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March 13. 2014 7:31PM

NH House Roundup: Bill prohibits housing discrimination against Section 8 tenants

CONCORD — The House Thursday approved House Bill 1409 on a 147-141 vote, which prohibits discrimination in housing if a person has been a victim of domestic violence, stalking or sexual assault, or receives federal housing assistance or what is known as Section 8.

Bill supporters said it does not prevent landlords from rejecting tenants for lawful reasons such as lack of income or prior evictions.

Rather they say the bill prevents some from being victimized twice.

HB 1409 allows the poor receiving housing assistance to live and raise a family in a good neighborhood, according to Rep. Sylvia Gale, D-Nashua.

She called the current situation similar to the "No colored" signs in the south or the "Irish need not apply" signs in the north.

But opponents said the bill will force landlords to rent to people they may not want in their buildings.

Rep. Steven Beaudoin, R-Rochester, said he is a third generation landlord and does rent to Section 8 tenants.

"This bill will force landlords to take tenants they may not want," Beaudoin said, "and sign contracts against their will. And this bill will result in litigation they don't want to be in."

Opponents said the bill will create yet another protected class with enhanced privileges and will result in higher rates due to increased insurance premiums.

Rep. Mark Warden, R-Goffstown, said the vast majority of landlords are mom and pop owners with small apartment buildings.

"Those are the people hurt most by this legislation," he said.

Rep. Pat Long, D-Manchester, is the prime sponsor of the bill.

The bill goes to the Senate for action.

Canine Veterans Day

Every military dog will have his or her day after the House approved a bill recognizing dogs who serve the people of this country and the state.

House Bill 1451 establishes March 13 as Canine Veterans Day.

Supporters said during the Revolutionary War New Hampshire had dogs in military service.

General John Stark gave the state its motto, and along with his brother William had the first known military dog, "Sergeant Beaubien."

The bill also honors police, customs, border patrol, secret service, airport, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local police and fire canines.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Metal detectors

The House killed a bill that would have required metal detectors in court-ordered, supervised visitations.

The genesis of House Bill 1316 was a murder-suicide last summer at the Manchester YMCA's visitation center. Joshua Savyon was killed by his father, Muni Savyon, who then turned the gun on himself.

He was under a domestic violence protective order because he had threatened to kill both Joshua and the boy's mother, Becky Ranes.

Bill opponents said the bill would require hiring police or security which could cause many of the visitation centers to close.

The House earlier approved House Bill 1236 which establishes a committee to study the topic of metal detectors and other protections at visitation centers.

Benghazi incident

The House killed House Resolution 24 that urges Congress to investigate the Benghazi incident.Several House members said the federal government is already investigating the incident and the bill is not needed.

But resolution supporters said the Benghazi issues need a comprehensive exploration.

The bill was killed on a 191-85 vote.

Good Samaritan

The House approved House Bill 1159 which would provide criminal immunity for seeking medical assistance during an emergency drug or alcohol overdose incident.

Supporters say it will save lives and will encourage those who may not report an emergency because of fears of prosecution to now make a life-saving call.

But opponents said the bill will not help reduce the number of overdoses, but will lead to more criminals on the street.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Transporting fossil fuels

The House endorsed a study of the safety of moving oil and natural gas by trains, road and pipeline through the state.

House Bill 1376, which would have required the Department of Environmental Services to evaluate the potential harm from transporting bituminous tar sand in the Montreal to Portland pipeline through Coos County.

But the Science, Technology and Energy Committee instead set up a study committee to look at the broader issue of the safety of transporting fossil fuels through the state.

A train carrying bituminous tar sand derailed and exploded in a small town in Quebec last year killing and injuring people in the community.

Bituminous tar sand is used to produce oil.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

Capitol backed

The House believes residents of the nation's capitol should have representation in Congress.

House Resolution 21 lends the legislature's support to efforts to win representation for Washington, D.C. residents.

Supporters said the issue is "taxation without representation."

But opponents said the arrangement with the nation's capitol was set up for a reason and any change would result in unintended consequences.

The House voted 145-133 to approve the resolution which does not have the weight of law.

The bill was approved on a 145-133 vote.

Silencing devices

The House decided that allowing silencing devices on guns used to shoot wildlife was not a good idea.

Opponents of House Bill 1495 said residents ought to have the opportunity to be aware when hunters are nearby.

There was little support for the bill during its public hearing. The bill was killed on a 217-56 vote.

grayno@unionleader.com


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