Ken Wells' Report from Concord
written Feb 13, 2020
published in the March issue of the Andover Beacon
Exciting things have been happening in New Hampshire in 2020, and Andover is right in the middle of it all!
New Hampshire held the First In The Nation Primary, and our state did itself proud in contributing a meaningful start to the important national process of selecting our presidential candidates for November. (Sorry you made a mess of it, Iowa.) Two important factors in the past election speak very well of all of you: voter turnout was very high, and NH voters are clearly better informed and engaged than in many other states.
Another first in the nation initiative is the call from New Hampshire citizens like you to pass warrant articles in every NH town, calling upon our elected officials to grow the political backbone to take strong action on our global climate emergency. Moreover, people like you are demanding that we stop allowing “free” pollution. If pollution is free, we get too much of it.
I’m proud to be a co-author of the “carbon cash-back” plan, that will put money in the pocket of every NH citizen over 18, to make them whole for the damage we are all experiencing due to carbon dioxide pollution. This forceful plan is the most effective, and least expensive, plan for turning away from dirty imported fuels, and developing our own vibrant, home-grown, clean energy economy. Our state is sending four billion of our dollars out of state annually for these fuels, and we would be better off if some of those dollars stayed in NH to build our own energy businesses. If this legislation is enacted here, there is a good chance that NH will be the first in the nation again in this regard. We will show other states and the entire nation how we make a course correction together, towards a brighter future. (I would have liked to have included “the world” in the previous sentence, but 46 countries are already doing this successfully.)
Your role in strongly voicing your demand for climate action is incredibly important, because many legislators seem a little “hard of hearing” when it comes to listening to the voice of the people. On the local, state and federal levels, make sure your voice is heard ,loud and clear! I think that any elected official should expect to be voted out of office, if they refuse to heed the will of their constituents, voiced loudly and clearly through the legal democratic process of warrant articles, passed by towns all across our state.
Aside from my extensive work on the House Science, Technology and Energy committee, there are a number of other important issues I have been fighting to advance in Concord. I have introduced two bills to get “dark money” out of our politics. One bill will increase accountability for organizations that skirt NH’s requirements for lobbyists and political organizations to reveal who is paying them. The other establishes penalties for illegal anonymous “in kind” contributions during the 90 days before any NH election, including those annoying “attack ad” mailers that stuff our mailboxes and phone messages days before election day.
A third issue that is important to me is workforce development and training. I have partnered with a Republican legislator to write a truly bipartisan bill to study ways to make industry-funded apprenticeships work better in NH. The idea is that students who can’t afford schooling after high school can get their apprenticeship, training and education paid for by an industry, who will give them a good job if they successfully complete the program. In some ways, it’s not too different from the way ROTC works, combining education, work experience and a paycheck.
I have also advanced a couple of bills for constituents, including streamlining the permitting process for new businesses and protecting loggers as well as landowners from unfair penalties and deceptive practices. David Karrick and I helped get the big communications industries to pay attention to folks’ demands for improved broadband access in parts of Danbury and Salisbury, and there’s finally an agreement in the works.
If you have ever thought “there ought to be a law…”, email or call me (email@example.com or 735-5756) and we can talk about it!
Introduction of HB1414
before the Resources, Recreation and Development Committee on Tuesday Feb 4 at 11am in LOB Room 302
Thank you Chairman Smith, Vice Chairman Maes and fellow Representatives for the opportunity to speak before you today. I thank you in advance for your kind attention.
For the record, I am Rep. Ken Wells of Andover, and I am here to introduce House Bill 1414, with amendment 2020-0xxxh.
This intent of this bill is to reduce the likelihood of timber trespass or theft, and to make certain that the penalties for negligent or willful incursions onto another’s land are shared fairly among the all parties responsible.
I have given the committee copies of RSA 227-J:8 and J:8a, that specify the civil and criminal penalties for timber trespass or theft. The civil penalty is three to ten times the value of the stumpage cut, and the criminal penalties may include permanent loss of license (and consequent loss of livelihood) and even charges of a Class B felony. This seems to always levy the penalty most heavily on those who are least able to afford it, the loggers.
As the statute is written now, only the people actively working in the woods are held responsible, including the forester, the operator and members of the logging crew. If a landowner or landowner’s agent were to mislead the woodsmen about the location of boundaries, or provide a false map or survey, either willfully or negligently, there is no consequence to them under the statute. Such a person is not subject to the penalties under the statute, even if they are culpable. This strikes me as very unfair.
In the language of the bill as introduced, I first thought to remedy this through an affidavit on the Intent to Cut, and then was advised that it might be more appropriate to address it through the terms of the required contract between the landowner and logger. However, I believe this amendment to the language of the penalty section RSA 227-J:8 and J:8a, to include language such as “...or persons...who cause to be cut…” gives authority to the state forester to direct the penalties in the way most appropriate to the circumstances of a particular case.
This is a fairly simple change to the statute, and I hope I have explained it well. I’m very happy to take your questions.
Ken Wells represents Andover, Danbury and Salisbury in the New Hampshire House of Representatives during the 2018-2020 session.