House votes to extend bar hours

New Hampshire bars may soon likely not be filled with cigarette smoke, but they may be allowed to stay open an hour later.

The House voted Wednesday to allow bars to stay open until 2 a.m., despite warnings that the extra hour could result in a rise in violence and crime.

Voting 267-89, the House agreed with the contention of the House Commerce Committee chair that the measure was enabling legislation, since a community could pass a local ordinance that would require bars to close earlier.

The chair, Rep. Tara Reardon, D-Concord, also pointed out that any bar with outstanding violations in the past year would not be eligible to stay open the additional hour.

But Rep. Jill Shaffer Hammond, D-Peterborough, argued that any money that bars could make in that extra hour is not worth the violence that could result, pointing that Lawrence, Mass., became a magnet for early-morning drinkers when it allowed its bars to close an hour later, doubling the city’s felony rate during that period.

“Nineteen out of 24 hours should be enough for the enjoyment of alcoholic beverages,” said Hammond.

The bill now goes to the state Senate, which recently passed over to the House a bill that banned cigarette smoking in bars. The House Commerce Committee voted to kill a similar bill on Tuesday, but it is unclear what the full House will do with Senate bill.

Last year, the House passed a cigarette ban, only for it lose by one vote in the Senate.

In other legislation, the House on Wednesday:

• Voted to continue the ban on burning construction and demolition debris.
• Passed a bill that would penalize insurance adjusters, appraisers or companies from purposely underestimating the value of an insurance claim.
• Agreed to study single-payer health care.
• Endorsed the federally proposed National Health Insurance Act, which would expand Medicare to cover everybody.
• Killed a bill that would prohibit misleading drug advertising, despite claims that such ads allegedly led kids to abuse prescription drugs by raiding their parents’ medicine cabinet.
• Passed a bill that would prohibit small contractors and sub-contractors from using a loophole to work on a construction site without workers’ compensation, slapping a civil penalty of up to $2,500 in addition to a fine of $100 per-worker per-day per-violation. (The House also created a new position at the Labor Department to resolve disputes over employee classification.)
• Passed a bill allowing a nurse practitioner to certify cause of death on a death certificate. Currently a physician’s signature is needed.
• Passed a bill changing the name of the Industrial Research Center at UNH to the Innovative Research Center, recognizing that the difference between manufacturing and high-tech is blurring.
• Agreed to study the increasing mortgage foreclosure rate in the state
• Decided to study trans fats in restaurants, rather than ban them.
• Standardize HMO definitions of what is “medically necessary.” – BOB SANDERS

Categories: News