2014 NH State Election Is on November 4

Election Day - 2014November 4th, 2014
6 months to go.

Upcoming Events

  • Buffi's party May 8, 2014 at 6:00 pm – 7:30 pm Buffi's House Party/Fundraiser
  • North Hampton House Party June 1, 2014 at 4:00 pm – 5:30 pm 92 Walnut Ave, North Hampton, NH, United States House Party at Tamara Le's home at 92 Walnut Ave on North Hampt on. For more information call Tamara at (603) 964-6403
  • Duncan's house-Plaia, Muns June 8, 2014 at 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

March NH Legislative Update

March was a very busy month for the NH House of Representatives. March 27 was “Crossover Day”, the deadline when the House must complete work on all of its bills and send those that the House has approved to the Senate for their consideration.

Some of the more significant actions that we took this month include:

10 Year Capital Improvement Plan

On March 25 the House approved the state’s 10 Year Transportation Improvement Plan covering the period 2015 to 2024.  Included in the plan is $250,000 for an Engineering Study for Improvements to Ocean Boulevard which members of the Hampton Legislative Delegation all lobbied for.  This will hopefully make it easier for the town to secure federal funding to actually complete the improvements and continue the redevelopment of Hampton Beach.   The 10 Year Plan also includes funding for the following projects:  the Hampton Branch Rail Corridor, the Seabrook-Hampton Bridge, Intersection and Capacity Improvements along Route 1 in Hampton Falls and Replacing the Bridge over the Railroad Tracks in North Hampton.

Medicaid Expansion

On March 6, the Senate approved Senate Bill (SB) 413, which is a version of Medicaid Expansion that will provide affordable healthcare coverage to about 50,000 of our hardworking but low income fellow citizens.  On Tuesday March 25, I was proud to join with 201 of my colleagues who voted in favor of SB 413 and send it to Governor Hassan for her signature; 132 opposed the bill.  New enrollments into the program can begin as early as May 1 with coverage beginning on July 1, 2014.  While I am extremely happy that enough Senate Republicans finally voted in favor of the bill to pass it, the substance of this bill is not significantly different from the bill those same Senators had a chance to vote on 104 days earlier during the special legislative session last November and the 50,000 people who will benefit from this bill would already be enrolled and the state would not have lost $90.5 million in federal funds that we would have received between January 1 and July 1.

Death Penalty

I was very proud to join with my fellow Hampton State Representative Robert “Renny” Cushing and 223 of our fellow legislators to pass HB 1170 which repeals the death penalty in New Hampshire.  The final vote was 225 in favor and 104 against repeal. Rep Cushing was the prime sponsor of this bill and has been a tireless advocate in favor of repeal for many years.  I agree with his assessment: “the death penalty does not protect public safety, it does not shield our police officers, it does not meet the needs of many families of murder victims, it is not consistent with the values we hear from our religious leaders, mistakes are made and it costs the state more money than sentencing those who commit first degree murder to life in prison without the chance of parole.”

Marijuana Decriminalization vs. Legalization

On March 12, I voted in favor of HB 1625 which would decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.  It would still be illegal to possess marijuana but instead of possession being treated as a crime that could include a prison sentence it would be treated as a violation carrying a fine. I believe that this is a more proportional response given the nature of the offense.  I did not, however, vote in favor of HB 492 which would legalize all aspects of the marijuana process – cultivation, manufacture, distribution and sale – which is what the states of Colorado and Washington have done.   I voted against the bill on January 15 and again on March 26 when it came back to the House for final consideration.  I did so not because I am necessarily opposed to legalization but because marijuana is still a controlled substance under federal law and before we decide to legalize all aspects of the production, distribution and ownership of marijuana, we need to give ourselves some additional time to observe – and learn from- Washington and Colorado.    The final vote in the House on March 26 was 140 in favor of legalization and 192 opposed.  The bill is now dead.  ___ opposed and it now goes to the Senate for their consideration.

Restoring Funds to the Department of Health and Human Services

As part of the budget compromise reached last June, the Senate insisted on making approximately $30 million in so-called “back of the budget” cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).  These are arbitrary cuts that have hampered the ability of DHHS to provide the specific programs and services identified in the budget and supported by the both the House and the Senate.  We now know that state revenues in the prior fiscal year were approximately $ 15 million higher than projected. On March 19, the House voted 185 to 153 to allocate $7 million of this surplus to DHHS and $8 million to the state’s rainy day fund.   I voted in favor.  While it is prudent to increase our rainy day fund, I also believe that we should have the courage to invest in programs that will help our fellow citizens when the opportunity presents itself.

