NH Legislature This Week—May 23, 2011

NH Legislature This Week—May 23, 2011

Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats

 

 

Quotes of the Week

 

“Per pending legislation you will be required to produce a photo ID in order to receive a ballot. Please have your photo ID ready before you approach the ballot clerk.” Sign posted outside the New Boston polling place during Tuesday’s special election.  Photo IDs are not currently required to vote.

 

“I thought, upon reading them again, the language was ambiguous in a way that could be misconstrued.” Lee Nyquist, Town Moderator of New Boston, referring to the above sign.

 

“New Hampshire has a lower unemployment rate and a stronger economy than most states with so-called right-to-work laws.  In states with a right-to-work law, workers on average have a lower standard of living, bringing home less in their paychecks and going without health insurance more frequently.” Governor John Lynch is a message to legislature regarding his veto of HB474 (Right to Work).

 

“We’ve had a lot of discussion about it. You’ve got to have the sense that something is going on out there. And right in Bill O’Brien’s back yard? That’s an issue.”  Senator Jim Luther (R-Hollis) on the victory of Democrat Jennifer Daler in a special election in Speaker O’Brien’s district and whether it indicates a backlash against the Republicans.

 

 

Reminder for Brookline, Hollis and Mason Democrats:

The Brookline, Hollis and Mason Democrats will be meeting at Brusch Hall in Brookline on Thursday at 6:00.  Speakers include Kaley Lentini of Organizing for America, former State Senator Bette Lasky, and Hillsborough County Democratic activist Mary Beth Ayvazian.

 

Special Election Results

In a surprise upset, Democrat Jennifer Daler won a special election on Tuesday 59%-41%.  The district is Republican-leaning and is also the home district of House Speaker Bill O’Brien, so some are looking to this election as a barometer of how voters feel about the current direction of the legislature.  Some caution should be exercised, however, because special elections always involve low voter turnout.  Still, this was generally expected to be a safe election for the Republicans.  The district includes the towns of Mont Vernon, New Boston, Lyndeborough, Temple and Wilton.  Daler won in every town.

 

The election caused a big controversy over requiring photo IDs to vote.  Photo IDs are not currently required in order to vote, but there is legislation that is working it’s way through the legislature to require photo IDs in the future.  New Boston, the largest town in the district, posted a sign outside it’s polling place for 3 hours during the election.  See wording in the Quotes of the Week above.  The ballot clerks were instructed to ask for photo ID, but someone refused and insisted that they had a right to vote, then the clerks were to allow them to vote.  The town moderator took down the sign after someone complained and insisted that sign was being “misconstrued” (see Quotes of the Week again).  There are reports that at least one citizen read the sign and walked away without going in to vote.

 

Education Funding

HB337 (cosponsored by Rep. Jack Flanagan) would rework the education funding formula and is currently under consideration by the Senate.  The Senate Finance Committee has issued it’s recommendation and recommends that the bill be completely rewritten.  Among other provisions, the new version provides additional funding to charter schools in the amount of $2000 per pupil per year in addition to the current funding.  The Senate version would also cap all future increases in education funding for a given school district at a 5.5% total increase regardless of increases in student population or any other factor.  The Senate version would also provide that for next year only, the amount of education aid given to towns could not be less than last year, but could go down after that.  The proposed change would also eliminate “Fiscal Capacity Disparity Aid” which sends more funding to towns with a lower median household income.  The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill on Wednesday.

 

Bill to reject federal grants tabled

The Senate has decided to table several controversial bills and resolutions passed by the House.  One is the bill that declares most federal grants to be unconstitutional and establishes a committee to decide which grants currently being received by the state or local governments should be returned to the federal government and perhaps replaced with state or local taxes.  This bill was passed by the House 228-111 (Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to pass, Rep. Gargasz voted against and Rep. Drisko did not vote).  It had come out of the Senate Internal Affairs Committee with an “Ought to Pass” recommendation, but the full Senate thought better of it at the last minute.  Also tabled were House-passed resolutions urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations and a bill that would make it almost impossible to collect the business profits tax.

 

Right to Work

HB474, which would forbid employee contracts which would require non-union members to pay union dues is the big battle going on this week.  Governor Lynch has vetoed the bill as promised and issued a statement that “States should not interfere with the rights of businesses and their employees to freely negotiate contracts.”  The Governor also points out that most states that have such laws have a lower standard of living and are less likely to have health care.  The vote to override the Governor’s veto will occur on Wednesday and is expected to be very close in the House.  The Republican leadership is pulling out all the stops to convince Republican legislators who opposed the bill to either switch or miss the vote.  Reps. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted in favor of HB474.

 

2012 legislation

For two weeks, starting on Wednesday, there will be a window for legislators to file new legislation for next year.  There will likely be another period at the end of the year.  We will be covering this new legislation as it is filed.

