NH Legislature This Week—March 21, 2011

NH Legislature This Week—March 21, 2011

Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats

 

 

Welcome new subscribers!

 

Quite a few people signed up to receive these updates at the HB school district meeting.  Welcome.

 

There is a glossary of terms at the end—you will want to read that to understand commonly used terms and abbreviations such as OTP and ITL.  You will also want to read over the “How a bill becomes a Law” section to get a general overview.

 

Last week, the full House met in marathon sessions on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and voted on over 270 bills.  This week, the full House will not be in session, but the committees will be meeting to hold hearings and vote on the remaining House bills.  By March 31st, the House must vote on all House bills except bills that will retained until next year.  Similarly, the Senate must vote on all Senate bills except bills that will be retained until next year.

 

The full Senate will be session on Wednesday.  Senate committees are beginning to hold hearings on bills that have passed the House, although none of the hearings scheduled for this week are for bills that we are tracking.

 

The House is still working on the budget (HB1, HB2, and HB25).

 

While there are many bills in this week’s update, we would like to particularly bring these to people’s attention which were passed by the House:

 

HB257—Repeals the law that requires candidates to remove political signs after the election.  Voice vote.

HB330—Allows adults  to carry guns, concealed or not concealed, loaded or not loaded, without a license.  The vote was 244-109.  Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted to pass.  Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted to defeat.

HB 370—Waters down the recently enacted anti-bullying law.  This bill declares that schools may not punish students for incidents that occur off-campus, but was amended to require schools to notify parents of off-campus incidents.  The vote was 248-96.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB374—Banning the use of ethanol as a gas additive.  There was a vote on a motion to defeat the bill, which failed 87-237.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, and Gargasz voted to defeat the bill.  Rep. Flanagan voted to pass the bill.  Next, there was a second vote to pass the bill and this passed on a voice vote.

HB429—Lowering the dropout age from 18 to 16.  The vote was 210-134.  Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass.  Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB442—Legalizing medical marijuana.  The vote was 221-96.  The votes of individual legislators was not recorded.

 

We also want to ensure that people are aware of this bill, which was passed by the Senate:

 

SB57—Changes the maximum loan rate of a title loan from 37% to 300%.  Title loans are cash loans that are offered for consumers who use the title of their car as collateral.  The vote was 17-6.  Sen. Luther voted to pass.

 

Quotes of the week

 

“The problem with the NH Pension System is that people live too long.  We’d be better off if we could get them to pick up smoking and they would die younger.”  12-term State Representative Neal Kurk, (R-Weare) during a discussion of legislation addressing the NH Retirement System.

 

“The Black Death was a terrible disease, there was never a shot for the Black Death and yet it declined naturally.  Have you heard of that, the Black Death?” -Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack) on HB416, which would have prevented schools from administering vaccinations.   The Black death did die out—after it had killed 1/3 of Europe’s population.

 

“Are you aware when polio was rampant worldwide, Americans got the shot, but Europeans didn’t and Polio declined naturally in Europe without the shot” -Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack) on HB416, which would have prevented schools from administering vaccinations.  According to UNICEF, “Success in Europe was achieved through unprecedented coordinated national immunization campaigns…sixty million children under five years old received two extra doses of poliovaccine every year from 1995-98.”  Europe was declared polio-free in 2002.

 

“With vaccinations there are questions in the media, sometimes there are reports that say they [work], sometimes there are reports that say they don’t.  In the past bloodletting used to work” -Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield) on HB416, which would have prevented schools from administering vaccinations.

 

“If the student wants to be mean they can be. No different than what they are learning from adults using the Internet to spread lies about political candidates, etc. etc. The students learn well.” -Rep. Ralph Boehm  (R-Litchfield) on HB370, which waters down the school anti-bullying law.

 

“Both resolutions were drafted by the John Birch Society.”  John Birch Society press release, taking credit for writing two resolutions that were passed by the NH House this week. HCR11 urges Congress to withdraw from the United Nations and HCR12 urges Congress to withdraw from NAFTA.  The sponsor of the resolutions, Rep. Norman Tregenza (R-Silver Lake) confirmed that the John Birch Society did indeed write the resolutions.

