David Karrick Looks Ahead to 2015 Legislative Session

Familiar issues will be back in 2015

By David Karrick, NH State Representative

Many bills that didn’t pass in the 2014 session of the New Hampshire Legislature will reappear as new legislation in the session starting in January 2015. I’ve reviewed some of these bills below, and I need to hear the thoughts of my constituents about these and other important issues. If you choose me to represent you for another term in the New Hampshire Legislature, I shall be considering many of these questions, both on the Ways and Means Committee and then voting on them in the Legislature.

Legalizing Casino Gambling

The issue that has reappeared most frequently in recent years is the legalization of casino gambling. It has come closest to passage as a bill legalizing one or two highly regulated casinos.

Proponents see casinos providing jobs; keeping New Hampshire gamblers from going elsewhere; and paying greatly needed revenues to the State.

Opponents are worried about the social costs from addiction; the sustainability of revenue, with too many casinos already operating in the Northeast; financial influence by the gaming industry on New Hampshire politics; harm to existing entertainment venues; and damage to New Hampshire’s clean, rural image.

Death Penalty

Another bill coming close to passage was repealing the death penalty for the crime of capital murder. Proponents believe that the death penalty is barbaric; that the wrong person can be executed; and that keeping someone on death row through lengthy appeals may be more expensive than a life sentence.

Those favoring the death penalty in New Hampshire believe it is appropriate for the most heinous crimes and note that it has not been applied since 1939.

Minimum Wage

The bill to raise the minimum wage was also hotly debated in the recent session. The House voted to raise it from the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour to $9.00 by 2015, but the bill was killed by the Senate.

Proponents believe that a higher minimum wage would attract a more qualified workforce and benefit women, who often work for lower wages than men. They also believe that higher wages would increase overall spending, which would help the New Hampshire economy. One cannot live on $7.25 an hour in New Hampshire.

Opponents believe that increasing the minimum wage would mean that some companies could no longer afford to provide jobs, thus unemployment would increase, with youth and part-time workers losing work opportunities.

Decriminalize and Legalize Marijuana

Marijuana was also a major issue in 2014. Bills to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana and allow limited growing, use, and sale of marijuana were passed initially by the House but killed by the Senate.

Proponents of decriminalization believe possession arrests and possible jail terms are needlessly severe penalties for breaking a law ignored by many people. Others think the time has come for full legalization. This has already occurred in two states, with substantial fees collected by those states.

Opponents believe that marijuana is a gateway drug presenting serious addiction and health risks, especially to youth. They also point out that the possession and sale of marijuana is still illegal under Federal laws, making it difficult for banks to accept proceeds of marijuana sales.

Use of Dedicated Funds

This Constitutional Amendment/Concurrent Resolution (CACR) was approved by the Senate but sent to Interim Study by the House. CACR 19 would ensure that funds raised by fees or assessments to pay for a specific purpose would only be used for that purpose and not easily diverted to the state’s General Fund. It would only become law if approved by two-thirds of the state’s voters in Town elections.

Those favoring this CACR believe that raised funds would be used for their stated purpose such as education. Those opposed believe this is too restrictive, with tight State budgets and possible unforeseen emergencies.

Other Issues

Other issues that may reappear in the Legislature are the possible prohibition of firearm possession by New Hampshire residents with mental health issues; expanding background checks for gun purchases, especially for semi-automatic assault weapons; reconsideration of Right to Work – Anti-Union legislation; and repeal of the New Hampshire “Stand Your Ground” law passed in 2011.

As your representative, I need to know what you find important. Please give me your thoughts on these issues. You can always reach me by e-mail at ElectDavidKarrick@nullgmail.com. You can also find me on Facebook, and you can phone me at 456-2772.