also discontinuing the use and practice of sterilization for infected partners.
New Hampshire Republican Speaker of the House William O’ Brien, an avid supporter of HR 29, said, ““House Resolution 29 is not about the merits of contraception. It is not about whether insurers choose to offer coverage for these services in their policies. It also is not about the Catholic Church’s policies on contraception, sterilization or any other of its teachings or beliefs. Rather, HR 29 stands up for our religious institutions that have long-held principles and teachings under assault by a president and his ideology that seeks not merely to reject, but to tear down our liberties.”
State Rep. George Lambert, R-Litchfield is also a Republican who has been pushing bills into state legislature for approval. His most recent bills support the banning of sobriety check points around the state, and also decriminalizing speeding.
The need to “expand individual freedoms,” says Litchfield is at a critical point where our rights are being infringed upon. “Bills like these have always been proposed in the House of Representatives.”
Litchfield is a proposer of New Hampshire House Bill 1696, which would legalize speeding, except if led to an automotive accident. Chief John Seusing of the Nashua Police Department believes that the logic of a bill like that is flawed.
Cam King can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.