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Garry Rayno's State House Dome: Gun-rights debate to enter next phase
As originally proposed, Senate Bill 244 would have required the names of people with court-determined mental illness to be added to the federal list of those prohibited from purchasing guns - a list that licensed dealers use for background checks.
"I'm very troubled by the course this legislation has taken," Watters said Friday. "I find it very difficult to ask the House to support just (the annulment) piece of it."
"Governor Hassan believes that one of our most pressing public safety challenges is the fact that New Hampshire does not provide the current background check system with information about individuals who should not be sold a firearm due to serious mental illness - even though that information is supposed to be included under federal law," said Marc Goldberg, Hassan's communications director. "She has serious concerns about SB 244 as amended, as the bill does not even include a measure to study how to address this issue."
"I am very much committed to finding a way to help those with mental illness and disabilities relieve themselves of that stigma and annul those records," Watters said. "I'm also committed to Second Amendment rights and the need to do (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) reporting in this area."
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Gas Tax: The decision of whether to increase the gas tax is now in the House's hands.
Normally the House would have two committees review the bill, with two public hearings, two committee votes and two House votes. Instead, however, the Public Works and Highways Committee and Ways and Means Committee will have a joint hearing on the bill Tuesday at 10 a.m. in Rooms 210-211 of the Legislative Office Building. The committees will also have a joint work session Wednesday and a joint executive session to decide their recommendation Tuesday, April 15.
The House did vote last year to increase the gas tax by 12 cents, but it was gunned down in the Senate by a large margin. The conventional wisdom is always to deal with taxes in the first year of the two-year term so voters may forget what you did by the next election.
"Everyone is noticing how horrific the roads are this year," she said. "A top priority has to be to maintain our roads. It's good for the state's economy, it's good for businesses and for public safety."
Billboards: A bill seeking to allow liquor advertising on billboards went through one of the most interesting series of votes this session.
The Senate last month took six votes before finally passing the bill, 13-11. Earlier votes - one seeking to pass the bill, one to kill it and one to table it - deadlocked, 12-12.
The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on the bill at 1 p.m. Wednesday in Room 302.
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Gambling: What is likely to be the final public hearing on casino gambling this session will be held before the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday at 9 a.m. in Rooms 202-204 of the LOB.
In the Senate, the bill's prime sponsor, Sen. Lou D'Allesandro, D-Manchester, added the regulatory structure and regulations contained in HB 1633, developed by the Gaming Regulatory Oversight Authority. And he added $25.2 million in annual revenue sharing for cities and towns that was proposed as an amendment in the House but never came up after the bill was killed
"We have had so much open debate in the House on this for the last two years," Almy told a reporter. "I'm sick of it."
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