NH Legislature This Week—May 2, 2011

NH Legislature This Week—May 2, 2011

Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats

 

 

Quote of the Week

“This is like allowing a cocaine addict to get cocaine.” Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) referring to SB57 which increases the maximum interest rate charged on payday loans from 36% to 300%.

 

Grievances, grievances, who’s got a grievance?

One of the major themes of the House this session is pretending that the House has vastly greater power and legal scope than it actually has.  Our readers should be well aware of the various bills to declare federal laws and court decisions to be “null and void in New Hampshire” and bills to “overturn” NH Supreme Court decisions, but the House also believes that it has the power to replace the courts entirely on any matter that they see if to act as judge and jury.

 

The mechanism that is being used in the newly formed House Redress of Grievances Committee.  The concept is that anyone who takes a case to court and doesn’t like the outcome can appeal the ruling to the NH House.  The first complaint brought to the committee was from an Epping man who says that a teacher made threats against his son.  Specifically, the teacher is alleged to have said that he would “kill” the student if he didn’t finish the last of his homework that was needed for him to graduate.

 

The school says that it investigated the matter and took appropriate action, but since it is a personnel matter, the legally can’t publicly release the details.  Members of the House committee are now threatening to subpoena school district officials and force them to make the records public.

 

There are several other “grievances” that have been filed with the committee already.  We expect that, as word spreads, this committee may be VERY busy in the future.

 

Medicaid to be turned over to HMOs

One of the many bills that we have not been following so far is SB147, which would contract with HMOs to run the state Medicaid program.  Medicaid is a federal program run by the states which provides health care to the poor, elderly, disabled, and certain other groups.  The fiscal note for the bill notes that the Department of Health and Human Services issued a Request for Information in July 2010 to solicit proposals from the managed care industry.  Twelve HMOs responded, but none of them offered any savings over the current arrangement.  The fiscal note goes on to state that substantial savings are not likely because, unlike other states, NH already uses most of the tools of managed care such as priority authorization, care management and pharmacy benefit management.  Implementing this bill is estimated to cost $85million in up front costs.  SB147 passed the Senate on a voice vote.  The House Ways and Means committee recommended it 20-0 and it was passed by the House on a voice vote.

 

Hot Topics This Week:

Payday loans, prisoner early release, public employee retirement, cigarette tax, Lyme disease, ethanol, bullying, line item veto, photo ID to vote, health care reform, and federal grants.

 

The following bills were passed by the House:

These bills were already passed by the Senate and now go to Governor Lynch

 

SB57—Increases the maximum interest rate charged on payday loans from 37% to 300%.  The Senate vote was 17-6.  The House vote was 180-171.  Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat the bill.  Rep. Drisko did not vote on the bill.

 

The following bills were passed but changed by the Senate:

These bills were already passed by the House but must now go to a committee of conference to resolve the differences between the House version and the Senate version.  The version that comes out of the conference committee must then be passed again by both houses before being sent to Governor Lynch.

 

HB524—Exempting violent and sexual criminals from the early release and monitoring program.  Voice vote.

HB580—Making changes to the public employee retirement system.  The Senate amended this bill to just form a committee to study the issue rather than making any changes at this time.  Note that SB3 also makes major changes to the public employee retirement system, was passed by the Senate and is currently in the House.  Voice vote.

 

The following bills were tabled by the Senate:

These bills were already passed by the House, but have been tabled by the Senate.  A tabled bill can be brought back for a vote at  later date, but if the session ends without a vote, then the bill is defeated.

 

HB156—Reduces the tobacco tax and lowers the cigarette tax by $0.10 per pack.  Voice vote.

 

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

These bills will now go to the full Senate for a vote.  They have all passed the House.

 

HB295—Allows doctors to prescribe long-term antibiotics for people with Lyme disease.  The committee vote was 5-0.

HB374—Bans the use of corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive.  The committee vote was 4-0.

 

The following bills were recommended Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) by a Senate Committee:

These bills will now go to the full Senate for a vote.  They have all passed the House.

 

HB370—Waters down the anti-bullying law by removing the provision that allows schools to punish children who commit acts of bullying off-campus.  The committee vote was 5-0.

 

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

These bills have already been passed by the Senate.

 

CACR5—Constitutional Amendment to give the Governor a line item veto to reduce spending on specific items in the budget.  The committee vote was 14-5.

SB3—Makes major changes to the public employee retirement system.  The committee recommends an amendment that would make all public employees “at-will” employees, ending collective bargaining after current contracts expire.  The committee vote was 10-3.

SB129—Requires a valid photo ID in order to vote.  The committee recommends an amendment that would allow voters without a photo ID to cast a provisional ballot and they would then have 3 days to present a valid photo ID to the ballot clerk.  Valid photo ID could only be issued by the federal government or the state government.  The committee vote was 13-5.

SB148—Urges the NH Attorney General to join the federal lawsuit against health care reform.  The committee recommends an amendment that completely replaces the text of the bill and would REQUIRE the AG to join that lawsuit and would also require the state to return the federal funds that were already given to the state to implement a health care exchange that will allow people without insurance to get better rates by joining together as a group.  The committee vote was 12-4.

 

Senate Session for Wednesday, May 4th

The Senate will vote on the following bills, which have passed the House.

 

HB295—Allows doctors to prescribe long-term antibiotics for people with Lyme disease.  The committee vote was OTP 5-0.

HB374—Bans the use of corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive.  The committee vote was OTP 4-0.

HB370—Waters down the anti-bullying law by removing the provision that allows schools to punish children who commit acts of bullying off-campus.  The committee vote was ITL 5-0.

 

House Session for Wednesday, May 4th

The House will vote on the following bills, which have passed the Senate.

 

CACR5—Constitutional Amendment to give the Governor a line item veto to reduce spending on specific items in the budget.  The committee vote was OTP 14-5.

SB3—Makes major changes to the public employee retirement system.  The committee recommends an amendment that would make all public employees “at-will” employees, ending collective bargaining after current contracts expire.  The committee vote was OTP 10-3.

SB129—Requires a valid photo ID in order to vote.  The committee recommends an amendment that would allow voters without a photo ID to cast a provisional ballot and they would then have 3 days to present a valid photo ID to the ballot clerk.  Valid photo ID could only be issued by the federal government or the state government.  The committee vote was OTP 13-5.

SB148—Urges the NH Attorney General to join the federal lawsuit against health care reform.  The committee recommends an amendment that completely replaces the text of the bill and would REQUIRE the AG to join that lawsuit and would also require the state to return the federal funds that were already given to the state to implement a health care exchange that will allow people without insurance to get better rates by joining together as a group.  The committee vote was OTP 12-4.

 

 

Hearings for Wednesday, May 4th

 

Senate Internal Affairs Committee

HB590—Declaring that most federal grants are unconstitutional and establishing a committee to determine which grants currently being received by state and local governments should be rejected and whether or not some of those grants could be replaced with state and local taxes or private funding.  Statehouse room 100 2:30pm.

 

 

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