My Progressive Bills Submitted to NH House of Representatives (‘87–’90)

— Initiatives on housing, health, environment, labor, public safety and public service!

Sometimes I jokingly chirp, “I coulda been the governor!” Instead, I left politics to become a Harvard Square street musician — a step up!

The short of my story goes like this:

In my youthful ’20s, after the peace movement and not yet a musician, I managed rock bands. At age 30, I began teaching myself how to play guitar. The next five years saw me suffering the frustrations and difficulties of learning what I should have learned as a teenager.

When I’d show for a party bringing my ’56 Les Paul Junior and ’63 Gibson J-50, I very much looked the part … like I knew how to play. I didn’t. I’d end up loaning my guitars to some hotshot and set back watching in awe. My dedication got to a point where I played well and had written a couple dozen songs (never liked doing cover tunes). I was feeling pretty good and ready to do something with my music.

But politics reared its ugly head with the mid-’80s housing crunch hard hitting my community. Gentrification set in and people began living doubled or tripled up, or they were evicted. With homelessness on the rise, I had to do something!

I got so mad I knocked off a five-term incumbent in the Democratic primary and became a state representative from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I served two terms in a legislature where Republicans woefully outnumbered Democrats by nearly three to one. But I stayed true and every year I got a 100% rating for my progressive voting record from NH Citizens Action. I also received The Distinguished Service Award from the Democrats.

Way ahead of my time, I fitfully introduced legislation to study drug legalization. This drew a mix of humiliation and condemnation from political colleagues and enemies. But my effort caused me to receive The Friend of Freedom Award from New Hampshire’s Libertarian Party.

My extensive research proved that ending the drug war, treating the drug problem medically instead of criminally, would accomplish way more societal good than harm. I essentially ended my political career by running for Congress spotlighting drug legalization. Not wanting to harm the Democrats who were woefully outnumbered and trying to rebuild, I put the controversy into the belly of the beast of the statewide-controlled Republican Party.

I ran for Congress in order to move the agenda, not win an election. Although I won every debate, I got clobbered in the GOPwinger congressional primary. The anticipated loss freed me up to become a songwriter for the remainder of my life. For me, this became comforting as I’d hang out with musicians instead of politicians.

Retrospectively, perhaps I should have gone on to become the governor. Who knows, maybe I could have given a needed lift to the Bernie Sanders campaign!

I did have some success as a legislator. I reorganized NH’s Hazardous Cargo Regulatory Authority into land, air, sea and rail components and I had some modest success at housing and environmental legislation. I was very proud to co-sponsor the Martin Luther King holiday bill. I also tried to create a whistleblower protection program for construction engineers and I attempted to convert sink and shower water filtration into toilet water for all new plumbing construction.

Some Legislative Memories:

In 1989, then-Governor John Sununu vetoed NH’s AIDS education bill at the 11th hour of the legislative session. When we closed without it, I demanded Sununu recall the legislature back into session to pass this important bill. Sununu claimed he wouldn’t sign it unless it included a mandatory testing provision, an initiative widely rejected throughout the nation. Sununu’s stubborn posturing and the resultant intense pressure from my call for a special legislative session caused the press to conclude Sununu “threw the baby out with the bathwater!” He did!

There was another time when the GOP-dominated legislature became convinced homosexuals should not adopt children. In the midst of an intensive floor debate, I offered a floor amendment demanding everywhere in the language of the bill where the term “homosexual” existed that term should be supplanted by the term “pedophile.”

I wish I had photos of the contorted and twisted looks on the faces of the GOPwinger legislators as they rustled in their seats, hell bent and determined to vote down pedophilia in order to keep their homophobic posturing intact. Amazingly and not surprisingly, if not ironically, my floor amendment was voted down with perhaps the loudest voice vote ever in NH legislative history.

It’s just a shame the legislature didn’t have the courage to move forward with my call to study drug legalization. Think how many lives could have been spared or improved. This legislation still needs to happen! Think how the police have become militarized, how prisons became privatized profiteering slave labor facilities, how many families have been destroyed and how many desperate people have gone untreated.

Progressive Legislation

Anyway, below are listings of some of the progressive legislation I sponsored. Today, a crafty, courageous and creative legislator, with some due diligence research, could select some of these bills and perhaps fit them to meet our modern times.

