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February 20. 2013 9:13PM

Updated: Bed-bug bill passes House; parental rights amendment killed

CONCORD  -- The House Wednesday approved House Bill 482, which defines the responsibilities of landlords and tenants in addressing bedbug infestations.
 
The bill draws from the New Hampshire Bed Bug Action Committee’s work over three years that grew out of several instances of infestations in Manchester.
 
The bill would require landlords to investigate a tenant’s report of a bedbug or other insect or rodent infestations within seven days. And landlords would have to take measures to eliminate the infestation.
 
However, tenants could be charged for the remediation if they are responsible for the infestation.
 
The bill was sponsored by Manchester alderman and Rep. Pat Long, D-Manchester.
 
The bill also would enable cities and towns to establish standards in local ordinances for infestations.
 
Opponents called the bill another example of big government taking over an issue when it should be left at the local level.
 
The bill now goes to the Senate.
 
Parental Rights
 
The House killed a proposed constitutional amendment that would give parents natural rights to control the health, education and welfare of their children on a 228-133 vote.
 
CACR 3 supporters Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, said the question is whether it is the parent or the government who controls those under 16 years old. He said the Supreme Court has ruled in several cases supporting parental rights.
 
“We should not be looking to the Supreme Court,” Hoell said. “We should look to constitution.”
 
But Rep. Deanna Rollo, D-Rollinsford, argued the constitution is meant to guide society under the assumption the majority of people are law abiding citizens.
 
“If you want to continue to change constitution to meet the needs of the few instead of the majority,” she said, “then vote for this amendment.”
 
A similar bill was defeated four times in the last five years.
 
Rewarding State Workers
 
The House overturned a committee recommendation and sent House Bill 325 to the Senate. The bill seeks to reward state employees who suggest cost-saving measures to receive 10 percent of the savings.
 
Supporters said the bill would be an incentive to state workers and save the state money.
 
“Awards are nice, but when warranted, giving them a piece of the savings, we believe is a great way to encourage this type of activity,” said the prime sponsor, Rep. Jack Flanagan, R-Brookline.
 
But opponents said the bill is too confusing and lacks clear guidelines that could establish what the worker’s reward should be.
 
The House approved:
 
• HB 344, which would guarantee the state pays at least 80 percent of its obligation to school districts for catastrophic aid for special education placements. The bill goes to House Finance for review.
 
• HB 403, which would establish a committee to study death with dignity for people suffering from a terminal condition.
 
• HB 283, which would establish a committee to study the hearings officer’s report on the Local Government Center and recommend potential changes to state laws.
 
The House killed:
 
• HB 143, which would allow straight ticket voting. The vote was 285-36.
 
• HB 330, which would allow counties to adopt a county income tax.
 
• HB 197, which would have changed House districts in Hillsborough County, including Manchester. The House killed the bill on a 305-49 vote.
 
• HB 303, which would establish a committee to study teaching a second language beginning in kindergarten. The House voted 258-97 to kill the bill.
 
• HB 514, which would have allowed lawmakers to accept free passes to state-owned Cannon Mountain Ski Area. A recent ethics committee ruling prohibits the once common practice of free passes for legislators to state-owned ski areas.
 
• HB 318, which would have established a property tax rebate program for low-income home owners.
 
• HB 335, which would repeal the sunset provision for the 10-cent reduction in the tobacco tax.
 
• HB 354, which would reduce the rate of the business enterprise tax over five years and then repeal it. The House vote was 192-161.
 
• HB 434, which would reduce the rate of the business enterprise tax and rename the levy.
 
grayno@unionleader.com

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