NH Legislature This Week—June 6, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Our family is made of staunch Republicans. We are not here to blindly follow a leader who is rejecting those values to please a group of transplants who have no understanding of New Hampshire tradition”. Rep. Matt Quandt (R-Exeter) while resigning his post as the House Deputy Majority Leader.
“We didn’t raise him to be a bully. The Speaker was obviously raised differently.” Rep. Lee Quandt (R-Exeter) the father of Rep. Matt Quandt (R-Exeter).
“It’s not a leadership team. It’s a cult.” Rep. Lee Quandt (R-Exeter).
“I cannot sit by and participate in a leadership team that is bent on destroying the strong labor force and good benefits that we have in our state. I cannot condone the incredible disrespect that [Speaker] Bill O’Brien has shown to other members of our caucus who are trying to represent their constituents.” Rep. Tim Copland (R-Stratham) resigning his post as House Majority Whip.
House members have been busy filing new bill requests (LSRs) for next year. Next Wednesday, June 8th is the last day for House members to file LSRs. As before, we try to just list the ones that are likely to be of interest. Before, it was about 1/5 of the bills submitted. This time it’s over half. We list the LSRs below after the usual information on current bills.
The scope of the new bills ranges from the extreme, but expected (prohibiting all public employees from participating in collective bargaining) to the sad (repealing the 180-day school year requirement) to the power hungry (eliminating the constitutional mandate of the supreme court) to the bizarre (requiring a vegetarian diet for inmates of the department of corrections) and to the downright scary (eliminating the criminal history record and protective order checks for sale of firearms).
On the bright side, a special recognition should go to 5 term Rep. Susan Emerson (R-Rindge) who you will recall tried to add back funding for certain health programs and was then yelled at by Speaker O’Brien and then reassigned to a different committee. She submitted the first LSR for 2012—a bill to prohibit bullying in the statehouse.
The LSRs mark yet another break with long held traditions. It has been the rule (at least in the House) that, if a bill were defeated in the first year of the session, then the same or a substantially similar bill could not be introduced in the second year. Apparently that rule is gone. Many of the 2012 LSRs sound identical to bills that have been or are still being debated this year.
The list of LSRs will not win a Pulitzer Prize, but you will laugh and cry. It will be an emotional roller coaster.
Two bills that were tabled by the Senate earlier were resuscitated last week. HB590 declares most federal grants to be unconstitutional and sets a committee to determine which federal grants should be replaced with state or local taxes, or just canceled altogether. The Senate pulled this bill off of the table and passed it on a voice vote. The bill will not go to Governor Lynch directly as the Senate disagrees with the House over whether or not the justification for the bill should include a reference to the Federalist Papers, but that is the only point of contention.
The other bill is HB542. The original House version allows parents to not send their children to schools or programs that they object to for whatever reason. The newly passed Senate version instead requires schools to create policies in which, if a parent objects to any material, then the school must provide an alternative material for that student that the parent and school mutually approve of.
The Senate has passed it’s own version of the State Budget. While it make a few minor improvements in a couple of areas, it is very similar to the House budget. The Democrats introduced amendments to restore some funding for developmental services and community mental health services, hospital charity care, colleges and universities, child health care, elderly housing services, and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases, but these were strongly rejected. The final budget was passed on a party line vote of 19-5.
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)
While the Senate has toned down the bill passed by the House by not repealing RGGI right away, the House is making it clear that they are going to fight the Senate on this issue. The House has taken an unrelated bill dealing with shoreline protection (SB154) and tacked on a provision to repeal RGGI immediately.
One of the few good things to happen this week was that the Senate rejected a bill(HB429) to lower the dropout age from 18 to 16. The vote was 18-6, but Senator Luther voted with the minority in favor of passing the bill.
Committees of Conference
When the House and Senate can not agree the wording of a bill, they send it to a committee of conference made of members of the House and Senate. Each bill gets it’s own committee. Traditionally, the members from each body would be composed of both Democrats and Republicans. Last year, many Republicans publicly railed against the Democrats for replacing the Senate Republican on one such committee (working on the marriage equality bill) with a Democrat. This year, Republican Senate President is doing the same thing while Speaker O’Brien isn’t even bothering to appoint any Democrats in the first place.