Protecting a Women’s Right to Choose

HB 1501 would have imposed additional licensing, credentialing and physician privileging requirements on physician offices and outpatient clinics that currently provide early term abortions.  Similar bills have passed in other states and they have made it more difficult for women to access these services if needed.  The Health and Human Services Committee voted 17 to 0 to not recommend this bill and the House voted 211 to 86 to kill the bill.  I was one of the 211 to oppose the bill.

Those bills that the House passed will now go to the Senate.  If you are interested in tracking their progress there, go to www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/quick_search.html then type in the number of the bill, hit the submit button and the click on the Bill Docket.  Good luck and enjoy!

Eliminating Sub-Minimum Wages – Part 2

On March 25, 2014 I appeared before the Senate Commerce Committee as the prime sponsor of HB 1174 which would eliminate sub-minimum wages in New Hampshire.  Following is my testimony:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman and Senators for this opportunity to speak with you today.  For the record, my name is Chris Muns.  I am a state representative from Rockingham District 21, which is the Town of Hampton and I am the prime sponsor of HB 1174.  More importantly, I am also the father of a young adult with a disability.

I am joined here today by four friends of mine – Laurie McCray and her son Michael and Susan Hatfield and her son Robert.  They would like to share their personal stories with you after my remarks.

As you know, we currently do not have a state minimum wage and we default to the federal minimum which is $7.25 per hour.

It was my understanding that every worker in the state of New Hampshire receives at least $7.25 per hour; even tipped employees in restaurants; where a portion of the tips that they receive may be used by their employer as credit towards the requirement that they receive at least $7.25 per hour.

Now, I tend to be a fairly literal person – which has sometimes gotten me into hot water – but to me a “minimum wage” is just that – the lowest amount that any employer should be able to pay somebody; anybody.

You can imagine my surprise, therefore, when I discovered that there are laws and regulations on the books today not only at the federal level but in New Hampshire that permit businesses and other organizations to legally pay some of our fellow citizens a “sub-minimum” wage; i.e. something less than $7.25 per hour.

These laws and regulations make it legal for businesses and other organizations operating in our state to pay a person with a disability less than the minimum wage, solely based on the fact that they have a disability.  Any New Hampshire business not engaged in interstate commerce with less than $500,000 in total sales can apply to pay subminimum wages to a person with a disability under RSA 279:22, and  279:22-a.   New Hampshire businesses who are engaged in interstate commerce or have more than $500,000 in total sales can apply to the U.S. Department of Labor under section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Now in fairness to everyone involved, many of these laws and regulations were adopted 40, 50 and 60 years ago, when attitudes towards persons with a disability were different; remember the Laconia State School did not close until 1991. Public perceptions – particularly early on when these laws were enacted – were that any job, regardless of how menial or low-paying was better than nothing; even if that meant working in a so-called “sheltered workplace” segregated from the general workforce.

In the intervening years public attitudes and laws – the Americans with Disability Act, for example – have changed and efforts to assist persons with a disability are no longer focused on “caring for” or “housing” them, but rather on providing them with the same rights to exercise self-determination, be independent, be productive and be integrated and included in all facets of community life.

There has also been a growing realization that anyone, regardless of their disability can be a productive member of society if they are placed in the right job; a job that not only takes into consideration their particular disability, but recognizes a particular skill or aptitude that may come along with that disability.   My son for example is very good with numbers and patterns and has become an expert on the Dewey decimal system at our local library where we works 10 hours per week putting books back on the shelf; in the right place and in the right order. And he does it better than anyone else.

Some will argue that a person with a disability should not be paid the same as someone without a disability because they cannot be as productive as the non-disabled individual.  I agree….to a certain extent.  Because I have not been trained as a welder, I should not expect to be paid as much as a trained welder.  On the other hand my lack of training as a welder should not limit how much I can earn in a position to which I might be more suited.

The key to my long term economic security – and to the long-term economic security – and independence – of persons with a disability – is to find the job that matches my skill set with the requirements of that position.  And then the free market should take over and I should earn as much as my own initiative and the market will bear.  Persons with a disability should have the same opportunity.  And just as we a long ago decided that no person should earn less than a certain minimum amount, that minimum should also apply to persons with a disability.

