NH Legislature This Week—March 28, 2011

NH Legislature This Week—March 28, 2011

Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats

 

 

 

Quote of the week

“[They] are not taxpayers, they are tax users”.  Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker (R-Concord) referring to nursing home residents.

 

 

The full House will be in session on Wednesday and Thursday.  The main topic of discussion will be HB1 (the state budget) and HB2 (the “trailer” bill for the budget).

 

Budget Cuts and the Trailer Bill

 

The full impact of the extensive budget cuts are too extensive to be covered here, so we will provide links to news stories with in depth coverage.  We will note, however, that the legislature seems intent on cutting a number of taxes despite the obvious impact that the budget cuts will have on children, the elderly and the disabled.  Taxes being cut include the tax on gambling winnings, the cigarette tax, and several business taxes (HB557 would make it more difficult to collect business profits taxes and would reduce state income by $49 million per year.  HB557 has already passed the Senate).

 

Some budget cuts include $115million from hospitals ($36 million from Nashua’s 2 hospitals), eliminating the Consumer Protection Bureau (fields thousands of complaints from consumers every year about scams and illegal business practices), cuts to programs that support victims of domestic violence, treat drug and alcohol addiction, rehabilitation programs for children with drug addictions, and cuts to repairing roads and bridges.

 

Many programs will be eliminated in the budget, including the fund for Children in Need of Supervision, the Unemployed Parent Program, Family Support Services, Independent Living Services, Senior Companion Volunteer Activity, NH Foster Grandparents Program, Retired Senior Volunteer Program, Alzheimer Disease and Related Disorders Caregiver Program, mosquito control programs, and tobacco prevention programs, to name a few.

 

www.nashuatelegraph.com/newsstatenewengland/913241-227/house-budget-panels-chip-away.html

www.boston.com/news/local/new_hampshire/articles/2011/03/27/nh_house_to_vote_on_10b_budget/  (associated pres)

www.nashuatelegraph.com/opinioneditorials/912950-263/theme-for-2011-is-downshifting.html (Concord Monitor editorial)

 

HB2, the budget trailer, contains a number of policy changes that effect the budget.  Some of the most controversial effect the ability of public employees (such as police, firemen, teachers, etc) to negotiate contracts.  One provision, added on Thursday without the benefit of a public hearing, declares that all public employees will become at-will employees once the current contract expires.  At-will employees can not negotiate contacts because the employer has sole discretion to set wages, benefits and make hiring and firing decisions.  There would therefore be no incentive for any public employer (town, school, state) to negotiate a contract.  Public employees are currently prohibited from going on strike by NH law.

 

One professional firefighter called the provision “Wisconsin on steroids” because the Wisconsin provision only effected benefits and not wages and hiring/firing decisions.

 

www.concordmonitor.com/article/247605/union-busting-excites-ire

www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20110324-NEWS-110329878

 

Bills that are not getting press

 

HB590 which declares most federal grants to be unconstitutional will be back for a second House vote this week.  The bill establishes a committee to look at what programs are being supported by federal grants and to determine which of those grants could be replaced with state and local taxes and which would be eliminated altogether if the legislature decides to not allow the state or local municipalities to apply for or receive federal grants.  The bill was passed by the House 228-111 before being sent to the second committee and is likely to be passed again.

 

HCR19 which declares NH to be “sovereign” and to have the legal authority to declare federal laws and court rulings to be “void and of no force” is also back for a second vote in the House.  The bill was passed by the House 223-108 before being sent to the second committee and is likely to be passed again.   We are reprinting the excerpts from the bill below.

 

Another such bill, which we will not track, but simply note here is SB121, which would modify the recent law that requires employers to provide sufficient notice to employees of large layoffs.  The current law requires this notice for any employer with at least 75 employees.  SB121, sponsored by Sen. Jim Luther (R-Hollis), would only apply the law to employers with more than 100 employees.

 

Hot Topics This Week:

Regional greenhouse gas initiative, rejecting federal grants, states can ignore federal laws, line item veto, education funding, photo id to vote, restrictions on union contracts, early prison release program, retreating from deadly conflicts, federal constitutional convention, budget, public employee retirement, collective bargaining, gambling, NH Public Television, NH Rail Transit Authority.

