It’s that time of year again, when the state’s 424 legislators show us what sort of laws they hope to pass in the upcoming session.
Their proposals come in the form of LSRs, or legislative service requests. At this point there is no actual wording for the proposals, only titles that can be pretty vague. Many start with “relative to …” and give no hint whether they oppose or support the topic in question. Many of them will never even become bills, with far fewer becoming laws.
Still, they provide an indication of what sort of things state lawmakers will be chewing on when they return to Concord.
Looking through the 865 LSRs that have been filed (the whole list is here) we find some topics of interest to Granite Geek readers. Here is a selection:
Right to repair
There have been several efforts in recent years to pass some sort of “right to repair” law in New Hampshire, requiring manufacturers to make it possible for people or independent repair shops to work on their products.
As is the case in virtually every other state (Massachusetts is the only partial exception) they have failed in the face of opposition from industry representatives, franchise repair shops and some other folks. The state’s environmental department, for example, has balked out of fear that people will disable pollution controls on lawn-care equipment.
This year’s entry (0186) is titled “relative to the repair of home appliances,” apparently trying to focus efforts on a less objectionable area.
Data portability and open-source software
Concord Rep. Eric Gallager is responsible for several LSRs aiming to make sure that state government’s digital information can’t be controlled by any one company and remains easily accessible.
They include “relative to a right to data portability of state agency information” (0190) and “portability of data between housing finance authorities”, “prohibiting, with limited exceptions, state agencies from using proprietary software in interactions with the public” (0188) and “prohibiting the use of proprietary software on state websites” (0189).
He also has two related LSRs involving law enforcement: “prohibiting state and local law enforcement from participating in the enforcement of copyright claims against free and open source software projects” (0192) and “relative to the right to review source code of software in criminal cases” (0194).
The climate emergency and clean energy
There are more LSRs than I can count about regulations aimed at tackling climate change, such as net metering and participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Some LSRs (mostly from Democrats) want to strengthen or expand them, some LSRs (mostly from Republicans) want to weaken them or dump them.
Two LSRs take aim at ISO-New England, the organization that oversees the six-state power grid. One (0616) just says “relative to ISO-New England” while another (0747) would establish “a commission to study the withdrawal of New Hampshire from ISO New England.” I think the driving force of both is the belief that ISO-NE is too beholden to the status quo and gets in the way of quickly transitioning from fossil fuels to clean energy.
Other related LSRs include “elative to an electric bicycle low-income transportation incentive program” (0817), “providing zoning provisions for certain workforce housing complexes to be equipped with electric vehicle charging units” (0499), and “relative to electric microgrids” (0207) . Details are still being worked out on some of these so I’m not sure what they entail.
With Maine and Alaska allowing ranked-choice voting on statewide races, this once marginilazed idea is becoming semi-mainstream. New Hampshire has seen failed attempts to adopt or study the idea in the last several legislative sessions.
This year’s efforts are “enabling ranked-choice voting for state party primary elections and municipal elections” (0014) and “relative to rank choice voting” (0012), both from Ellen Read of Newmarket, a long-time RCV advocate.
Miscellaneous geeky topics
“Including the space force in various definitions of the armed forces” (0453). The New Boston Air Force Station, a satellite-tracking station in southern New Hampshire, officially became the New Boston Space Force Station this year. This bill would update existing state laws to reflect it.
“Relative to the sale of freeze-dried food” (0027) seeks to make it easier for home-made freeze-dried food to be sold. It’s one of several LSRs concerning the preparation and sale of home-made foods.
Here are three intriguing titles that I know nothing about at this time: “relative to telephone carrier of last resort obligations.” (0386) “relative to wasting disease in white tailed deer” (0361); and “relative to the Uniform Commercial Code’s article on blockchain technology” (0481).
One topic that drew a lot of geeky conversation in years past is missing this year. Nobody filed an LSR seeking to get rid of daylight saving time and push us into the Atlantic Time Zone. This intriguing but unrealistic idea may have worn out its welcome, or maybe it was undercut by the confusing action by the federal government (I’m still not sure if daylight saving is going away).