NH Legislature This Week—February 7, 2011

NH Legislature This Week—February 7, 2011

 

 

There was a large hearing on the death penalty this week.  While most testified in opposition, the father and husband of the victims of the Mont Vernon home invasion spoke in favor.

 

At the hearing held on Friday to make deep cuts in the state retirement program, a packed crowd of state employees attempted to testify, but were cut off and told to keep their testimony in under a minute.  As a long time observer of legislative hearings, it was really shocking to see any hearing being conducted this way.  The press wouldn’t cover it because “there is precedence” – in other words, it’s happened before.  Yes, but this a huge issue that is going to effect tens of thousands of retirees.  It just screams “we don’t care”.

 

On February 17th of next week, the House will hold a hearing on two bills to repeal marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples.  One of the bills would also make it illegal for employers to offer Domestic Partnership benefits—as has been done in some other states.  There is power struggle right now between those who want to pass these repeals this year vs. the people who want to wait until next year to pass them, so don’t believe everything that you read in the paper.  As one of our local Reps put it, “this is very much on the agenda.”

 

Rep. Jack Flanagan is cosponsoring a bill to change the school education aid formula.  The proposed new formula is VERY complicated, but would result in much less education aid going to towns.  The full text of the bill can be found at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2011/HB0337.html.  HB337 will have a hearing on Friday.

 

There is not much to report on the Senate this week, so we will focus on the House even more than usual.

 

This week we are introducing our readers to the  concept of the consent calendar.   See “Terms and Abbreviations” below.

 

Correction from last week: The bill to remove the requirement that political signs be taken down is HB257, not HB256.

Another Correction from last week: We incorrectly stated that Rep. Carolyn Gargasz sits on the Education Committee, she is actually a member of the Children and Family Law Committee.

 

Hot Topics This Week:

Election ballots, citizen initiatives, annual elections, recalling US Senator, industrial hemp, Health Care Reform, Cap-and-Trade, Corporations are not People, federal laws do not apply to us,  max interest rate on loans, home schooling, kindergarten, Planned Parenthood, unions, Evergreen, Right to Work, income tax, loaded guns in cars, toll plaza in Nashua, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, earmarks, companies shipping jobs overseas, 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.

 

Signed Into Law:

 

HB77, which would prevent SB2 towns from changing the meaning of warrant articles at deliberative sessions before they go onto the ballot was signed into law by Governor Lynch on Saturday.  The bill was passed by the House on a voice vote this last week and had passed the Senate on a voice vote earlier.  The bill expressly allows deliberative sessions to change the dollar amount of warrant articles, such as setting the dollar amount to zero.

 

Votes Cast Last Week:

 

The following bills were all reported out of the House Election Law Committee (Rep. Dick Drisko sits on this committee) with a recommendation of ITL.  The votes were all 18-0.

 

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.

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.

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.

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

 

House Session—Wednesday Feb 9th

 

The following bills will be voted on by the full 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.  Consent Calendar ITL.

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.  Consent Calendar ITL.

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.  Consent Calendar ITL.

HB73—Would create a process to recall a US Senator.  Consent Calendar ITL.

HB101—Authorizes state farmers to grow industrial hemp, which is still illegal under federal law.  Committee recommendation is ITL 11-7.

HB89—Requiring the Attorney General to join the lawsuits against federal Health Care Reform and the cap-and-trade program.  Committee recommendation is OTP 11-3.

HCR1—Urging Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment declare that corporations are not people.  Committee recommendation is ITL 8-5.

 

Hearings and committee votes—Tuesday Feb 8th

House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee

  • HB324 states that all goods and services manufactured or provided in NH are exempt from federal laws.  Further, any federal agent that attempts to enforce federal laws is guilty of a felony and any state employee that attempts to enforce federal laws is guilty of a misdemeanor.  LOB room 302 11:00am.
  • HB280 would set the maximum interest rate that could be charged for open-ended loans at prime + 6% unless payments are late.  There doesn’t seem to be a state limit currently.  LOB room 302 2:30pm.

 

House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee

  • at 10:00am, the committee may vote on HB125, exempting NH guns and ammo from federal laws and making it illegal to enforce federal laws.

 

House Education Committee

  • HB545 repeals the Department of Education’s rulemaking authority for home schoolers Reps Hall 10:30am
  • HB301 rewrites the home school laws.  Reps Hall 1:00pm
  • HB595 also rewrites the home school laws (Sen. Jim Luther is a sponsor).  Reps Hall 2:00pm
  • HB631 repeals the requirement for all school districts to offer public kindergarten.  *NOTE: the committee may vote on this bill on Thursday* Reps Hall 3:00pm

 

House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee

  • HB228 prohibits the state from entering into contracts with Planned Parenthood or any other organization that offers abortion services.  Note that Planned Parenthood provides many services to low income clients such as mammograms and prenatal care.  Only a small fraction of their budget goes to providing abortion services.  LOB room 205 1:30pm.

 

House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee (Rep. Jack Flanagan sits on this committee)

  • at 2:00pm the committee may vote on HB185 (limits on size of collective bargaining units for public employees), SB1 and HB326 (both repeal the Evergreen clause), and HB474 (public employees can not be required to join a union, aka right to work)

 

House Ways and Means Committee

  • CACR13 is a Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit an income tax.  LOB room 202 3:00pm

 

 

Hearings and committee votes—Thursday Feb 10th

House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee

  • HB619 requires that NH opt out of the federal requirement that individuals purchase health insurance.  Note that federal law does not allow states to opt out.  LOB room 302 2:45pm.

 

House Education Committee

  • at 1:00pm the Committee may vote on HB631, repealing the requirement for public kindergarten.  LOB room 207.

 

House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee

  • at 2:00pm the Committee may vote on HB194, allowing loaded guns and cocked crossbows in vehicles. LOB room 307

 

House Public Works and Highways Committee

  • HB471 would create a new toll plaza between exits 1 and 2 in Nashua.  It would also remove the Bedford toll plaza and the tolls in Merrimack.  LOB room 201 10:15am.

 

House Science, Technology and Energy Committee

  • HB519 would repeal NH’s regional greenhouse gas initiative cap and the program for controlling carbon dioxide emissions.  Reps Hall 10:00am.

 

House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee

  • HCR 23 urging the congressional delegation to support earmarks for the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.  LOB room 203 9:30am
  • HR9 supporting federal earmarks for public safety. LOB room 203 10:00am
  • HR8 urging Congress to pass a Constitutional Amendment to declare that corporations are not people. LOB room 203 10:30am
  • HR10 urging Congress to remove tax breaks for companies that send jobs out of the country.  LOB room 203 11:00am
  • HB500 declaring federal grants-in-aid to be unconstitutional under the federal constitution and instructing Congress how it should be run.  LOB room 203 2:00pm

 

Hearings and committee votes—Friday Feb 11th

House Special Committee on Education Funding Reform

  • HB337 replaces the current education funding formula with a very complicated formula.  The Department of Education estimates that the net effect would be to reduce education funding by $83M in FY2012.  (Rep. Jack Flanagan is a sponsor) LOB room 207 10:30am

 

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.

 

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