Senate Trashes Landfill Restrictions

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Sen. Donovan Fenton, D-Keene, spoke against killing several bills seeking to change landfill laws Wednesday on the Senate floor.


CONCORD —- Legislation seeking to greater restrict landfills, halting permitting, banning out-of-state waste or using scientific measures to determine their locations, was largely trashed by the Senate Wednesday.

About a-half-dozen bills dealing with landfills and solid waste management that had passed the House were either killed by the Senate or sent to interim study, a polite death in the second year of a two-year term as the next legislature has no obligation to take up the bills.

The Senate killed House Bill 1620, which would have placed a moratorium on new landfill permits until 2031.

The supporters of the bill said now is the time to take a pause and determine what the state wants to do with its solid waste and how it wants to navigate both the siting and need for landfills.

But the opponents of the bill, which passed the House on a voice vote, said the bill could impact the state’s waste capacity and could lead to court challenges.

Sen. Howard Pearl, R-Loudon, said the bill creates problems with regulations and economic impacts and it is a very complex issue that needs more time to review.

But Sen. Donovan Fenton, D-Keene, said the state does not need another landfill until 2030 and the bill would allow the state time to address the many issues surrounding solid waste.

The state should be looking at ways to reduce the amount of trash that goes into landfills, noting last year 2.2 million tons of trash were disposed of in New Hampshire, 47 percent of it from out of state.

That is a prolific amount of trash coming into New Hampshire every day, and that has a dangerous and harmful effect on the state, Fenton said. Other states are sending the worst of their trash to New Hampshire, he noted.

He noted the state sends 3 to 5 percent of its trash out of state to specialized facilities.

Communities where landfills are proposed have to ask when it will leak not if it will, because the technology is not available to prevent it, he said.

“Once a landfill, it will remain that way forever,” Fenton said. “The states around us are limiting the trash that comes into their states. We will become the trash magnet for all of New England. That is not what we want.”
The Senate also killed House Bill 1632, which would have prohibited out-of-state trash from coming into New Hampshire for further landfills.

Avard argued the bill would likely drive up the cost of disposing of waste for all New Hampshire residents and invite a legal challenge over the federal commerce clause which forbids states from interfering with interstate commerce.

Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, called it a reasonable bill, noting other states like Vermont and Maine have found a way around the commerce clause without instigating litigation.

“At some point we have to turn the spigot down or we turn it off,” Watters said. “We are talking about millions of tons of waste a year.”

Massachusetts is closing its landfills, he noted, and asked where they think that waste is going to go. 

“It’s going to be coming up 93,” Watters said. “We can take some control over our borders and what comes into the state.”

The state is paying for landfill capacity and needs to turn the spigot down so there is no need to build another landfill, he noted.

The senate sent House bill 602 to interim study, which is a polite death in the second year of the two-year term.

The bill would have changed how landfills are sited and established a two-tier process allowing a pre-application period to determine whether the site would be usable as a landfill.

The bill also would require the state to use hydro-geology in determining if the land would be suitable for a landfill and make various changes to current regulations.

The Senate also voted to send House Bill 1145 to interim study.

The bill would have prohibited the private ownership of landfills in the future. Municipalities or the state would have to own them under the bill.


The Senate on a 24-0 vote approved CACR 13 which would prohibit slavery in the state of New Hampshire if the proposed constitutional amendment is approved.

The amendment passed the House outlawing both slavery and involuntary servitude, but the Republican majority in the Senate changed the language of the proposed amendment to incorporate the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

But that includes an exemption for those who have been convicted of a crime.

Opponents of the change called it arcane and an inhumane practice, although Republicans said the House proposal would have interfered with community service and prison work.

“As introduced, the constitutional amendment would have interfered with community service and prison work programs, so we decided to mirror the words of the 13th Amendment, which has banned slavery for the past 159 years,” said Pearl. “If the sponsors want to debate prison reform labor in New Hampshire, they can bring in a bill for the next legislative session.”

Democrats released a statement saying they stood against the change.

“Senate Democrats stood united against this exemption language, and voted against amending the language as it came to us from the House with strong bipartisan support. However, due to the importance of making a declarative statement about the abolition of slavery and involuntary servitude in New Hampshire, we voted to pass this CACR and send it to the voters. Senate Democrats stand against slavery and involuntary servitude in all its forms, and we are disappointed that Senate Republicans choose to include this exemption language today.”

The proposed amendment will have to go back to the House because of the Senate change.

If the change is approved by three-fifths of the House members, it will be placed on the general election ballot where it will need a two-thirds majority to be added to the state constitution.

Other action

The Senate approved two bills dealing with artificial intelligence.

House Bill 1596 would require the disclosure of AI usage in political advertising, and prohibit misinformation or make it appear something was said or happen when it did not. Certain entities such as media organizations that inadvertently used the AI deepfake are exempt.

House Bill 1688 would prohibit state agencies from using artificial intelligence to manipulate, discriminate, or surveil members of the public. The bill also prohibits the use of deepfakes and biometric monitoring by state agencies in public spaces.

The Senate also approved House Bill 1319, which prohibits the nonconsensual dissemination of synthetic sexual images.

Also approved was House Bill 1300, which would allow terminal patients to try drugs that are not approved for treatment of their illnesses, but may be helpful in their treatment.

Garry Rayno may be reached at

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