NH Legislature This Week—March 14, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
A Correction and An Apology
At town meetings last week, the Brookline Democrats and the Hollis Democrats distributed a flier highlighting several bills of importance and our legislator’s votes on those issues. However, we mistakenly listed Rep. Jack Flanagan as voting in favor HB631, which would have repealed the requirement for public kindergarten. In fact, Rep. Flanagan voted against the bill, which was defeated in the House 213-134. We apologize for the error.
Quote of the Day 1:
Asked what he meant about supporting eugenics, Rep. Martin Harty (R-Barrington) clarified, “You know the mentally ill, the retarded, people with physical disabilities and drug addictions – the defective people society would be better off without.”
…Harty said nature has a way of “getting rid of stupid people,” and “now we’re saving everyone who gets born.”
…Harty then stated, “I wish we had a Siberia so we could ship them all off to freeze to death and die and clean up the population.”
And then there’s this, published in Foster’s Daily Democrat:
Harty, a first-term representative, wrote a letter to Foster’s Daily Democrat last month stating, “So far I really don’t know what I’m doing. . . . A new Rep really needs a coach along with him at first but there is no room for anyone to sit with him, and no way they could holler at him in a committee meeting.
“The few votes I’ve made so far I really didn’t know what I was voting for or against,” his letter said. “Just looked at the people around me and went along with them.”
Quote of the Day 2:
“I’ve been here 10 years, and I have never had a speaker call us in and tell us he wanted a bill passed. He told us he did not want that bill killed because Cornerstone wanted it passed.” Rep. Susan Emerson (R-Rindge) clerk of the House Health and Human Affairs Committee. She was referring to HB228 which the committee was going to ITL 8-0, but instead retained. The bill prevents state funding from going to Planned Parenthood. The committee was concerned about the effect it would have on the 26 hospitals and 28 health clinics across the state.
Quote of the Day 3:
“The committee concluded that substitutes for marriage is an idea whose time has come and gone in New Hampshire. Heterosexual couples never wanted them for themselves and were willing to accept them for homosexual couples in order to enable them to share in the economic advantages of marriage. Homosexual couples have moved on to marriage. There is no longer any constituency for substitutes for marriage except among a small minority who would alter society to conform to an abstract ideal of logical perfection. The majority believes that few, if any, would-be “June Brides” would prefer to be “June Parties-to-a-Domestic-Union,” which just doesn’t have quite the same romantic feel.” Rep. Gregory Sorg (R-Easton) writing the majority report opposing the Domestic Unions bill.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to people of Japan. Seeing the pain and destruction reminds us all how lucky we are.
Tom Fahey has an interesting article in the Union Leader on Speaker O’Brien pressuring committees to change their votes. Quote of the Day 2, above, discusses the Planned Parenthood bill. Fahey also notes that HB524, which would exempt violent criminals from the early release program was going to be retained, but has now been given an Ought To Pass recommendation. Also, HB628, which declares TSA agents to be sex offenders, was going to be killed, but has now been retained until next year.
The House budget cuts the Attorney Generals office by 17% but Republicans insist that this is not because of his refusal to join the lawsuit against federal health care reform. Of course not. The budget eliminates funding for the Consumer Protection Bureau which investigates 3,000 complaints a year.
The full House will be in session all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to deal with the backlog of bills (over 250) now coming out of committee. All bills must be voted on by March 31st unless the bill is being retained until next year. After March 31st, the House will be dealing with bills passed by the Senate and the Senate will be dealing with bills passed by the House.
The House Legislative Administration Committee has been holding hearings on whether or not to remove Rep. Mike Brunelle since early January. House Republicans made a surprise announcement during the first day of the legislature (organizing day) that they would seek to remove him because he filed a bill to raise the minimum wage. They argue that, because he is also the Executive Director of the NH Democratic Party, that submitting this bill would benefit his employer. They have chosen to ignore many other legislators that introduce bills more directly effecting their employment or businesses.
