We did it! The NH House of Representatives passed Senate Bill 89 yesterday by a vote of 225-142 - a convincing margin. As you undoubtedly know by now, SB 89 will protect our state's loon population by banning the sale and freshwater use of toxic lead fishing sinkers and jigs weighing one ounce or less--still the largest known cause of New Hampshire adult loon mortality. Yesterday was a great day for our loons!
Thank you to all of you who have played a crucial role in securing our legislative victories for loons this year. Whenever we issued a call to action, you answered it--and the legislative results speak for themselves. Your calls and emails to your senators and representatives and your attendance at hearings, were pivotal in securing the following:
- Unanimous passage of SB 89 by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee,
- Unanimous Passage of SB 89 by the Full Senate,
- Passage of SB 89 by the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee by a 2/3 majority (9-6), and,
- Yesterday's passage of SB 89 by the full House of Representatives, by a vote of 225-142.
We hope that the Governor will sign SB 89 into law soon, and we will update you as further details become available. Since the bill was slightly amended by the House (extending the phase-in period from two years to three), it will return to the Senate briefly before reaching the Governor. The Senate must concur with the House's change. Senate concurrence is expected, so you do not need to contact your Senators at this time.
We are also not asking you to contact the Governor's office at this time. We have met with the Governor's staff regarding the importance of this bill and its strong legislative support. More importantly, your tremendous support for SB 89 expressed to your legislators surely has not gone unnoticed by the Governor's Office. Therefore, we would rather let the Governor's small staff focus on other important constituent services. However, we will not hesitate to call upon you if any further action is necessary to get this bill signed into law.
We are tremendously grateful for the work of our legislative champions from both parties this year, who have carried on the late Senator Carl Johnson's tradition of passionate advocacy for our loons. SB 89's prime sponsor, Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) has worked tirelessly in support of this bill, as have its cosponsors: Senators Bob Odell (R-Lempster), Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), John Reagan (R-Deerfield), Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), David Pierce (D-Etna), Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis), and David Watters (D-Dover); and Representatives Ben Lefebvre (D-Grantham), David Kidder (R-New London), Lynne Ober (R-Hudson), and Neal Kurk (R-Weare).
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), another longtime and effective advocate for our loons and other wildlife, was also instrumental in the passage of SB 89. Senator Bradley's efforts date back to 1994, and the bill he sponsored in 1998 with the late Senator Johnson implemented the state's (and the nation's) first ban on smaller lead fishing sinkers and jigs.
A special thank you to Representatives Lefebvre and Kidder, who provided tremendous time, effort, and leadership to the House efforts to pass this bill. Thank you also to Representatives Kurk and Ober, who were important advocates for SB 89. Finally, thank you to House Majority Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook), and Representatives Steve Ketel (D-Dover) and John Manley (D-Bennington), who provided strong remarks in support of the bill on the House floor.
This has been a great team effort. The Loon Preservation Committee (LPC), NH Lakes Association (NH LAKES), and NH Audubon have worked closely together in support of SB 89. Thank you again for the valuable role that you--our members, partners, and volunteers--have played.
Have a safe and pleasant holiday weekend, enjoy the loons, and give yourselves a pat on the back for a job well done to protect our loons from toxic lead fishing tackle. Thank you for your past and continued support!
LPC Executive Director