NH Legislature This Week—January 10, 2011
This is the first installment of what we plan to be a weekly guide to what is going on the New Hampshire Legislature. Each week, we’ll cover the hearings and votes that will be coming up so you stay informed with what is happening in Concord.
Each week the legislature deals with many bills in many committees and keeping track of them is overwhelming. In this report, we will focus only the few bills that are likely to be of most interest to the most people. This way you can see what is going on in the legislature at a glance.
If one of the representatives of Hollis, Brookline and Mason sit on a committee, then those committee hearings are highlighted. Also, if there is a bill that has been sponsored by one of our representatives, that bill will also be highlighted.
This first edition is coming out a couple of days late. Our intention is to issue a new guide each weekend to cover the hearings and votes for the upcoming week and to report on the votes taken the previous week. This week is the first week that hearings have been scheduled for the new legislature. Hearings will continue until the end of May, but most hearings will be completed before the end of March.
Bills are still being submitted, but the deadline for introducing all bills is coming in a couple of weeks. Once that deadline has passed, we will send out a list of all bills of general interest. If you would like to see the list of bills that have been introduced so far, go to http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_status/quick_search.html and click on “submit”.
Hot Topics This Week:
limiting tenure of judges, cutting funding of NH Public Television, warrant articles, unemployment compensation, Arizona immigration law, Citizens United
Hearings—Tuesday Jan 11th
House Judiciary Committee
- CACR2 “relating to the tenure of judges. Providing that the general court (ie the legislature) may specify the term of office served by a judge.” If passed, this constitutional amendment would allow the legislature to set the term of office for particular judges rather than having lifetime appointments. If judges have to come back to the legislature regularly to renew their positions, then their decisions will need to be influenced more by politics than law and good judgment. 2:30PM LOB room 208
Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee
- SB16 “relative to amendments to warrant articles” See discussion of HB77 below. 9:20am Statehouse room 100
Hearings—Wednesday Jan 12th
House Finance Committee
- HB113 ”prohibiting the university system of New Hampshire from using state appropriations to fund public television. ” 11:00AM LOB room 210
House Municipal and County Government Committee (Rep. Jim Belanger sits on this committee)
- HB77 “relative to amendments to warrant articles. ” In SB2 towns, there is a deliberative session which can change the text of the warrant articles before the articles are voted on. The text can not be changed during the actual vote itself. What has typically happened is that a warrant article was added to spend some money on a project, then at the deliberative session a tiny number of people changed the wording to allocate zero dollars for the project. Thus, when it gets voted on, it doesn’t matter if it passes or not, the project won’t be funded. Last year when there were town warrant articles calling for a constitutional amendment on marriage equality, a few were reworded at deliberative sessions. There is another bill, SB16 which is identical and is cosponsored by all but one of the Senate Republicans. 2:00PM LOB room 301
Hearings—Thursday Jan 13th
House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee (Rep. Jack Flanagan sits on this committee)
- HB26 “clarifying the definition of gross misconduct for purposes of unemployment compensation. ” People who lose their employment may not receive unemployment benefits if they were guilty of certain offenses such as arson, sabotage, assault, etc. This bill will remove the provision that says that benefits can be denied if the person steals more than $500 and adds a provision that benefits can be denied for “dishonesty”. No further explanation or definition is provided as to what would constitute “dishonesty”. 2:00PM LOB room 307
House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee
- HCR2 “in support of the Arizona immigration law. ” This is a House Resolution, which is a statement of opinion, but has no legal effect. 10:00AM LOB room 203
- HCR1 “urging the congressional delegation to begin the process for a constitutional amendment establishing that human beings, not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights. ” This is a Democratic proposal to urge Congress to pass a federal constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United Supreme Court decision which allows corporations to pour huge amounts of anonymous donations into elections. 2:00PM LOB room 203
Coming Up next week:
Tuesday, Jan 18th: hearing on industrial hemp, committee vote on HB77 (warrant articles)
Note: “LOB” refers to the Legislative Office Building, which is immediately behind the statehouse. Most committee hearings are held in this building.
Hollis, Brookline, Mason Reps:
Sen. Jim Luther
Rep. Jim Belanger
Rep. Dick Drisko
Rep. Jack Flanagan
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz