NH Legislature This Week—February 21, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
The amount of crazy this week is unbelievable. I can’t bullet them all in the summary, you really need to read through the entire list of bills below to understand the scope. HB343 to create a state militia to “defend the state against invasion” is just the tip of the iceberg. Also, just as an FYI, everyone 18 and older is required to serve in the militia, so being a woman or being gay won’t get you out of it, but members of the legislature won’t have to serve. Also, you will “receive no pay or other form of compensation”. It’s a Slave Army!
Quote of the week:
“The property tax is a great tax because it is a voluntary tax. I pay property taxes based on how large I want to live.” Rep. Paul Mirski (R-Enfield) Chair of the House Legislative Administration Committee and Chair of the House Special Committee on Redistricting.
About 800 people showed up for the marriage equality hearing last week. Long time statehouse employees said that it was the largest turnout for a hearing that they have ever seen. About 700 people supported marriage equality and 100 wanted it repealed. The hearing lasted from 10:30am to 6:30pm and there were still almost 100 people when the hearing ended. Rep. Robert Rowe did an excellent job as Chairman in running the hearing fairly.
The NH House passed HB125 by a vote of 240-120. This bill would make it a felony for federal employees to enforce federal gun laws in NH. There are many other bills in the works that would make it a “crime” for federal employees to enforce other laws. What happens when ATF agents show up and someone tries to arrest them with a citizen’s arrest? This is just a disaster in the making. If the legislature persists in this, the federal government may well cut off some of the $2billion per year in federal funding that goes to NH. If this escalates, it could devastate our economy. Rep. Belanger and Rep. Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Drisko voted against. Rep. Gargasz did not vote.
House Speaker Bill O’Brien wasn’t taking any chances with passing the bill to repeal the NH Rail Transit Authority. When members of the House Transportation Committee refused to vote in favor of the bill, he temporarily replaced five of them for a single day with Representatives that would vote in favor of it. This is really unheard of.
There are many bills in this new War on the Federal Government. They all have the general themes of declaring that the states are sovereign countries in a loose confederation called the United States with each state being able to declare any federal law, court decision or Executive Order null and void. The legislature also believes that it has the power to declare any NH court decision null and void, issue orders to members of the executive branch and issue orders to our members of Congress. For a summary of these concepts in their own words, read HCR19. I have included some excerpts below, but you can read the full text at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2011/HCR0019.html.
Continuing our legislative education efforts, we have added two new terms to the “Terms and Abbreviations” section. “Retained” is when a committee keeps a bill until next year rather than sending it to full House/Senate for a vote this year. This can only be done in odd numbered years (i.e., a bill can not be retained until after the next election). “Crossover” is the date (March 31st) when the House and Senate must vote on all bills that have been introduced in that body except for retained bills. After Crossover, the House will deal with Senate bills that have passed the Senate and the Senate will deal with House bills that have passed the House.
The section on how a bill becomes a law has been updated and expanded. It has also been updated to reflect the fact that committees may now retain bills without having to get the approval of the full House/Senate as was required in the past and it now describes the process in which some bills can be sent to a second committee.
The Letters to the Editor section has been updated with contact information for the Hollis Times and the Mason Grapevine. Also, the Terms and Abbreviations section has been moved to the end of the report.
Hot Topics This Week:
Evergreen, guns, NH Public Television, unions, federal health care reform, slot machines, car insurance, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, federal grants, tenure for judges, toll plaza in Nashua, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, earmarks, corporations are not people, special education funding, income taxes, kindergarten, federal laws don’t apply to us, drug testing for food stamp recipients, declaring court decisions to be null and void, minimum wage, ethanol in gasoline, out-of-state health insurance, child support, more guns, school attendance, legislature controls creating schools, election day voter registration, not allowing college students and military to vote, creating a militia, removing Rep. Brunelle, the gold standard, setting taxes, and education funding
The following bills were passed in the House:
SB1—Repeal the evergreen law governing state employee contracts. The vote was 282-70. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to pass. Rep. Drisko did not vote.
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 240-120. However, the bill was then sent to the House Commerce committee, so it will have to come back for a second vote in the House. Rep. Belanger and Rep. Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Drisko voted against. Rep. Gargasz did not vote.
