A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION FOR THE NH LEGISLATURE: KILL THE DIRTY DOZEN BILLS OF 2012
Conservation NH asks all New Hampshire voters to request their elected representatives consider a New Year’s Resolution on behalf of New Hampshire’s environment and quality of life: cleanse the legislative calendar early in the session of the dirtiest dozen bills introduced in 2012.
“Legislators have proposed dozens of bills that weaken, and in some instances eliminate, bedrock environmental laws that are critical to our state’s economy and way of life,” said Rick Russman, former Republican State Senator and Conservation NH Board Member. “We have identified a dozen pieces of legislation that run counter to New Hampshire’s bipartisan tradition of doing good for our economy by doing right by our environment.”
The bills identified by Conservation NH range from the dismantling of town conservation commissions to micromanaging state agencies; from making uneconomic decisions for our state parks, to undermining the state’s energy laws.
Russman continued, “We will work with the environmental community, legislators, state agencies, business leaders, and conservationists across the state to ensure that we do not allow key environmental protections to vaporize in this anti-environmental legislative climate.”
“We urge the citizens of NH to join with Conservation NH in calling on our elected officials to put an early end to the dirtiest dozen bills of 2012.”
Conservation NH will present a list of bills it supports at its annual Legislative breakfast on January 17th at the Grappone Center in Concord at 8 am. This breakfast is the greenest political event of the year and free and open to the public. REGISTER HERE or call 603-228-1970.
2012 Dirty Dozen Legislation
HB 1512 – To Abolish Municipally Supported Land Conservation
This bill would repeal the authority of municipal conservation commissions to acquire land for conservation purposes, as well as repeal current law that enables municipalities to put revenues from the Land Use Change Tax toward conservation funds. If passed, this bill would abolish all municipally supported land conservation in New Hampshire, with Concord mandating what has traditionally been a matter of local control – hardly a conservative position!
HB 1515 – To Upend Local Control for Land Conservation
Echoing HB 1512, this would repeal the authority of municipalities to establish conservation funds with proceeds from the Land Use Change Tax (LUCT). If it were enacted, the State would unilaterally prohibit municipalities from deciding at the local level whether to create conservation funds with LUCT revenues. This bill is yet another example of an over-reaching nanny state trying to usurp local control in New Hampshire.
SB 217 – To Lease Cannon Mountain Absent Any Master Plan for Franconia Notch State Park
This bill would change the name of Franconia Notch State Park to Franconia Notch Veterans’ Memorial State Park, require the Department of Resources and Economic Development to solicit bids from private entities to lease Cannon Mountain ski area, and require DRED to develop a plan for construction of a veterans’ memorial and other specific modifications at the Park. A more logical approach would be for DRED to develop a master plan for Franconia Notch State Park, fully engage the public in the development process, and ensure that the master plan addresses key issues facing the Park’s future – including its name, the potential for leasing, and specific capital improvements needed to sustain the Park and its use by the public. As introduced, this bill puts the cart before the horse.
HB 1222 – To Weaken Protection of NH’s Crown Jewels: Our Lakes
This bill would reduce the permitting fees collected by the Department of Environmental Services under the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act. This shortsighted bill would likely lead to further layoffs at the Department, which could undermine water quality protection in lakes across the state.
HB 514 – To Pre-empt Public Access to Un-posted Private Lands
This bill would prohibit entry by anyone to private land for virtually any purpose without the written consent of the landowner. Among the many unintended consequences of this bill would be to undercut the ability of Fish and Game, the Department of Environmental Services, Department of Resources and Economic Development – not to mention most hunters and fisherman – from enjoying, accessing, and monitoring the health of the state’s wildlife and natural resources. Our economy would no doubt suffer as a result.
HB 1428 – To Gut the State’s Renewable Energy Law
This bill would make major negative changes to the state’s popular and successful Renewable Energy Law. Among other things, the bill would give special treatment to nuclear energy, and would fundamentally change the rules of the game that have led more sustainable energy businesses to start up – and create jobs – right here in New Hampshire.
HB 1490 – To Repeal RGGI, Leaving NH with “All Pain and No Gain”
This bill would repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This is a repeat attempt by the House to jam through a failed anti-RGGI effort from last year that was vetoed by the Governor and sustained by the Senate. There is widespread support in New Hampshire’s business community to stay in the program. If NH gets out of RGGI, the state will still have to pay for the program, but won’t get any of its funding or benefits back.
HB 1415 – To Look the Other Way on Failed Septic Systems
Today, if your septic system fails, your replacement system has to be checked by DES to verify that it will work better than the original one. The existing requirement, which DES just adopted in 2011, ensures that replacements for failed systems are designed by certified professionals and are installed properly. This bill would eliminate DES’s oversight, putting New Hampshire’s lakes, rivers, and estuaries at risk.
These three bills would establish a “DES grievance committee” in the Legislature to micro-manage the Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Resources & Economic Development. They beg key practical, economic, and constitutional questions: Does the Legislature want to be responsible for issuing complex technical permits? Why do we hire Commissioners and agency staffs in the first place? Where is the separation between the Legislative branch and the Executive branch with these bills?
HB 1540 – To Cripple Local Land Conservation Efforts
This bill would pull the rug out from under the very partnerships that work to conserve lands in order to maintain New Hampshire’s quality of life. Current state law enables counties and municipalities to sell and/or give conservation easements to non-profit organizations like land trusts. This bill, if passed, would halt all such conveyances. It would purposely obstruct land conservation at the local and regional levels. What problem is this bill trying to solve? Do legislators really think that “Concord knows best” compared to New Hampshire’s town and county governments?