New Hampshire Legislative Session 2022:Bills Target Abortion, Voting, Vaccines, Landfills

Lawmakers in the North Country are gearing up for the 2022 legislative session and its 800 wide-ranging bills. (Photo courtesy of the Associated Press)

The nation’s current focus on abortion, voting, and vaccines has made it to the New Hampshire statehouse through numerous pieces of legislation.

For the 2022 legislative session, New Hampshire lawmakers will come across an upward of 1,000 bills, among them several efforts to restrict abortion, a requirement for an audit of the 2020 election results along with a slew of voting-related bills, as well as prohibitions against vaccine mandates and, stemming from a number of legislators in the North Country, new criteria on siting landfills.

As of Tuesday, there were 798 legislative service requests submitted by the Republican-majority House of Representatives and Senate after 50 LSRs were withdrawn, some because they were duplicates to similar LSRs already submitted.

The language for the LSRs is not yet included, but some state what they seek.

Vaccinations

As vaccines, mandates, and the division they’ve engendered remain in the spotlight, some New Hampshire lawmakers are tackling the issue through a host of bills.

House speaker and State Rep. Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, is a prime sponsor of legislation to prohibit state or local enforcement of federal vaccine mandates.

State Rep. Lino Avellani, R-Sanbornville, seeks to prohibit discrimination in employment based on vaccination status, state Rep. Leah Cushman, R-Weare, seeks to require post-secondary institutions to accept religious and medical exemptions from vaccine requirements, and state Rep. Timothy Lang, R-Sanbornton, is a prime sponsor of a bill to establish exemptions from employer vaccine mandates.

Another bill seeks to prohibit certain employers from requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a condition of employment.

State Rep. Peter Torosian, R-Atkinson, seeks to prohibit higher education institutions that receive state funding from requiring face masks and COVID-19 vaccinations for attendance.

Cushman is also a prime sponsor of a bill that would require an audit of the New Hampshire Vaccine Association.

Voting

The aftermath of the 2020 election and differing views on how elections should be run is reflected in several pieces of New Hampshire legislation.

State Rep. Tim Baxter, R-Seabrook, is the sole sponsor of a bill that seeks to require a forensic audit of the 2020 election results.

State Rep. Mark Alliegro, R-Campton, is a prime sponsor of a bill that would require the use of hand-marked, durable paper ballots in elections.

State Rep. Joe Sweeney, R-Salem, is sponsoring legislation to require municipal voter history to be made accessible in the statewide centralized voter registration database and is heading up another bill to require that the date a person registers to vote be included with other voter information.

State Rep. David Love, R-Derry, seeks to require certain voters to declare a party affiliation prior to a state primary election.

State Rep. Michael Yakubovich, D-Hooksett, is sponsoring a bill to address the chain of custody of ballot boxes after an election.

Other bills seek to require the use of ballots with embedded security and seek to address absentee ballot requests, electronic ballot-counting devices, and the programming of ballot-counting devices.

State Rep. Ellen Read, D-Newmarket, seeks to establish ranked-choice voting — a system in which voters choose more than one candidate and numerically rank them by preference — for state primary elections and municipal elections.

Another bill, sponsored by state Rep. Kat McGhee, D-Hollis, seeks to require an employer to provide paid time off for an employee to vote.

Abortion

Competing bills were submitted on abortion.

Following a ban on abortion after 24 weeks of gestation and allowing for criminal penalties for health care providers who provide abortions after that time — called the Fetal Life Protection Act, included in New Hampshire’s state budget in June — several bills target further abortion restrictions in 2022.

State Rep. Dave Testerman, R-Franklin, is a prime sponsor of a bill to prohibit abortions after the detection of a fetal heartbeat.

State Rep. Jeffrey Greeson, R-Wentworth, seeks to allow the biological father of an unborn child to petition the court for an injunction prohibiting the biological mother from having an abortion.

State Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, is a prime sponsor of legislation regarding women’s health privacy and seeking to repeal the Fetal Life Protection Act.

Solid Waste And Landfills

Following the controversy surrounding the proposed commercial landfill near Forest Lake State Park in Dalton, state Sen. Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton, and state Rep. Troy Merner, R-Lancaster, are local sponsors of a bill to establish a committee to study landfill siting criteria and methods for reducing pressure on landfill capacity.

State Rep. Edith Tucker, D-Randolph, is a sponsor of legislation regarding permits for the siting of new landfills.

Earlier this year, several local lawmakers signed on to what was called a “buffer bill” to prohibit the siting of a new landfill within two miles of any New Hampshire state park.

After that bill was defeated, several North Country legislators said they will be working on a similar bill, one that addresses concerns by lawmakers who voted against it, for the 2022 session.

State Rep. Linda Massimilla, D-Littleton, is sponsoring legislation to prohibit the granting of new landfill permits until the state’s solid waste management plan is updated.

The intent of that bill was the thrust of a lawsuit filed by the Conservation Law Foundation against the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. That case was dismissed by the superior court.

State Rep. Bill Boyd, R-Merrimack, seeks to rename the Department of Environmental Services the Department of Environmental Protection and assign the department oversight of private drinking water wells.

Other Bills

State Rep. Timothy Egan, D-Sugar Hill, who chairs the Democratic House Cannabis Caucus, is a prime sponsor of legislation to legalize for possession and home grow a certain amount of recreational marijuana for adult use.

Egan is also sponsoring legislation to increase fines for littering and to implement a bottle bill, or a container deposit law, that would require a refundable deposit on beverage containers to encourage less littering and more recycling.

In addition to proposing ranked-choice voting, Read seeks to require lawmakers to disclose the sources of their legislative bill proposals

State Rep. Laurel Stavis, D-West Lebanon, seeks to establish criminal penalties for anyone harming or threatening to harm an essential worker.

Gun legislation includes a bill to require a background check before any commercial sale of a firearm.

Some municipalities and lawmakers in the North Country, an attractive spot in the state for visitors who stay at local lodging establishments and dine at local eateries, have said that the state should share more of the New Hampshire meals and rooms tax with towns.

State Rep. Brodie Deshaies, R-Wolfeboro, is proposing a bill to reduce the rate of the meals and rooms tax and increase the revenue sharing of that tax revenue with municipalities.

State Rep. Suzanne Smith, D-Hebron, has sponsored several Off-Highway Recreational Vehicle bills, among them a proposal to require speed regulators on OHRVs to ensure that riders obey speed limits, where on roads the limit is 20 mph.

State Rep. Carol McGuire, R-Epsom, is putting forth a proposal to prohibit facial recognition technology in New Hampshire.

State Rep. Peter Leishman, D-Peterborough, wants to eliminate the enforcement division of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.

State Rep. Casey Conley, D-Dover, seeks to eliminate the vehicle inspection mandate for non-commercial vehicles.

State Rep. James Spillane, R-Deerfield, is submitting a bill to clarify the ban on using an electronic or telecommunications device while driving. Past efforts by Spillane to repeal the texting-while-driving ban have failed.

State Rep. Douglas Trottier, R-Belmont, seeks to require an audit of the New Hampshire State Police.

State Rep. Dennis Green, R-Hampstead, is a prime sponsor of a bill that would limit the number of bills that can be filed by lawmakers.

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