The author is a New Hampshire state representative committed to advancing the cause of liberty
This week there are a number of bills scheduled for their public hearings that affect many Granite Staters. All of the hearings on these bills are open to the public but the hearings on these bills this week will be the only chance for members of the public to give testimony until the bills crossover to the Senate. I strongly recommend attending any of these committee hearings if you are able.
HB626: Criminal Annulment
One of the first important bills of the week is HB626 relative to the annulment of criminal records. Rep. Brian Stone (R-Northwood), the prime sponsor, seeks to provide for the arrest records of those individuals who have been found not guilty of charges filed against them, or their case was dismissed or not prosecuted, to be annulled at no cost. This measure would help individuals whose arrest records prevent them from gaining certain types of employment. Rep. Stone believes that this bill would also help ensure that we stay true to the principle that people are innocent until proven guilty. The hearing for this bill is at 1:00pm on Tuesday, January 31st before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
HB590: State Reserve Bank
HB590 would establish a state bank that would be able to “make, purchase, guarantee, modify, or hold loans”. This bill essentially creates a bank similar to the Federal Reserve at the state level. Establishing such a bank would enable the state to effectively issue its own credit which the taxpayers would become liable for. By statute the bank would only be able to accept the deposit of public funds which greatly limits the functionality of the institution. In addition, it is unknown if a state bank would even be constitutional. This bill provides for the State Treasurer and Banking Commissioner to recommend how the Constitution would need to be amended no later than Jan. 15th, 2018. The hearing for this bill is at 11:15am on Wednesday, February 1st before the Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee.
HB614: Asset Forfeiture
Another bill of great importance is HB614 relative to the forfeiture of seized property to federal agents. Last session the prime sponsor, Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), worked across the party lines to impose limits on civil asset forfeiture at the municipal and county levels. This bill seeks to limit asset forfeiture by forbidding the transfer of property seized by state, county, and municipal agents to the federal government. Rep. Sylvia hopes this bill serves as a further deterrent to law enforcement seizing property without cause. The hearing for this bill is at 1:30pm on Wednesday, February 1st before the Judiciary Committee.
HB656: Cannabis Legalization
HB656 is the much anticipated cannabis legalization bill. This bill provides for cannabis and its species to be legalized for cultivation, sale, and consumption by those individuals 21 and older. It partially establishes a regulatory scheme by statute but also relies on certain state agencies to create rules to further regulate the commodity. The prime sponsor, Glen Aldrich (R-Gilford), states that one of the most crucial considerations of this bill is its potential to be used as a source of funds for property tax relief. Currently the property owners of the state are expected to foot the bill for most services. The potential revenue from a tax on cannabis would help to cut those costs. Rep. Aldrich also believes that the state will save a considerable money by not prosecuting and jailing those who use cannabis. The hearing for this bill is at 2:00pm on Wednesday, February 1st before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.
HCR9: New Hampshire Independence
By far one of the most interesting bills being heard this week is HCR9 relative to the affirmation of the state’s powers under Art. 7, Part I, New Hampshire Constitution and the Tenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. Advocates of New Hampshire Independence are expected to turn out in support of this resolution. Just last year the Live Free or Die Alliance conducted an online poll and found that a significant number of New Hampshire residents favored a more distant relationship between their state and the federal government. This resolution could provide a framework going forward for how that new relationship may manifest itself. In 2009 the prime sponsor, Daniel Itse (R-Fremont), attracted a crowd of 300 supporters for a similar resolution. The hearing for this resolution is at 2:00pm on Wednesday, February 1st before the State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee.