The legislature is currently not in session and is scheduled to begin its activities in January 2021. However, due to the virus pandemic, it is not clear how all 400 members of the House can meet in person, as required by the NH Constitution. The Speaker of the House has submitted a request to the NH Supreme Court for guidance about “ in person meeting”, requesting a ruling on what is acceptable under an emergency situation or during a virus pandemic. We hope this ruling will help clarify what is legally possible.
During the 2019-2020 session I sponsored 3 bills, of which all were passed in the House, but due to the pandemic, no final action was taken in the Senate. My first bill requested that a study committee be established to evaluate the opportunities in New Hampshire to create microgrids. A microgrid is essentially an energy island that can operate both connected but also islanded (not connected) to the grid. This microgrid would essentially provide energy to all the users within the microgrid, and would generate its own energy both from convential fossil fuel generators or renewable energy sources. My second bill would increase the vehicle registration fees (they have not changed for more than 12 years) to generate more revenue for highway and bridge maintenance, that the final fee be linked to both the weight of a vehicle and the miles per year travelled by that vehicle, and that a portion of the newly generated revenues be made available for Type II noise abatement (the kind that Pannaway Manor is waiting for). My third bill was one that asked the agencies of the State of NH to replace the current radiation monitoring system with modern real-time monitors to detect radiactive emission in the 10 mile Emergency Planning Zone around the Seabrook nuclear power plant. However, since in the meantime the Citizens’ Initiative has already begun to build such a monitoring network, the data of which will be available to the public, I am assuming that the NH agencies in charge of such monitoring will ultimately join to collaborate with that network. (more information about both the Citizens’ Initiative and the Road Registration Useage bill, see the Links to Docs - Section State Issues).
Finally, I agreed with the majority of the House and the Senate that NH should abolish the death penalty, changing it to life without parole. My support was based on the morality of the death penalty, but also on the financial burden of this punishment for our state. Experts have estimated that an execution (currently NH has one black man on death row) would cost 5-10 times as much as the cost of life in prison-without parole and NH would first have be build its own execution chamber at considerable cost to allow it to execute anyone. Of course, an execution will always have the possibility of killing an innocent person, so that the only reason left for this punishment is revenge, which does not bring anyone’s loved one back.
Since our legislative session was cut short by the pandemic, many good bills that I supported never received a final vote: Examples include: Increasing the minimum wage to $12/hour, providing support for our biomass industry, increasing the net-metering cap from 1MW to 5 MW to support the renewable energy industry, providing more support for energy efficiency programs, raising the RPS-Renewable Portfolio Standard (renewable energy targets set for our utilities) to require more renewable energy be provided to NH residents, passing a family medical leave insurance program and more aggressive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) in our state.