This week the House Counsel issued an opinion that the Constitution was not originally intended to be interpreted that way, but it could be interpreted that way, if you really want to. House Republicans are now using that excuse to drop the effort to oust Rep. Brunelle without having to apologize. “The Committee does recommend that the House promulgate a rule to clarify members’ obligations under Part II, Article 7 in order to give future direction as to the qualification of prospective members holding paid positions with political advocacy organizations.”
There are many education funding bills, but the primary bill in the House is HB337, which is cosponsored by Rep. Jack Flanagan. The bill is very complex and is undergoing a major renovation. However, the bill states that no town will receive less state education funding aid than they did in fiscal year 2011. That’s good news for Brookline and Hollis, but it begs the question—if some towns are getting more and no towns are getting less, then where is the extra funding coming from? The Senate has it’s own education funding bill and it’s too early to know what the final version will look like or if it will become law.
In a very unusual move, Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien uses his post at the beginning of this week’s House Calendar to inform the legislature that the Arizona Senate has passed a resolution declaring that states can ignore federal laws that they dislike. Speaker O’Brien advises legislators that a copy of the Arizona Senate resolution is available at the House Clerk’s office.
Hot Topics This Week:
Minimum wage, death penalty, political signs, Lyme disease, education funding, United Nations, international treaties, guns, school attendance, taxes, parental notification, Sunday business hours, early prisoner release, medical marijuana, use of deadly force, anti-bullying, unemployment benefits, automated phone calls, Gold Standard, dropout age, credit card interest rate, children’s health and welfare, homeschool taxes, drug testing of food stamp recipients, trial by jury, legislature overriding judiciary, ethanol, child support, more guns, election day registration, voting for college students and military personnel, state militia, assisted suicide, non-English signs, vaccinations, US Senate primary, deadly force again, affirmative action, yet more guns, ignoring federal laws, Planned Parenthood, electronic tracking devices, TSA agents as sex offenders, divorce, but wait! even more guns, health care reform, corporate sponsored elections, lots more education funding, health care, state retirement system, photo ID to vote, gambling, still more guns, line-item veto, federal Constitutional Convention,
The following bills were voted to recommend Ought to Pass in a House Committee:
HB133—Repealing NH’s minimum wage. Note that NH’s minimum wage is currently the same as the federal minimum wage. The vote was 8-7.
HB147—Allowing the death penalty for murder committed during a home invasion. The vote was 14-2.
HB257—This bill removes the requirement that political yard signs be picked up after the election is over. The vote was 13-0. Consent Calendar.
HB295—Allowing doctors to make special prescriptions for Lyme disease. The vote was 18-0.
HB337—New Education Funding formula. Very complicated, but includes a provision that no town will receive less than they received in FY 2011. Rep. Jack Flanagan is a cosponsor. The vote was 12-3.
HCR11—Urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations. The vote was 9-3.
HCR15—Urging our US Senators to vote against the Land and Sea Convention. The original bill “ordered” the Senators, but the committee recommends “urge”. The vote was 9-3.
CACR12—Constitutional Amendment declaring that the legislature has the sole authority to determine how and how much to spend on education funding. Similar to CACR7, retained, below.
HB330—Removes virtually all restrictions on guns. The vote was 11-6.
HB542—Declares that parents can not be required to send their children to school (school attendance). The vote was 11-6.
CACR6—Constitutional Amendment that would require a 3/5 vote in each house of the legislature in order to raise any tax or create a new tax. The bill originally required a 2/3 vote, but the committee recommends a change to 3/5.
HB329—Requiring parental notification before a minor may have an abortion. There is a provision that a judge may override this requirement in some circumstances. The vote was 12-4.
HB617—Repealing the law that restricts businesses and sporting events on Sundays. The vote was 15-0. Consent Calendar.
HB524—Exempts people who have been convicted of violent crimes from the early release program (known as SB500, which was passed last year). The early release program requires the convicts who have been released must be monitored, participate in counseling when necessary, and must register their new address with the state. Prisoners who are not released early can not be required to do these things because they were not part of the original sentence. The vote was 12-4.
HB442—Legalizes medical marijuana. The vote was 14-3.
