[USA] People in New Hampshire who collect seaweed beneath the light of stars are in fact breaking the law.
But they’re in luck, because soon the state’s 40-year ban on harvesting seaweed at night may well see its last day.
The prohibition was voted “New Hampshire’s Dumbest Law” in a contest put on by state representatives that asked students to nominate senseless laws to repeal.
“It was the dumbest law that was submitted,” said Rep. Max Abramson, a Seabrook Republican who helped organize the contest. “People can collect seaweed during the daytime at Seabrook Beach, but after sunset now they have to walk to Salisbury, Mass., to continue collecting seaweed.”
Abramson filed a bill this session to repeal the New Hampshire law that was enacted in 1973.
The statute, RSA 207:48, reads in full “if any person shall carry away or collect for the purpose of carrying away any seaweed or rockweed from the seashore below high-water mark, between daylight in the evening and daylight in the morning, he shall be guilty of a violation.”
The “dumbest law” contest was conceived last year out of the red-tailed hawk debate, when the House came under fire for voting down a proposal by local fourth-graders to name the bird the official state raptor.
“Instead of adding all these different bills, we thought why not have a contest to repeal some outdated laws in the books? That turned into the New Hampshire dumbest law contest,” he said.
Students from Newport Middle High School submitted the winning entry this year, but roughly two dozen New Hampshire school groups participated in the contest, Abramson said.
A group of state representatives made the final decision, and several have signed onto Abramson’s bill.
The Seabrook representative has no idea why a law barring nighttime seaweed collection is on the state’s books.
“Why does no other state have it?” Abramson said. “Why only at nighttime?”
Those questions will perhaps be answered when the bill goes through a public hearing process this winter.
In the past, New Hampshire farmers hauled seaweed from local beaches to use as a fertilizer in their corn fields, according to the Hampton Library website. The town of Hampton passed an ordinance in the mid-1700s that forbid people from taking seaweed from the beach after dark, “perhaps to give everyone an equal chance to harvest it,” according to the library page. But the practice largely ended by the 1940s.
Last year a Rhode Island legislator sought to repeal a state law that restricted the amount of seaweed residents could collect from public beaches to use as fertilizer, according to the Associated Press. The effort ultimately failed, but it was part of a larger bill aimed at weeding out the state’s archaic and outdated laws through an annual process.
“I love that bill, the repealer,” said sponsor Rhode Island House Majority Whip John Edwards, who plans to reintroduce the legislation.
Abramson and others hope New Hampshire’s own “dumbest law” contest will become a regular tradition to repeal senseless bills.
“There’s lots of laws on the books that could be repealed,” said Rep. JR Hoell, who voted in the contest.
So heads up, students, you better start scouring the statutes.
View original article at: Seaweed-stealing miscreants may get reprieve from N.H. Legislature