NH Legislature This Week—February 14, 2011

NH Legislature This Week—February 14, 2011

 

Well, apparently some legislators not only believe that they can ignore or declare unconstitutional federal laws, but they believe that they also can directly vote on federal legislation.  HCR15 is a resolution ORDERING NH’s federal Senators to vote against an international treaty that is being considered.  That fits in nicely with yet another bill that attempts to put federal employees in jail—HB126, declaring federal health care laws to be unconstitutional.

 

This week the House will be voting on a bill to repeal the Evergreen law that governs state employee contracts.  This bill has already passed the Senate and is likely to become law.

 

The House will be voting on a number of other bills that came out of committee with positive recommendations.  One declares that no state funds shall be used to fund New Hampshire Public Television.  Another prohibits collective bargaining units with fewer than 10 members and makes it illegal to require employees to join a labor union.

 

More disturbing is a bill that has received very little press attention.  HB125 threatens to charge federal government employees with a felony if they attempt to enforce federal gun laws in NH.  This bill came out of committee with an 8-4 vote of “ought to pass”.

 

The big event that will be going on this week is the hearing on repealing the marriage equality law that allows gay and lesbian couples to be legally wed.   The House Judiciary Committee will be holding this hearing on Thursday in Reps Hall.   Ironically, the hearing is scheduled 3 days after  Valentines Day.  We will be sending out a separate email describing the two marriage equality repeal bills as well as another, related, bill to create domestic unions.

 

What is the purpose of this weekly report?

We want, not only to keep you informed of what is happening in Concord, but we also want you to take action.  The three things that we want each reader to do are:

1) If you are available, attend the hearing.  Testifying is always optional, but just being there has an impact.

2) Contact your local Representatives and Senator and express your views.  That’s why we provide their contact info at the end of each report.

3) Write a letter to the editor.   To help with this, we have added a new section which lists the email addresses to send letters to the editor for local newspapers.

 

Correction from last week: The bill that declares certain federal grants to be unconstitutional is HB590, not HB500.

 

 

Hot Topics This Week:

Auto insurance, evergreen, guns, NH Public Television, unions, slot machines, health care reform, parental rights,  we can ignore federal laws, abortion, immigration, marriage equality, domestic unions, school taxes, churches in politics, United Nations, and education funding.

 

 

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.

 

 

Votes Cast Last Week:

 

The following bills were defeated in the House:

 

HB87—sponsored by Rep. Drisko and Rep. Belanger, this bill would allow town moderators who are also candidates for office (such as Rep. Belanger) to handle the ballots before the results have been certified.  Voice Vote.

CACR3– Constitutional Amendment that would  allow citizen initiatives to gather petition signatures to add questions to the ballot during an election which would then become law if passed.  Thus, this would have created a way to make laws without going through the legislature.  Voice Vote.

CACR1—Constitutional Amendment to elect the legislature on odd numbered years.  This would have meant holding an election every year and almost certainly would mean that the legislature would have been elected during low voter turnouts because of the lack of federal elections.  Voice Vote.

HB73—Would create a process to recall a US Senator.  Voice Vote.

HB101—Legalize the production of industrial hemp under state law.  The vote was 304-51.  Rep. Belanger, Rep. Drisko, Rep. Flanagan and Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat.

HCR1—Resolution urging Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment declaring the corporations are not people (to overturn Citizens United).  The vote was 280-93.  Rep. Belanger, Rep. Drisko, Rep. Flanagan and Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat.

 

The following bills were voted to recommend Ought to Pass in Committee:

 

SB1—Repeal the evergreen law governing state employee contracts.  The vote was 13-4.

HB125—Declaring that guns manufactured or sold in NH are exempt from Federal laws and that federal employees who attempt to enforce federal laws are guilty of a Felony.  The vote was 8-4.

HB113—Prohibit the UNH System from funding New Hampshire Public Television.  This bill was amended so that it no longer prohibits UNH from funding NHPTV, but instead prohibits any state funds from being used to fund NHPTV.  The vote was 19-6.

HB185—Restricting the size of collective bargaining units.  The vote was 13-4.  Rep. Flanagan is a member of this committee, but I don’t know how he voted on this.

HB474—Prohibits collective bargaining agreements from requiring employees to join a union.  The bill was amended to specify that unions do not have to represent employees who are not members of the union.  The vote was 10-7.  Rep. Flanagan is a member of this committee, but I don’t know how he voted on this.

HB440—Requiring the NH Attorney General to join the lawsuit opposing federal Health Care Reform and makes several changes to NH health care laws that would conflict with the federal law (such as no longer requiring young adults under 26 to be covered by their parents insurance).  The vote was 8-2

 

The following bills were voted to recommend Inexpedient to Legislate in Committee:

 

HB326—Repeal the evergreen law governing state employee contracts.  Note that SB1, which is identical, has already passed the Senate and was voted OTP (see above).  Consent Calendar.

HB267—Allows slot machines to be operated in operated and licensed in towns.  The vote was 16-0.

HB203—Requires motorists to have auto insurance before a driver’s license would be issued.  Consent Calendar.

HB631—Removes the requirement for public kindergarten.  The vote was 12-3.

 

The following bills were retained in Committee:

 

HB34—Reduces expected funding for education in fiscal years 2012 and 2013.

HCR2—Resolution supporting the Arizona immigration law.

 

House Session—Tuesday Feb 15th and Wednesday Feb 16th

 

The following bills will be voted on by the full House.