One example of this is SB3, which makes many changes to the state employee retirement system. Democratic Senator Sylvia Larsen was appointed the committee, but then replaced with Republican Sen. Fenton Groen. Sen. Larsen had been the only Democrat on the committee since Speaker O’Brien appointed only Republicans.
Is pointing a gun at someone use of deadly force?
SB88, among various other provisions, declares that “displaying or brandishing” a gun is not using deadly force in the legal sense. While the House was debating this bill (which passed) last Wednesday, a floor amendment was offered to expand it even further. The floor amendment specified that “pointing a weapon” should not be considered use of deadly force. While the House defeated the amendment 257-92, we will note here that Rep. Belanger voted in favor of the amendment. Rep. Gargasz did not vote on the amendment, but did vote in favor of the final bill. Rep. Flanagan voted against the amendment, but in favor of the final bill. Rep. Drisko voted against the amendment and against the final bill.
Hot Topics This Week (does not include LSRs):
Objectionable material in schools, federal grants, the Budget, death penalty, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, affirmative action, dropout age, taxes, education funding, NH Rail Transit Authority, guns, and photo IDs to vote.
The following bills were passed with changes by the Senate:
These bills have already been passed by the House. Either the House must agree to the changes made by the Senate, or the bill will go to a committee of conference to work out the differences.
- HB542 –Allows a parent to remove a child from any school or program to which they are “conscientiously opposed”. The Senate has completely rewritten the bill. Instead of allowing parents to pull their children out of school, the new version requires all schools to adopt a policy stating that any parent who finds some material objectionable for any reason can require that their child be given some alternative that is mutually agreed upon by the parent and the school. The bill also requires that the parent’s name and the reason for the objection may not be made public. This bill had been tabled by the Senate, but was removed from the table last Wednesday. Voice vote.
- HB590—Declares that most federal grants are unconstitutional and creates a committee to determine which grants currently being received in the state should be rejected and possibly replaced with state or local taxes. This bill had been tabled by the Senate, but was removed from the table last Wednesday. The amendment that had been recommended by the Senate Internal Affairs committee was adopted, but the amendment just removed a reference to The Federalist Papers as a justification with no substantive change. Voice vote.
- HB1—The State Budget. The Senate version passed on a party line vote of 19-5. Senator Luther voted to pass.
- HB2—The State Budget rider. The Senate version passed on a party line vote of 19-5. Senator Luther voted to pass.
- HB147—Expands the death penalty to include murders committed during a home invasion. The Senate amended the bill to require that it only apply in cases of burglary. Voice vote.
- HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The Senate version would keep RGGI, but repeal it if certain other New England states withdraw. This had passed 18-6, but was then sent to Finance. When it came back up for a second vote in the Senate, it was amended to only withdraw if 2 New England states withdrew or if a single state withdraw that has more than 10% of the total load of the New England states withdraws. The final version passed 24-0. Senator Luther voted to pass.
- HB623—Prohibits affirmative action programs in state government and in the University System. Voice vote.
The following bills were defeated in the Senate:
- HB429—Lowers the dropout age from 18 to 16. The vote was 18-6. Senator Luther voted in favor of the bill.
The following bills were sent back to Committee in the Senate:
These bills will likely be held over to next year.
- CACR5—Constitutional Amendment requiring a 3/5 super majority in both the House and Senate to raise taxes or create new taxes.
- CACR12—Constitutional Amendment on education funding (House version).
For the following bills, the House has approved the changes made by the Senate:
These bills will now go to Governor Lynch.
- HB218—Repealing the NH Rail Transit Authority. The final version of this bill turns the NH Rail Transit Authority into a study committee that will report on the feasibility of implementing rail service. The current NHRTA is authorized to actually implement rail service if funding were to be found. Voice vote.
For the following bills, the House has NOT approved the changes made by the Senate:
These bills will now go to a committee of conference to work out a compromise between the House and Senate.
- HB337—Sets limits on future education funding to towns. Rep. Flanagan is a cosponsor. See also SB183 (the Senate version). Rep. Flanagan will not be on the committee of conference, which will write the final version of the bill.
The following bills were passed with changes by the House:
These bills have already been passed by the Senate. Either the Senate must agree to the changes made by the House, or the bill will go to a committee of conference to work out the differences.
- SB88—Allows the use of deadly force and removes the requirement that you must retreat if you may safely do so, specifies that using a gun to threaten someone is not using deadly force, and other misc gun law changes. A floor amendment was offered that explicitly stated that pointing a gun at someone was not “using deadly force” and that the use of deadly force would be justified if you were somewhere where you believed that you had a right to be, even if you didn’t really have a right to be there. Rep. Belanger voted in favor of this amendment. Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted against the amendment. Rep. Gargasz did not vote on the amendment. The amendment failed 257-92. The House did adopt an amendment that replaced the text of the bill with a different House version. The final vote was 248-111. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to pass. Rep. Drisko voted to defeat.
- SB129—Requires a photo ID to vote. The House version allows people to cast provisional ballots if they do not have ID at the time of voting, but only allows IDs created by the state or federal government, or a driver’s license. The Senate version does not allow for provisional ballots, but allows IDs created by towns, colleges, and businesses as long as the ID has an expiration date. The House vote was 259-116. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to pass.
- SB183—Sets limits on future education funding to towns. Senator Jim Luther is a cosponsor. See also HB337 (the House version). The House amended the bill to be more like HB337, which is going to a committee of conference. The bill was passed as amended 260-110. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to pass.
The following bills were tabled by the House:
Tabled bills may be brought back at any time. If no action is taken by the end of the year, then they are defeated.
- CACR14—Constitutional Amendment on education funding (Senate version).
New Legislative Service Requests (LSRs) for 2012
These are requests that legislators have submitted to have bills written. Each LSR will become a bill next year unless the sponsor of the LSR withdraws the request. Only the title and sponsor of each LSR is publicly available. The full text will become available when the LSR is turned into an official bill next year. The bill number will be different from the LSR number.
These are not all of the LSRs, but ones that could potentially be of concern to a broad audience. As it turns out, most of the LSRs fall under this category. This is not usual.
Note: The text here is the exact text of the LSR title. In a few cases, we have added some comments in brackets .
2001 prohibiting bullying in the state house and legislative office building
2004 relative to nomination of candidates for United States senator
2009 Relating to the definition of marriage. Providing that the state shall only recognize the union of one man and one woman as marriage.
2010 Relating to referendums. Providing that the voters can veto laws by referendum.
2012 relative to school attendance by children of divorced parents. [NOTE: There was a recent NH Supreme Court case in which parents divorce and the mother wanted to home school the child while the father wanted the child to attend public schools. The Supreme Court sided with the father in this particular case, but made it clear that each case must be decided individually and that they were not making a generalization about which was better. Home school advocates were very upset at the decision.]
2012 relative to the child protection act
2014 relative to the women’s right to know act regarding abortion information. [NOTE: Texas just passed a law requiring doctors to take sonograms show the sonograms to the patient before performing abortions. This sounds like it could be similar.]
2015 relative to rights of conscience for medical professionals
2016 relative to teaching the bible in public schools
2017 repealing certain tax and fee increases and the regional greenhouse gas initiative.
2020 prohibiting state funding for public television
2026 establishing a permanent state defense force
2030 Relating to the chief justice of the supreme court. Providing that the chief justice shall adopt court rules with the concurrence of the general court.
2031 Relating to parental rights. Providing that parents have the natural right to control the health, education, and welfare of their children.
2032 relative to state authority to accept federal aid
2033 relative to official oppression
2034 affirming state’s powers based on the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of New Hampshire
2039 relative to the default budget in certain towns
2040 relative to a student’s freedom of association
2041 relative to entering the property of another
2043 urging Congress to amend or repeal legislation expanding the Constitutionally delegated powers of the federal government
2044 establishing a committee to study the effects of illegal immigration on the state of New Hampshire
2045 prohibiting state courts from using a foreign law or legal code in any ruling
2047 establishing a committee to study the changes necessitated by abolishing the supreme and superior courts as constitutional courts
2048 Relating to the supreme and superior courts. Providing that the supreme and superior courts shall not be constitutionally established.
2049 requiring the inclusion of a moral turpitude clause in the contracts of all education personnel.
2059 relative to the withholding from wages of union dues
2061 requiring parental notification before abortions may be performed on unemancipated minors
2062 transferring the duties of the department of education to the state board of education and eliminating the department
2063 eliminating department of safety administration of motorcycle rider education
2064 requiring documentation of qualifications for presidential candidates
2065 expressing the position of the New Hampshire general court that the offering and acceptance of federal grants-in-aid relating to matters not included among the defined powers of the federal government is unconstitutional under the state and federal Constitutions and establishing a committee to review state participation in federal grant-in-aid programs
2067 congratulating the Republic of Hungary on the adoption of its first national constitution [NOTE: It is not Hungary’s first national constitution. They recently had an election with results very similar to NH. A group of ultra-conservative legislators were elected in a huge wave. They had a super majority of votes necessary to completely rewrite the constitution (this doesn’t require a vote of the people, just the legislature). The new constitution severely restricts court oversight of the legislature, declares that life begins a conception, bans gay and lesbians from marriage, cites Christianity and “traditional family values” in the preamble, restricts court oversight of family policy and taxation, while requiring a 2/3 super majority in the legislature to make any changes on those areas. There were thousands of protesters demonstrating against this. Amnesty International said it “violates international and European human rights standards.”]
2071 relative to the funding of the labor department
2075 repealing a provision relative to unauthorized use of firearms in the compact part of a town or city
2076 relating to abortions after 20 weeks
2083 relating to meetings of the general court. Providing that the general court shall meet biennially.
2084 urging the Congress of the United States to withdraw the membership of the United States from the United Nations so that the United States may retain its sovereignty and control over its own funds and military focus.
2085 urging Congress of the United States to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in accordance with Article 2205 of the agreement.
2087 relative to school district votes on school building projects
2089 abolishing the department of education
2090 repealing the 180-day school year requirement
2095 relative to Channel 11 affiliation with University of New Hampshire [NOTE: Channel 11 is NH Public Television]
2096 relative to state employee benefits
2097 relative to funding lobbying activities
2098 increasing certain speed limits
2102 prohibiting party employees from running for certain offices
2103 prohibiting public employees from running for certain offices
2107 prohibiting a person from being charged with speeding unless there is a victim of the offense
2108 prohibiting prosecution for victimless crimes
2109 relative to the administration of sobriety checkpoints (same sponsor as 2107 and 2108)
2110 establishing a committee to study the economics of processing, storing, and recycling nuclear waste in New Hampshire
2111 requiring the courts to file reports of complaints against court officers, court staff, and any other person involved in the administration of justice
2112 relative to the right-to-know exemption for public employee personnel files
2114 prohibiting all public employees from participating in collective bargaining
2116 reducing the rate of the meals and rooms tax over a 5-year period
2118 eliminating the criminal history record and protective order checks for sale of firearms
2102 relative to playing skill games for money
2124 relative to the process for choosing United States Senators
2127 prohibiting employers from knowingly or intentionally employing illegal aliens
2132 requiring disclosure of complaints against a police officer
2133 establishing keno in New Hampshire
2145 increasing the threshold amount for taxation under the business enterprise tax
2137 relative to the parental rights of members of the military
2141 establishing keno and providing scholarship money to New Hampshire students
2143 relative to arrest records under the right-to-know law
2145 relative to remedies under the right-to-know law
2146 relative to the return of personal property confiscated by law enforcement agencies from a person charged with a crime
2147 requiring a vegetarian diet for inmates of the department of corrections
2148 relative to unemployment payments paid by chief executive officers
2149 relative to a person’s residence for voting and all other legal purposes
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 email@example.com.
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 1st and 3rd 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.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