Watering Trough Tax Abatement

UPDATE:  REPEALED in 2014, 46:1, I, eff. July 26, 2014.!  
Thanks Rep. Coffey!

Did you know that in New Hampshire you might be able to save $3 on your annual property taxes if you have a watering trough?

Section 76:18

76:18 For Watering Trough. – The selectmen of every town shall abate a sum not exceeding $3 from the tax of any inhabitant, who shall construct, and during the year keep in repair, a watering trough, well supplied with water, sufficiently elevated and easily accessible for horses attached to carriages, if said selectmen shall deem the same necessary for the convenience of travelers.

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/v/76/76-18.htm

Obviously, this law from 1858 is long obsolete and should be repealed.  However, if it did not require approval from the selectmen, it would be a fun way to avoid paying $3 in taxes.

Phreaking information banned

This law, RSA 638:5-a, bans the possession of information that describes how to use or create any “fraudulent communications paraphernalia”

638:5-a Fraudulent Communications Paraphernalia. –     I. As used in this section, “fraudulent communications paraphernalia” means any device used or intended for use in obtaining any toll telecommunication or cable television service from a company providing either service by rearranging, tampering with, or making any unauthorized connection to any telephone or cable television instrument, equipment or facility of such company in order to avoid the payment, in whole or in part, of the lawful charge for such communication service or to conceal from any such company or any lawful authority, the existence or place of origin or termination of any such service.

II. Any person who wilfully creates, offers, or transfers to another any fraudulent communications paraphernalia or information for creating or using such paraphernalia shall be guilty of a class B felony.

III. Any person who wilfully possesses any fraudulent communications paraphernalia or information for creating or using such paraphernalia shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/lxii/638/638-5-a.htm

This law violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution by banning the possession and distribution of information and ideas.  This should be all the justification needed to have this entire section repealed, or at least the parts that criminalize the creation, possession, and distribution of information and ideas.

This law presumably makes it a misdemeanor to visit the Wikipedia article entitled “Phreaking”, due to mentions of specifics regarding historical methods and devices for “hacking” phone systems (e.g. a toy whistle which happened to produce a frequency which allowed control of phone systems).

While I generally seek to provide links and sources to allow for further exploration of the issues at hand, if I were to provide a direct link to the Wikipedia article entitled  “Phreaking”, I would conceivably be committing a class B felony!

(New-age) Energy policy

I may be a scientist with a keen skeptical eye, but even the most casual critical thinker will be amazed that this particularly laughable nod to pseudoscience and medical quackery was recently enshrined within the NH RSA chapter that details licensing regulations for massage providers:

Section 328-B:10

III. Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent or restrict the practice of any person in this state who uses energy or superficial touch to affect the energy systems of the human body while engaged within the scope of practice of a profession with established standards and ethics, provided that their services are not designated as or implied to be massage or massage therapy. Such practices include, but are not limited to, polarity therapy, therapeutic touch, and reiki.

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/xxx/328-b/328-b-10.htm

(This was recently (2009) added by HB-52, sponsored by Rep. Millham; Rep. P. Preston; Rep. D. Ryder)

One of the most common indicators of pseudoscience is the term “energy” used to describe some mysterious force, life essence, etc.  I will not comment further on this because I feel its ridiculousness is obvious.  If you are interested in learning more, Brian Dunning has some excellent essays on this topic and spotting pseudoscience in general.  Here is a relevant one: http://skeptoid.com/episodes/4002

Polarity therapy is an “alternative energy medicine system” that “proposes that health benefits can be achieved through manipulation of complementary (or polarized) forces, a form of energy currently unknown to science.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polarity_therapy

Therapeutic Touch a.k.a. Non-Contact Therapeutic Touch is “an energy therapy which practitioners claim promotes healing and reduces pain and anxiety.” Practitioners “state that by placing their hands on, or near, a patient, they are able to detect and manipulate the patient’s energy field.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Therapeutic_touch

Reiki is a Buddhist spiritual employing “a technique commonly called palm healing or hands on healing”.  Believer claim “they are transferring universal energy (i.e., reiki) in the form of ki through the palms, which allows for self-healing and a state of equilibrium.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reiki

No credible evidence exists for either the effectiveness of any of these techniques, or the fundamental mechanisms claimed to comprise them.  It makes no more or less sense than, “This shall not apply to Jedi masters who correct disturbances in The Force by adjusting midi-chlorian levels in a person’s body.”

To avoid New Hampshire further embarrassment, I suggest this subsection be repealed and replaced with this simpler and functionally identical alternative:

Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent or restrict the practice of any person in this state who does not physically: touch, contact, or otherwise manipulate another person’s body.

I see that as being a realistic and easy change to make.  Of course, I would rather see Chapter 328-B repealed entirely, as I feel that these licenses and regulations on massage therapists and massage establishments do nothing to benefit or protect the public, and only increase state expenditure and the prices of these services in the marketplace.

UPDATE April 21st, 2012:

This exemption within the massage therapy chapter exists, not to free these scam artists from regulation, but because an entire chapter, RSA 328-H, exists to fully regulate and license their quackery:

CHAPTER 328-H REFLEXOLOGISTS, STRUCTURAL INTEGRATORS, AND ASIAN BODYWORK THERAPISTS
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/xxx/328-h/328-h-mrg.htm

This chapter, 328-H, should be fully repealed, and I would be interested to know if the legislators who introduced it own, or are otherwise financially connected, to any of these scam-artists.

When the state licenses and regulates non-science-based medicine, it sends the signal to those with poor critical thinking skills that these forms of “treatment” are legitimate.  It can be considered a police-enforced argumentum ad verecundiam.

Welcome to Bad NH Laws

This site was created to provide a collection of bad laws found within the New Hampshire law books, provide commentary as to their lack of merit, and bring exposure to their existence, so that they can be targeted for repeal by legislators.

While I strongly disagree with the size and scope of the current government, and feel that a large percentage of the existing laws should be repealed, this site will be targeted specifically at publicizing primarily lesser-known bad laws, which are also deemed likely to garner significant public support for repeal efforts.  Hopefully, getting legislators used to the practice of repealing bad laws will help us move towards a legal system that embodies common sense, natural law, and individual liberty.

NH RSA’s are available online at:
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/indexes/default.html