Many thanks to The Sentinel for the June 13 editorial, “Respecting the Process.” It seems to me that last-minute legislative maneuvering and dealmaking have gotten much worse in the past several years, as lawmakers seem to be more influenced by the lobbyists who contribute to their campaigns than the constituents they represent.
Most of my legislative energy is focused on issues affecting animals. This year we had several important bills including Senate Bill 161 and Senate Bill 77, both sponsored by Sen. Jeb Bradley.
SB 161 would have changed the definitions of some entities that sell animals so that more of them would be subject to licensing and inspection. The bill was tabled by the Senate, so it never went through the committee/public hearing process in the House. It is now been made an amendment to the budget, its fate to be determined by the members of a committee of conference.
SB 77 addressed several issues related to the costs of care for animals seized in cruelty cases. It passed the Senate, was amended by a House committee and tabled in a House floor vote. Portions of the bill have now been attached to House Bill 459, a hemp bill, and the provision for a state-supported costs-of-care fund has been added as an amendment to House Bill 2, the budget bill.
If I was a supporter of the original hemp bill I would be furious that this nongermane amendment had been added. The slick maneuvers work both ways; several years ago the state veterinarian added a provision to the budget that eliminated the requirement for annual inspections of the largest dog breeders, a significant change in policy that should have gone through the rulemaking process with opportunities for public comment.
Let me be clear ... I wholeheartedly support the provisions of SB 77 and SB 161; but the process must be ethical, public and transparent. Otherwise the result is the fruit of the poisonous tree and benefits no one.
Citizen participation is the bedrock of our legislative process. When it is intentionally subverted we are left with a huge crack in the foundation of our New Hampshire way of life.
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