STATE INSTITUTIONS AND HOUSING COMMITTEE

Republicans: Ralph Parker, Chairman; Henry F. Whitcomb, Jr., Vice Chairman; Judy L. Pariseau; Ralph S. Boutwell; Rita C. McAvoy; Mildred S. Ingram; Ednapearl F. Parr; Rowland Schmidtchen; Doris R. Ducharme; Gordon B. Flint; Carol A. Nagel; and Karen McRae.

Democrats: Judy E. Reardon; Joseph A. MacDonald; Patricia A. Frew; Richard G. Dupont; Richard F. Doucette; and Michael R. Weddle.

[NOTE: We, Democrats, were severely outnumbered back then!]

My First Term (1987–1988)

1987 Session:

HB 356-FN-A, establishing a real estate speculation capital gains tax on certain condominium conversions. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Ways and Means)

Failed in Committee with recommendation it be studied with accompanying legislation.

HB 469, relative to a condominium conversion assistance plan. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To State Institutions and Housing)

Provisions of this bill were merged into another for study. Condominium conversion delay when vacancy rate is low, a local option; moratorium during rental unit shortages; tax on first sale; local ordinances may regulate; tenant’s right of first refusal time extended; low vacancy rate, time extended.

Merged into other legislation.

HB 479, relative to delaying condominium conversions following certain rental increases. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 -To State Institutions and Housing

This bill closes a loophole in the existing Condominium Conversion Law. This loophole has been used by some people to force out tenants prior to the times established by New Hampshire laws.

Passed House; Passed Senate amended

HB 528-FN, instituting a confidential system to protect engineers reporting construction safety violations. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Commerce, Small Business and Consumer Affairs)

This bill enabled whistleblower protection.

Passed House; Failed Senate.

HB 616-FN, limiting condominium conversions if vacancy rate is low. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To State Institutions and Housing)

Referred by committee for study and merger with similar legislation

HCR 4, relative to a National Housing Partnership Act. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24— To State-Federal Relations)

This resolution urges the United States Congress to enact a National Housing Partnership Act that will foster commitments from both public and private interests toward a concerted and unified effort involving the production and rehabilitation of affordable housing in the United States.

Passed House; Failed Senate

HCR 5, supporting initiatives at all levels seeking to solve the potentially catastrophic problem of depletion of the earth’s ozone layer. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Environment and Agriculture)

Passed House; Passed Senate

HJR 2, urging affordable housing with regard to Mariner’s Village in Portsmouth. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To State Institutions and Housing)

Mariner’s Village was a 700+ unit affording housing complex targeted for high end condo development. For many years this neighborhood was saved and protected for working people.

Committee voted to change the Resolution into a House Letter signed by House members and sent to owners of Mariner’s Village.

CACR 18, relating to compensation of the legislature. Providing that any member of the legislature may be provided health insurance. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24; Rep. Ingram of Sullivan Dist. 4 — To Constitutional and Statutory Revision)

Failed House.

Co-Sponsored Legislation:

HB 283, relative to employment termination. (Knight of Merrimack Dist. 14; Wall of Strafford Dist. 4; Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24; Buckley of Hillsborough Dist. 42 — To Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services)

Failed in House

HB 464, relative to the prudential affairs of a town. (Rep. Cushing of Rockingham Dist. 14; Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Municipal and County Government)

This bill would have enabled communities an option to adopt rent controls.

Failed in House.

HR 19, relative to the employee lockout at the Simplex Wire and Cable Company in Newington. (Rep. Chambers [House Minority Leader] of Grafton Dist. 12; Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24; Rep. Read of Rockingham Dist. 28 — To Legislative Administration)

This Resolution supported the Simplex workers who got locked out when they went on strike.

Committee vote tied; Motion to make a House Special Order succeeded; After considerable House debate, Motion to Table passed.

1988 Session:

HB 925-FN, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of 10-month legislative sessions, with one session day per week. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24)

Failed in House.

HB 949-FN, establishing a task force to study the feasibility of a one-use needle distribution program to combat the spread of the AIDS virus. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Health and Human Services)

Failed in House. [NOTE: A subsequent 2017 bill was passed by both chambers and signed by the Governor.]

HB 1006-FN, relative to displacement of low-income residents from residential rental dwellings. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To State Institutions and Housing)

Failed in House.

HB 10A7-FN, relative to office supplies and phone call reimbursement for members of the general court. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24; Rep. Knight of Merrimack Dist. lU — To Legislative Administration)

Failed in House.

HB 1120-FN, relative to a permanent bonus program for veterans who are residents of New Hampshire. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Public Protection and Veterans Affairs)

Failed in House.

