NH Legislature This Week—April 11, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the week
“Rep. J.R. Hoell, R-Dunbarton, wants to give Granite Staters the right to become conscientious objectors not to war, but to education for their children. ” Union Leader editorial opposing HB542 (see below), which was passed by the House 197-148. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted against the bill.
The House will be in session on Wednesday and be will holding their traditional “Tartan Day” to celebrate Scottish heritage. If you are in the Statehouse that day, prepare for a lot of plaids and bagpipes. The session will likely be a short one as there are only 3 bills not on the consent calendar (naming a bay in Meredith, establishing a committee to study post-traumatic stress disorder among veterans and allowing the national guard to use revenues from fines to fund scholarship programs).
The Senate will also be in session on Wednesday
There is an interesting op-ed piece in the Union Leader that does a good job of summing up just how different the current legislature is from previous legislatures.
In more budget news that hasn’t been reported in the press, the House budget cuts the DRA by 30%. The DRA is the agency that collects taxes and other revenues. Their staff is being cut by 43%, while the audit division which is responsible for auditing the wealthy and corporations will see 50% staff reductions. It was well known that every dollar spent on auditing brings in 15 dollars in taxes were properly owed. So, the good news for their wealthy donors is that they are far less likely to get audited. The bad news for the rest of the state is that revenues will go down even more, causing a “need” for more cutbacks in programs for children, the disabled and the elderly.
Even if the DRA is restaffed after the next election, it may take years to train the new staff to be as efficient and effective as the current staff.
Hot Topics This Week:
Unions, education, education funding, Sunday businesses, payday loans, early prisoner release, guns, photo id to vote, line item veto, public employee retirement system, clean energy districts, medical marijuana, Lyme disease, health care reform, bullying,
The following bills were recommended Ought to Pass by a Senate Committee:
These bills will now go to the full Senate for a vote. They have all passed the House.
HB185—Sets a minimum size of 10 for collective bargaining units for public employee collective bargaining. This vote was 3-2.
The following bills were recommended Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) by a Senate Committee:
These bills will now go to the full Senate for a vote. They have all passed the House.
HB542—Declares that parents can not be required to send their children to schools to which they are “conscientiously opposed”. Note that existing law allows parents to home school children rather than sending them to public or private schools. This bill would effectively eliminate the requirement that children be provided with an education altogether. The vote was 4-1.
Senate Session for Wednesday, April 13th
The Senate will vote on the following bills.
HB542—Declares that parents can not be required to send their children to schools to which they are “conscientiously opposed”. Note that existing law allows parents to home school children rather than sending them to public or private schools. This bill would effectively eliminate the requirement that children be provided with an education altogether. The committee recommendation is ITL 4-1.
HB185—Sets a minimum size of 10 for collective bargaining units for public employee collective bargaining. This committee recommendation is OTP 3-2.
Hearings for Monday, April 11th
House Special Committee on Education Funding Reform
CACR14—Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Claremont decision and allow the legislature to determine how much to spend on education. This bill passed the Senate 16-8 and is similar to CACR12 which passed the House 252-113 and is now before the Senate. LOB room 210 9:30am.
Hearings for Tuesday, April 12th
Senate Commerce Committee
HB617—Eliminates the restrictions on operating businesses and sporting events on Sundays. This bill passed the House on a voice vote. LOB room 102 9:10am.
House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee
SB57—Increasing the maximum interest rate on payday loans from 36% to 300%. This bill passed the Senate 17-6. LOB room 302 10:30am.
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
SB52—Excluding persons convicted of violent and/or sexual crimes from the early release program (SB500). Under the early release program, prisoners are allowed out 9 months before the end of their maximum sentence, but must report their whereabouts and under counseling and monitoring as required in each specific situation. When a prisoner is released at the end of their maximum sentence, they are simply released and no other restrictions can be placed on them as it was not part of their original sentence. This bill passed the Senate 24-0. This bill is similar to HB524 which passed the House 264-97.