 

 

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.

 

CACR5— Constitutional Amendment to give the Governor a line item veto.  This would also allow the Governor to reduce any specific item in the budget.  The legislature would be able to override the Governor if the override passes with a 2/3 majority in each house.  The vote was 19-5 along party lines.  Sen. Luther voted to pass.

 

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.

 

CACR14—Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Claremont decision on Education Funding.  This amendment is similar to CACR12 which passed the House.  The vote was 3-1.

SB129—Requires voters to have a photo ID that has an expiration date in order to vote.  Note that most college IDs do not have expiration dates.  This bill was already passed by the Senate, but then sent to a second committee.  That second committee is now sending it back to the full Senate for a final vote.  The committee vote was 4-3.

SB4—Requires that the legislature approve any cost items negotiated with state employees.  The committee vote was OTP 4-3.

SB57—Exempts prisoners convicted of violent crimes (including sexually violent crimes) from the early release program.  The early release program allows prisoners to be released 9 months before the end of their maximum sentence, but requires them to agree to conditions such as counseling and monitoring and they are required to report their new location to any victims.  Any prisoner released without the early release program can not be compelled to report their new location or undergo monitoring or counseling.  This bill is similar to HB524 which was passed by the House.  The committee vote was 7-0.

SB88—Use of deadly force.  Removes a requirement in current law that says that if a person feels physically threatened, then they must retreat if they can safely do so.  This bill allows the user of deadly force to “protect” yourself if you feel threatened even if you could have safely avoided the situation.  Sen. Luther is a cosponsor.  Similar to HB210 which was passed by the House.  The committee vote was 3-1.

 

The following bill was recommended to rerefer to a Senate Committee:

The Senate Committee is recommending that the Senate vote to keep the bill in committee until a later date (such as next year) rather than being voted on this week as would normally be required.

 

SCR1—Senate resolution urging Congress to call a Constitutional Convention for the sole purpose of proposing a Constitutional Amendment that would restrict future Constitutional Conventions solely to the exact amendments proposed by the states.  Currently, if a Constitutional Convention is called, the members may propose any amendments.  As is currently, the case, any proposed Constitutional Amendments would still have to be ratified by 3/4 of the states.  Note that a federal Constitutional Convention has never been called.  All existing Amendments were passed using the other method in which Congress proposes an Amendment which must then be ratified by 3/4 of the states.

 

The following bills were recommended Ought to Pass by a second House Committee:

NOTE: All of these bills are following a process where the bill is sent to a committee, then goes to the full House for a vote, then is sent to a second committee, and will then go back to the full House for a second vote before being sent to the Senate (if passed).  These bills are all coming out their second committees and have already survived their first full House vote.

 

HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  The committee vote was 17-6.

HB590—Declares that most federal grants are unconstitutional and should be rejected by the state.  Federal grants are described by the bill as “bribing the state of New Hampshire to surrender its sovereignty”  and “tends towards the destruction of the independence of the states…and of the liberties of their citizens”.  Sets up a committee to determine which existing grant-supported projects should eliminated, reduced, or changed to “support entirely from state, local, and/or private sources of funding.”  The committee vote was 12-2.

HCR19—Resolution declaring that states are “sovereign” and that any state has right to overrule or ignore any federal law passed by Congress, ruling issued by the United States Supreme Court, or Executive Order signed by the President.  See excerpts below.  The committee vote was 11-3.

 

The Next House Session—Wednesday Mar 30th

 

The full House will be voting on these bills:

 

HB590—Declares that most federal grants are unconstitutional and should be rejected by the state.  Federal grants are described by the bill as “bribing the state of New Hampshire to surrender its sovereignty”  and “tends towards the destruction of the independence of the states…and of the liberties of their citizens”.  Sets up a committee to determine which existing grant-supported projects should eliminated, reduced, or changed to “support entirely from state, local, and/or private sources of funding.”  The committee vote was 12-2.

HCR19—Resolution declaring that states are “sovereign” and that any state has right to overrule or ignore any federal law passed by Congress, ruling issued by the United States Supreme Court, or Executive Order signed by the President.  See excerpts below.  The committee vote was OTP 11-3.