HB 1132-FN, establishing a task force to study creation of a housing appeals board in the department of employment security. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24— To State Institutions and Housing)

Recommended for Study in Committee.

HB 1169-FN-A, relative to the AIDS virus and making an appropriation therefor. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Health and Human Services)

House Bill 1169 is a complex and fairly thorough attempt to address several problems facing us because of the AIDS virus. Specifically, the bill has six parts to it: a) Establishes a task force to study the possibility of housing homeless persons who have contracted AIDS. b) Provides for the expansion of existing programs administrating services to AIDS patients. c) Requires certain health care workers and other appropriate persons to undergo a certain number of hours of training relative to the AIDS virus by the Division of Public Health Services. d) Establishes a loan program to allow municipalities to purchase precautionary safety equipment for employees who may become exposed to persons who have AIDS during the course of their duties. e) Prohibits discrimination against persons with AIDS. f) Establishes a program to reduce the transmission of AIDS by employing outreach workers who are rehabilitated intravenous drug abusers, to identify high risk areas for AIDS, disseminate educational information, and to gather data and make reports to the Division of Public Health Services.

While some of these parts are being addressed now, others should wait. The Committee does feel that weighing what is right for New Hampshire is difficult in this area, but wishes to take the time to recommend what appears best for all segments of our society.

Committee Sent Bill to Study.

HB 1172-FN, creating an eviction protection act. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To State Institutions and Housing)

Committee Found Merit, Sent to Study with Other Legislation.

CACR 27, relating to initiative petitions. Providing that referenda to enact laws may be initiated by petition. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Constitutional and Statutory Revision)

CACR 27 would amend the New Hampshire Constitution to permit citizens to initiate by petition ballot questions to enact laws. The initiative petition process is a very important part of the democratic process and New Hampshire is one of the few states without it. This well may be because of the 400 member House makes it easy for citizens to have bills introduced in the General Court. This resolution needs much more refinement before it is sent to the voters. Decisions must be made on the method used for a question to be placed on the ballot, the number of petitioners necessary, what subjects if any are forbidden, what method will be used for appropriations, etc. Since time is now at a premium, this resolution should be prepared during interim study.

Committee Sent to Study.

HR 5A, relative to the displacement of low and moderate income persons. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Commerce, Small Business and Consumer Affairs)

House Resolution Amended and Passed.

Co-Sponsored Legislation:

HB 926-FN — Authorizing the public utilities commission to regulate cable television. (Rep. Knight of Merrimack Dist. 14; Rep. Derosier of Hillsborough Dist. 26; Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24; Rep. Baker of Hillsborough Dist. 19; Sen. Charbonneau of Dist. 14 — To Commerce, Small Business and Consumer Affairs)

Committee Deemed Similar to HB864 Already in Study

My Second Term (1989–1990)

1989 Session:

HB 418 — Relative to drug, alcohol and AIDS counselors at Hampton Beach and Weirs Beach and making an appropriation therefor.

Removed from Consideration by Rep. Weddle.

HB 481 — Requiring plumbing systems in new construction to meet certain requirements.

This would have required all new construction to use water filtration methods to recycle sink and shower water (gray water) into toilet water.

Failed in House.

HB 540 — Relative to reporting of illegal waste disposal sites.

Reward for citizens who identified and alerted environmental authorities to presence of toxic waste sites.

Failed in House.

HB 548 — Relative to siting New Hampshire housing finance authority projects.

Dealing with imbalanced communities and their relationship to providing affordable housing.

Failed in House.

HB 634 — Relative to “black liquor” and municipalities.

“Black liquor” is a liquid residue from the paper manufacturing process. A temporary storage situation fouled a community with a repulsive and prolonged odor. Committee determined this a one-time incident and preventative legislation therefore not necessary.

Failed in House.

HB 641 — Relative to withholding conservation funds from communities which do not provide low and moderate income housing.

This was a bid to deal with Not-In-My-Back-Yard (NIMBY) communities that discriminately failed to provide affordable housing.

Failed in House.

HB 741 — Relative to the debt owed the state by the workers involved in the Simplex labor dispute.

Bill would have forgiven unemployment debts owed by Simplex workers to the state.

Failed in House.