HB113—Prohibits any state funds from funding New Hampshire Public Television. The vote was 263-102. Rep. Belanger and Rep. Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Drisko and Rep. Gargasz voted against.
HB185—Restricting the size of collective bargaining units. The House amended this bill before passing it, but the text of the amendment is not available online yet. The amendment was passed 314-52. The final version of the bill passed by a voice vote. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted in favor of the amendment.
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 221-131. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted to pass.
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 267-92. However, the bill was then sent to the House Commerce committee, so it will have to come back for a second vote in the House. Rep. Belanger and Rep. Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Gargasz voted against. Rep. Drisko did not vote.
The following bills were defeated in the House:
HB326—This bill was identical to SB1, which was passed (see above).
HB267—Allows slot machines to be operated in operated and licensed in towns. Defeated on a voice vote.
HB203—Requires motorists to have auto insurance before a driver’s license would be issued. Defeated on a voice vote.
The following bills were voted to recommend Ought to Pass in Committee:
HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The vote was 13-5. See Majority Report and Minority Report reprinted below.
HB590—Declaring that federal grants-in-aid are unconstitutional. The vote was 8-2.
The following bills were voted to recommend Inexpedient to Legislate in Committee:
CACR2—Constitutional Amendment that would give the legislature the power to set the tenure of specific judges. The vote was 15-0. The bill will go on the Consent Calendar.
HB471—Creating a new toll plaza near exit 1 in Nashua. The vote was 16-0. The bill will go on the Consent Calendar.
HCR23—Resolution urging our Congressional delegation to use earmarks to support the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The vote was 8-3.
HR9—Resolution urging our Congressional delegation to use earmarks to support programs related to public safety. The vote was 8-3.
HR8—Resolution urging Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment declaring that corporations are not people and can not pour money into elections. The vote was 8-3.
The following bills were retained in Committee until next year:
HB318—Reduces the amount of funding that the state provides for Special Education.
CACR13—Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit the collection of an income tax.
HB619—Stating that the state is “opting out” of the federal health insurance reform.
The Next House Session—Wednesday Feb 23rd
The following bills will be voted on by the full House. OTP means to “pass” and ITL means to “defeat”. See Terms and Abbreviations below.
CACR2—Constitutional Amendment that would give the legislature the power to set the tenure of specific judges. ITL
HB631—Repealing the requirement for public kindergarten. Committee recommendation is ITL 12-3.
HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. Committee recommendation is OTP 13-5. See Majority Report and Minority Report reprinted below.
HB590—Declaring that federal grants-in-aid are unconstitutional. Committee recommendation is OTP 8-2.
HCR19—Resolution declaring most federal laws to be “unconstitutional and unenforceable” Committee recommendation is OTP 10-2. See Excerpts from HCR19 below.
HCR23—Resolution urging our Congressional delegation to use earmarks to support the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Committee recommendation is ITL 8-3.
HR8—Resolution urging Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment declaring that corporations are not people and can not pour money into elections. Committee recommendation is ITL 8-3.
HR9—Resolution urging our Congressional delegation to use earmarks to support programs related to public safety. Committee recommendation is ITL 8-3.
Hearings and committee votes—Tuesday Feb 22nd
House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee
- HB484 Requires random drug testing for food stamp program participants. LOB room 205 10:00am.