SB88—Allows people to “brandish” a gun in any public place if they feel threatened without being charged with criminal threatening. This bill was introduced in response to a case where a person was jailed for criminal threatening when he pointed a gun at an unarmed woman who had stopped at his house to ask for directions. Sen. Luther is a cosponsor. This bill passed the Senate 17-7.
House Election Law Committee (Rep. Dick Drisko is a member of this committee)
SB129—Requires a photo id with an expiration date in order to vote. Opponents contend that the bill would make it more difficult for college students, the elderly and certain minorities to vote. Note that college IDs typically do not have expiration dates. This bill passed the Senate 18-6. This bill is similar to HB356, which was retained in the House until next year. LOB room 308 1:00pm.
House Ways and Means Committee
CACR5—Constitutional Amendment to give the governor a line item veto on spending bills. The governor would have the ability to reduce or remove any specific item from the budget. A 2/3 vote of House and Senate could override a veto and restore full funding. This bill passed the Senate 19-5. LOB room 202 10:00am.
Hearings for Wednesday, April 13th
House Special Committee on Public Employees Pensions
SB3—Makes many changes to the public employee retirement program. Senator Luther is a cosponsor. This bill passed the Senate 19-5. Reps Hall 2:00pm.
Hearings for Thursday, April 14th
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
HB144—Forbids towns from funding Clean Energy Districts through local taxes, but does allow towns to fund them with bonds This bill passed the House on a voice vote. LOB room 102 9:30am.
Senate Health and Human Services Committee
HB442—Legalizing the use of medical marijuana. This bill passed the House 221-91. Statehouse room 100 1:00pm.
HB295—Allowing the use of long-term antibiotics for the treatment of Lyme disease. This bill passed the House on a voice vote. Statehouse room 100 2:00pm.
House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee
SB148—Declaring that the NH Attorney General should join the lawsuit against the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. This bill passed that Senate 17-6. The bill is similar to HB440 which was “passed” by the House 267-92, but then retained in the House until next year. LOB room 302 10:00am.
Hearings for Tuesday, April 19th
Senate Education Committee
HB370—Limits scope of recently passed anti-bullying law by prohibiting a school from punishing students for acts that occur off of school grounds. Instead, the bill would require schools to notify the parents of the students involved. This bill passed the House 248-96. LOB room 305 1:00pm.
Where to find more information
The New Hampshire legislature web site is www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Here, you can find the full text of all bills, find the full list of sponsors of bills and see more detailed status. If you have questions about how to use the state website, we would be glad to help. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Terms and Abbreviations
ITL means “Inexpedient To Legislate”. If the full House or full Senate votes to ITL a bill, then the bill is defeated.
OTP means “Ought to Pass” meaning that a committee is recommending that a bill be passed.
Consent Calendar: If a bill receives a unanimous recommendation from a committee, the committee may place the bill on the Consent Calendar. When full House meets, the first vote taken is to approve all recommendations on all bills in the consent calendar. This allows the House to quickly dispense with non-controversial bills and move on to topics that need discussion. If any legislator requests that a bill be removed from the consent calendar, then it will be removed and it will be brought up for discussion and a vote along with the other non-consent calendar bills.
Resolutions: Sometimes the House, the Senate or both will pass resolutions. These are just public statements of opinion or interest, but they have no legal standing. It is similar to issuing a press release. HCR is a House resolution. HJR is a joint resolution (both House and Senate) that originates in the House.
LOB refers to the Legislative Office Building, which is immediately behind the statehouse. Most committee hearings are held in this building.
Reps Hall refers to Representatives Hall in the Statehouse where the House of Representatives meetings. This room is used for hearings that are expected to be very large.
“Retained” means that a Committee has voted to keep a bill until next year. Next year, any bills that have been retained must be sent to the full House/Senate for a vote. Any bill that does not get retained must be sent to the full House/Senate for vote by Crossover or the end of the session.
“Crossover” is March 31st. The House will vote on all bills introduced in the House by this date except for bills that have been retained until next year. Similarly, the Senate will vote on all bills introduced into the Senate by this date except for bills that are being retained until next year.
