NH Legislature This Week—March 7, 2011
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Day:
“transient inmates . . . with a dearth of experience and a plethora of the easy self-confidence that only ignorance and inexperience can produce.” Rep. Gregory Sorg (R-Easton) describing college students in a prepared statement to the press while supporting HB176, which would declare many college students ineligible to vote. This quote follows a statement supporting HB176 made by Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien that “They are kids voting liberal, voting their feelings, with no life experience ”. Translation: we don’t want them to vote because they vote for Democrats.
The House will not be in session this week. This week the House committees are meeting to make final recommendations on a HUGE number of bills. Next week, there will likely be very few, if any, hearings as the full House will be session all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday to deal with the bills that have been coming out of committee.
The House must act on all House Bills by March 31st, except for bills that are being retained in committee until next year. Almost all House hearings are done already.
The Senate will be in session on Wednesday and is holding several hearings this week.
The House Judiciary Committee voted to retain the 2 bills to repeal the Marriage Equality law until next year. That gives gay and lesbian couples one more year of having marriage rights before this issue is taken up again. The bill to stop issuing marriage licenses altogether (same-sex and opposite-sex) and to issue Domestic Unions licenses instead was given a recommendation of ITL (ie, to defeat) unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee. Rep. Dick Drisko is a cosponsor of the Domestic Unions bill.
The bill to remove arts education, world languages, health education and technology education from the state definition of core standards appears headed for defeat. The House Education Committee recommended it be defeated 15-0.
Of the bills that we are tracking, 2 have become law (changing warrant articles and repealing evergreen), 3 have passed the House and await Senate action (Right to Work, restricting the size of bargaining units, and defunding NH Public Television), 17 were defeated in the House, 16 have been retained in the House until next year, 59 are still pending in the House and 9 are still pending in the Senate.
There is an entire movement of people who are promoting the idea that states suddenly have the right to ignore federal laws. In fact, they will be holding a conference in New Hampshire next month. Guest speakers include NH House Speaker Bill O’Brien and Rep. Dan Itse, Chair of the House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee, which was expressly created for this purpose. NH Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball will also be a speaker.
Where is this nullification movement finding justification? As Rep. Itse points out, in 1798 the legislatures in Kentucky and Virginia passed resolutions declaring that the states had a right to nullify any federal law or ruling that they disagreed with. What nullification supporters don’t advertise is that these resolutions were specifically and strongly rejected by 10 other states while the remaining 4 states took no action on the resolutions.
In New Hampshire, the newspapers saw these resolutions as threats of civil war. The New Hampshire legislature unanimously passed a resolution stating this:
“Resolved, That the legislature of New Hampshire unequivocally express a firm resolution to maintain and defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of this state, against every aggression, either foreign or domestic, and that they will support the government of the United States in all measures warranted by the former.
That the state legislatures are not the proper tribunals to determine the constitutionality of the laws of the general government [i.e., the federal government]; that the duty of such decision is properly and exclusively confided to the judicial department.”
Hot Topics This Week:
Loaded guns, toll plaza, jobs overseas, immigration, clean energy districts, core curriculum, domestic unions, churches endorsing candidates, allegiance to the US, enforcing federal laws, marriage equality, Judge terms, health care reform, education funding, gambling, photo id to vote, ignoring federal laws, federal grants, Rep. Brunelle, and more guns.
The following bills were passed in the House and sent to the Senate:
None. [Note: this refers only to bills that we are tracking]
The following bills were defeated in the House:
HB471—Would have created a Toll Plaza at Exit 1 in Nashua. Voice vote.
HR10—Resolution urging Congress to remove tax breaks for companies that send jobs out of the country. The Committee had recommended the bill be defeated by a vote of 12-0, but this information was not available when last week’s report was written. Voice vote.
HB644—Allows state police to enforce immigration laws; prohibits illegal immigrants from receiving benefits or driver’s licenses; mandates employers to report immigration status of employees and provides penalties for false reporting; disallows bail for persons in custody until their “lawful presence” can be verified. Voice vote.
