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House votes for homeless vehicle registration and fuel-oil fee increase, kills beer-tax hike

  • Sergeant at Arms Waler Sword opens the door to Representatives Hall for a division vote as fourth-graders from New Franklin Elementary School in Portsmouth file by; Wednesday, February 6, 2013. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Sergeant at Arms Waler Sword opens the door to Representatives Hall for a division vote as fourth-graders from New Franklin Elementary School in Portsmouth file by; Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • State representatives Sharon Nordgren of Hanover (left) and Patty Lovejoy of Stratham talk before the session begins; Wednesday, February 6, 2013. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    State representatives Sharon Nordgren of Hanover (left) and Patty Lovejoy of Stratham talk before the session begins; Wednesday, February 6, 2013.
    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas prepares for a meeting of the Executive Council down the hallway from the Executive Council Chambers; Wednesday, February 6, 2013. <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

    Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas prepares for a meeting of the Executive Council down the hallway from the Executive Council Chambers; Wednesday, February 6, 2013.

    (ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

  • Sergeant at Arms Waler Sword opens the door to Representatives Hall for a division vote as fourth-graders from New Franklin Elementary School in Portsmouth file by; Wednesday, February 6, 2013. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • State representatives Sharon Nordgren of Hanover (left) and Patty Lovejoy of Stratham talk before the session begins; Wednesday, February 6, 2013. <br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)
  • Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas prepares for a meeting of the Executive Council down the hallway from the Executive Council Chambers; Wednesday, February 6, 2013. <br/><br/>(ALEXANDER COHN / Monitor staff)

The New Hampshire House voted yesterday to make it easier for homeless people to have cars by allowing them to register a vehicle without having a permanent home address.

The bill, introduced by Democratic Rep. Brian Rhodes of Nashua, would allow homeless residents without a street address to register a vehicle, as long as they have a letter from a social-service agency saying they can use the organization’s mailing address for contact purposes.

Homeless individuals can already renew vehicle registrations without an address. The House Transportation Committee recommended, on an 11-8 vote, that the House pass the bill expanding that to new registrations.

The Democratic-led House passed the legislation on a voice vote without debate, sending it to the Senate.

The House yesterday also preliminarily voted, 186-165, to raise a state fee on fuel oil from 1 cent per gallon to 1.25 cents per gallon. The Department of Environmental Services said the fee increase would mean $453,000 more a year for the state’s fuel oil discharge cleanup fund, which helps pay to clean up spills.

The bill came out of the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee with unanimous support, but only eight Republicans voted for the bill on the floor. Sixteen Democrats sided with the majority of the GOP against the bill.

The legislation has now been sent to the House Ways and Means Committee for a second hearing, since it involves a state fee, and it will eventually come back to the House for a final vote.

A proposed constitutional amendment that would require a three-fifths’ legislative supermajority to raise taxes or fees, or introduce new taxes or fees, was killed on a 206-149 vote. Fourteen Republicans voted with the Democrats against the amendment; only one Democrat, Rep. Tim O’Flaherty of Manchester, voted with the Republicans in the minority.

A similar amendment passed the Senate last summer but failed to clear the three-fifths’ threshold in the House, then with a Republican majority, to appear on the ballot for ratification by voters. (An earlier version of the amendment had passed the House in 2011.)

Manchester Democratic Rep. Tim Smith called the supermajority proposal “pure obstruction. It’s nothing more. It’s nothing less.”

But Rep. Andrew Renzullo, a Hudson Republican, mocked opponents’ concerns as overblown.

“Enough of this discussion about ‘the sky is falling,’ because it won’t,” Renzullo said.

Also killed, on a 302-38 vote, was a proposed amendment that would allow state and local taxes to be graduated.

And a bill to raise the beer tax by 10 cents a gallon was killed on a 308-35 vote.

The House also, after more than a half-hour of debate, voted, 211-141, to kill legislation sponsored by seven Republican representatives aimed at opposing the United Nations’ Agenda 21 sustainable development program.

The bill would have prohibited the state or local governments from working with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. The organization, which in 2003 changed its name to “ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability,” promotes sustainable development policies and is linked to Agenda 21, a two-decade-old U.N. voluntary program that some conservatives call a plot to subvert local rules and individual property rights.

“This violates the ‘Live Free or Die’ outlook of New Hampshire and our heritage in cherishing the value of being independent, self-reliant and making our own decisions,” said Rep. Jeanine Notter, a Merrimack Republican.

But Rep. Syndi White, a Democrat from North Conway, said the Municipal and County Government Committee’s 14-3 recommendation to kill the bill “had nothing to do with the crazy talk or the conspiracy theories” offered by opponents. Membership in ICLEI, she noted, is completely voluntary.

“This Legislature is not Big Brother. We are not here to create a nanny state,” White said. “So trust in our citizens and our local boards and councils to make their own decisions about which organizations and associations to join.”

A bill supported by Concord city officials, which would require projects by the state and other governments to be reviewed and approved by local planning and zoning boards, was killed on a voice vote.

Another bill, which would have restored $4.1 million a year in funding for the Children in Need of Services program, or CHINS, also was killed on a voice vote. The House Finance Committee said the issue of money for the program, which was cut in the last state budget, should be addressed through the regular budget process, not separate legislation.

And on a voice vote, the House killed a bill that would have increased the maximum per diem for House members attending their county convention from $25 to $50, to encourage attendance. An earlier vote to pass the bill failed, 228-116.

(Ben Leubsdorf can be reached at 369-3307 or
bleubsdorf@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @BenLeubsdorf.)

Did I read this correctly? Increase the state fee on fuel oil... but don't increase the tax on beer to support alcohol education. Can't follow the logic...........

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