HB210—Current law says that if some is threatened with deadly force, but they have a safe avenue to retreat, then they must do so. This bill says that a person can use deadly force to fight back even if they could have safely gotten away. The vote was 9-8.
HB370—Waters down the new anti-bullying law by removing the requirement that schools investigate incidents of bullying and cyber bullying that occur off-campus. The committee recommends an amendment that would require parents to be notified of off-campus incidents, but does not require the schools to take disciplinary actions. The vote was 10-6.
The following bills were technically recommended Ought to Pass in Committee, but only with an amendment that defeats the original purpose of the bill:
HB26—This bill originally said that unemployment benefits could be denied to employees who were fired for “dishonesty” instead of theft of over $500 as specified in current law. The Committee recommends an amendment that removes the dishonesty provision and instead specifies 1 or more instances of theft totaling $500. The vote was 15-0. Consent Calendar.
HB186—This bill originally banned automated phone calls that “implicitly” advocate for a candidate. Currently law bans “explicit” calls. The amended version simply defines what constitutes “political advertising” and makes no changes to the automated calling law. The vote was 13-2.
HCR13—Resolution that originally urged Congress to phase out the Federal Reserve system and to return to the Gold Standard. The amended version simply urges Congress to audit the Federal Reserve system. The vote was 13-0. Consent Calendar.
The following bill was voted out of a House Committee without a recommendation:
HB429—Lowering the dropout age from 18 to 16. The vote was 8-8.
The following bills were voted to recommend Inexpedient to Legislate in a House Committee:
HB280—Sets the maximum interest rate charged by credit cards at prime + 6%. The vote was 17-0. Consent Calendar.
CACR9—Constitutional Amendment declaring that parents have sole rights over the health and welfare of their children. The vote was 8-3.
HB340—Provides that homeschoolers do not have to pay taxes related to education. The vote was 14-2.
HB484—Requires the state to pay for random drug testing of food stamp recipients. Note that the food stamp program is paid for 100% by the federal government with no state money. The vote was 16-1. Consent Calendar.
HCR17—Declaring that the NH court decision of 1875 that allows for trial by jury is invalid. The vote was 16-0. Consent Calendar.
HCR18—In 1818 the NH court ruled that the legislature does not have the constitutional authority to override court decisions (such as divorce proceedings). This bill declares that court decision to be invalid. The vote was 14-0. Consent Calendar.
HB560—Raises the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.00. The vote was 11-4.
HB374—Bans the use of ethanol as a gas additive. The vote was 10-4.
HB575—Sets the maximum amount of child support to be between $475/mo and $612/mo. The vote was 9-2.
HB235—Allows guns to be present in cars while on business premises. The vote was 9-8.
HB223—Repeals the right to register on election day. The vote was 18-0. Consent Calendar.
HB176—Making college students and military personnel stationed in NH ineligible to vote unless they lived in NH prior to going to college or being stationed here. The vote was 13-5.
HB343—Establishing a state defense force to “protect the state from invasion”. The vote was 10-6.
HB513—Legalizing physician-assisted suicide (Death with Dignity). The vote was 15-1.
HB577—Requiring business that post a sign in a language other than English to post the sign in all six languages officially used by the United Nations. The vote was 16-0. Consent Calendar.
HB422—Prohibiting schools from administering vaccinations. The vote was 11-4.
HB421—Requiring that Senate Republicans and the House Republicans will vote to put two names of candidates on the US Senate primary and that the Senate Democrats and House Democrats will vote to put two names on the US Senate primary and that no other names shall appear on the primary ballot for US Senate. The vote was 18-0. Consent Calendar.
HB207—Allows the use of deadly force when a felony is being committed. Note the other bills in which it would become a felony for a government employee to obey federal laws. The vote was 11-6.
HB623—Makes it illegal for the state or state colleges and universities to implement affirmative action programs. The vote was 9-6.
The following bills were retained in a House Committee until next year:
HB194—Allowing loaded guns and cocked crossbows in vehicles. This bill originally came out of committee with an ITL recommendation 12-4, but the full House sent it back to committee instead.