The following bills were not voted on by the House, but rather were resent back to Committee for further work:
HB194—Allows loaded guns and cocked crossbows in cars, boats, ski mobiles, etc.
The following bills were voted to recommend Ought to Pass in a House Committee:
HB144—Originally, this bill would repeal the provision that allows local towns to establish clean energy districts. The Committee is recommending that the bill be modified to allow the districts to continue, but to specify that any funding must come from bonds and not from a town’s general fund. The vote was 15-0. Consent Calendar.
The following bills were voted to recommend Inexpedient to Legislate in a House Committee:
HB39—Removes art, world languages, health, and technology education from the core curriculum and prohibits the Department of Education from implementing the “common core state standards” that are being adopted in other states. The vote was 15-0. Consent Calendar.
HB659—Would replace all Marriages (both same-sex and opposite-sex) with Domestic Unions. The exact vote is not available, but it was unanimous. (Rep. Dick Drisko is a sponsor)
HCR25—Urging Congress to amend the IRS rules to allow churches to fund election and to endorse candidates. The vote was 10-2.
The following bills were retained in a House Committee until next year:
CACR4—Changing the Oath of Office to remove the pledge of allegiance to the United States.
HB126—Makes it a criminal offense to enforce certain federal laws involving health care.
HB437—Repeals the Marriage Equality law for same-sex couples
HB443—Repeals the Marriage Equality law and also forbids employers from offering domestic partnership benefits
CACR11—Would limit judges to 5 year terms
The Next Senate Session—Wednesday Mar 9th
The Senate does not say what bills they will be voting on but here are the Senate bills that have been reported out of committee:
SB148—Requiring the Attorney General to join the federal health care reform lawsuit. The committee recommendation was to pass. 17 of the 24 Senators are cosponsors.
Sen. Luther is NOT a cosponsor.
SB183—Creates a new Education Funding formula (Sen. Jim Luther is a cosponsor). The committee recommendation is to pass.
Hearings—Monday Mar 7th
Senate Ways and Means Committee
- SB182—Allows video slot machines at 4 locations and allows “table gaming”. Statehouse room 100 11:00am
Hearings—Tuesday, Mar 8th
Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee
- SB129—Requiring a valid photo id to vote. LOB room 101 9:00am
Hearings—Wednesday Mar 9th
House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee
- HCR19—Resolution stating that the state can ignore any laws passed by Congress, decisions made by the US Supreme Court and executive orders issued by the President. This bill already had a hearing in a different committee and was passed by the House 223-108, but then was sent to this second committee for more hearings. LOB room 303 10:00am
- HB590—Declaring that most federal grants are unconstitutional and establishing a committee to determine which federal grants currently being received can be replaced using state and local taxes. This bill already had a hearing in a different committee and was passed by the House 228-111, but then was sent to this second committee for more hearings. LOB room 303 11:00am
House Special Committee on Education Funding Reform
CACR12—Continued public hearing on a Constitutional Amendment to give the legislature the power to decide how much to spend on education funding. LOB room 207 9:30am
Hearings —Thursday Mar 10th
House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee
- HB125—Creating “Made in NH” guns and declaring that enforcing federal gun laws on them is a felony. This bill already had a hearing in a different committee and was passed by the House 240-120, but then was sent to this second committee for more hearings. LOB room 302 1:15pm
- HB440—Requiring the NH Attorney General to join the federal health care reform lawsuit. This bill already had a hearing in a different committee and was passed by the House 267-92, but then was sent to this second committee for more hearings. LOB room 302 2:00pm
House Legislative Administration Committee
- Continuing work session on effort to remove Rep. Michael Brunelle (D-Manchester) because he introduced a bill to raise the minimum wage. LOB room 104 2:00pm
Senate Judiciary Committee
- SB14—Declares that anyone “brandishing a firearm” is not guilty of a crime if they feel threatened by someone. LOB room 101 1:00pm
- SB88—Removes the requirement that someone who is threatened must retreat if they can safely do so. Instead, allows people to use firearms when they are being threatened even if they have the option of leaving the scene safely instead. This is the same as HB210. LOB room 101 1:30pm
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