Statement by State Representative Merrow
Ossipee — May 7, 2004 — I have been receiving a lot of calls and e-mails regarding the passage of SB 458. I would normally like to write to each of you separately but because of the volume of mail and the length of my reply I have decided to just write this memo and attach it to my reply to you.
Let me start by saying that I do not have a public opinion either for or against the track as I consider that this is something to be decided by the majority of the residents of the town in which it resides. However, I am strongly opposed to this bill and the way in which it went through as it takes power away from local authorities regarding what goes on in their communities.
As to how and why this happened I will reach no final decision until I have had a chance to review all the facts. Had I realized what it was at the time I would have done my best to see that it was defeated. It is too late to do anything about this now but unless someone beats me to it I will file a bill to repeal this in the fall.
What does this bill do and how did it get passed and above all how did I miss it?
I did miss it and I accept responsibility for that but I hope that you can understand how this could happen by the time you are through this memo.
This bill in effect re-names the track as something other than a race track and then goes on to remove any authority of the Selectmen to provide any control over it. Although by the definition it is readily apparent that this was designed to apply to the track in Tamworth it would apply to any track in the state that met this definition. In other words it takes authority away from the town which I certainly am not in favor of.
How did I miss it? This is not an excuse, but rather an explanation.
This bill originated in the Senate. It was assigned to the Transportation Committee who holds a hearing on it and then goes to the full Senate for a vote. From there it is passed to the House. In this case it was again given to the Transportation Committee, who again held a hearing on it and passed it on to the full House for a vote.
The committee can send it to the house by two methods. They can put it on what is called a Consent Calendar or the Regular Calendar. The Consent Calendar is normally reserved for what is hoped to be bills that the Committee members nearly all agree on and that it is felt that the Full House will agree on. It comes with a Committee recommendation of either Ought to Pass, or Inexpedient to Legislate. Any member who does not agree may pull it off of the Consent Calendar and put it on the Regular Calendar for debate and discussion on the floor. The whole Consent Calendar is then voted on by one voice vote.
I am not sure how others handle the Consent Calendar but in my case I review the bill title, read the description and if the recommendation of the committee seems reasonable I move to review of the Regular Calendar items which will be discussed on the floor.
How did I miss this? I have no excuse, but I have attached (below) the paragraph from the Feb.13th House Calendar and I would just ask that you review it and then ask yourself if you would have associated this with the Tamworth Racetrack.
For the time being this is all I will comment on until I have reviewed all files and pertinent information.
Harry C. Merrow, Representative District 6
Reprinted From the House Consent Calendar of 2/19/04
SB 458, relative to private driving instruction and exhibition facilities. OUGHT TO PASS. Rep. Robert J. Letourneau for Transportation: This bill defines driving instruction and exhibition facilities. These are facilities that provide instruction and training for safe driving skills and adverse weather driving techniques. These facilities can also exhibit vintage motor vehicles. This bill clarifies where these facilities fit with respect to the current law, so that existing state law, which applies to professional spectator facilities, does not apply to private instructional facilities. Vote 13-0.