NH Legislature This Week—February 6, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Other unintended consequences would be the possibility of prison riots and A.C.L.U. involvement” Rep. Larry Gagne (R-Manchester) on HB1421, which would require a vegetarian diet for inmates of state prisons.
Quotes of the Week from Governor Lynch’s State of the State Address
“If you look at any national statistic, you can see our strategy is working. We have the fourth lowest unemployment rate in the nation. We are routinely ranked among the most livable, healthiest and safest states in the nation. We’ve been named the best state in the nation to raise a child four years in a row.”
“The cut in the tobacco tax was nonsensical. That money would have been better spent on our community college and university systems, for example. We should roll it back, and use the revenue to invest in our economic future. ”
“A well-designed health insurance exchange can make it easier for businesses to compare and obtain affordable health insurance. And I certainly don’t think we should allow the federal government to design an exchange for New Hampshire. That is why must move forward – now – with designing our own exchange here in New Hampshire.”
“New Hampshire has a long and proud tradition of fighting for the rights of all people. And a tradition of leaving people alone to pursue their own happiness. As Governor, I intend to uphold that centuries-old tradition. I will stand firm against any legislation that would strip any of our citizens of their civil rights.”
“Government, after all, is all of us, the people of New Hampshire. And it exists to serve all of us. Responding to fires. Keeping our streets and neighborhoods safe. Caring for our sick and elderly. Protecting our clean air and water. Our focus shouldn’t be on attacking government. It should be on improving government.”
“Sadly it has become too commonplace to attack public employees, and that needs to stop. In these hard times, our state employees, our teachers, our firefighters and police officers, are working harder than ever to provide good services, to educate the next generation, to keep us safe. Join me in thanking those who serve all of us. I respect the contributions of all of our workers, and I will never take away their right to organize.”
No Child Left Behind
This week, the House will be voting a bill to withdraw New Hampshire from the federal No Child Left Behind law that was championed by President George W. Bush in 2001. Withdrawing from the program would cost New Hampshire $61 million in lost federal funds that target educationally disadvantaged students. The House Education Committee recommended withdrawing from the program on a 12-4 vote.
Redress of grievances
On Tuesday, the newly created House Redress of Grievances Committee will be holding yet another hearing on a petition brought to them. In this case, Ghislain Breton is filing a grievance against a guardian ad litem, 2 attorneys, 3 judges, former House Speaker Terie Norelli, and the former members of the House Judiciary Committee.
The charges stem from a very messy divorce and child custody case in which Mr. Breton was sentenced to two years of imprisonment, having been convicted of harassment and witness tampering. He gained some notoriety during the case when he decided that he could copyright his name and then sue any court official who used his name for $500,000 per occurrence. He even went so far as to claim to have a lein against the homes of two court officials, which resulted in charges of improper influence, witness tampering and obstruction of government. The liens, which were legally in place for a short time, prevented one woman from selling her home and discouraged the other from securing a college loan for her child. In the divorce case, he “billed” the children’s court appointed attorney $10.5 million for using his name in official documents. Note that it is not legal to copyright your name.
The House Redress of Grievances committee is holding a hearing to determine whether or not the three judges in the case should be impeached.
The NH House has again passed a resolution urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations. Last year, the House passed the same resolution, but the Senate tabled it. This year, the House passed the resolution a “House Resolution” instead of a “Concurrent Resolution” meaning that it expresses the opinion of only the House and will not go to the Senate.
Where do Rep. Flanagan and Belanger stand on this? It depends on when you ask. Last year, Rep. Belanger supported it and Rep. Flanagan opposed it. This year, Rep. Belanger opposed it and Rep. Flanagan supported it. Rep. Gargasz opposed the resolution both years. Rep. Drisko supported the resolution last year, but could not be present for the vote this year.
Actions by Governor Lynch
SB160, which would raise the interest rates on payday loans to over $400% APR was vetoed by Governor Lynch. This bill is different than the one that raised the maximum interest rates on title-loans, which are similar but involve using a car title as collateral.
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
Note: Rep. Drisko could not be in the legislature this day, but we note this on each bill with a recorded vote for future reference purposes.
HB1580, which would require all bills dealing with civil rights to contain quotes from the Magna Carta. The bill was defeated 306-5. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat. Rep. Drisko did not vote.
CACR25 Constitutional Amendment that would remove the court system from the Constitution and therefore make the courts subject to the legislature, rather than independent. The bill was defeated 251-47. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat. Rep. Drisko did not vote.