HB324—Declaring that products made in New Hampshire are exempt from federal laws and enforcing federal laws is a felony punishable by up to 2 years in prison.
HB228—Forbidding state funds to be used to support Planned Parenthood. Note that 95% of PP’s funding is used to provide prenatal care and health and cancer screenings for women who couldn’t otherwise afford them.
CACR7—Constitutional Amendment declaring that legislature has sole authority to determine the amount needed for education funding. Similar to CACR12, recommended OTP, above.
HB445—Prohibits the use of electronic tracking devices without either the consent of the person being tracked or a court order.
HB628—Declares that TSA agents that use full body scanners or conduct a pat-down as required by federal law are guilty of sexual assault and must register as sex offenders.
HB587—Makes couples with minor children ineligible to divorce based on irreconcilable differences. In other words, divorce would only be allowed in cases of abuse and neglect.
HB536—Removes all licensing requirements for firearms.
HCR26—Delcares the Claremont decision requiring the state to provide education funding to be null and void.
The following bills were passed by the Senate:
These bills will now to the house for a hearing and a vote.
SB148—One of several bills that urges that NH Attorney General to join the lawsuit against federal Health Care Reform. The vote was 17-6. Sen. Jim Luther voted to pass.
SB183—Creating a new formula for education funding. Sen. Jim Luther is a cosponsor. Passed by a voice vote.
The following bills were defeated in the Senate:
SB169—Requires corporations and labor unions who directly or indirectly spend money on election campaigns in NH to report their expenditures. The vote was 18-5. Senator Jim Luther voted to defeat.
The following bills were sent back to committee in the Senate:
SB181—Creating a new formula for education funding.
SB150—Allows individuals to apply for health care from out of state.
The following bills were voted to recommend Ought to Pass in a Senate Committee:
SB162—This bill originally instructed that changes due to federal health care reform must be approved by the legislature. This committee recommends amending the bill to create a committee composed of legislators to oversee the “policies” regarding any required implementation. The vote was 5-0.
SB3—Makes cuts to the state retirement system. The vote was 4-1.
SB129—Requires a photo ID issued by a NH agency and an expiration date in order to vote. This would make it more difficult for many college students (student IDs do not have expiration dates) and seniors (such as retired state workers) from voting. The vote was 4-1.
The following bills were reported out of Committee in the Senate with a recommendation of sending the bills back to committee until next year:
SB182—Allows video slot machines and casino gambling.
SB14—Declares that brandishing a firearm is OK if you feel threatened in any way. Sen. Jim Luther is a cosponsor.
The Next House Session—Tuesday Mar 15th, Wednesday Mar 16th, Thursday Mar 17th
The full house will be voting on over 250 bills. The list of bills that we are tracking that House will be voting on is too large to include here, so for the full list of bills as well as the majority report and minority reports on contested bills, go to http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/caljourns/calendars/2011/houcal2011_22.html.
The Next Senate Session—Wednesday Mar 16th
The full Senate will be voting on these bills:
SB162—This bill originally instructed that changes due to federal health care reform must be approved by the legislature. This committee recommends amending the bill to create a committee composed of legislators to oversee the “policies” regarding any required implementation. Committee recommendation is OTP 5-0.
SB3—Makes cuts to the state retirement system. Committee recommendation is OTP 4-1.
SB129—Requires a photo ID issued by a NH agency and an expiration date in order to vote. This would make it more difficult for many college students (student IDs do not have expiration dates) and seniors (such as retired state workers) from voting. Committee recommendation is OTP 4-1.
SB182—Allows video slot machines and casino gambling. Committee recommendation is to rerefer to committee.
Hearings—Tuesday Mar 15th
Senate Internal Affairs Committee
CACR5—Constitutional Amendment giving the Governor a line item veto to remove or reduce individual items from the state budget. Any item reduced or eliminated would go back to the legislature and require a 2/3 vote in each House to override. This hearing is scheduled to last 15 minutes. Statehouse Room 103 1:30PM.
SCR1—Urging Congress to call a Constitutional Convention. Statehouse Room 103 1:45PM.
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.
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