 

Consent Calendar:

HB203—Requires motorists to have auto insurance before a driver’s license would be issued.  Rep. James Headd explains: “This bill requires proof of motor vehicle liability insurance in order to register a motor vehicle.  Additionally, it also increases the minimum liability limits for motor vehicle policies.  This would place an undue financial burden on our citizens as the premium increases could be extreme in some cases.  Even though New Hampshire does not now demand auto insurance, we have one of the highest percentages of insured operators in the country. Our uninsured rate is in the 7% area; 93% of our drivers are insured.  Additionally, all policies bought in the state do have mandatory uninsured motorist protection at a very reasonable rate.  Further, once an individual has an uninsured accident, the state has mandatory financial responsibility rules in place so the uninsured operator has the potential of losing his or her operators license until certain financial responsibilities are met.  Contrary to common belief, an individual’s insurance rates will not be increased due to an accident with an uninsured motorist.  Rates are only increased if a driver is deemed at fault, not just for simple involvement. ”

HB326—Repealing evergreen.  Committee recommendation is ITL because SB1 does the same thing.

 

Regular Calendar:

HB125—Declaring that guns manufactured or sold in NH are exempt from Federal laws and that federal employees who attempt to enforce federal laws are guilty of a Felony.  Committee recommendation is OTP 8-4.

HB113—Prohibit the UNH System from funding New Hampshire Public Television.  This bill was amended so that it no longer prohibits UNH from funding NHPTV, but instead prohibits any state funds from being used to fund NHPTV.  Committee recommendation is OTP 19-6.

HB185—Restricting the size of collective bargaining units to require at least 10 members for any collective bargaining unit.  Committee recommendation is OTP 13-4.

HB474—Prohibits collective bargaining agreements from requiring employees to join a union.  The bill was amended to specify that unions do not have to represent employees who are not members of the union.  Committee recommendation is OTP 10-7.

SB1—Repeal the evergreen law governing state employee contracts.  Committee recommendation is OTP 13-4.

HB267—Allows slot machines to be operated in operated and licensed in towns.  Committee recommendation is ITL16-0.

HB440—Requiring the NH Attorney General to join the lawsuit opposing federal Health Care Reform and makes several changes to NH health care laws that would conflict with the federal law (such as no longer requiring young adults under 26 to be covered by their parents insurance).  Committee recommendation is OTP 8-2

 

 

Hearings and committee votes—Thursday Feb 17th

House Children and Family Law Committee (Rep. Carolyn Gargasz is a member of this committee)

  • CACR9 Constitutional Amendment that “Parents have the natural right to control the health, education, and welfare of their children; therefore the State shall not abridge the role or responsibility of parents in controlling the health, education, or welfare of their children.”  LOB room 206 1:10pm.

 

House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee

  • HB126 declares that federal laws governing health care can not be enforced in NH and that anyone who attempts to enforce federal laws is guilty of a misdemeanor.  LOB room 302 10:30am.

 

House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

  • HB217 includes “unborn child” in the definition of “another” for purpose of murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide.
  • HB644 authorizes state police to enforce federal immigration laws, similar to Arizona.  LOB room 204 2:45pm.

 

House Judiciary Committee

  • HB437 repeals the marriage equality law.  Reps Hall 10:30am.
  • HB443 also repeals the marriage equality law and also makes it illegal for companies to offer domestic partnership benefits.  Reps Hall 10:30am
  • HB569 replaces all marriages with “domestic unions”.  Reps Hall 10:30am

 

House Municipal and County Government Committee  (Rep. Jim Belanger is a member of this committee)

  • HB340 requires towns to not charge school taxes on people who have children that do not attend the town public schools.  LOB room 301 11:10am

 

House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee

  • HCR25 Urging Congress to change the IRS rules and permit churches to support political candidates.  LOB room 203 11:00am
  • HCR11 Urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations.  LOB room 203 11:30am
  • HCR15 Ordering our federal Senators to vote against the Law of the Sea Convention.  LOB room 203 1:30pm

 

Senate Finance Committee

  • SB181 reduces the amount that the state will fund education by $72million.  This bill is sponsored by over half of the Senate as well as the Speaker of the House and the House Majority Leader.  Sen Jim Luther is a sponsor.  Statehouse Room 103 1:30pm.

 

Hearings and committee votes—Friday Feb 18th

House Special Committee on Education Funding Reform

  • CACR7 Constitutional Amendment to let the legislature decide how and how much to fund education.  LOB room 205 11:00am
  • CACR12 another Constitutional Amendment to let the legislature decide how and how much to fund education.  LOB room 205 11:00am

 

 

A Brief guide to how legislation becomes law

 

Bills introduced in the House:

1. Assigned to a committee and the committee holds a public hearing.

2. The committee votes to recommend that the bill be passed, changed, killed or sent to study

3. Regardless of the committee recommendation, all bills go to the full House which can pass, kill or change a bill or send it to study

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

8. If passed by the Senate, the bill goes to the Governor who may sign the bill into law or veto it.

9. If the Governor vetoes the bill, it goes back to the House

10. If 2/3 of the House votes to override the veto then the bill goes back to the Senate

11. 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:

 

Nashua Telegraph

letters@nashuatelegraph.com

 

Hollis Brookline Journal

http://www.cabinet.com/submitnews/317648-310/Submit-News.html

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 Hollis Times

hollistimes@tds.net

 

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.luther@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Jim Belanger   P: (603)465-2301   Jim.belanger@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Dick Drisko   P: (603)465-2517   driskorb@aol.com

Rep. Jack Flanagan   P: (603)672-7175   Jack.flanagan@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Carolyn Gargasz   P: (603)465-7463   cgargasz@cs.com