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State House Dome: House committee to vote on repealing death penalty
The prospect for repeal has supporters buoyed largely because Gov. Maggie Hassan said she supports repeal, something no recent governor has said.
Several years ago, the House approved repeal, but the Senate let the bill die after former Gov. John Lynch said he would veto it.
"People are changing their mind, they're taking stock. Supporters of the death penalty are moving toward repeal," Cushing said. "The closer people get and examine it, the more they realize it just doesn't work."
The bill has some Republican support, which it will need because a couple of Senate Democrats oppose repeal.
GAMBLING OUTLOOK: After a four-hour public hearing, the outlook for the main gambling bill House Bill 1633 is questionable at best when the House Ways and Means Committee takes the first vote on the bill sometime in the next four weeks.
Instead, House leaders decided the House Finance Committee would not need to review the bill because state funds would not be necessary until after the current biennium.
The chair and vice chair, Susan Almy, D-Lebanon, and Patricia Lovejoy, D-Stratham, both oppose casino gambling and were leaders in the charge to defeat Senate Bill 152 last year.
Last year, the gambling industry lobbyists were everywhere working the rooms. Also many lawmakers believed the fix was in last year for Millennium Gaming and Rockingham Park, and their representatives were everywhere.
One of the bill sponsors, Rep. Katherine Rogers, D-Concord, noted the bill starts with more support in the House than previous attempts.
At a press conference last week, supporters unveiled more than 100 people behind the bill, which is a good base, but it is not the 180 or so votes that will be needed to pass it.
GUN BILLS: The House votes this week on a bill requiring background checks for all commercial sales of firearms.
The new version of House Bill 1589 would include private sales at gun shows, flea markets, etc., but exempts sales between individuals who know each other and who know the other individual is not prohibited from having firearms. Federal law precludes felons, anyone involuntarily committed to a mental institution or found incompetent to manage their own affairs, or someone under a domestic protective order from buying a gun.
Instead, they say the bill is too vague and will result in law abiding citizens slapped with criminal charges.
Another bill, Senate Bill 244, would require the state to add people with court-determined mental illness to the federal list of those prohibited from purchasing guns - a list that licensed dealers use for background checks.
After much discussion, senators decided the bill should now be a study committee to further delve into the issue.
Both bills drew large crowds as have work sessions, particularly for HB 1589 including a You Tube video.
Despite great expectations at the beginning of the session for tougher gun laws in light of the 2012 Newtown, Conn., school massacre, gun control proponents are likely to have little to show for their legislative efforts by the end.
The House Public Works Committee voted 15-0 that alternative fuel vehicle owners should pay a road toll - read tax - for compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas and propane.
Committee member Rep. Karen Ebel, D-New London, said to lawmakers, "When the road toll concept was adopted virtually the only fuels used by motorized vehicles were (gasoline and diesel) fuels. As time passed, alternative fuels have been developed. Users of these fuels who use our roads and bridges should also pay a road toll."
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