NH Legislature This Week—May 16, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“My caucus members are concerned that they are united that the Governor cannot function as a third branch of the legislature.” Speaker Bill O’Brien expressing his dismay at the idea of Governor Lynch vetoing bills.
The “Right to Work” bill, HB474, was vetoed by Governor Lynch as expected. As the bill passed the House just short of the 2/3 majority that would be needed to override a veto, everyone is watching this one closely. House Republican leadership and numerous out-of-state organizations (mostly supporting Republican Presidential candidates) are spending large sums of money to operate phone banks and other forms of lobbying to convince a few of the Republican House members who opposed the bill to change their minds. Labor unions are organizing a lobbying effort to sustain the veto. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz as well as Senator Luther voted in favor of the bill.
Members of the House will be able to introduce new bills for next year from May 25h through June 8th. There will be an additional filing period later. Bills filed during this period will not be scheduled for hearings until next year. We will be reporting on these bills as they are filed, but keep in mind that the legislature already has a large backlog of bills that were filed this year and were retained until next year. If there any changes to the law that you would like to see happen next year, contact one of your legislators now to have it introduced.
The House’s relentless efforts to restrict collective bargaining continues. One effort that has not received much press is SB196. This is a Senate bill that we have not been tracking that would extend from 3 years to 5 years the time period during which teachers can be terminated without having to go through an involved process. There was not much significant opposition to this bill, but now the House wants to add an amendment that would prohibit arbitration. If a “teacher” is terminated, they would no longer have the option of appealing to an outside mediator and it would be illegal to make such provisions in future contract negotiations. We put the word “teacher” in quotes because the House amendment would also define a “teacher” to including principals, assistant principals, librarians and guidance counselors.
The Senate has asked the New Hampshire Supreme Court to issue a ruling on whether or not it is constitutional for the legislature to require the NH Attorney General to join the lawsuit against federal health care reform. The Court has given the legislature until May 23rd to submit arguments.
HB590, which would set up a committee to determine which federal grants being received by the state and municipalities should be rejected, looks to be heading toward passage in the Senate. The bill declares that most federal grants are unconstitutional because they deal with areas that go beyond what the legislature views as being a very narrow mandate for the federal government. The committee would determine which grants could be replaced with state and local taxes and which programs should simply be defunded. The bill already passed the House 228-111.
Hot Topics This Week:
Collective bargaining, gambling, right to work, NH Rail Transit Authority, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, business profits tax, campaign signs, NH Public Television, medical marijuana, businesses open on Sundays, deadly force, guns, United Nations, minimum wage, federal grants, death penalty.
The following bills were signed into law by Governor Lynch:
HB185—Sets a minimum size of 10 for collective bargaining units for public employee collective bargaining.
HB229—Repealing the tax on gambling winnings.
The following bills were vetoed by Governor Lynch:
These bills will go back to the legislature for a vote to override the veto. A 2/3 majority is required in each chamber.
HB474—Right to work. Prohibits employees from being required to join or pay dues to labor unions.
The following bills were passed but changed by the Senate:
These bills were already passed by the House but must now go to a committee of conference to resolve the differences between the House version and the Senate version. The version that comes out of the conference committee must then be passed again by both houses before being sent to Governor Lynch.
HB218—Repealing NH’s Rail Transit Authority. The Senate version keeps the RTA, but changes it’s mission from implementing passenger rail service to being just a study committee to issue a report on the cost/benefit of implementing passenger rail service. The vote was 16-8. Senator Luther voted against the bill (ie, he voted to keep the Rail Transit Authority).
HB519—Withdraws NH’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The Senate amended the bill to not withdraw from RGGI, but instead made some changes (such as removing references to “greenhouse gas” and replacing them with “energy efficiency”). Additionally, the Senate version would automatically withdraw NH from RGGI if any other New England state that contributes at least 10% to the system were to withdraw. The bill was then sent to the Senate Finance Committee. The vote was 16-8. Senator Luther voted to pass the bill.
HB557—Allows business owners to deduct any amount that they want as “compensation” from the business profits tax and puts the burden of proof on the Department of Revenue Administration. The Department estimates that this bill would make it very difficult to collect business taxes and could result in the loss of $49 million per year up to over $200 million per year in business tax revenue. The Senate made a minor change to bill. Voice vote.
The following bills were defeated in the Senate:
These bills were passed by the House, but defeated by the Senate.
HB257—Removes the requirement that political signs along the roads be picked up after an election. Voice vote.
The following bills were tabled by the Senate:
These bills were already passed by the House, but have been tabled by the Senate. A tabled bill can be brought back for a vote at later date, but if the session ends without a vote, then the bill is defeated.
HB113—Prohibits state funding to New Hampshire Public Television. The Senate voted to table this bill on a party line vote, 19-5. Senator Luther voted to table.
HB442—Legalizes the use of medical marijuana. Voice vote.
HB617—Removes the current restrictions on businesses and sporting events on Sundays. Voice vote.
The following bills were sent back to committee in the Senate:
HB210—Use of deadly force. Removes the current law that requires people to retreat from deadly situations if they may safely do so. Current law does not require people to retreat when they are in their own homes (for example, during a home invasion).
HB330—Allows guns to be carried without a permit loaded or unloaded, concealed or not, about a person or in their vehicle.
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.
HCR11—Resolution urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations. The Senate Committee recommends an amendment to the resolution such that it would not urge withdrawal from the United Nations, but instead urge that Congress make significant cuts to funding of UN programs. The committee vote was 4-1.
HB133—Repealing the minimum wage. Note, however, that NH’s minimum wage is currently the same as the federal minimum wage. The committee vote was 4-1.
HB590—Creates a committee to determine which federal grants received in NH should be rejected as being invalid because they go beyond the scope of what the legislature feels that the federal government should be doing. Would replace some of the federal grants with state and local taxes. The committee recommends a minor amendment that would remove a reference to The Federalist Papers in the explanation of the bill, but otherwise leaves the bill intact. The vote was 4-1.
Senate Session for Wednesday, May 18th
The Senate will vote on the following bills, which have passed the House.
HCR11—Resolution urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations. The Senate Committee recommends an amendment to the resolution such that it would not urge withdrawal from the United Nations, but instead urge that Congress make significant cuts to funding of UN programs. The committee vote was OTP 4-1.
HB133—Repealing the minimum wage. Note, however, that NH’s minimum wage is currently the same as the federal minimum wage. The committee vote was OTP 4-1.
HB590—Creates a committee to determine which federal grants received in NH should be rejected as being invalid because they go beyond the scope of what the legislature feels that the federal government should be doing. Would replace some of the federal grants with state and local taxes. The committee recommends a minor amendment that would remove a reference to The Federalist Papers in the explanation of the bill, but otherwise leaves the bill intact. The vote was OTP 4-1.
Hearings for Wednesday, May 18th
Senate Judiciary Committee (Senator Luther is a member of this committee)
HB147—Expanding the death penalty to include murders committed during a home invasion. This bill passed the House on a voice vote. LOB room 305 1:30pm.
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 email@example.com.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jim Belanger P: (603)465-2301 Jim.email@example.com
Rep. Dick Drisko P: (603)465-2517 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Jack Flanagan P: (603)672-7175 Jack.email@example.com
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz P: (603)465-7463 firstname.lastname@example.org