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.
First off there is HB477 relative to establishing the campuses of the University and Community College Systems of New Hampshire as free speech zones. Specifically, this bill would forbid the preemptive denial of a student’s ability to freely express themselves or speak on campus by university employees. This bill is a response to the actions of university administrators who refused to permit student groups to host certain speakers due to political objections to their content. The bill’s prime sponsor, Eric Schleien (R-Hudson), hopes that this measure will help re-establish the state’s university campuses as free marketplaces of ideas. The hearing for this bill is at 2:00pm on Tuesday, January 24th before the Education Committee.
Another bill likely to get significant attention is HB440 relative to the repeal of the interest and dividends tax. Presently the state of New Hampshire levies a 5% tax on all income derived from interest or dividends above $2,400. This tax is disproportionate as the majority of people subject to this tax are either retired or nearing retirement and with New Hampshire’s rapidly aging population this tax is becoming increasingly unfair. The repeal of this tax would help protect retirees from the rising cost of living.The hearing for this bill is at 9:00am on Wednesday, January 25th before the Ways and Means Committee.
Perhaps one the most hotly debated bills on the calendar is HB222 relative to New Hampshire’s medical cannabis program. This bill, if passed, would make significant changes to the statutory program including expanding the list of qualifying conditions and eliminating certain pre-requisites for the prescription of cannabis in certain cases. Perhaps the most controversial part of the bill is the addition of opiate addiction and dependency as a qualifying condition. Ultimately Rep. Brian Stone (R-Northwood), the prime sponsor of the bill, says that the main purpose of it is to tackle New Hampshire’s opioid crisis. A clinical trial conducted in Massachusetts offers proof that the prescription of cannabis to treat opioid addiction is highly effective. The hearing for this bill is at 2:15pm on Wednesday, January 25th before the Health and Human Services Committee.