HB 743-FN — Relative to reconstruction of buildings destroyed by arson. (Rep. Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24 — To Municipal and County Government)

In an effort to thwart arson for profit, (i.e., burning a smaller building down in order to construct a larger more profitable building in its place), this bill would have provided, with provisions for exemptions, that a structure could only be rebuilt to its original specifications if arson was deemed cause of the fire.

Failed in House.

Bills Co-Sponsored:

HB 169, relative to Martin Luther King Day. (Long of Hillsborough Dist. 25; Derosier of Hillsborough Dist. 26; Weddle of Rockingham Dist. 24; Hall of Merrimack Dist. 7; Pignatelli of Hillsborough Dist. 31; Krasker of Dist. 24; McLane of Dist. 15 — To Executive Departments and Administration)

Failed in House.

1990 Session

HB 745 — Relative to the Hazardous Material Transportation Advisory Board.

Reorganized hazardous material oversight into four agencies with regulatory expertise and authority over land, rail, air and sea transportation components.

Passed House, Passed Senate, Signed by Governor.

HB 1123 — Appropriating funds for clerical assistance in the bureau of rail safety.

Failed House.

HB 1124 — Prohibiting smoking on buses.

Merged my bill’s content into HB 1254 which banned smoking in laundry mats. New title: AN ACT relative to smoking in laundromats and on buses.

Amended Bill HB 1254 Passed House; Passed Senate

HB 1125 — Requiring court explanation of sentences for certain crimes where imprisonment is not imposed.

Failed in House.

HB 1126 — Authorizing public notification of environmental violations.

Failed in House.

HB 1131 — Relative to special interest-bearing accounts for funds of clients of attorneys.

Failed in House.

HB 1292 — Relative to providing handicap accessibility for funeral homes and professional offices.

Failed in House.

HB 1294 — Relative to payment for medical services in certain child support cases.

Failed in House.

HB 1298 — Establishing a committee to study the legalization of drugs and making an appropriation therefor.

Despite overwhelming support in favor of the study committee where speakers with national reputations offered testimony, the bill was voted down in Committee.

Failed in House.

HB 1318 — To study the feasibility of developing a bike path near Odiorne Point in the city of Portsmouth and the town of Rye and making an appropriation therefor.

Failed in House. [NOTE: A bike path was eventually built.]

HB-1336 — Relative to organ transplants.

Recommended for Further Study.

HB 1398 — Relative to the BOCA code.

To make the BOCA building code the minimum standard in cities and towns. The Committee members agreed that the adoption of the BOCA code is a good idea, but the state should not mandate its adoption.

Failed in House.

HCR 12 — Relative to the AIDS virus.

Amended version: Amendment Amend the resolution by replacing all after the title with the following: Whereas, acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is a transmittable disease rivaling the most serious diseases recorded in human history; and Whereas, the World Health Organization estimates that as of September 25, 1989, 5 to 10 million citizens are currently infected with AIDS; and Whereas, by January 1990 New Hampshire has had 143 cases of AIDS and of those 143 persons 77 have already died and 4 are under the age of 13 years; and Whereas, the pain and suffering is enormous for anyone who is inflicted with this disease and for anyone who knows or loves a child or an adult who has AIDS; and Whereas, the care and treatment of AIDS patients is very costly and a drain on governmental support services; and Whereas, a prudent public health policy requires an efficient and cost-sensitive health care delivery system that can assist in reducing both the prevalence and the incidence of AIDS transmission; and Whereas, the cost of current drugs to combat AIDS may cost in the thousands of dollars per year; and Whereas, medications which have been researched and developed with governmental funds exist which are effective treatments and which have been shown to delay the full-blown onset of AIDS and which are being marketed by private companies; now, therefore, be it Resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring: That the New Hampshire general court urges the speed manufacture, distribution, and marketing of such drugs at the lowest possible cost to ease the financial burden of individuals with AIDS and governments procuring AIDS drugs; and That the National Institutes of Health be encouraged to promote the development, manufacture, and distribution of such less expensive drugs; and That the New Hampshire division of public health services be encouraged to use the most cost-effective methods in purchasing and distributing such drugs; and That copies of this resolution, signed by the speaker of the house and president of the senate be forwarded to the governor of New Hampshire, the Health and Human Services committees of the other 49 states and the District of Columbia, the New Hampshire congressional delegation, the President of the United States and the National Institutes of Health for dissemination to appropriate drug manufacturers and regulatory agencies.

Passed House; Passed Senate

Additional Reading:

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Founder of Climate Change Band; former NH State Rep; Supporter of Bernie Sanders & Standing Rock!