 

“When sacrifice is perpetrated on the vulnerable and weak by the strong and prosperous, it is social abuse. If there is belt-tightening to be done, we should be tightening our OWN belts and coming up with the resources to do what a civilized society does: to care for, and not cut services for the poor, the disabled, the blind, the unemployed, the impoverished elderly, the uninsured, and children living in poverty.”  The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire on the House budget.

 

Rep. Martin Harty (R-Barrington) resigned last Monday after making comments supporting Eugenics, as quoted here last week.

 

This week we are adding a new legislative term, “tabled” or “tabling”.  The House or Senate can vote to “table” a bill, which essentially means to keep hold of it without either passing it or defeating it.  A tabled bill can be brought back up for a vote at a later date, but it requires a 2/3 majority vote to do so.  If no action is taken before the legislature adjourns for the year, then the bill is defeated.  Often, bills are tabled when legislators don’t want to go on record as opposing the bill.  In some rare instances, tabled bills are later brought up for a vote.

 

We have also added a link to the state web site, where you can much more information.

 

Hot Topics This Week:

Education funding, minimum wage, clean energy districts, death penalty, deadly force, rail transit authority, political signs, Lyme disease, parental notification, guns, bullying, ethanol, dropout age, medical marijuana, prisoner early release, school attendance, Sunday business, affirmative action, United Nations, education standards, voting for college students and military, election day registration, more guns, interest rates, home schooling, vaccines, physician assisted suicide, domestic unions, child support, trial by jury, judicial power of legislatures, churches in political campaigns, taxes, state defense force, US Senate primaries, drug tests/foodstamp, non-English signs, Federal Reserve, Law of the Sea Convention, parent’s rights, yet more guns, health care reform, state retirement system, photo id to vote,  still more guns, gambling, line item veto.

 

The following bills were passed by the House and Sent to the Senate:

 

CACR12—Constitutional Amendment that declares that only the legislature can determine how much (and if) to spend on education funding.  The vote was 252-113.  Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to pass.  Rep. Drisko and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB133—Repealing NH’s minimum wage.  Note that NH’s minimum wage is currently the same as the federal minimum wage ($7.25) so this bill would have no practical effect.  The vote was 239-106.  Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to pass.  Rep. Drisko did not vote.

HB44—Placing restrictions on clean energy districts.  Last year a law was passed that allows towns to create clean energy districts to promote energy efficiency.  This bill says that towns may not fund such district with local taxes, but only with grants or private funding.  Voice vote.

HB147—Expands the death penalty to include murders that occur during a home invasion.  Voice vote.

HB210—Repeals the law that requires people to retreat when faced with deadly force if they can safely do so.  The vote was 270-92.  Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to pass.  Rep. Drisko and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB218—Repeals the NH Rail Transit Authority.  The NHRTA has been working on extending commuter rail from the Boston area up through Nashua and Manchester to Concord.  The vote was 190-119.  Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass.  Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB257—Repeals the law that requires candidates to remove political signs after the election.  Voice vote.

HB295—Allowing doctors to make special prescriptions to treat Lyme Disease.  Voice vote.

HB329—Requiring that minors who have an abortion to notify their parents beforehand (parental notification).  There is a provision that allows minors to get a waiver from a judge.  The vote was 256-102.  Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to pass.  Rep. Drisko and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB330—Allows adults  to carry guns, concealed or not concealed, loaded or not loaded, without a license.  The vote was 244-109.  Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted to pass.  Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted to defeat.

HB337—Establishes a new education funding formula.  Declares that, going forward, no town will receive less than they did in 2011.  The bill was amended to state that, for 2012-2013, no town shall receive more than they did in 2011.  Rep. Flanagan is a cosponsor of this bill.  The vote was 247-86.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to pass.

HB 370—Waters down the recently enacted anti-bullying law.  This bill declares that schools may not punish students for incidents that occur off-campus, but was amended to require schools to notify parents of off-campus incidents.  The vote was 248-96.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB374—Banning the use of ethanol as a gas additive.  There was a vote on a motion to defeat the bill, which failed 87-237.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, and Gargasz voted to defeat the bill.  Rep. Flanagan voted to pass the bill.  Next, there was a second vote to pass the bill and this passed on a voice vote.

HB429—Lowering the dropout age from 18 to 16.  The vote was 210-134.  Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass.  Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB442—Legalizing medical marijuana.  The vote was 221-96.  The votes of individual legislators was not recorded.

