Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Sinkers, Loons, and Knaves

It was a long day at the NH House. SB 126, a bill concerning business practices between manufacturers, distributers, and dealers took a long time. Free Stater Emily Sandblade of the Commerce Committee supported the bill, but the rest of the tinfoil brigade were quite annoyed about it. JR Hoell (the next best thing to a Free Stater) was wearing a button that seemed to suggest that passing 126 was likely to end NH as we know it.

They pressed on to SB 89, a bill aimed at eliminating the use of lead sinkers and jigs (weighing an ounce or less) for the fishermen in our state. One of the reasons for this, is that lead sinkers are the leading cause of death for adult loons. Also: lead bad. That's why we don't use it in paint or water pipes any more. Lead bad.

The tinfoil hat brigade defended their right to kill loons to the bitter end.

Rep. Webb introduced a floor amendment to give the manufacturers of lead tackle more time to comply. Apparently the 3 years specified in the bill wasn't long enough.

Best of all though, was Rep. John Burt from Goffstown. Burt spent a lot of time mocking the whole thing, saying that "the science just isn't there." That bald eagles kill loons. When asked why all the other states around us have passes similar legislation, Burt responded, "monkey see, monkey do. He asserted that the lead isn't dangerous, the lead in the water isn't dangerous, that there's mercury in the water - a hodgepodge of distractionary nonsense.

Rep. Manley, a science teacher, gave us some schoolin' on the science. Like: lead bad. We view lead as damaging to the environment. We regard lead as a threat to water.

Lots of consternation from the GOP - do lead sinker manufacturers donate heavily to GOP campaigns or something?

Michael Garcia, the Free Stater and fauxDem says the only way this practice will end is to change the culture. "It will impact small businesses. Who will want to buy back banned products?"

Anecdote: I know some guys who fish. None of them have any lead tackle.

Apparently this bill didn't go anywhere last year, and the committee last year agreed that the bill wouldn't come forward again in 2013. The possibility of losing their seats doesn't seem to have occurred to them. The guys who did get reelected seem quite miffed that this bill came forward AFTER a different group agreed that it wouldn't.

Best part of the hearing? Al Baldasaro walking by the media section saying, "this is just another feel good bill." Really, Al? Just last month, Al was claiming this bill was part of the UN's clever plan to take over the US via tackle box. “If you take a look at other areas, uh, what’s going on around the country under Agenda 21, this isn’t get – the nose is already under the tent. This now is pushing the foot under the tent, to slowly get the fishermen off the lake. That’s what this is gonna do.”

Al must have had an adjustment to his tinfoil beanie since then, because no one mentioned Agenda 21. Or maybe they've been mocked so much about Agenda 21 that they don't want to bring it up in public.

This was a long, painful debate that really boiled down to this: do you want to do the right thing, or do you want to reserve the right to kill loons? 

The loonkillers lost, on a roll call vote of 225-142.

After that came SB 122, concerning the establishment of a commercial shrimp license.
The tinfoil crowd was all wound up about this. Not sure why.  The voice vote failed. Free Stater Rep. Carol McGuire asked for a roll call vote. The bill passed 257-122.

                                             This is a high end casino: Montbleu in Stateline, NV. 

After lunch came SB 152, the casino bill. Last week the 45 member supercommittee of Finance and Ways and Means voted to ITL the bill. The full House needs to overturn the ITL before it can begin hearing and voting on the 20+ amendments to the bill that are just waiting in the wings.

Strange little caucus groups spring up around the chamber. O'Brien/Ober. Itse/Lambert. Baldasaro/smart phone. Even Stellaaaaaaaah is here this afternoon.

At one point, O'Brien, Itse, Lambert, Baldasaro, and Warden all slither out to the anteroom to plot. O'Brien all puffed up, and plotting. And why not? He refused a committee assignment, so he hasn't done any work this session.

Groups swap partners. Itse/O'Brien. Ober/Hoell. Baldasaro/Twitter.

Rep. Lovejoy spoke in favor of not overturning the ITL. She cited revenue, regulations, and social costs as reasons for her decision. Baldasaro gets a question. Al, it seems, worked in Delaware (this guy must have the longest resume in the United States. He had 10 different jobs in 10 different states all at the same time before he moved to NH. But, in Delaware, he tells Rep. Lovejoy,  he didn't see no crime, and no hookers like you're talking about. (she hadn't mentioned hookers.) At the end of her lengthy and respectful answer to Rep. Baldasaro,  Lovejoy added, "I don't expect there will be a big influx of hookers to Salem. I hope that doesn't disappoint you."

