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House Backs Bill Ending Incentives For Liquor Violation Prosecutions

Allegra Boverman

  The NH House is backing a bill that seeks to remove a potential financial incentive for county prosecutors who pursue liquor law violations.

The bill is fallout from mismanagement in the office of former Rockingham County Attorney, Jim Reams. Among other things, the state accused Reams of misusing fees his office collected while prosecuting liquor violations. Reams said current law allowed him to collect and spend the liquor fines.

The new law, HB 585, would direct all liquor violation fees into the state’s general fund, instead of county coffers or county prosecutors’ offices -- as former prosecutor Jim Reams had.

The bill also seeks to collect an additional $5 or 10 percent fee assessment on all liquor fines, which would go toward victim and treatment services. Before a roll-call vote Wednesday, Representative John Burt, a Republican from Hillsboro, spoke against the assessment fee, asking colleagues “if you know as I know that I oppose new taxes and fees in this House as I promised my constituents, would you please vote ‘red.’”

Nevertheless, the House voted 223 to 133 “ought to pass,” and referred the bill to the Ways and Means committee.

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