News from New Hampshire (update) (update)

Here’s the latest from the new legislative session, via friends in the legislature…

The New Hampshire House just authoritatively slapped down a bill that would authorize automated license plate readers for police, 250-97. The bill had been reported out of the fairly reliably police-statist Criminal Justice committee with an “ought to pass” recommendation. Just nine Republicans voted in favor of the bill, which goes to show that in NH, civil libertarianism can be just as much a game for elephants as it is for donks. New Hampshire remains the only state in the country to forbid automated license plate readers.

The NH House will also be voting on full cannabis legalization today (watch this space for updates). Unfortunately, Democratic governor Maggie Hassan has promised to veto the bill or any other bill relaxing marijuana penalties in any way.

The NH Supreme Court will shortly hear the appeal of the scholarship tax credit case. The trial court struck down tax credit-funded scholarships for attendance at private religious schools, leaving intact the program for nonreligious private schools. Governor Hassan has weighed in with a brief urging the Supreme Court to uphold the trial court ruling, and has also said she would sign a full repeal of the program.

In other news, some New Hampshire voters are promoting a new constitutional amendment to establish a parliamentary system and abolish the office of governor.

(OK, that last one hasn’t happened yet. But give it time.)

Update: It was a rollercoaster afternoon in the New Hampshire House. The House first voted to adopt the Criminal Justice committee’s “inexpedient to legislate” recommendation on the marijuana legalization bill by a razor-thin margin, 170-168. House rules allow reconsideration of “inexpedient to legislate” and “ought to pass” motions. A motion to reconsider narrowly passed, and two legislators switched votes on the subsequent re-vote on the committee recommendation, resurrecting the bill. After further debate, the House accepted an amendment to the bill and then narrowly passed an “ought to pass” motion, 170-162. A motion to reconsider then failed overwhelmingly. Before going to the Senate, the bill will go to the Ways and Means committee for consideration of its revenue aspects. But it’s official: the New Hampshire House is the first legislative chamber in the United States to approve full marijuana legalization.

Update #2: All 11 Free State Project participants in the N.H. House voted for the bill, providing the margin of victory.

9 thoughts on “News from New Hampshire (update) (update)

    1. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Even though legalization is not likely to be enacted into law this year, passage by the House is an important propaganda victory, and it will bring reform closer to fruition. The narrative is now that this is inevitable, sooner or later.

      1. I have a (very short-term) dream. I am hoping that Denver and Seattle make it to this year’s Super Bowl. I don’t know if you follow sports or the NFL, but this is about 4 days from becoming a reality.

        Logically speaking, this should have absolutely nothing to do with the trajectory of marijuana-, narcotics-, or criminal justice policy in the United States.

        But the real world is…illogical.

        There is no greater mass audience in American broadcasting than the Super Bowl. If the two teams come from the two legalization states, there is no force in the world that will stop an intense spike in the number of combinations surrounding liberalization. I am almost certain that this can only be a good thing.

      2. Interesting speculation. I saw something about this on my Facebook feed today as well. At the very least, it would be irresistible material for late-night comedians and Internet meme-makers.

  1. I’m no Nostradamus but I have my moments of prescience (or lucky coincidence).

    Today may go down in history as “Green Sunday.”

    – Denver wins the NFC championship while playing in Denver, where cannabis is legal for adults over 21.

    – Seattle wins the AFC championship while playing in Seattle, where cannabis is legal for adults over 21.

    – This leads to two weeks of media coverage before the largest annual broadcast and 3-ring circus, excluding of Presidential elections, in American popular culture–the Super Bowl. Two weeks of media hype, overheated analysis, and something akin to hero worship crossed with a commerce-driven idolatry. Normally, I’m appalled at my fellow citizens’ misplaced priorities. However, this time, I’m delighted. Because this time, the ridiculous amount of bandwidth to fill with every type of (mostly inane) speculation, rumor, gossip, hype, blather, hypocrisy, idle chatter, and uninformed talk will have at least a modicum of good use. If any subject is conducive to idiotic speechifying, it’s marijuana (policy.) (Don’t ask me how I know this.) (It’s because I’ve been high a lot.)

    But this is small–no, microscopic–potatoes compared to what else happened today. President Obama, in an interview in The New Yorker with David Remnick released while I was at the bar screaming myself hoarse while yelling vulgarities at TV screen and doubtlessly angering my fellow patrons, said this:

    As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol

    He also said this (interlaced with Remnick’s emendations):

    Less dangerous, he said, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.” But, he said, “we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing.” Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that “it’s important for it to go forward because it’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

    Today, at least, I am proud of my President.

    1. Yes, he deserves credit for saying those things. I wish he’d done something – anything – to back up those words with deeds, but, well, he’s just one guy, I guess. Still, most political scientists think the “bully pulpit” is way overrated, & that presidents can’t convince very many people with oratory or media statements. So it remains to be seen whether this point in time becomes an inflection point in public opinion.

  2. Most of the opposition to legalizing marijuana comes from the Republican Party, the party that the Free State Project is closely allied with. Do you think you may have outsmarted yourselves in this instance?

    1. I wouldn’t say the FSP is “closely allied with” either political party. The first FSP-er to win election to the state house was (is) a Democrat.

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