House votes on flurry of business bills



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The House voted last week on a number of bills that could affect various industries around the state that were not reported on by major media. Here are some of them: The racing industry After a long debate on the House floor on Thursday, the House voted, 151-129, to end the long-standing practice of using lottery money to subsidize track purses. The practice dates back to 1963, and it could hurt an industry that is already suffering from declining interest, bad publicity and competition from other gambling venues. Opponents, led by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, R-Manchester, said that the lottery money was supposed to be used for education, not dog and horse racing. In addition, the House passed a bill that would allow the attorney general to conduct more extensive background checks into racetrack owners. Health care If you read the paper, you might think the only legislation affecting pharmacists relates to a new law - enacted last year - that allows them to dispense the morning-after birth-control pills without a doctor’s prescription. On Thursday, the House rejected - after numerous roll call votes - a bill that would give a pharmacist liability protection if he or she refused to dispense the morning-after pill on moral grounds. Opponents said the measure was not needed, since the program is completely voluntary. But you wouldn’t know that the House almost passed a bill that would put hundreds of prescriptions in a regional database. Supporters said that this could reduce fatal mistakes, and the illegal trading of prescription drugs, but opponents said that there were far too many drugs on the list, and it could lead to a massive invasion of privacy. The House originally passed the bill, 139-134, but then reconsidered it by a 30-vote margin and sent the bill to study. The House pass House Bill 1546, which includes pharmacists, mental health professionals, and their various employees under the patient bill of rights, which includes the right of a patient to receive information regarding the risks and costs of treatments, and the right to an extensive and specific treatment plan. HB 1718 would require nursing homes provide a written statement disclosing all of the medical services offered on site, the rates and what is covered by the rates, and patients’ rights in the event of a temporary absence from the nursing home. Labor The House passed a number of labor-related bills, including one that allows the Department of Labor to more easily fine companies that don’t pay their workers’ compensation premiums; setting a fine schedule for those who knowingly misclassify workers as independent contractors; posting independent contractor rules at the worksite; increasing the fine from $1,000 to $2,500 per day for hiring illegal aliens (as well as professional strikebreakers or pickets); and forcing employers to grant leave without pay for volunteer first responders in an official state of emergency. Environment The House passed HB 1333 by a 215-89 margin, ending the longstanding privilege of incineration in the solid waste hierarchy. It continued the moratorium on construction of C&D incinerators with a 209-79 vote. The House also passed HB 1534, which would continue to regulate wood from construction and demolition debris as solid waste. State regulators were thinking of deregulating the wood, but opponents contend that because the wood is often treated, or covered with lead paint, it should be considered toxic. - BOB SANDERS

 

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