On Thursday, February 16, the NH House will vote on five of the bills we have been following. Three of the five were voted Inexpedient to Legislate by their respective committees. Two are Ought to Pass as amended. See our Update section for more details.
There is only one hearing this week. HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty. It is best if you call or write the legislators. The committee’s name in the Upcoming Hearing section is linked to their web page which has a link to email the entire committee. Remember to copy your representatives. You can find their addresses here.
Also, at the end of this newsletter, is the mail addresses for the Environment and Agriculture Committee. It only takes a postcard to write each member and say you oppose HB594 as unnecessary and burden to law enforcement (or use whatever reason you feel comfortable with) and ask that they kill it. Include your name and town at the end.
In the House, emails are not considered part of the permanent record. Please remember to copy DOGS (firstname.lastname@example.org) on your emails so we can bring a hard copy to the hearing.
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2017
The House Environment and Agriculture Committee, Room 303, Legislative Office Building
- 1:00 p.m. HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty.
****Updates on Bills which have had hearings****
HB 289, allowing humane societies to place tourist oriented directional signs on the side of the road.
STATUS: House Environment & Agriculture Committee recommendation: Inexpedient to Legislate. Consent Calendar.
HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. Richard Gordon for Environment and Agriculture. Directional signs are governed by the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. This bill’s intent is to direct motorists to animal shelters in hopes of spur of the moment purchases by motorists of animals. This would be in conflict with current Department of Transportation regulations both on the state and federal level. It was pointed out at the public hearing that in this age of GPS devices and smart phones, anyone who may have an interest in visiting shelters can easily find them using such electronic devices. Finally, not passing this bill will keep us in compliance with the statutes that control outdoor advertising.Vote 18-0.
DOGS POSITION: Support the committee recommendation.
HB 290, relative to rabies vaccination protocols for companion animals.
STATUS: House Environment & Agriculture Committee recommendation: Ought to Pass with Amendment. (#2017-0144h). Consent Calendar.
HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. Barbara Comtois for Environment and Agriculture. This is a housekeeping bill to bring New Hampshire into compliance with the national rabies protocols set by the National Association of Public Health Veterinarians’ “Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control, 2016.” Vote 18-0. The amendment makes a technical correction.
DOGS POSITION: Support the committee recommendation.
HB 291-FN, removing veterinarians from compliance with the controlled drug prescription health and safety program.
STATUS: House Environment & Agriculture Committee recommendation: Ought to Pass with Amendment. (#2017-0321h). Consent Calendar.
HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. Howard Pearl for Environment and Agriculture. The committee believes that while the opioid crisis in New Hampshire is a serious issue, requiring veterinarians to query the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) database is problematic and an excessive regulatory burden that may create potential Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations. This bill, as amended, will remove responsibility from the veterinarian to query for prescribing and dispensing opioids to patients and requires the Board of Veterinary Medicine to implement rules for pain management plans and continuing education focused on opioid use and prescribing practices. Veterinarians will still be required to register with the PDMP and report when they dispense a 48 hour or greater supply of opioids. Vote 17-0.
DOGS POSITION: WATCH
HB 381-FN – relative to cruelty to non-captive wildlife.
STATUS: House Fish and Game and Marine Resources recommendation: Inexpedient to Legislate
HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. James Spillane for the Majority of Fish and Game and Marine Resources. This bill is problematic as written with too many things to fix and it would not make sense to try amending it. The committee heard testimony that the felony-level penalties were also problematic. The Department of Fish and Game already has the ability to charge under existing statute.Vote 12-9.
Rep. Richard McNamara for the Minority of Fish and Game and Marine Resources. The minority of the committee feels that this issue, cruelty to non-captive animals, should be addressed this year. Having heard several hours of testimony for and against the bill as written, all who spoke were in agreement that the content of this bill should be addressed. Though the minority made an ought to pass recommendation, its true intention is to have the bill recommitted to the committee for further study.
DOGS POSITION: Watch
HB 623-FN – relative to animals abandoned in the foreclosure process
STATUS: House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee recommendation: Inexpedient to Legislate. Consent Calendar.
HOUSE CALENDAR: Rep. Michael Costable for Commerce and Consumer Affairs. This bill establishes criminal charges for owners of animals abandoned at a foreclosure. Animals are considered personal property. During a foreclosure personal property may not be touched for seven days. This has created issues regarding the removal of abandoned animals. While the committee acknowledges that there is a problem, criminal charges did not seem appropriate. The vote for Inexpedient to Legislate was unanimous. The sponsor also agreed to work to find a more appropriate solution. Vote 21-0.
DOGS POSITION: Support the committee recommendation. We hope to be able to work with the sponsor to find a solution.
****Bills of Interest****
HB 594 – establishing a registry for persons convicted of animal cruelty
STATUS: Hearing on Feb.14, 2017, Room 303 Legislative Office Building, 1 p.m.
DOGS POSITION: Opposed
This bill would create a public registry, similar to the sex offenders registry, of all people convicted of animal cruelty. Anyone, convicted in another state, is required to register within 10 days of moving to NH. HB 594 is a duplicate of the 2011 bill, HB526, which the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted Inexpedient to Legislate by a 15-0 vote. From the 2011 House Calendar:
This bill, if passed, would be a drain on the financial and personal resources of the state and in particular the department of safety (DOS). This bill would require a substantial financial investment funded by taxpayers and cause added expenses to local police departments and law enforcement agencies. There is no evidence that such a registry is necessary and in fact law enforcement officials already have resources from which they can determine prior records of arrest and conviction of any person, in the state, or out of state. Vote 15-0.
DOGS is opposed to the present bill for the following reasons:
- It includes both misdemeanor and felony convictions rather than concentrating on egregious cases
- Many animal cruelty cases in NH involve animal hoarders. Hoarding is a recognized mental illness and these people need treatment not public shaming and ostracizing.
- Registries are expensive to create and costly to maintain. Please see the Fiscal Note at the end of the bill for the estimated costs including the design and maintenance of the list. These costs would fall on New Hampshire taxpayers.
- This registry would remove any incentive for someone accused of animal cruelty to entertain a plea bargain increasing costs for towns, shelters, and the taxpayers.
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