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State House Live: N.H. House passes bill for medical technician registration

3:37 p.m.: A bill that would create a board to register medical technicians passed the House this afternoon, 228-92. It will now go to the House Ways and Means committee then come back before the House.

It's the second bill passed this session that was written in response to the hepatitis C outbreak caused by an Exeter Hospital employee several years ago. The board would register all health care professionals with access to patients and drugs who are not otherwise licensed.

Hospitals would be required to verify employees registration with the board and would penalize those that fail to do so. Technicians who don't register themselves would also be penalized.

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3:15 p.m.: The House also passed a bill, 209-125, requiring students to take a course dealing with math during all four years of high school.

Under current law, students need three years of math courses to graduate high school. With the new bill, the fourth year could come from a strict math course or another type of class that imbeds math. Opponents said the bill would erode local control, but the bill allows local school boards to decide what courses use imbedded math. Those courses could range from woodworking to American history, as long as some type of applied math is used.

"Too many students aren't taking or using math in the fourth year of high school," said Rep. Rick Ladd, a Haverill Republican in support of the bill.

The bill will now go to the Senate.

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2:44 p.m.: First-time DWI offenders could soon have a chance to drive for limited purposes including work, rehabilitation or medical treatment, if a bill passed in the House today makes it through the Senate.

The bill says after 14 days of license revocation, first-time offenders could get a limited license to travel to those activities. They would need to apply for the exception, pay a $50 fee and install an enhanced technology ignition interlock device in their car at their own expense.

Rep. Mark Warden, a Manchester Republican, tried to amend the bill to disallow the ignition interlock devices to have "enhanced technology," which means they can use a GPS to track where the cars are driving to ensure the rules are being followed. He said it would provide for "full-time surveillance" on drivers, including other family members who might use the same vehicle as the offender.

But Rep. Renny Cushing, a Hampton Democrat, said the bill is voluntary, and offenders who don't want to subject themselves to the potential tracking do not have to request a limited license.

The House defeated the amendment 120-216, then passed the bill easily. It will now go to the Senate.

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12:50 p.m.: Keno is one step closer to entering New Hampshire, as the House just passed a bill, 202-141, to allow the electronic lottery game in establishments that pour liquor.

An amendment added by Rep. Leigh Webb, a Franklin Democrat, gives towns and cities the power to decide whether they want Keno games in their towns. Under the bill, eight percent of the proceeds form casino games would go to the businesses offering the games. The rest would go to the state's education trust fund. Rep. Patrick Abrami, a Stratham Republican, estimates that would put $9 million in the trust fund.

"What's wagered in New Hampshire will stay in New Hampshire," he said.

Abrami, who opposes expanded casino gambling, said this bill is a lottery bill not a casino bill. The game would only be offered in establishments that pour liquor because some representatives didn't feel the lottery game should be offered in convenience stores where more people can play.

But Rep. Mary Cooney, a Plymouth Democrat, said electronic keno is a completely different game than non-electric lottery games and is more addictive. Allowing keno puts New Hampshire one step closer to allowing slot machines and other expanded gambling. Keno is unlikely to draw tourists here, which means the money lost will be primarily lost by New Hampshire residents.

"It never seems to end with one location or one type of game," she said.

The bill will now go to the Senate.

The House is now breaking for lunch and will resume debate at 1:50 p.m.

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11:37 a.m.: The House killed a bill this morning that would put a temporary moratorium on wind turbines and electric transmission line projects, 194-148.

Debate focused on wind energy, with a handful of speakers making a passionate case for the moratorium. Wind energy is not an efficient source of energy, they said, and more wind farms will damage the state's tourism industry and the small towns up north that benefit from it.

“Please don’t forget our small towns, don’t forget the people who live in our small towns and don’t forget the thousands of visitors who visit New Hampshire each year,” said Rep. Herbert Vadney, a Meredith Republican.

But the majority of members ultimately agreed with the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee, which recommended killing the bill. Last year the Legislature approved two laws that establish a review process for how energy projects are approved and create a commission to develop a new state energy plan. The state has a goal of using 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

The bill would have only put a moratorium on turbines until the report on current energy policies is released this fall. Members of the committee said this temporary moratorium would be ineffective and send a bad message to other businesses.

Rep. Marjorie Shepardson, a Marlborough Democrat and committee member, said the site evaluation committee, which reviews energy projects, recently ejected a wind farm in Antrim because of the adverse impacts it would have on the area. This shows the committee takes its approval process seriously, and that process will likely become more robust as a result of the current review.

“We have a strong and robust,” site evaluation procedure, said Rep. Robert Backus, a Manchester Democrat.

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It’s Wednesday again, so that means another House session is on the books for today. The House is expected to hear bills on a moratorium on wind turbines, allowing Keno and more.

Be sure to check back with us right here and follow Monitor reporter Kathleen Ronayne on Twitter (@kronayne) for live updates as today’s events unfold.

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