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January 1, 2014

New laws take effect in N.H.

(Continued)

“It just doesn’t make sense to me,” Weyler said, adding it would put more drunken drivers on the road.

No Southern New Hampshire communities have embraced the change, he said.

That includes large communities such as Derry, Salem and Londonderry, which have numerous restaurants where alcohol is served.

Assistant Safety Commissioner Earl Sweeney said he’s concerned a later last call would lead to “border hopping” by people driving from town to town to get a drink, posing a threat to public safety.

Legislators also passed a law that requires children up to age 7 to use a child safety restraint in a vehicle until they are at least 4 feet 9 inches tall.

The previous law required their use by children up to age 6 and at least 4 feet 7 inches.

That brings New Hampshire into compliance with most other states, Sweeney said.

Another new law raises the speed limit by 5 mph on I-93 from Canterbury to the Vermont border. The one exception is a stretch through Franconia Notch.

What the new laws of 2014 didn’t usher in was expanded gambling and recreational use of marijuana.

Many Southern New Hampshire residents expressed support for a multi-million-dollar casino that would create several hundred jobs and generate much-needed revenue at Rockingham Park in Salem.

Marijuana proponents were disappointed with the defeat of legislation that would have legalized the recreational use of small amounts of the drug.

But new legislation calling for expanded gambling and recreational marijuana have been filed for this session, which begins a week from today.

The Legislature will also be grappling with plans to expand Medicaid for New Hampshire residents, Weyler said.

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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