There are efforts underway to update the Fair Labor Standards Act and eliminate federal protection for subminimum wages.  The bill you have before you was recommended as Ought to Pass as Amended unanimously by the House Committee Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services and was approved by the House on the consent calendar.   It establishes a study committee to look into whether or not to remove the language permitting sub-minimum wages from the RSAs.

Since the bill was introduced we learned that three Community Rehabilitation Programs in the state had previously received Section 14c authorization certificates from the U.S. Department of Labor authorizing them to pay subminimum wages in New Hampshire.  As of February 28, 2014 the certificates for all three of them have expired and they have not been renewed and none of these organizations are currently paying anyone in the state a sub-minimum wage.

We also learned that one of these employers was the only employer in the state who applied for and received a waiver under RSA 279-22 or 279-22-a and they are currently not paying anyone a subminimum wage.

Hearing this, during the Executive Session on HB 1174 there was an emerging consensus among members of the House Labor Committee that they should amend the bill to repeal the applicable RSAs and end the practice of sub-minimum wages.   They chose not to do so because they felt that would require an additional public hearing.  However, the clear impression that the House Labor Committee created was that if the bill were amended by the Senate to repeal the sub-minimum wage they would support that in a conference committee.   I believe that Senator Hosmer has an amendment that he will be presenting to you for your consideration that does just that.

We have reviewed the proposed amendment with representatives of both the Business and Industry Association and the New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association and they have indicated that they are not opposed to a repeal of the sub minimum wage

I urge you to approve Senator Hosmer’s amendment and recommend the amended bill as Ought to Pass as Amended to your colleagues in the full Senate.  The practices of paying sub-minimum wages is outdated and obsolete and the employers in our state have already  indicated by their actions that  it is  time that we treat all of our citizens with the respect and dignity that they are all entitled to and give everyone an equal opportunity to be successful. .

Thank you for your time.  I’m happy to answer any questions that you might have.  If you have none, may I please let introduce you to Laurie McCray.

Thank you.”  

 

This is Why I Am Running — Raising the Minimum Wage

The American Dream is built on the principle that every person deserves the opportunity to provide for their family. When that happens not only do those families thrive but we all benefit from their successes.

From 1949 until 2011, New Hampshire had a minimum wage law that allowed our state legislature and governor to set what they believed was a fair and equitable minimum wage for workers in our state.   In June 2011 Bill O’Brien’s radical Republicans in the NH House and all 19 Republican State Senators (including Senator Nancy Stiles) voted to automatically tie the state’s minimum wage to the federal minimum wage that is $7.25 an hour.  In the process, they ceded control of one of our most important strategic economic “levers” to the federal government, making us the only state in New England that does not have a minimum wage above the federal level.

The minimum wage has not kept up with inflation.  If the minimum wage in effect in 1979 had kept pace with inflation, it would be worth $9.47 an hour today.  That is more than $2.00 an hour higher than the minimum wage in effect today.  For someone working fulltime, that is a difference of nearly $4,500 a year.

 I was proud to co-sponsor HB 1403 which not only re-establishes state control of our minimum wage laws but raises the minimum wage to $8.25 on January 1, 2015 and $9.00 on January 1, 2016 and further adjusts the minimum wage for inflation every year thereafter.  On March 12 I joined with 172 of my colleagues in the NH House of Representatives to pass this bill and move it on to the State Senate.

Raising the minimum wage puts more money in people’s pockets. It will benefit 76,000 NH workers – or 12 % of our total work force.  Most of those people are adults; 72% are over age 20, 36% are age 30 and older, 59% are women and 14% are parents.

Most local NH businesses are generous in what they pay their employees; they want to treat their neighbors who work for them fairly.  Unfortunately some of our nation’s largest corporations are less generous.  While an increase in the minimum wage will impact some of our smaller local and larger national employers located here in the short term, it will also put approximately $64 million directly into the cash registers of local NH businesses over the next two years. The effect of that investment will then ripple through the economy and have a multiplier effect.

Someone working fulltime at the minimum wage earns less than $300 per week or about $15,000 per year, which is below the poverty level.  You cannot live on that.  As a result many people who are earning the minimum wage depend on public assistance from federal, state and local town and county resources to make ends meet.  Raising the minimum wage will reduce the need for this assistance which will end up saving all of us (individuals and businesses) money in the long-run.

Ensuring that the American Dream continues to be a reality for everyone in our state will require that we have the courage and commitment to continue to invest in ourselves and our collective future.  It will take much more than simply raising the minimum wage, but raising the minimum wage is an important step that we need to take.   I hope that the State Senate will join the House in approving HB 1403 and sending it to Governor Hassan for her signature.