“Tabled”: The full House or full Senate can “table” a bill which means that the bill is kept in “limbo” without being passed or defeated. For tabled bill to be brought back up for a vote again (to pass it) requires a 2/3 majority. If the bill has not been passed when the legislature adjourns at the end of the year, it is defeated. Tabling a bill usually happens when the legislature wants to defeat a bill but doesn’t want to directly oppose it. It can also sometimes happen if there are not enough votes to pass, but leadership hopes to be able to come up with enough votes later—but this then requires a 2/3 majority.
A brief guide to how legislation becomes law
Bills introduced in the House:
1. The bill is assigned to a committee and the committee holds a public hearing.
2. The committee either retains the bill or votes to recommend that the bill be passed (OTP), changed (OTPA), or defeated (ITL).
3. Except for retained bills, all other bills go to the full House which can pass, defeat, change a bill or send it to a second committee.
4. If sent to a second committee, the committee must then retain or recommend to pass, change or defeat the bill. It then goes back to the full House for a second vote.
5. If passed by the House, the bill goes to the Senate
6. The bill is assigned to a Senate committee which then holds a public hearing
7. The Senate committee either retains the bill or votes to recommend that the bill be passed (OTP), changed (OTPA), or defeated (ITL).
8. Except for retained bills, all other bills go to the full Senate which can pass, defeat, change a bill or send it to a second committee.
9. If sent to a second committee, the committee must then retain or recommend to pass, change or defeat the bill. It then goes back to the full Senate for a second vote.
10. If passed by the Senate, the bill goes to the Governor who may sign the bill into law or veto it.
11. If the Governor vetoes the bill, it goes back to the House
12. If 2/3 of the House votes to override the veto then the bill goes back to the Senate
13. If 2/3 of the Senate votes to override the veto then the bill becomes law.
For Senate bills, the process is the same except that it goes through the Senate before it goes to the House.
For Constitutional Amendments (CACRs) the process is slightly different.
CACRs introduced in the House:
1. Assigned to a committee and the committee holds a public hearing.
2. The committee votes to recommend that the CACR be passed, changed, killed or sent to study
3. Regardless of the committee recommendation, all CACRs go to the full House which can pass, kill or change a bill or send it to study. Passing a CACR requires 60% of the House members present to vote in favor.
4. If passed by the House, the bill goes to the Senate
5. Assigned to a Senate committee which then holds a public hearing
6. The Senate committee votes to recommend that the bill be passed, changed, killed or sent to study
7. Regardless of the committee recommendation, all bills go to the full Senate which can pass, kill or change a bill or send it to study. Passing a CACR requires 60% of the Senate members present to vote in favor.
8. If passed by the Senate, the CACR will put on the ballot at the next election (November 2012). If 2/3 of the voters vote in favor of it, then it becomes part of the NH Constitution.
Where to Send Letters to the Editor:
Hollis Brookline Journal
The Cabinet welcomes letters from its readers that are exclusive to this newspaper. Letters must be 400 words or fewer and are subject to editing either for content or for length. Letters must be received no later than noon on Monday. The Cabinet does not publish anonymous letters, those written under an assumed name or containing only the writer’s initials. Nor does it publish form letters, or those written as part of an orchestrated campaign. Letters must be in good taste and free of libel or personal attacks. Important: Letters must contain the writer’s name, home address and day/night telephone numbers and e-mail for confirmation purposes. Only the writer’s name and hometown will be published. The deadline for submitting letters is noon on Monday. The Journal is published every Friday.
Submission deadline is noon on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month.
The Hollis Times
The Mason Grapevine
Residents of Mason can submit letters to the Mason Grapevine at TheMasonGrapevine@yahoo.com
Hollis, Brookline, Mason Reps:
Sen. Jim Luther P: (603)271-2246 Jim.email@example.com
Rep. Jim Belanger P: (603)465-2301 Jim.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Dick Drisko P: (603)465-2517 email@example.com
Rep. Jack Flanagan P: (603)672-7175 Jack.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz P: (603)465-7463 email@example.com