One Year Later: New Hampshire's New 2019 Laws

Courtesy @NHTroopers Twitter

As we began December 2019 with a New Hampshire snowstorm, let’s examine some of the laws that were new to the Granite state this year. The most pertinent new law to most citizens of the Granite State prohibited slow drivers from the left lane on highways. We’ve all participated or seen horn-honking, finger-waving, or worse at these drivers who draw the ire of others. In fact, 29 states have similar laws to New Hampshire’s 2019 addition to RSA 265:16. The 2019 addition to that RSA is the

First, under New Hampshire RSA 265:16; IV, titled Drive on Right Side of Roadway, motor vehicles shall not be operated continuously in the left lane whenever it impedes the flow of other traffic. The fine for a violation of this statute is $50 plus penalty assessment. The penalty assessment, known in some jurisdictions as court costs, tack on a 24% fee to any fine. New Hampshire RSA 188-F:31 is the statutory enactment of penalty assessments on fines. So, it now costs $62 if you are convicted of violating the Drive on Right Side of Roadway statute.

Interestingly, there is not a statutory definition of continuous in this chapter. There is no estimation of distance travelled nor cars stacked behind the presumed left-lane violator. This is an example of the importance of each word in a statute and what evidence will tend to prove that material element or attack it.

Secondly, the legal marriage age was raised to 16 for boys and girls. The previous legal age had been 13 for girls and 14 for boys. The law further required a judicial finding by clear and convincing evidence that marriage for those below the age of consent be in the best interests of the child.

Third, House Bill 587 was passed banning therapeutic intervention to change sexual orientation or gender identity of minors. Interestingly, this bill had been shot down by one vote in the House prior to Rep. Parkhurst realizing he hit the wrong voting button. The bill was re-heard, passed, and signed into law by Governor Sununu following New Hampshire Senate approval.

Fourth, Governor Sununu approved a 2-year tax reduction on New Hampshire’s Business Profits Tax and Business Enterprise Tax via the state’s 2019 budget. These reductions of 2.5% and 11% will last through December 2020 at which time they may continue, end, or be further reduced.

Lastly, 2019 was also the first year which prohibited wildlife trafficking via trade of endangered species products within New Hampshire borders. The United States already precludes such trafficking, however, states enact their own laws regarding trade within state lines. For example, rhino horn trading is now prohibited by this law.

Check back in the next few weeks because the State of New Hampshire typically announces new laws going into effect the following year during mid to late December.