New Hampshire Lawmakers Reach Compromise on Controversial Pesticide Bill
CONCORD, N.H. — Pesticides, it seems, have become a partisan issue. After last week’s fiery public debate about HB 1456 in New Hampshire, a bill that would study the impacts of a pesticide ban, a group of Republican lawmakers made a move to kill the proposal.
In a dramatic vote today, a group of Democrats introduced a motion to do an “interim” study. This motion will be debated on the floor of the full House, possibly as early as next week.
While the majority of the members of the New Hampshire House does appear to be in favor of studying the issue of pesticides further, it’s clear that few have the will to take on what would most certainly be a contentious fight with the chemical industry. These lawmakers are essentially unpaid volunteers who are justifiably leery of, at best, long hearings and, at worst, lawsuits and threats from the chemical industry.
One Republican lawmaker today said, off the record, “Listen, I support this. We don’t want these chemicals in our yards. But I’m already on too many committees. We just don’t have the time.”
Still, the sponsor of HB 1456 did not feel all was lost.
“We didn’t kill the bill… that’s the good news,” said Representative Suzanne Smith. “I’m feeling pretty good — considering there were a few times during the executive session that I was worried even the interim study wouldn’t pass. So we got somewhere; we got a lot of press and people are talking. On the House floor we may have to defend the interim study — so that will get more folks talking about it. Planned Parenthood is endorsing working on pesticide issue as a public health issue and the chair of the Children & Family Law Committee was so impressed with the movie (www.chemicalreactionmovie.com), she wants to show it to her selectboard and town officials in Concord.”
A husband and wife who were present at the hearing last Thursday had their letter in favor of HB 1456 published in the Concord Monitor today: http://www.concordmonitor.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100217/OPINION/2170346, along with a political cartoon that pokes fun at the issue. One of Dr. June Irwin’s great lines in A Chemical Reaction is “letters to the editor are free!” and everyone who wants to keep this issue alive needs to heed that advice.