The New Hampshire House of Representatives bill that seeks a two-mile buffer between the siting of any new landfill and the boundary of any state park is back from the dead.
On Friday, after the New Hampshire Senate in May voted 14-8 to kill House Bill 177, the New Hampshire House of Representatives, which passed it in April, voted 183-181 for a floor amendment made by state Rep. Andrew Bouldin, D-Manchester, to add HB 177 to Senate Bill 103, which seeks to waive certain business registration, licensing, and taxation requirements for out-of-state businesses temporarily performing work in New Hampshire during a declared state of emergency.
SB 103, sponsored by state Sen. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, passed the Senate 24-0 in February,
After Friday’s House floor amendment, the amended SB 103 then passed the House in a 333-33 vote.
It now heads to a Senate committee of conference before another full Senate vote before the end of June.
“It was a pretty good day,” said state Rep. Dennis Thompson, R-Stewartstown, a co-sponsor of HB 177. “This is the seventh time this bill has come back from the dead.”
With the Senate and governor having voiced support for SB 103, both Thompson and state Rep. Timothy Egan, D-Sugar Hill, another co-sponsor of HB 177, said they are confident that the Senate bill with the added state parks buffer language will pass into law.
“Bouldin, looking at eco-tourism, added the amendment and said it’s not just about one state park, it’s about all of our state parks,” Egan said Monday.
He called Friday’s vote a “pleasant surprise” and “another pleasant bipartisan effort to pass this bill in the New Hampshire House.”
Committees of conference are made up of ranking members of standing committees who negotiate and work to resolve differences on bills, sometimes by making changes to them.
“Hopefully, there is no change,” said Egan.
Although the catalyst for HB 177 was the proposed Casella Waste Systems landfill near Forest Lake State Park in Dalton, where as proposed it would be less than 200 feet from the boundary of the park, supporters of HB 177 say it is designed to protect all state parks in New Hampshire.
Current rules allow for a setback of 100 feet between a landfill and state park.
While several senators were absent from the May vote on HB 177 and three Senate Democrats then voted against it, the hope is that all Senate members will vote on the amended SB 103 and some of those senators who voted against it can be encouraged this time to support it and look at it in a different way, through a focus on economic impact, said Egan.
The Senate vote in May on HB 177, which is also co-sponsored by state Sen. Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton, was mostly along party lines, with a majority of Republicans voting against it and most Democratic senators, in the minority, voting in favor.
“I think there will be more of a point made by Sen. Hennessey to engage other Republican senators to understand the impact this has on economic development and not just the environment,” said Egan. “I think there will be more of a push by House Democrats to say to their Senate sisters that we passed this in the House twice and there were a couple hundred votes for it. I think now there is more of a prevailing wind in favor of it than against it.”