- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 3, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire House passed a bill Wednesday that requires people to live in the state for 30 days before they are eligible to vote. It passed largely with support from Republicans.

Senators passed the bill along party lines earlier this year, but the House bill further defines the factors that contribute to a person’s domicile, including whether someone pays taxes in New Hampshire, owns a hunting license or has a New Hampshire driver’s license.

Currently, a person who is “domiciled” in the state can register and vote on the day of an election.

Supporters of the House bill said they want to crack down on “drive by” voting and ensure people voting in New Hampshire elections actually live in the state.

“This bill will ensure the people of New Hampshire decide our own elections, not out-of-state voters,” said Republican Rep. William Gannon of Sandown.

The difference between “domicile” and “residency” has been a frequent topic of dispute as the Legislature has sought to implement voter identification and other election laws in recent years. At least 15 other states have 30-day residency requirements for voting, and Secretary of State Bill Gardner backs a 30-day residency requirement.

But critics of the House bill say the state shouldn’t put further restrictions on who can vote.

Democratic Rep. Travis Bennett, a college student at Plymouth State University, said the bill could prevent incoming New Hampshire students from voting in primary elections if they move to the state at the start of a new school year. Democratic Rep. Wayne Moynihan expressed similar concerns.

“This bill clearly cuts and puts a limit on our citizens’ fundamental right to vote,” he said.

The New Hampshire chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union opposes the bill. They point to a recent New Hampshire Supreme Court decision that struck down a 2012 voter registration law because language in the law appeared to link having a driver’s license to a person’s ability to vote.

“The New Hampshire Supreme Court’s recent decision made clear that unjustified, burdensome restrictions on voting rights are unconstitutional,” said Devon Chaffee, executive director of the New Hampshire ACLU.

In other business, an effort to overhaul the state’s workers’ compensation system fell short in the House. Businesses have been pushing for reforms this session aimed at lowering the state’s workers’ compensation costs, which are some of the highest in the nation.

A plan presented by Republican Rep. Will Infantine would have set maximum prices on how much providers can charge for workers’ compensation. The measure was defeated 132-198.

The House did, however, pass a more modest proposal. It strikes language in existing law that requires insurers to cover 100 percent of all workers’ compensation charges. Supporters of the change say it will give insurers more flexibility to dispute charges.

The House also passed a bill central to a settlement agreement between the state and utility company Eversource Energy, formerly Public Service of New Hampshire. The settlement calls for the company to sell off its fossil fuel burning power plants, and the bill allows for low interest bond financing aimed at lowering the cost to ratepayers.



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