House Judiciary Committee
- CACR11 Constitutional Amendment that would limit judges terms to 5 years. LOB room 208 1:00pm
- HCR17 Resolution invalidating a court decision. Copp v. Henniker and any decisions relying on it to be “void and of no force”. This NH Supreme Court decision in 1868 establishes the right to trial by jury. LOB room 208 3:00pm
- HCR18 Resolution invalidating a court decision. Merrill V. Sherburne to be “void and of no force”. This NH Supreme Court decision in 1818 declared that the legislature is “excluded from the exercise of ‘judicial powers’”. Presumably this would include invalidating court decisions. LOB room 208 3:00pm
House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee (Rep. Jack Flanagan is a member of this committee)
- HB560—Increasing the minimum wage from $7.25/hr to $8.00/hr. LOB room 307 10:45am
House Science, Technology and Energy Committee
- HB374 Banning corn-based ethanol as an additive to gasoline sold in NH
Senate Commerce Committee
- SB148 Requires the NH Attorney General to join the lawsuit against federal heath care reform. Statehouse room 100, 9:20am
- SB150 Authorizing people to purchase health insurance from out-of-state companies. Statehouse room 100, 9:40am
- SB162 Requiring the Health Commissioner to get approval from the legislature before implementing any federal health care reform laws. Statehouse room 100, 10:00am
Hearings and committee votes—Thursday Feb 24th
House Children and Family Law Committee (Rep. Carolyn Gargasz is a member of this committee)
- HB575 Sets the maximum amount of child support to be between $475/mo and $612/mo. LOB room 206 11:00am
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
- HB330 “Permits any person to carry a firearm, openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded, on or about their person or upon or in a vehicle, whether or not such person possesses a license, permit, or other authorization to carry a firearm.” LOB room 204 10:00am
- HB235 Makes it illegal for businesses to prohibit firearms from employee cars while on business premises. LOB room 204 1:45pm
House Education Committee
- HB542 Removes the requirement that children attend school. Removes requirement that children be educated. Note that current law allows for home schooling. This bill says parents have no obligation to educate their children at all. LOB room 207 10:00am
- CACR8 Constitutional Amendment to give the legislature the sole power to authorize the operation of a school. Want to build a high school in Brookline? Don’t ask the town, ask the legislature! LOB room 207 11:00am
House Election Law Committee (Rep. Dick Drisko is a member of this committee)
- HB223 Eliminates election day voter registration. Reps Hall 1:00pm
- HB176 Declares that college students who were from out of state before they started college are ineligible to vote. Also, members of the military stationed in NH are ineligible if they lived out of state before being stationed here. Reps Hall 2:00pm
House Executive Departments and Administration Committee
- HB343 Creates a NH militia “to defend the state against invasion” under the control of the legislature. LOB room 306 9:30am
House Legislative Administration Committee
- Work session on effort to remove Rep. Michael Brunelle (D-Manchester) because he introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage. LOB room 104 2:00pm
House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee
- HCR13 Urging Congress to return to the Gold Standard and to eliminate the Federal Reserve System. LOB room 203 11:00am
House Ways and Means Committee
- CACR6 Constitutional Amendment to require the legislature to have 2/3 vote in each house to impose new taxes or increase existing taxes. LOB room 202 10:00am
Senate Finance Committee
- SB183 Changes the formula for Education Funding. Statehouse room 103 1:00pm
Hearings and committee votes—Friday Feb 25th
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
Majority Report/Minority Report on HB519, repealing NH’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap-and-trade program
Rep. Frank R Holden for the Majority of Science, Technology and Energy: This bill, as amended, has several provisions. First, it repeals New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) cap and trade program for controlling carbon dioxide emissions. New Hampshire became part of RGGI in 2008 with the passage of Ch. 182, HB1434 which stated that “Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a significant greenhouse gas that contributes to global climate change. Therefore, the purpose of this subdivision is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions resulting from energy use in New Hampshire.” During the House debate in 2008, the then-majority warned that RGGI was necessary due to the imminent dangers of global warming. During the same debate, the then-minority cautioned that the science of climate change was far from settled, and warned that a future legislature may be tempted to raid the RGGI fund to divert to the general fund. Under RGGI, each state is allotted a number of carbon allowances based on historic CO2 emissions of electric generating power plants of more than 25 megawatts that use coal, natural gas, or oil. There are five such plants in New Hampshire, and three are owned by Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH). New Hampshire controls 8.62 million carbon allowances. The vast majority of the state’s allowances are sold at quarterly RGGI auctions along with allowances from the other nine RGGI states. The affected power plants in New Hampshire are required to buy one carbon allowance at auction for each ton of CO2 emissions. Costs to the affected sources depend on the price of allowances during each specific auction. Costs of PSNH allowances are allowed to be passed on to PSNH electric ratepayers in their electric bills. Costs incurred by the other two plants may be priced into their go-to-market price for electricity or may simply be incurred as added expense and reduced profits. The proceeds from each RGGI auction are sent back to the member states. So far, New Hampshire has participated in nine RGGI auctions. Total proceeds for New Hampshire amount to over $28 million. The auction proceeds