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'House rejects anti-bullying, rep reduction'

Ban on luring deer with bait also fails

Bullying, done in the name of politics, may continue at the State House.

And the police won't need a warrant to arrest someone for domestic violence assault, hunters can still lure deer with bait and the New Hampshire House is staying at 400 members.

Bills targeting those issues were among the many the House decided yesterday with little or no debate during its weekly session.

The bills passed by the House will go to the Senate unless they need to be vetted by a second House committee first.

The anti-bullying bill, filed by Rep. Susan Emerson, a Rindge Republican, targeted House Speaker Bill O'Brien, whom Emerson said had bullied her when she tried to add money back to last year's budget.

O'Brien has denied Emerson's allegations that he called her into a private room, backed her against a wall and screamed at her.

Rep. Timothy Copeland, a Stratham Republican, testified at a committee hearing that he too had been bullied by O'Brien for crossing him on an important vote. Copeland said O'Brien threatened to hamper his re-election campaign and took away an aisle seat at the State House Copeland needed for a medical condition.

Emerson's bill would have allowed the state attorney general's office to investigate bullying allegations at the Legislature.

The House yesterday voted 224-78 to kill the bill after Rep. Gene Chandler, a Bartlett Republican, and Rep. Shawn Jasper, a Hudson Republican, told House members bullying is another name for politicking.

"I'll be blunt," Jasper said. "If you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen." Jasper said when he was the Republican whip responsible for securing party votes, he was known as "The Enforcer."

"I'd go into the back of committees where we had problems with members and stand with arms folded and just glare at the members," he said. "It was effective."

Jasper no longer has that job and told the House he is kinder and gentler now.

The domestic violence bill, filed by Rep. Dan Itse, a Fremont Republican, and Rep. George Lambert, a Litchfield Republican, made headlines earlier this winter after safety officials opposed it en masse.

A House committee voted 14-0 to recommend it die on the House floor after opponents said forcing an officer to leave a domestic violence scene to get an arrest warrant would put a victim at greater risk.

The House agreed on a voice vote.

In an unexpected move, the House voted 181-165 to make it harder for state Fish and Game conservation officers to do field checks.

They currently need only reasonable cause to check a sportsman's fishing gear or hunting equipment. A House committee had asked the full House to keep it that way, but the House refused and upped the threshold to probable cause.

Opponents argued the new standard will require conservation officers to get a warrant, which means leaving the field, to do their checks.

The police would get new, more accurate equipment to test motorcycle noise under a bill that passed the House 261-80.

The existing test equipment is geared for off-road vehicles, not street motorcycles. The legislation was endorsed by the police and the American Motorcycle Association, supporters said.

Rep. David Kidder, a Republican from New London, joined with a Bristol Republican on a bill that would have stopped hunters from laying bait for deer. It also would have prohibited people from feeding deer.

A House committee recommended the House kill the bill after deciding it had too few facts about the biological consequences of deer baiting and could not legislate tough ethical questions.

The House agreed on a voice vote.

If you're sick or injured and due at the county jail to serve a sentence, get yourself well first. At the request of county jail officials, the House passed a bill that would require a would-be inmate to pay his own medical bills if he turned himself in at the jail suffering from an illness, injury or other medical condition.

The bill does not apply to inmates who become sick while at the jail; their medical bills will be paid for by the county.

A group of four Republicans sought to reduce the legal drinking age to 19 for men and women serving in the military.

A House committee recommended a no vote from the full House after deciding it had no evidence that an enlisted 19-year-old is any more mature or emotionally responsible than any other 19-year-old.

"The dangers of drinking would apply equally," read a committee report.

The House concurred on a voice vote.

Presidential candidates won't have to show their birth certificate to New Hampshire officials to get on the election ballot. A bill requiring the birth certificate was co-sponsored by Rep. Susan DeLemus, a Rochester Republican, and Rep. Laurence Rappaport, a Colebrook Republican - two of the lawmakers who have challenged President Obama's birthplace.

A House committee concluded the bill's goal was worthy but its timing was off. The committee suggested it be refiled in a non-election year so it can be considered apart from Obama's qualifications for office.

The House concurred with the committee report, voting 261-50 without discussion.

Men who impregnate women by rape could lose any parental rights under a bill co-sponsored by Rep. Kathleen Lauer-Rago, a Franklin Republican.

The child's legal guardian would have to seek to terminate the father's rights, and the law would apply to only men convicted of felonious sexual assault.

If the man's rights were terminated, he would also be excused from providing financial support.

That also passed on a voice vote.

Public schools will have to stick to bake sales if they want more money than given them in the state budget. The House killed a bill that would have created special license plates to raise money for elementary and secondary schools.

A House committee urged the full House to vote against the idea because it was unclear how the money raised would be distributed. In addition, the committee feared a number of other groups would begin requesting their own plates.

A bill that would have replaced annual vehicle inspections with every-other-year inspections failed 238-110. A House committee said no one spoke in favor of the bill save for DeLemus, its sponsor.

And it looks like the New Hampshire House will keep all 400 members. Legislation that would cut membership to 100 was killed on a voice vote with no discussion.

(Annmarie Timmins can be reached at 369-3323 or atimmins@cmonitor.com.)

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