HB524—Exempts violent criminals from the early release program (SB500).  Under the early release program, prisoners are released a few months before their maximum sentence, but are required to disclose the new residence to any victims and may be required to undergo counseling and other programs.  Prisoners that serve their entire time may not be required to do such things if it was not part of their original sentence.  The vote was 264-97.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan, and Gargasz voted to pass.

HB542—Allows a parent to refuse to send their child to any school or program to which “the parent is conscientiously opposed”.  The vote was 197-148.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB617—Removes the restrictions on businesses and sporting events on Sundays.  Voice vote.

HB623—Prohibits the state and the state college system from implementing affirmative action programs.  The vote was 219-79.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass.  Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat.

HCR11—Resolution urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations.  The vote was 189-107.  Rep. Belanger and Drisko voted to pass.  Rep. Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat.

 

The following bills were defeated by the House:

 

HB39—Removes art, world languages, health education, and technology education from the definition of an adequate education.  Voice vote.

HB176—Declaring that college students and military personal that lived out of state before they enrolled in college or were station in NH are not allowed to vote in NH.  The vote was 267-72.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan, and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB207—Allows the use of deadly force when a felony is being committed.  Voice vote.

HB223—Repeals the law that allows voters to register on election day.  Voice vote.

HB235—Makes it illegal for businesses to have policies against employees having weapons in their cars while on company property.  The vote was 183-29.  The individual votes were not recorded.

HB280—Sets the maximum interest rate that can be charged on credit cards at prime + 6%.  Voice vote.

HB340—Declares that people who home school their children do not have to pay property taxes that support education.  The vote was 227-114.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB422—Banning schools from administering vaccines.  The vote was 294-49.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat.

HB513—Legalizes physician assisted suicide, also known as death with dignity.  The vote was 234-99.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, and Gargasz voted to defeat.  Rep. Flanagan did not vote.

HB560—Raises the minimum wage from $7.25 to $8.00.  The vote was 238-89.  Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat.  Rep. Drisko did not vote.

HB569—Would replace ALL marriages (both opposite-sex and same-sex) with Domestic Unions, which would be legally equivalent.  Rep. Drisko is a cosponsor.  The vote was 232-59.  Rep. Gargasz voted to pass.  Rep. Belanger and Drisko voted to defeat.  Rep. Flanagan did not vote.

HB575—Sets the maximum amount of child support that could be paid at the same level that the state provides for foster care, between $475/mo and $612/mo.  Voice vote.

HCR17—Declaring Copp v. Henniker to be invalid.  This historic court case established the right to trial by jury.  Voice vote.

HCR18—Declaring Merrill v. Sherburne to be invalid.  This historic court case declared that legislatures do not have the power to overturn court decisions.  Voice vote.

HCR25—Urging Congress to change IRS rules to permit churches to endorse candidates for public office.  Voice vote.

 

The following bills were tabled by the House:

Tabled bills are essentially defeated, but could potentially be brought back for a vote later.

 

CACR6—Constitutional Amendment that would require 3/5 vote of legislature to raise taxes or create new taxes;  bill originally called for 2/3 vote, but was amended.  There was a vote to pass this bill with 234 voting to pass and 118 voting against.  For a Constitutional Amendment, this vote fails because 239 votes were required to pass.  Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to pass, Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat, Rep. Drisko did not vote.  This vote having failed, the House voted to table the bill 341-14.

HB343—Creates a “State Defense Force” to “defend the state from invasion”.  The vote was 175-137.  Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted to table (defeat) the bill.  Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted against tabling.

HB421—This bill would require that the only names that could appear on the US Senate primary ballot are candidates that have been approved by the legislature.  The vote to table was 204-81.  The votes of individual legislators was not recorded.

HB484—Requires the state to perform random drug testing on foodstamp recipients.  This would have cost the state between $3.5million and $7.4million to implement.  The foodstamp program is run entirely from federal funds and does not cost the state anything.  The vote was 208-75.  Rep. Belanger and Drisko voted to table.  Rep. Gargasz voted against tabling.  Rep. Flanagan did not vote.

HB577—Requiring that any business sign that is not written in English, but must be written in English, Russian, Chinese, French, Persian AND Arabic.  The vote was 192-105.  Rep. Drisko voted to table.  Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted against tabling.  Rep. Flanagan did not vote.

