NH Legislature This Week—June 27, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Look at who we put in the White House. You think about that and we realize the profound responsibility that we have this time. In my view, if we re-elect this man, all that all of the people fought and died for is completely in vain.” Republican State Chairman Jack Kimball referring to soldiers who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“It is disgraceful for a partisan official to claim that men and women are dying for party rather than their country.” Michael Breen, vice president of the Truman National Security Project, a former Army captain and NH native.
“They reduced the budget, and it was up to the superintendent to decide what to cut. Programs weren’t targeted. The bottom line of the budget was.” Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) explaining how the legislature isn’t responsible for specific program cuts because they only cut budgets and then leave it to administrators to figure out which programs have to be cut.
“Now that we’ve made it here, we’ll make it everywhere.” Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry, celebrating the passage of a marriage equality law in New York on Friday.
“…it is clear that a veto would not lead to a better budget”. Governor John Lynch.
The House and Senate are now adjourned for the summer. Future newsletters will be sporadic as things happen, but will become regular again in January when the next session begins. In the next couple of weeks, we will be summarizing the budget and the status of bills that were debated this year.
Governor Lynch has decided to let the budget and budget trailer bill become law without his signature. Had the Governor vetoed the budget, the next fiscal year would start on July 1st without a state budget, which would cause many state offices to close automatically. Given the political reality that a veto would not likely have lead to a better budget, a veto would only have caused further pain to the state.
The full text of the Governor’s statement can be read here: http://www.governor.nh.gov/media/news/2011/062411-budget.htm
Prisoner work program
For the last several years, towns have been depending on prison inmates to help with many projects such as painting building, clearing trails, cleaning fields, etc. Brookline in particular has made extensive use of the program in recent years. Last year, inmates worked 1,600 hours for Brookline, more than any other area town including Nashua.
This program is now ending due to budget cuts in the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections. Faced with a 9% budget cut, the administrators were forced to cut back on this program (which from their perspective is a nice-to-have) or to cut back on prison staffing which would compromise prison safety, their core mission. Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) and Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) insist that they are not responsible because they only cut the top-level budget and left it to the administrators to determine which programs to cut. Our Representatives are now busy blaming the prison administrators for the program cuts.
For a more detailed news story, see here: http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/923438-196/county-inmate-labor-may-end.html
Hot Topics This Week :
Minimum wage, parental notification, retirement system, education funding, reading assignments in schools, prisoner early release program, guns, and health care reform.
The following bills have become law without Governor Lynch’s signature:
- HB1—The state Budget.
- HB2—The budget “trailer”.
The following bills have become law after the legislature overrode Governor Lynch’s veto:
- HB133—Repealing NH”s minimum wage law. The House vote was 261-110 and the Senate vote was a party line 19-5. Senator Luther and Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Gargasz voted to pass. Rep. Flanagan did not vote on the veto override, but voted to pass the bill when it was first proposed.
- HB329—Requiring parental notification before a minor has an abortion. The bill does not provide an exception for rape or incest, but does allow a judge to make exceptions. The House vote was 266-102 and the Senate vote was 17-7. Senator Luther and Rep. Belanger voted to pass. Rep. Drisko and Gargasz voted to defeat. Rep. Flanagan did not vote.
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.
- SB3—Makes many changes to the State public employee retirement system. Senator Luther is a cosponsor.
For the following bills, the House and Senate agreed on language from a committee of conference and the bills now go to Governor Lynch:
- HB337—Changes the education funding formula. Rep. Flanagan is a cosponsor. The House vote was 249-102. The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote. Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Gargasz voted to pass. Rep. Flanagan did not vote.
- HB542—Requires schools to create a policy in which a parent can require their student to be given a different reading assignment if the parent finds some material to be objectionable. The vote was 240-108 in the House and a party line 19-5 in the Senate. Senator Luther and Rep. Belanger voted to pass. Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat. Rep. Drisko and Flanagan did not vote.
- SB52—Exempts prisoners convicted of violent or sexual crimes from the early release program and provides greater flexibility to the Parole Board. The Senate passed the compromise language on a voice vote. The House vote was 270-100. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted to pass.
- SB88—Allows the use of deadly force against “threats” anywhere a person has a right to be (instead of just their home as is current law). Also removes the minimum sentence for felony convictions involving guns, and specifies that “displaying” a gun is considered to be “non-deadly force” for legal purposes. The bill also provides immunity from civil lawsuits for injuries caused when someone uses deadly force in a situation that they feel was threatening. Senator Luther is a cosponsor. The Senate passed on a party line 19-5. The House passed 283-89. Senator Luther and Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat.
- SB148—Specifies that no resident of NH can be required to purchase health insurance except for certain college students (as required by the colleges) and certain people who are required to do so by court order. Note, however, that federal laws supersede state laws. The House and Senate both passed on a voice vote.
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