HB1—The Budget.  The committee vote was OTP 18-7.

HB2—The budget “trailer”.  The committee vote was OTP 18-7.

HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  The committee vote was OTP 17-6.

HB580—Makes many major changes to the public employees retirement system.  The committee vote was OTP 10-4.

 

 

The Next Senate Session—Wednesday Mar 30th

 

The full Senate will be voting on these bills:

 

SB4—Requires that the legislature approve any cost items negotiated with state employees.  The committee vote was OTP 4-3.

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.

SB57—Exempts prisoners convicted of violent crimes (including sexually violent crimes) from the early release program.  The early release program allows prisoners to be released 9 months before the end of their maximum sentence, but requires them to agree to conditions such as counseling and monitoring and they are required to report their new location to any victims.  Any prisoner released without the early release program can not be compelled to report their new location or undergo monitoring or counseling.  This bill is similar to HB524 which was passed by the House.  The committee vote was OTP 7-0.

SB129—Requires voters to have a photo ID that has an expiration date in order to vote.  Note that most college IDs do not have expiration dates.  This bill was already passed by the Senate, but then sent to a second committee.  That second committee is now sending it back to the full Senate for a final vote.  The committee vote was OTP 4-3.

CACR14—Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Claremont decision which governs education funding.  Similar to CACR12, which has already been passed by the House.  The committee vote was OTP 3-1.

SB88—Use of deadly force.  Removes a requirement in current law that says that if a person feels physically threatened, then they must retreat if they can safely do so.  This bill allows the user of deadly force to “protect” yourself if you feel threatened even if you could have safely avoided the situation.  Sen. Luther is a cosponsor.  Similar to HB210 which was passed by the House.  The committee vote was OTP 3-1.

 

 

Hearings for Tuesday, March 29th

 

Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee

HB185—restricts the minimum size of bargaining units for public employees.  Current law allows collective bargaining units (unions) with only 3 members.  This bill would require a minimum of 10 members to eligible for collective bargaining.   This bill already passed the House.   LOB room 101 9:30am.

 

House Ways and Means Committee

SB130—Repeals all taxes on gambling winnings.  The state estimates that this would cut state income by $3.4million per year.  This bill passed the Senate on a voice vote.  LOB room 202 2:00pm.

 

Hearings for Thursday, March 31st

 

Senate Finance Committee

HB113—Prohibits state money from being used to fund New Hampshire Public Television.  This bill already passed the House.  Statehouse room 103 1:00pm.

 

Senate Transportation Committee

HB218—Repeals the New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority which is a committee of volunteers who are trying to bring rail service up from Boston through Nashua, Manchester to Concord.  They have a $4million federal grant that will be lost if they committee is disbanded.  This bill already passed the House.  LOB room 103 11::am.

 

 

Excerpts from HCR 19 “A RESOLUTION affirming States’ powers based on the Constitution for the United States and the Constitution of New Hampshire. ”

 

Therefore, whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force;

 

Therefore, all acts of Congress, the orders of the Executive or orders of the Judiciary of the United States of America which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution are altogether void, and of no force;

 

Therefore, all compulsory federal legislation that directs States to comply under threat of civil or criminal penalties or sanctions or that requires States to pass legislation or lose federal funding are prohibited;

 

Therefore, no officer not authorized by the Constitution or by law or exercising a power not authorized by the Constitution, nor their subordinates shall have any authority in, or over the sovereign State of New Hampshire, nor any inhabitant or resident thereof, nor any franchises created under the authority thereof when within the borders of the State of New Hampshire

 

Therefore, the Legislatures and Legislators of the several States have the right and duty to consider the constitutionality of any legislative act or order promulgated by the government of the United States of America; and to protect their governments, inhabitants, and residents and instruments created under their authority by prohibiting, and if necessary punishing the enforcement any Acts by the Congress of the United States of America, Executive Order of the President of the United States of America or Judicial Order by the Judicatories of the United States of America which assumes a power not delegated to the government of United States of America by the Constitution for the United States of America;

 

that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact, (casus non foederis), to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them

 

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