Rep. Sapareto repeating last week's line about "booze, butts, and bets." It was better last week. He also said of the legislature, "We're about 25 years behind the people we represent." (You can carve that in stone.) Sapareto also said that we have no other way to raise revenue.

(new sideline caucus: Rideout, Itse, Hoell, Lambert)

Rep. Webb reminded us that the bill addresses our social concerns, there's a fund built in to help problem gamblers. This always reminds me of the fund to help problem drinkers - to fund treatment, education and prevention. The fund has never been fully funded since 2003, when it was highjacked by the legislature and siphoned into the general fund. Also, his mother gambles at Foxwoods and she's not a criminal. When people come here to gamble, they'll buy our cheap booze and cigarettes. And buy gas, and pay the gas tax! Now, there's a sore subject, since the Senate finance committee just ITL'd an increase to the gas tax.

Gionet (revolution!) and Webb do a little theater performance of pretending to ask and answer questions.

No one ever mentions that casinos feed gamers free booze as long as they're playing. There will be a new crop of dual addicted folks: booze and gambling. It's never mentioned. I saw it all the time out in Tahoe.

Rep. Vallaincourt gives an inspired speech on how this bill (written by lobbyists from Millenium Gaming) cheats the state of NH, and what a bad deal it is for us. Pennsylvania gets 55% of the take from Millenium. They want to give NH 30%.

(sideline groups: Baldasaro/Chandler. Cormier/O'Brien. Warden/Winter)

Vallaincourt claims the state will lose over a billion in revenue in a 20 year period. "We will never get a do-over if we pass this." "Better do nothing now than try to fix this later."

Rep. St. James - this bill is good for NH.

Rep. Rideout: supports ITL. Is in favor of expanded gambling but opposes the monopoly that this bill would give Millenium. "Money is supposed to go to the north country - but the bill says nothing about it." "This bill is a goulash of government."

Rep. Butler: overturn the ITL. Bill will create 2000 jobs.

Rep. Azarian: the casino will provide the money to expand 93 and fix our infrastructure.

Rep. Groen moved here from NJ, and spoke about the big promises made by casinos there. They kept dropping the state's share of revenue every year. The developers promised to make Atlantic City the pearl of the Eastern Seaboard. "We got a sliver of glitzy buildings surrounded by a slum."
"The only thing worse than a gambling addiction is a state addicted to gambling revenue."

Rep. Hess: None of us (the committee) had any experience in regulating a casino. We were at the mercy of the lobbyists and lawyers of the industry. The revenue streams are fanciful at best. NHFPI finds that the casino may well result in a net loss for our state. "How can we meet unmet needs by creating more needs?"

Finally, at 4:40 pm the roll call vote on overturning the ITL finally takes place. The ITL upheld on a vote of 199-164.  Rep. Richardson makes a motion to reconsider. He wants the House to vote against reconsideration. (thereby killing the bill dead, dead, instead of just dead.) Rep. Walner asks for a roll call.

Richardson comments that this bill has had more scrutiny than any bill in NH history except possibly the loon and lead sinker bill.

The roll call on the motion to reconsider: 152 yea and 212 nay - the motion fails. SB 152 is dead, dead.

This is not a high end casino. Winners Casino in Winnemucca, Nevada is more like what NH will be getting 30% of the take on. 


Timothy Horrigan said...

Rep. Groen is not quite as nomadic as Rep. Baldasaro, but he too has multiple home states. If I recall correctly, he is formerly from Minnesota, New Jersey, North Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin

Anonymous said...

The freebagbirchrightwingnut crowd is disgusting. By their mere language, they don't appear fit to walk the halls they are allowed in. When I research "them" online, they are revealed to be religious and "God fearing" and similar in their religious beliefs to those right wingers in the bible belts. If this is true, their language, their disdain for animal life and the environment and their clear love for gambling is yet again, an excellent example of their hypocrisy. It's also an example of individuals who have no moral compass and lack the standards required to lead a state its people and its future. They should all crawl back into the filthy holes they came out of.