NH Legislature This Week—April 25, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Students need to be prepared for life. Unfortunately, bullying is part of it.” Rep. Ralph Boehm (R-Litchfield, Vice Chair of the House Education Committee) defending HB370, which waters down the anti-bullying law.
“The amendment does one simple thing: It changes the word from ‘fee’ to ‘tuition,’ so we can say we didn’t raise any new fees this year” Rep. Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry). The amendment passed 258-90.
“A successful Speaker must make sure that the voices of all members, their ability to scrutinize issues of interest to their district and their state, and their ability to speak for and vote on behalf of their constituents are never diminished”. Speaker Bill O’Brien on his web site, obrienforspeaker.com
“Is the problem the bully in the legislative schoolyard or is it our fault for not speaking up?” Rep. Marshall Quandt (R-Exeter) who was removed from the House Finance Committee by Speaker Bill O’Brien for opposing some of the cuts in the budget.
Speaker O’Brien also pulled Rep. Susan Emerson (R-Rindge) was off the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee because she vocally opposed cuts to human services in the budget. She wanted to restore $8 million for Head Start, Children in Need of Services, domestic violence prevention and welfare nutrition programs, among others. Speaker Bill O’Brien said that he moved Rep. Emerson to the Redress of Grievances Committee “where she would be more comfortable in not having to regularly oppose her own party’s agenda.”
Part of the funding that Rep. Emerson wanted to be restored was $150,000 for domestic violence prevention services. This funds 3 advocates, who handle up to 300 victims per year. Because the state has eliminated this funding, the state will lose an additional $300,000 in federal matching grants for the program, enough for 6 other advocates.
It’s a rare day that we agree with a Union Leader editorial, but a recent editorial highlights an important issue for legislators. Once you introduce a bill, you can have your name removed from it. This becomes a problem when the legislature decides to amend your bill to do the exact opposite of what you wanted. Rep. Robert Elliott (R-Salem) introduced a bill (HB451) to restrict pre-recorded political phone calls by making them illegal in the 30 days before an election. The House removed all of the text of his bill and instead put in language that repeals a current law that forbids pre-recorded political phone calls to people on the federal do-not-call list. The Senate has tabled the bill.
There are many bills in the legislature and we occasionally miss some important ones. While we have been following SB130, which would repeal the tax on gambling winnings, we had not been following HB157, HB201, HB215, or HB229 which all do essentially the same thing. The House and Senate have now both passed HB229, which eliminates the tax on gambling winning, therefore SB130 is being defeated in the House. The Department of Revenue Administration estimates that repealing the gambling tax will lower state revenues by $1.7 million in 2012 and $3.4 million in 2013 and each subsequent year. HB229 was passed by both the House and the Senate on a voice vote.
Another bill that we should have been following is HB156, which would lower the cigarette tax from $1.78 to $1.68 per pack. The Department of Revenue Administration could not estimate the effect that this bill will have on revenues, but notes that tobacco revenues brought in $235 million in 2010 alone. The Department estimates that the lower cost of cigarettes could result in a 2.7% increase in sales, which would still cause revenue to drop by $7.7 million per year. If sales stay the same as 2010, then revenue would drop by $14.8 million.
Hot Topics This Week:
Clean energy, right to work, prisoner early release, public employee retirement, cigarette tax, payday loans, campaign yard signs, dropout age, United Nations, NH as a sovereign nation, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, education funding, and ethanol.
The following bills were passed by the Senate:
These bills were already passed by the House and now go to Governor Lynch
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. The bill passed the Senate on a voice vote.
HB474— “Right to work” bill forbids employees from being required to join a union. This bill passed the House 221-131. The Senate vote was 16-8. Senator Luther voted to pass the bill.
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.
HB524—Exempts violent and sexual offenders from participation in the prisoner early release program. The House passed this bill on a voice vote. The Senate Committee recommends an amendment which gives the parole board much greater control over the program, including the ability to deny early parole to prisoners who were not convicted of violent or sexual crimes. The committee vote was 3-0.
HB580—Makes many changes to the public employee retirement system. This bill passed the House 228-139. The Senate Committee recommends an amendment which removes all existing language from the bill and instead creates a committee to study the issue. The earlier (non-study committee) version of this bill is similar to SB3 which passed the Senate 19-5 and is currently in the House. The committee vote was 5-0.
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.
HB156—Reduces the cigarette tax by $0.10. This bill passed the House 236-93. The Senate committee vote was 3-3.
The following bills were recommended Ought to Pass by a House Committee:
SB57—Increasing the maximum interest rate on payday loans from 36% to 300%. This bill passed the Senate 17-6. The House Committee vote was 16-2.
Senate Session for Wednesday, April 27th
The Senate will vote on the following bills, which have passed the House.
HB524—Exempts violent and sexual offenders from participation in the prisoner early release program. The House passed this bill on a voice vote. The Senate Committee recommends an amendment which gives the parole board much greater control over the program, including the ability to deny early parole to prisoners who were not convicted of violent or sexual crimes. The committee vote was OTP 3-0.
HB580—Makes many changes to the public employee retirement system. This bill passed the House 228-139. The Senate Committee recommends an amendment which removes all existing language from the bill and instead creates a committee to study the issue. The earlier (non-study committee) version of this bill is similar to SB3 which passed the Senate 19-5 and is currently in the House. The committee vote was OTP 5-0.
HB156—Reduces the cigarette tax by $0.10. This bill passed the House 236-93. The Senate committee vote was ITL 3-3.
House Session for Wednesday, April 27th
The House will vote on the following bills, which have passed the Senate.
SB57—Increasing the maximum interest rate on payday loans from 36% to 300%. This bill passed the Senate 17-6. The House Committee vote was OTP 16-2.
Hearings for Tuesday, April 26th
Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee
HB257—Removes the requirement that candidates for public office pick up their yard signs from the roads after an election. This bill passed the House on a voice vote. LOB room 101 9:00am.
Senate Education Committee
HB429—Lowers the dropout age from 18 to 16. This bill passed the House 210-134. LOB room 103 1:40pm.
Hearings for Wednesday, April 27th
Senate Internal Affairs Committee
HCR11—Resolution Urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations. This resolution passed the House 189-107. Statehouse room 100 1:20pm.
HCR 19—Resolution declaring that the NH legislature can overrule any federal law passed by Congress, US Supreme Court decision or Executive Order signed by the President that they disagree with. This resolution passed the House 223-108. Statehouse room 100 1:40pm.
Hearings for Thursday, April 28th
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee
HB519—Repeals the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This bill passed the House 251-108. This hearing began on April 20th, but was scheduled to continue on April 28th. LOB room 201 10:00am.
Senate Finance Committee
HB337—Establishes a new education funding formula. Similar to SB183. Declares that, going forward, no town will receive less than they did in 2011. The bill was amended to state that, for 2012-2013, no town shall receive more than they did in 2011. Rep. Flanagan is a cosponsor of this bill. The House vote was 247-86.
Senate Transportation Committee
HB374—Bans the use of corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive. The House passed this bill on a voice vote. LOB room 103 9:30am.
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