CONCORD, N.H.

House OKs card exempting hikers from rescue cost

New Hampshire’s House voted Wednesday to give the preliminary OK to giving negligent hikers a chance to buy a hike safe card that forgives rescue expenses they’d otherwise owe the state.

The House asked the Ways and Means Committee to review a bill that authorizes the Fish and Game Department to sell voluntary hike safe cards for $25 per person and $35 per family. People who obtain the cards would not be liable to repay rescue costs if their rescue was due to negligence on their part.

The bill also would exempt people with hunting and fishing licenses and anyone with an off-highway recreational vehicle registration, including for a snowmobile.

Hunters, anglers, boaters, snowmobilers and all-terrain vehicle riders currently pay almost all the rescue costs though license fees, but averaged only 14 percent of the rescues since 2006.

The department has struggled to keep up with the cost of rescues, which are primarily for helping lost or injured hikers and have ranged from $200 to more than $50,000.

State law holds those rescued liable if they acted negligently, but efforts to collect the cost of rescues is not always successful.

Bill aimed at curbing ‘push polls’ passes House

New Hampshire’s House has passed a bill that attempts to curb political advertising masked as a poll.

The practice is known as push polling and involves asking voters questions intended to influence their decisions. The questions typically are negatively designed to persuade the voter to dislike the subject of the poll.

Push polling is legal in New Hampshire as long as the candidate behind the poll is identified.

Political parties and legitimate survey organizations complained the law outlawed legitimate polling.

Under the bill passed Wednesday, there would have to be 2,000 or more connected calls in major races that last less than two minutes for the poll to be considered a push poll. The number of calls is 500 for state Senate races and 200 calls for House races.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.

Dismissal looms over suit decrying loud church bells

A lawsuit over loud church bells may have reached the end of the line.

The Providence Journal reports that a federal magistrate judge on Wednesday said the lawsuit filed by a Narragansett resident fails to state a claim. She will recommend that it be dismissed.

John Devaney filed the lawsuit on his own without the help of a lawyer. It said the bells that chime at St. Thomas More Catholic Parish across the street from his house are so loud that they helped lead to the end of his marriage.

Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan told Devaney he could revise the complaint.

Mail carrier gets probation for stealing cash from cards

A former mail carrier has been sentenced to three years of probation for stealing cash from greeting cards he was supposed to deliver from his route in Woonsocket.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Providence says 29-year-old Brett Beauchamp was also sentenced on Wednesday to pay a $3,000 fine and to pay restitution.

Prosecutors say several customers had complained in 2011 that their mail had been tampered with.

Investigators sent a “test” greeting card that contained $65 cash. A beeper alerted them that someone had opened the card. When they confronted Beauchamp, they found 28 greeting cards and letters that had been rifled through in his postal vehicle. They also found the $65 they had planted.

ROCHESTER, N.H.

Police: Man is unhurt when stray bullet hits his forehead

Police say a New Hampshire man was not hurt after a stray bullet fired in a house across the street from his passed through a window and several walls and hit him in the forehead.

Police charged 25-year-old Corey Steven Field of Rochester on Tuesday night with felony reckless conduct for allegedly firing a handgun in his bedroom.

Police said the bullet passed through Field’s wall and traveled across the street, through a closed window and two bedroom walls before hitting the 20-year-old victim in the head. The victim was not identified.

Detective Sgt. Anthony Deluca said it is believed the walls and windows that were struck caused the bullet to lose power.

BOSTON

Use of drug-sniffing dogs on prison visitors spurs suit

The American Civil Liberties Union and Prisoners’ Legal Services have sued the state prisons department to try to stop the agency from using drug-sniffing dogs to search prison visitors, a policy the Department of Correction implemented in November.

The plaintiffs say the searches are an invasion of privacy, terrifying for children, and dogs can mistake legal scents for drugs.