 

Public hearings ending for this year

At this point in the legislative cycle, almost all public hearings are over for this year.  There are just a small handful of public hearings in the Senate this week (none covering bills that we are tracking).  June 2nd is the date when the House and Senate must finish voting on bills that were passed by the other chamber.  After that date, the legislature will work solely on resolving differences between the House and Senate or voting to override vetoes.

 

Hot Topics This Week:

Clean Energy Districts, minimum wage, United Nations, Business Profits tax, federal grants, Lyme disease, prisoner early release, parental notification, education funding, state power overrules federal power, and Right to Work.

 

The following bills were signed into law by Governor Lynch:

 

HB144—Forbids towns from using local taxes to support Clean Energy districts, but allows them to issue bonds for that purpose.

 

The following bills were passed by the Senate:

These bills were already passed by the House and will now go to Governor Lynch.

 

HB133—Repealing the minimum wage.  Note that NH’s minimum wage is currently the same as the federal minimum wage.  The Senate vote was a party line 19-5.  Senator Luther voted to pass.

 

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.

 

HCR11—Resolution urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations.  Voice vote.

HB557—Shifting the burden of proof on the business profits tax.  The bill would it very difficult to impossible to collect the business tax.  The Senate had amended the bill and passed it, but then sent it to the Senate Finance Committee for further review.  The Finance Committee had reported it back with an “Ought to Pass” recommendation.  This week, the Senate decided to table the bill instead.  Voice vote.

HB590—Declares that most federal grants are unconstitutional and establishes a committee to determine which grants should be rejected and possibly replaced with state and local taxes.  Voice vote.

 

For the following bills, the House has approved the changes made by the Senate:

These bills will now go to Governor Lynch.

 

HB295—Allowing doctors to proscribe long-term antibiotics for the treatment of Lyme disease.  The House concurred with the Senate on a voice vote.

 

For the following bills, the House has NOT approved the changes made by the Senate:

These bills will now go to a committee of conference to work out a compromise between the House and Senate.

 

HB524—Exempting prisoners convicted of violent or sexual offenses from participating from the early release and monitoring program.  See also SB52 below which is the Senate version of the same bill.

 

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.

 

HB329—Requiring parental notification before a minor can have an abortion.  The bill does allow minors to appeal to a judge to waive the notification in certain circumstances.  The committee vote was 3-1.

HB337—Changes the Education Funding formula.  Rep. Flanagan is a sponsor.  The Senate committee recommends completely rewriting the bill.  Among other provisions, the new version provides additional funding to charter schools in the amount of $2000 per pupil per year in addition to the current funding.  The Senate version would also cap all future increases in education funding for a given school district at a 5.5% total increase regardless of increases in student population or other factors.  The Senate version would also provide that for next year only, the amount of education aid given to towns could not be less than last year.  The proposed change would also eliminate “Fiscal Capacity Disparity Aid” which sends more funding to towns with a lower median household income.  The Senate vote was 7-0.

 

The following bills were recommended to be rereferred back to committee by a Senate Committee:

The committee is recommending that the bill be kept in committee, perhaps until next year.  They have all passed the House.  The full Senate will next vote on the committee recommendation.

 

HCR19—Resolution declaring that states have the power to declare federal laws and court decisions to be unconstitutional and to ignore them.  The vote was 5-0.

 

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

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

 

SB52—Exempting prisoners convicted of violent or sexual offenses from participating from the early release and monitoring program.  The committee recommends changing the bill to give the parole board greater flexibility in determining the proper punishment for reoffending during the early release period.  See also the similar House bill, HB524 above.  The committee vote was 14-0.

 

Senate Session for Wednesday, May 25th

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

 

HB329—Requiring parental notification before a minor can have an abortion.  The bill does allow minors to appeal to a judge to waive the notification in certain circumstances.  The committee vote was OTP 3-1.

HB337—Changes the Education Funding formula.  Rep. Flanagan is a sponsor.  The Senate committee recommends completely rewriting the bill.  Among other provisions, the new version provides additional funding to charter schools in the amount of $2000 per pupil per year in addition to the current funding.  The Senate version would also cap all future increases in education funding for a given school district at a 5.5% total increase regardless of increases in student population or other factors.  The Senate version would also provide that for next year only, the amount of education aid given to towns could not be less than last year.  The proposed change would also eliminate “Fiscal Capacity Disparity Aid” which sends more funding to towns with a lower median household income.  The Senate vote was OTP 7-0.

HCR19—Resolution declaring that states have the power to declare federal laws and court decisions to be unconstitutional and to ignore them.  The vote was to rerefer back to committee 5-0.

 

House Session for Wednesday, May 25th

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

 

SB52—Exempting prisoners convicted of violent or sexual offenses from participating from the early release and monitoring program.  The committee recommends changing the bill to give the parole board greater flexibility in determining the proper punishment for reoffending during the early release period.  See also the similar House bill, HB524 above.  The committee vote was OTP with an amendment 14-0.

HB474—Right to Work.  The House will vote on overriding Governor Lynch’s veto.

 

 

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