Legislature Roundup: Liquid cremation bill dies in Senate
CONCORD - Senators were not ready to endorse a new method of cremation that supporters claim is cheaper and more environmentally sound.
The Senate on Thursday killed House Bill 316, would allow the process of alkaline hydrolysis to be used by funeral homes to reduce bodies to bone fragments and a water-potassium hydroxide solution.
Opponents raised concerns about the disposal of the resulting liquid, saying they may end up in groundwater or aquifers.
Sen. David Watters, D-Dover, tried to convince his colleagues not to kill the bill, saying it would provide families a choice they do not have now, although families in others states such as Maine do.
He noted Maine and seven other states allow chemical cremation and five other states have bills similar to New Hampshire's.
He said the cremation method accelerates the natural decomposition process producing bones and a liquid that then goes through wastewater processing.
The process reduces the use of fossil fuels and the emission of harmful chemicals such as mercury that occur through normal cremation, Watters said.
"New Hampshire families want to do this," he said, "but they do not have the same choices as families in other states."
The Senate voted 16-8 to kill HB 316.
The issue has been before lawmakers several times. Legislators allowed the practice in 2006, but when someone wanted to use the process the next year, it was banned. A bill in 2009 attempted to lift the ban, but failed.
The bill had the backing of the state's funeral homes.
The Senate approved House Bill 450, which would change the year-old law that required annulment records to be clearly identified but allowed them to remain public.
Under the bill, the records associated with an annulment would be sealed and removed from state police records.
Sen. Bette Lasky, D-Nashua, said while the records are currently "red-flagged" they can still be seen.
"This (bill) will give people who made poor choices at a young age and turned their lives around so they can clear their records," she said. "Annulments are not automatically granted."
The bill goes back to the House because of changes the Senate made.
The Senate killed House Bill 362, which would have banned the gas additive ethanol.
Senators said the bill would drive up the cost of gasoline for New Hampshire consumers because gasoline without ethanol in not available in this section of the country.
The Senate decided to study a bill that would have provided immunity from criminal prosecution if a 911 call involved a drug or alcohol overdose.
Supporters say some people fear calling 911 in an emergency because they may be prosecuted in drug and alcohol cases.