My campaign for the State Senate will not be easy, but then again nothing worthwhile ever is.  Nearly 200 people have already signed on to support my campaign and I hope that you will join us  as we work together to make our state an even better place to live.

My Vote on HB 1633

On March 13, 2014 the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted on HB 1633, which would have established a gaming commission and placed the lottery commission and racing and charitable gaming commission under its jurisdiction as separate divisions and allowed for the selection and operation of one casino in southeastern New Hampshire.

The bill came to the floor of the House with a recommendation of “Inexpedient to Legislate” (ITL) from the House Ways and Means Committee.  A yes vote would have killed the bill; a no vote would have allowed the debate to continue and amendments to be introduced, including one that would have allocated $25 million directly to all the towns and cities of New Hampshire.

I had intended to vote “no” on the ITL motion, so that the debate could continue.  Unfortunately, I inadvertently voted “yes”.   Although my vote did not change the outcome of the vote I did not want to be on the record as having supported something that I did not believe was in the best interests of our state.

When a motion to “reconsider” was offered, I voted in favor of that in the hopes that I would have a chance to correct my vote.  Unfortunately, that motion did not pass.

Immediately after the vote I went to the Clerk of the House’s office and filled out the following form which will be printed in the permanent journal of the house

HB 1633 Vote

 

I apologize for this unfortunate oversight, but also did not want to mislead my constituents as to what my intentions with respect to this bill were.

Thanks for your understanding.

ChrisSignature

February Was A Busy Month in the NH House of Representatives

The month of February has been a busy month in the N.H. House of Representatives. To learn more or follow up on specific bills go to www.gencourt.state.nh.us.

Although we appear to finally be out of the “Great Recession” that started in 2008 there are still many New Hampshire families who are continuing to struggle to make ends meet. As such, we need to continue to do what we can to ensure that everyone who wants a job is able to get one and that they are paid a “fair wage” for their efforts.

In February the House passed two bills that will help do just that. House Bill (HB) 1188 will help to ensure that women are paid the same as men for similar work and HB 1405 prohibits an employer from discriminating against an applicant because he/she may have a bad credit report. In March we will be taking up HB 1403 which proposes to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.25 an hour on January 1, 2015 and $9 an hour on January 1, 2016.

Providing all of our citizens with an education that prepares them to compete for jobs in today’s global economy is one of our most pressing priorities, not only so that each student is able to find a job, but so that we are also able to continue to attract new jobs to our state.

One critical and exciting initiative that communities across the state are implementing is the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS are clearer, more focused, require deeper learning and demand more of our students than any previous standards. They provide broad but specific guidelines on what our children should know at each grade level. On Feb. 6, I urged the House Education Committee to reject HB 1508 which would terminate the state’s participation in the CCSS. I hope that they do so when they vote on the bill on March 4.

Many of the students who will benefit from CCSS will decide to go on to college. Unfortunately, the cost to do so in New Hampshire is one of the highest in the country. Student loan debt for 2012 N.H. graduates, averages $32,698 which is second only to Delaware. That is in part due to the fact that New Hampshire ranks near the bottom of all states in terms of state aid to higher education.

To address this issue the House passed HB 1146 which would establish a committee to study the feasibility of creating, structuring, managing, marketing, and funding a program to help establish a saving account for all kindergarten age students in the state to help them save for college or a technical school. This alone will not address the problem of high cost, but if we can encourage students and their families to begin saving earlier then perhaps we can reduce the financial burden on them later on.

Our crumbling roads and bridges is becoming an issue that we can no longer avoid and I am hopeful that the House and Senate will be able to reach agreement on a mechanism to address this critical issue. In the interim, the house passed HB 1581 which gives the commissioner of the NH Department of Transportation (DOT) the ability to issue a bond in an emergency to repair or replace a bridge closed by an order of DOT. While this is not a permanent solution, it is necessary since the Senate was unwilling to go along with the House last year and provide additional money to the Highway Fund.

Perhaps the most contentious issue that we dealt with this month was whether or not to expand background checks for firearm sales in the state.    I supported an amended version of House Bill (HB) 1589 which would have expanded background checks to all commercial sales (at gun shows or over the internet) but would have also permitted individuals who know each other to exchange firearms without having to obtain a background check.  That seemed like a reasonable compromise.  Unfortunately HB 1589 was ultimately defeated  242-118.

