NH Legislature This Week—June 20, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“We’re getting amendment after amendment that could affect everybody in this state, and we haven’t debated it. This is absolutely wrong. This is no way to govern the state of New Hampshire.” Senator Chuck Morse (R-Salem) on a stack of budget amendments that the House dropped on his desk last Wednesday without warning.
This week is essentially the end of the legislative session. The final votes on all bills being sent to Governor Lynch will occur this coming Wednesday. The House will not meet in July. The legislature will meet again later in the year and perhaps next week to vote on bills that have been vetoed by Governor Lynch.
Neither the House nor the Senate met this week and they focused on hammering out a “compromise” on the budget. There are, however, very few differences between the House and Senate to begin with. Speaker O’Brien, oddly enough, spent much of the week in Washington D.C., meeting with conservative think tanks.
Supreme Court decision
The NH Supreme Court has issued a unanimous decision that it is unconstitutional for the legislature to require the Attorney General to file a lawsuit. The House has wanted to pass a bill requiring the AG to join the lawsuit against the federal Affordable Care Act, which prevents health insurance companies from dropping coverage because someone gets sick or because of a pre-existing condition. It also allows young adults up to age 24 to be covered under their parent’s health care, so that they are not without coverage while attending college.
The University System is bracing for their state funding, one of the lowest in the nation to begin with, to be cut in half. UNH has already raised tuitions for the fall semester, even after students had already enrolled. Further tuition hikes are likely, as are hundreds of layoffs. US New and World Report has just named UNH as having the 4th highest tuition and fees for in-state students in the country. http://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2011/06/14/10-most-expensive-public-colleges-for-in-state-students
Hot Topics This Week :
NH Rail Transit Authority, parental notification, retirement system, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, parole, guns, federal health care laws, budget, education funding, and banning books.
The following bills were vetoed by Governor Lynch:
These bills will now go back to the House and Senate. A 2/3 majority in each chamber is needed to override a veto.
- HB218—Turning the NH Rail Transit Authority into a study committee on the feasibility of implementing rail. The current NHRTA is authorized to implement rail if they can get funding. This bill passed the House 190-119 and the Senate 16-8. The House vote is short of the 2/3 needed to override a veto.
- HB329—Requiring parental notification for a minor to have an abortion. This bill passed the House 256-102 and the Senate 17-7. Both votes are large enough to override a veto.
- SB3—Making comprehensive changes to the state retirement system. Note that the provisions in this bill are also in the budget (HB1) and the budget trailer (HB2). This bill passed the House 250-112 and the Senate 19-4. Both votes are large enough to override a veto.
The following bills are set to be defeated because the House and Senate could not agree on compromise language:
- HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).
House Session for Wednesday, June 22nd
All of these bills were passed by the House and Senate with differences. For each, a committee of conference was formed to work out the differences. Now the compromise version must be passed by the House and Senate again before they will go to Governor Lynch.
- SB52—Making changes to the parole system, including the exclusion of certain prisoners. The House has agreed to changes that the Senate had wanted which give the parole board more discretion in determining whether or not prisoners will be allowed to participate in the program. The parole board would also be given more authority to determine the sentencing of people who reoffend while on parole.
- SB88—Allows individuals to use deadly force if they feel that they or someone else is being threatened. The bill also declares that “displaying” a gun should be considered use of “non-deadly force” for legal purposes.
- SB148—Originally would require the Attorney General to join the lawsuit against the federal Affordable Care Act. Given the NH Supreme Court ruling, the compromise version now removes that provision, but states that NH will not enforce certain parts of the federal law.
- HB1—The Budget
- HB2—The budget “trailer” (ie, changes to the laws necessary to implement the budget)
- HB337—Changes the calculation and distribution of adequate education funding. Rep. Jack Flanagan is a cosponsor. The committee is recommending passage of the Senate version with only a minor change.
- HB542—allowing a parent to not send a child to a school to which they are “conscientiously opposed”, essentially removing the requirement that children be provided an education. Rep. Jack Flanagan was a member of the committee of conference. The House has agreed to the Senate version which instead requires school districts to create policies that allow alternative reading assignments which a parent objects to given education materials.
- HB601—Establishes a committee made of legislators to “ensure that the insurance department and health and human services will not attempt to implement the new federal health law without prior approval from the oversight committee.” The bill also requires the insurance commissioner to refuse a $666,000 federal grant that the state has been awarded for the purpose of doing the prep work needed to set up a health care exchange, which is required by federal law.
Senate Session for Wednesday, June 22nd
The Senate has nothing specifically on their calendar, but will likely vote on the above bills that are passed by the House.
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 2nd and 4th 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