CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The legislative session ended on a chaotic note Wednesday as New Hampshire lawmakers unexpectedly killed $1.5 million in drug enforcement funding, and House Democrats unsuccessfully attempted a last-minute revival of a bill to ban gay conversion therapy.
Dozens of other bills are now heading to Democratic Gov. Maggie Hassan’s desk as House and Senate lawmakers head home for summer.
The effort to expand a police program called “Operation Granite Hammer” isn’t one of them. It would have provided $1.5 million in grant funding for local and county police departments to put more officers on the streets and crack down on the flow of illegal drugs. Republicans and Democrats alike say they’re disappointed by the bill’s failure. It was attached to a proposal to make state retirees pay health care premiums, which some Democrats opposed. Other opponents, meanwhile, questioned the effectiveness of the proposal.
Blame for the bill’s failure flowed from both sides.
“I think it’s on the governor,” Republican House Majority Leader Dick Hinch said. “She made a strategic error and didn’t solidify her votes.”
Republican Sen. Jeanie Forrester, a sponsor of the bill, also expressed dismay at the bill’s failure.
“For the House to kill it is just very disappointing to me,” she said.
Hassan, meanwhile, said lawmakers played political games by attaching the retiree health bill to the police funding measure.
Later, in a hail Mary attempt of sorts, Democratic Rep. Lucy Weber tried to suspend House rules to re-introduce a ban on gay conversion therapy for minors. The measure originally passed both chambers but quietly died during negotiations last week. Gay conversion therapy is the attempt to change someone’s sexuality or gender identity through counseling or therapy.
But a series of other bills are headed to Hassan’s desk, including a ban on bestiality and $5 million in fresh funding to fight the substance abuse crisis.
The House also killed a much-debated measure that would’ve required people over the age of 65 to pay $5 to go skiing at the state-owned Cannon Mountain. They can now ski for free. Senators, meanwhile, killed off a measure related to natural gas pipeline projects. It would have allowed anyone living within 250 feet of a natural gas pipeline to require the pipeline company to purchase their entire property during eminent domain proceedings.
Lawmakers will convene once more in the fall before the November election to act on Hassan’s vetoes.
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