3 new laws to know just signed by Gov. Sununu

N.H. State House

N.H. State House

By CHARLOTTE MATHERLY

Monitor staff

Published: 07-09-2024 5:13 PM

As New Hampshire’s 2024 legislative session wrapped up, Gov. Chris Sununu last week signed 81 bills into law. They spanned from environmental regulations to healthcare to expanding publicly available data. Here’s three new laws New Hampshirites should know about.

NH must monitor cyanobacteria levels

The New Hampshire Clean Lakes Program will be required to take measures to monitor, reduce and prevent blooms of cyanobacteria, which has populated a number of New Hampshire’s lakes this summer. At high levels, this type of algae can be harmful to animals and humans; it can cause skin irritation and, with long-term exposure, damage to the liver, kidney and central nervous system.

Through this program, the state’s Department of Environmental Services can treat high levels of phosphorus and other factors that contribute to cyanobacteria growth, but it must use the most environmentally sustainable option to do so. The state is already monitoring cyanobacteria levels and has sent out several warnings this summer.

David Neils, the department’s chief aquatic biologist, said the agency received nine cyanobacteria reports in May and 17 in June, which is slightly elevated from last year’s count of just six in May and 18 in June. There are at least five cases of illness that overlap with known cyanobacteria reports so far this season, though Neils said that data isn’t concrete because it’s self-reported.

As of July 9, three bodies of water had active cyanobacteria warnings: Mill Pond and Sunset Lake in Alton, and Silver Lake in Hollis, according to the state’s environmental services online tracker. The “warning” status means there’s a large enough concentration of cyanobacteria in the water that it could produce toxins. Pawtuckaway Lake in Nottingham, Jenness Pond in Northwood and Lees Pond in Moultonborough were issued a cyanobacteria watch early this week, meaning there’s no current warning but a potential for the algae to bloom.

Marijuana to be included in open container law

Come 2025, marijuana will be subject to the same open container law as alcohol, meaning only sealed, unopened containers will be permitted in the passenger area of cars. Any partial containers must be stored in the trunk, and violations of this law will lead to a suspended driver’s license for 60 days. The law doesn’t include therapeutic cannabis in this restriction.

This comes into law as the legislature continues to grapple with legalizing cannabis. A bill that would’ve allowed recreational marijuana in New Hampshire was thwarted by a narrow margin – just five votes – in the House of Representatives last month.

Bill expands reportingand publication of hate crime incidents

Local law enforcement will soon be required to report hate crimes to state police at least every six months, which will be compiled into a statewide database available to the public online. It must include all incidents of hate crimes, including the number of offenses, arrests and clearances as well as the nature of the crime.

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