HB1274 as written would repeal the Department of Cultural Services. The Committee, however, recommends keeping the department, but privatizing the McAuliffe-Shepard discover center. The property and building would still be owned and maintained by the state, but the operations would be privatized and thus would either be self-sufficient or the center would shut down. The bill was passed on a voice vote and the sent to the House Finance Committee for further review.
HB1285 Repeals the state art fund, which is used to purchase artworks for public buildings. The bill was passed 214-108 (the vote was not recorded) and then sent to the House Finance Committee for further review.
HB1400 allows the Department of Transportation to sell naming rights for bridges, overpasses and exits to the highest bidder. The bill was sent to interim study (defeating it for this year) on a voice vote.
HB1188 would impose a minimum fine of $5,000 for conviction on defamation, libel or slander. Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) is the sponsor. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
HB1608 would make it more difficult to prosecute violations of protective orders. The Committee recommendation is ITL 13-0 and the sponsor of the bill Rep. Harold Reilly (R-Alexandria) is supporting ITL. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
HCR26 resolution declaring that the Claremont decision is not binding on the legislature or executive branch. The resolution was sent to interim study (defeating it for this year) 215-132. Rep. Gargasz voted to sent to study. Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted against sending it to study. Rep. Drisko did not vote.
HCR32 urges Congress to withdraw from the United Nations. The resolution was passed 188-129. Rep. Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted to defeat. Rep. Drisko did not vote.
HCR34 urges Congress to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The resolution was passed 170-138, but the individual votes were not recorded.
HB1430 designates the Thompson/Center Contender pistol as the official state firearm of New Hampshire. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
NH Public Television
HB1145 would prohibit the university system from being affiliated with NH Public Television. The Committee recommendation is ITL 14-0. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
HB1621 “Repealing certain statutes” would repeal the underage drinking laws. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
On Wednesday, February 8th, the House will meet to vote on the following bills:
HB1706 expands the death penalty. The committee recommendation is ITL 12-0.
HB1375 would allow people convicted of non-violent felonies (such as selling drugs) to own and possess guns. The committee recommendation is ITL 13-2.
HB1413 would withdraw NH from the federal No Child Left Behind program. Withdrawal from the program would cost $61 million in lost federal funding for programs that target educationally disadvantaged children. The committee vote was OTP 12-4.
HB1692 would abolish the Chancellor’s office of the university system and require each campus to duplicate the work being done by that centralized office. The committee recommendation is OTP 12-4.
HCR37 resolution urging Congress to abolish the Federal Reserve System and return to the gold standard. The committee recommends changing the bill to instead urge an audit of the Federal Reserve, which it says causes “ongoing inflation of our unbacked paper money”. The committee vote was 12-0.
HR26 resolution supporting adding Washington DC as a 51st state. DC currently is not part of any state and thus can not elect members of Congress. They are subject to the laws of Congress and must pay the same taxes, but they can not elect their own representatives to Congress. The committee vote was ITL 8-3.
HB593 legalizes video lottery and table gambling. The committee vote is 14-7.
Committee Votes last week on “New” bills this year:
HB1692 would eliminate the office of the chancellor of the university system. The Committee recommends OTP 12-4 with an amendment that the bill would take effect July 2013 instead of July 2012.
HB1375 allows gun possession by people convicted of non-violent felonies, such as selling drugs. Currently, conviction on any felony offense would prohibit gun ownership. The Committee report is ITL 13-2.
HB1344 would prohibit anyone employed by state or local government from serving in the legislature. The Committee recommends ITL 12-0.
Committee Hearings for this coming week:
House Children and Family Law (Rep. Carolyn Gargasz is a member of this committee)
CACR31 Constitutional Amendment stating that the parents have the sole right to decide the health, education and welfare of children. Continued hearing. Thursday, Feb 9, 10:00AM
House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification (LOB room 206)
HB1536 adds a statement to the laws that says “no government entity shall substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion.” Very little guidance is offered as to what constitutes a burden on freedom of religion and what doesn’t. Tuesday, Feb 7, 10:00AM
HB1533 prohibiting bullying in the statehouse. This is a continuation of a public hearing that began on Jan 19. Tuesday, Feb 7, 1:00PM
House Education Committee (LOB room 207)
HB1424 allows a parent to not send their child to school if they are “conscientiously opposed”. Tuesday, Feb 7, 1:00PM
House Ways and Means (LOB room 202)
HB1678 would allow video lottery and table gambling in certain places. Tuesday, Feb 7, 3:00PM
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 2nd and 4th 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