HCR13—Resolution urging Congress to audit the Federal Reserve System.  Originally this bill urged Congress to abolish the Federal Reserve System and return to the Gold Standard, but then the House amended it.  There was a vote to pass the amended version (the audit) which received a majority, but not the 2/3 majority needed (164-90).  The votes of individual legislators was not recorded.  That having failed, the House voted table the measure by a voice vote.

HCR15—Resolution urging our US Senators to vote against the Law of the Sea Convention treaty.  Originally this resolution “ordered” our Senators, but the House changed it to “urged”.   The vote was 207-47.  The votes of individual legislators was not recorded.

 

 

The following bill is in “Limbo” in the House:

Technically, the status is “miscellaneous”

 

CACR9—Constitutional Amendment that says that the state can not interfere with a parent’s right to direct the health and welfare of their children.  The floor debate on this bill was largely about how judges tend to award child custody to mothers and that the court’s shouldn’t be making child custody decisions.  The committee recommendation was to ITL 8-3.  The House voted on a motion to ITL, but it failed 148-183.  Next, there was a motion to pass the bill.  While 212 voted to pass and 128 voted to defeat, this means that the motion to pass failed because Constitutional Amendments require 239 votes to pass.  Because there are not enough votes to pass or defeat the bill, it remains active.  If no further action is taken, then it is defeated.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Gargasz voted to defeat the bill, Rep. Flanagan voted to pass.

 

The following bills were retained in a House committee until next year:

 

HB125—Allows the creation of “Made in NH” guns, declares that federal laws can not be applied to such guns, and  makes it a felony for any federal employee to enforce federal laws on such guns.  This bill was “passed” by the House 216-51, but then sent to committee, where it will now be held until next year.

HB440—Ordering the NH Attorney General to join the federal lawsuit against health care reform.  This bill had been passed by the House 267-92, but was then sent to a second committee, where it will now be held until next year.

 

The following bills were passed by the Senate and sent to the House:

These bills will now to the house for a hearing and a vote.

 

SB3—Makes major changes to the state retirement system.  Sen. Luther is a cosponsor.  The vote was 19-5.  Sen. Luther voted to pass.

SB57—Changes the maximum loan rate of a title loan from 37% to 300%.  Title loans are cash loans that are offered for consumers who use the title of their car as collateral.  The vote was 17-6.  Sen. Luther voted to pass.

SB162—Creates a legislative committee to implement changes needed by federal health care reform, if needed.  Voice vote.

 

The following bills were passed by the Senate, but then sent to a second Senate committee instead of the House:

 

SB129—Requires a photo ID issued in NH with an expiration date in order to vote.  Note that most student IDs would not qualify because they do not have expiration dates.  The vote was 17-6.  Sen. Luther voted to pass.

 

The following bills were tabled in the Senate:

Tabled bills are essentially defeated, but could potentially be brought back for a vote later.

 

SB14—Makes it legal to “brandish” a gun if you feel threatened in any way.  Voice vote.

 

The following bills were sent back to committee in the Senate:

 

SB182—Legalizes slot machines and table gambling.

 

The following bills were voted to recommend Ought to Pass in a Senate Committee:

These bills will now go to the full Senate for a vote.

 

CACR5—Constitutional Amendment that allows the Governor to veto or reduce specific spending items in a budget and allows the legislature to override the veto.  The vote was 3-0.

 

 

 

The Next Senate Session—Wednesday Mar 23rd

 

The full Senate will be voting on these bills:

 

CACR5—Constitutional Amendment that allows the Governor to veto or reduce specific spending items in a budget and allows the legislature to override the veto.  The vote was 3-0.

 

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 brooklinedemocrats@gmail.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:

 

Nashua Telegraph

letters@nashuatelegraph.com

 

Hollis Brookline Journal

http://www.cabinet.com/submitnews/317648-310/Submit-News.html

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.

 

The Brookliner

thebrookliner@yahoo.com

Submission deadline is noon on the 1st and 3rd Mondays of the month.

 

The Hollis Times

hollistimes@tds.net

 

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.luther@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Jim Belanger   P: (603)465-2301   Jim.belanger@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Dick Drisko   P: (603)465-2517   driskorb@aol.com

Rep. Jack Flanagan   P: (603)672-7175   Jack.flanagan@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Carolyn Gargasz   P: (603)465-7463   cgargasz@cs.com