While that vote effectively killed any chance of enacting specific legislation on background checks this session,  the House Criminal Justice Committee is sending a bill (HB 1264) to the floor of the House that recommends establishing  a special commission to “explore options to strengthen the background check system for firearm sales” and issue a report by Dec. 15.  While not as positive a step as HB 1589 would have been, if approved by the full House and Senate it will give us an opportunity to continue to have an open discussion on the question of background checks this year.

Looking ahead, members of the House will be asked to vote on several important issues in the coming months.

HB 1170, which will abolish the death penalty in New Hampshire has already been passed by the House Criminal Justice Committee and will be put to a vote in the full house in early March.

HB 1633 will establish a State Gaming Commission which will oversee all “gambling” activities in the state; including the N.H. State Lottery, racing and all charitable gambling. It also allows for the selection and operation of one casino in southeastern New Hampshire. I know that this remains a very contentious issue and I would welcome your thoughts on whether you believe expanded gambling is in the best interests of New Hampshire. My e-mail address is chris.muns@leg.state.nh.us

Last week, the Senate Health, Education & Human Services Committee approved SB 413, which will enact a form of Medicaid expansion. The question now goes to the full Senate. I hope that a majority of senators will finally agree to move forward with Medicaid expansion. Failing to move forward has deprived 50,000 people of access to healthcare and has already cost our state at least $29.5 million dollars as of February 28, 2014. I look forward to being able to again (for the fourth time) vote in favor of expansion when SB 413 comes to the floor of the house sooner than later.

Last year a bipartisan coalition of Seacoast state representatives worked together to encourage the state to set aside the necessary funds to purchase the abandoned rail line between Hampton and Portsmouth. Funding for that purchase has been set aside and the N.H. DOT is in negotiations with Pan Am (the current owner of the property) on a final purchase and sale agreement. Hopefully those negotiations will be concluded shortly.

In past months, I have also indicated that updated flood plain maps will be available from FEMA “soon.” These are important because they will eventually impact the price of flood insurance on many properties along the seacoast.

Finally in closing, I would like to extend my condolences to the family of Rep. Amy Perkins of Seabrook. Rep Perkins passed away this week after a long illness. She was only 43; far too young. To her husband Koko and all of her friends and family not only in Seabrook but along the entire Seacoast, my thoughts are with you.

The Common Core is Right for New Hampshire

The following appeared in the February 16 Seacoast Sunday News

Common Core is Right for New Hampshire 

by Rep. Chris Muns

“Our state Constitution explicitly commits the state to provide all of our children with a quality education at public expense. For most of our history that meant that our towns and cities would build a school, buy the books and leave the rest up to the teachers. Rarely did one school district coordinate with another; there was little perceived need to do so. Most of the jobs that students competed for when they left school were in the same communities where the schools were located.

Today, kids in Hampton, Rye, Newton and Stratham no longer compete with other kids in just New Hampshire or New England for the good jobs in today’s economy; they compete with kids from throughout the world.

In addition, one of the top concerns that business leaders right here in New Hampshire express is their inability to find “job-ready” employees — people with the ability to interpret data, think for themselves and develop innovative and creative solutions to problems using concepts that they have learned in school. Tom Raffio, chief executive officer of Northeast Delta Dental, chairman of the New Hampshire Coalition of Business and Education and chair of the New Hampshire Board of Education, has said: “I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard the CEOs of New Hampshire companies say they can’t find the talent they need to run or grow their companies.” Those are real jobs that are going unfilled or leaving our state.

We do a disservice to our children and our collective future if we do not hold our students accountable to the same standards that children in other states and other countries are learning to.

Three years ago New Hampshire adopted our newest English and math standards, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The CCSS are not a federal mandate; they have been voluntarily adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia. They are a set of “big ideas” that students should know and be able to do when they graduate high school. They were designed by a diverse group of educators, business leaders and advocacy and policy stakeholders, and have garnered the support of national parent organizations.

The CCSS do not tell school districts what to teach or how their teachers must teach. They provide a kindergarten through 12th grade road map for what students should know and be able to demonstrate that is aligned with college and workplace expectations.

They do not eliminate New Hampshire’s tradition of local control. It remains up to each local school district to design its curriculum in the way it believes will best help the students in their schools successfully achieve the standards.

The costs associated with adopting these new standards are small. Districts such as Sanborn Regional have been using their standard curriculum review process to assess what changes to their existing curriculum might be necessary.