are then redistributed by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in the form of grants to fund projects and programs intended to directly or indirectly increase energy efficiency and reduce electricity consumption which, by extension, should further reduce CO2 emissions. Second, this bill also clarifies how the monies in the greenhouse gas emissions reduction fund (RGGI fund) may be used in the future. The committee heard testimony from many citizens and stakeholders who were not satisfied with the way the RGGI funds have been used. Most distressing was the raid of the RGGI fund in 2010 by the governor and legislature for $3.1 million to the general fund. The majority of the committee feels that the RGGI fund balance should be used for its intended purpose: energy efficiency. Therefore, all monies in the RGGI fund as of July 1, 2011 and all monies entering the fund after that date will be allocated to the existing CORE energy efficiency programs already in existence. The majority believes that this is the most cost effective use of RGGI funds. Third, RGGI will not sunset until December 31, 2011 since that will be the end of the first 3 year compliance period, and the affected sources will still be required to fulfill obligations with the Department of Environmental Services (DES) to prove compliance with RGGI’s first three year obligations. New Hampshire will still participate in three more RGGI auctions before year end and auction proceeds will be deposited in the RGGI fund to be used as directed in this amended bill. The majority of the committee favors repeal because we believe that RGGI should never have been enacted in the first place. It was clear to us that RGGI was really all about the money and not about the climate. It is not the role of state government to subsidize or prop up private businesses; RGGI created the illusion of free money to those who were fortunate enough to receive funding, and many think that funding should continue indefinitely. The majority believes it is not the proper role of government to create burdensome mandates which take a small amount of money from the many (electric ratepayers), funnel that money through multiple levels of bureaucracy (RGGI, Inc. and NH PUC), and redistribute a large amount of money to the few. The majority believes that RGGI was a stealth tax, hidden in the electric rates of our constituents. RGGI also has added to the size and scope of New Hampshire’s state bureaucracy; we need to shrink the size of government. Finally, the majority believes that New Hampshire does not need a complex and expensive multi-state scheme to find solutions to our environmental and energy challenges. New Hampshire has the ability to control emissions and protect our environment by developing uniquely New Hampshire solutions. Vote 13-5.
Rep. Naida L Kaen for the Minority of Science, Technology and Energy: No fiscal note was provided to the committee prior to the executive session. The hearing, held in representatives’ hall, began at 10:00 a.m. and concluded at 6:30 p.m.. Of the sixty or more people who testified on complicated subject matter, a substantial majority spoke against the bill. No subcommittee meeting was held prior to the executive session. The executive session began with an introduction of an amendment not previously provided to committee members for review and which was essentially a rewrite of the original bill. The minority believes that this bill should have been retained in committee for a proper vetting, and to provide a better understanding of the potential consequences of its passage. Some of the possible outcomes of the passage of this legislation, as amended, are likely to be that New Hampshire electric rate-payers will continue to pay at least $5 million on their electric bills while the State of NH gives up $13 million annually in proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auction. To date more than $28 million has gone largely to help local municipalities weatherize municipal buildings, thereby reducing local taxes, and to assist families and businesses save money by becoming more energy efficient, all of which reduces our dependence on foreign oil and ultimately reduces all ratepayers’ electric rates. The minority believes that modification of the program may be warranted, but that the decision to repeal should be properly reviewed so as to avoid potential damage to NH’s economy and to many citizens of the state.
Excerpts from HCR 19 “A RESOLUTION affirming States’ powers based on the Constitution for the United States and the Constitution of New Hampshire. ”
Therefore, whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force;
Therefore, all acts of Congress, the orders of the Executive or orders of the Judiciary of the United States of America which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution are altogether void, and of no force;
Therefore, all compulsory federal legislation that directs States to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires States to pass legislation or lose federal funding are prohibited;
Therefore, no officer not authorized by the Constitution or by law or exercising a power not authorized by the Constitution, nor their subordinates shall have any authority in, or over the sovereign State of New Hampshire, nor any inhabitant or resident thereof, nor any franchises created under the authority thereof when within the borders of the State of New Hampshire
Therefore, the Legislatures and Legislators of the several States have the right and duty to consider the constitutionality of any legislative act or order promulgated by the government of the United States of America; and to protect their governments, inhabitants, and residents and instruments created under their authority by prohibiting, and if necessary punishing the enforcement any Acts by the Congress of the United States of America, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America;
that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis), to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them
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.
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 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