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House kills bill to let N.H. legislators get free ski passes at Cannon Mountain

A rider passes over a side trail with a view of Mt. Lafayette while riding the new Mittersill double chair lift on Cannon Mountain; Monday, January 17, 2011. The lift is the first to operate on the mountain since Mittersill ski area closed in 1984.
(Alexander Cohn/Monitor Staff)

A rider passes over a side trail with a view of Mt. Lafayette while riding the new Mittersill double chair lift on Cannon Mountain; Monday, January 17, 2011. The lift is the first to operate on the mountain since Mittersill ski area closed in 1984. (Alexander Cohn/Monitor Staff)

The New Hampshire House yesterday killed legislation that would allow state senators and representatives to receive free ski passes at Cannon Mountain.

The House killed the bill on a voice vote without debate.

The state owns the Cannon Mountain ski area in Franconia Notch, and state legislators used to be offered complimentary lift tickets at the facility. But in January 2012, the Legislative Ethics Committee ruled that the value of free lift tickets exceeded the $25 limit under state law for gifts, and so lawmakers were not allowed to accept them.

“We recognize that complimentary lift tickets at Cannon have been made available to legislators for many years, but this custom cannot overcome the definition and prohibition of gifts enacted into law in 2006,” wrote Chairman Martin Gross in the committee’s advisory opinion.

Rep. Gary Coulombe, a Berlin Democrat, introduced a bill this year to create an exemption under the ethics law for Cannon Mountain passes. The legislation also was sponsored by Grantham Democratic Rep. Andrew Schmidt and Lancaster Republican Rep. Herbert Richardson.

But the House Legislative Administration Committee voted, 5-4, to recommend killing the bill, and the full House agreed.

“This is much more substantial than the other perks we receive as legislators,” wrote Rep. Steven Briden, an Exeter Democrat, in the committee’s majority report. “This could also send a poor message to our constituents that we are more worried about personal privileges (than) we are about making laws to help the people of New Hampshire.”

In the committee’s minority report, Litchfield Republican Rep. George Lambert noted legislators already have free access to state parks.

“When legislators go to Cannon Mountain, there is virtually no incremental cost but it creates additional analog revenue for the Cannon facility,” Lambert wrote. “This has been a long-standing tradition of (the) Legislature that has encouraged members to experience this part of New Hampshire culture.”

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

Legacy Comments3

It appears that some legislators believe they are entitled to "perks" because they are working essentially for free. There's a logical way to fix that, and a myriad of other problems with the legislature: reduce the size of the legislative body by about 70%, pay them a living wage, and give them health insurance. That way, perhaps we could get some folks in the legislature who are neither retired nor independently wealthy. Diversity and representation of the working class could only good things.

I can't agree with reducing the legislature. I think that diversity of the body is a good thing. What we don't want is a body of legislators who are professional politicians. Look to the South and Massachusetts if you need an example. Why would we want a smaller body representing a larger population. The public sector, specifically state employees are living high on our tax dollars, most are single tasking and receive full time pay for part time work. A smaller legislature would mean more people in bed with the SEA/SEIU folks. Not a good thing. Your "working class" scenario would not work because lawyers and others would occupy those seats.

that proposed law was brought to you by the same liberal democrat House that introduced legislation to require you to wear a red swim hat in NH waters and, a fine for releasing balloons and lets not forget the requirement for transgender bathrooms ...today......... they vote on the white potato as the state vegetable

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