Some new textbooks may need to be purchased and some additional investments in technology may be needed to support the move to CCSS, but the folks that will be most impacted will be our teachers. They may change what they teach to some degree, but they will also change how they teach. As one of the administrators in SAU 21 has said, “Good teaching always asks kids to think on their own. The standards are promoting a transition from the ‘sage on the stage’ who lectures students from the front of the classroom to the ‘coach on the side’ who works with students on strategies to meet the challenge ahead.”

Support for the standards is virtually universal among educators. They recognize that students today need a new set of skills to succeed in today’s world and they are up to the challenge.

Teachers and administrators will be aided by the new computerized tests that will replace the current paper-based, multiple-choice NECAP tests we have used in the past. Our teachers will know how effective their teaching is and our kids will know how effective their studying is. And no student’s personal information will leave New Hampshire under any condition.

We need practical, common sense solutions to our state’s most pressing challenges. Getting the CCSS into our classrooms is an important step we can take right now for our kids’ future. Our students will be better prepared to analyze and make sense of the relentless flow of information and news that they are bombarded with on a daily basis and they will become better decision makers and better citizens in the process. As a result, they will be better prepared for next phase of their lives, whether it is to attend college, join the military or begin pursuing a career.

I urge you to read the standards for your child’s grade. For more information go to www.corestandards.org/. And tell your school board members and legislators that you support this big step forward for our kids.”

Chris Muns is a New Hampshire state representative from Hampton. He also is the current chairman of the Winnacunnet School Board.

 

Standing Up for ALL Law Abiding Citizens in NH

On February 12, 2014 I spoke on the floor of the House in favor of Amendment# 2014-0371h to House Bill 1589 which would have required background checks for all commercial sales of firearms within the State of New Hampshire.

“Thank you Madame Speaker.

I rise to speak in favor of this amendment.

I support it because New Hampshire has a right to do what we believe is necessary to protect our citizens. We owe it to ALL law-abiding citizens to do whatever we can to stop even one person who should not own a gun from being able to acquire one. And if in the process, we are able to prevent just one senseless shooting that saves just one life then our efforts will have been very worthwhile.

I – along with all of you – respect the second amendment of the United States Constitution and the right of my fellow citizens who wish to own a firearm to do so.

I also respect the first amendment, which protects our freedom of speech and the fourth amendment which protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Freedom of speech does not, however, permit someone to yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. And while I might think that having to empty my pockets, remove my belt, take off my shoes, remove my laptop, and subject my personal belongings and myself to an x-ray screening IS not only an unreasonable search but unnecessary because I am a law-abiding citizen, we all agree to subject ourselves to this routine every day at every airport in the country because we know that it is meant to protect all of us.

Long ago, “we the people” – through our elected representatives-decided that just as is the case with the first and fourth amendments, some limits on the right of an individual to own a firearm were appropriate so that the shared and common interest of all of us could be served.

Current federal and state law requires that any seller of firearms who is a Federal Firearms Licensee must conduct a background check on any person who is purchasing a firearm from them, unless that purchaser has a valid Permit to Carry. Background checks are also required for all inter-state Internet purchases.

That is not unlike the concept of requiring anyone who wishes to fly to go through a security screening. It is also not without precedent. Doctors, day care providers and many other professionals are also required to complete background checks because we believe that it is in the public’s best interest.

This amendment extends the requirement for a background check to any COMMERCIAL sale of a firearm within the state of New Hampshire if it occurs at a gun show, or any other COMMERCIAL sale including sales at flea markets or over the internet within the state. And that makes sense, since in most – if not all – commercial transactions, the two parties to the transaction do not know each other, certainly not well enough to know whether the purchaser is prohibited from owning a firearm. That being the case, it is in the public’s common interest to ensure that a check is done to ensure that this individual is in fact able to own a firearm.

This bill does NOT require a background check for a sale or transfer of a gun between two individuals who know each other. If you want to transfer a gun to someone you know you will be able to do so without a background check.

Finally, there is nothing in this bill that would create a national or state firearms registry; in fact the bill specifically includes language that says “Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to require or authorize any state, county or local law enforcement agency to establish or maintain a registry of firearms sold or transferred in accordance with this chapter.”

This amendment is a straight forward and common sense piece of legislation. It sends a clear message to everyone in our state – and our country – that New Hampshire not only respects the right of law-abiding citizens to own a firearm but that we take seriously the responsibilities that come along with doing so.

I urge you to join me in voting for this amendment so that we can have a debate on the bill and ultimately refer it to the Criminal Justice Committee with a recommendation of opt to pass as amended.

Madame Speaker in the interest of time I will not take any questions.”

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