NH Legislature This Week—May 30, 2011

NH Legislature This Week—May 30, 2011

Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats

 

 

Quotes of the Week

 

“It is unfair both to the people, the members and to our own rules to postpone by this, a political maneuver,” Rep. Tony Soltani (R-Epsom) on the move by Speaker O’Brien to end Wednesday’s session without bringing up a vote on the Right to Work bill.

 

“That will go down as the biggest cut in the United States this year, and arguably in history.  It would make New Hampshire stand out significantly on a national scale.” American Association of State Colleges and Universities Director Dan Hurley on the proposed cuts to the University System.

 

“We are going to look and see who is there, make sure there is a good cross section of the house there, and bring it forward when the time is right. We think that’s going to be tomorrow; it could be another day.” Speaker Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) on the Right to Work bill.

 

 

Right to Work

One of the great traditions of the New Hampshire legislature is the respect shown toward legislators who feel passionately about an issue, but are not able to be present for important votes for personal reasons.  It has been a common sight on committee votes for a legislator to announce that are abstaining from voting on a given bill because one of their respected colleagues could not be there and the colleague would vote for the opposite position.  Therefore, by abstaining, the fact that  someone could not be present would not effect the final outcome of the vote.  It is a common courtesy that has been observed by Republicans and Democrats alike over the years.  Why do we bring this up now?

 

Everyone was prepared for the legislature to vote on overriding Governor Lynch’s veto of the “Right to Work” bill this last week, but the vote didn’t happen.  Speaker O’Brien and Republican leadership had been urging Republican legislators who opposed the bill to stay home on Wednesday.  That would have given the bill’s supporters the 2/3 majority that they needed.  Instead, over 375 of the 400 Representatives showed up—the highest turnout of the year.

 

Speaker O’Brien publicly announced that he wasn’t going call for the vote because he wanted a “good cross section” of the House to be there.  Right.  In actuality, he was 4 or 5 votes short of the outcome that he wanted.  He can bring the bill up for a vote at any time when it seems like there are enough legislators who oppose the bill who aren’t present.  In essence, he is going to wait until some day when enough opponents of the bill are not present and then bring it up for a vote.

 

In yet another surprising move, Speaker O’Brien ordered the House Sergeant At Arms to force a legislator, staunch Republican Tony Soltani (R-Epsom) back to his seat.  Rep. Soltani had been at the microphone asking the Speaker to call for a vote.

 

State Budget

The Senate has proposed several modifications to the State Budget that was passed by the House.  The Senate version restores some spending in certain areas such as for people with disabilities, but retain most of the other cuts, such as eliminating the catastrophic illness program.  For example, both the House and Senate versions would cut state support for the University System by 45%.  The University System includes UNH, Plymouth State, Keene State, and Granite State College.  New Hampshire already had the lowest level of state support to it’s University System of any state in America.

 

The changes being proposed are too numerous to list here, so we are providing you with a link to the proposed Senate budget.

 

Here is the Senate Finance Committee amendment to the budget (HB1).

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/lba/budget/fy1213/HB%201%20Senate%20Finance%20Amendment.pdf

 

Here is the Senate Finance Committee amendment to the budget rider (HB2).

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/amendments/2011-2221S.html

 

The House and Senate will form a committee of conference to work out the differences.  The bill that comes out of the committee will have to be voted on again by the House and Senate.  The House is expected to insist on adding provisions to the budget on issues where separate bills were rejected by the Senate.  One example is prohibiting the state from providing funds for New Hampshire Public Television.

 

Parental Notification

The Senate passed HB329 which requires parental notification before a minor can have an abortion.  Opponents of the bill are concerned that requiring parental notification could cause some young girls to not talk to doctors at all, but instead lead to an increase in dangerous methods of inducing abortions, which have commonly caused severe damage and death.  The bill now goes to Governor Lynch who has not taken a position on it.  As the bill was passed by the House and Senate with far more than the 2/3 majority needed to override a veto, it is possible that he may allow it to become law without his signature.

 

Hot Topics This Week:

Parental notification, state power over federal laws, education funding, health care reform, early parole, state budget, death penalty, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, affirmative action, dropout age, taxes, guns, and photo id to vote.

 

The following bills were passed by the Senate:

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

 

HB329—Parental notification.  Requires minors to notify at least one parent before having an abortion.  A judge can waive this requirement in certain circumstances.  The vote was 17-7.  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.

 

HCR19—Resolution declaring that the state legislature has the power to declare federal laws to be unconstitutional, to void federal Supreme Court decisions and to declare Presidential Executive Orders to be null and void.  The vote was 20-4. Senator Luther voted to table.

HB377—(cosponsored by Rep. Jack Flanagan) would rework the education funding formula The Senate completely rewrote 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 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 Senate passed the bill on a voice vote.

 

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

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

 

SB148—Urging the NH Attorney General to join the lawsuit against federal health care reform.  The House wants language to “require” the AG to join the lawsuit, the Senate wants language to “urge”.  The Senate has asked the NH Supreme Court for a determination on the constitutionality of requiring the AG to join a lawsuit.

 

The following bills were passed with changes by the House:

These bills have already been passed by the Senate.  Either the Senate must agree to the changes made by the House, or the bill will go to a committee of conference to work out the differences.

 

SB52—Eliminating early parole for prisons convicted of violent and sexual crimes.  The disagreements between the House and Senate involve giving the parole board more flexibility in punishing parole violations.  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.

 

HB1—The state budget.  The Senate Finance Committee recommends several changes that restores some of the cuts proposed by the House, but not others.  The committee vote was 6-1.

HB2—Budget rider.  This bill makes many, many changes to the laws in order to implement the budget (HB1).  The committee vote was 6-1.

HB147—Expands the death penalty to include murders committed during a home invasion.  The Senate Judiciary Committee recommends changing the bill to also include murders committed during the burglary of a business.  The language proposed by the Senate would also limit death penalty for home invasion to cases involving burglary.  Thus, if someone entered a home with the sole purpose to kill and not burglarize, they would not be subject to the death penalty.  The committee vote was 3-1.

HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  The Senate already voted on this and amended the bill to keep RGGI, but to automatically withdraw if any other New England state withdraws.  After the passing the bill, the Senate sent the bill to the Finance Committee to make a second recommendation.  The Finance Committee has now recommended that the bill be passed.  It will now go back to the Senate for a second vote.  The committee vote was 6-1.

HB623—Prohibits affirmative action programs in the state government and in the university system.  The bill would also add “national origin” to the list of categories for which discrimination is prohibited for state agencies and the university system.  The Senate Executive Departments and Administration committee recommends a minor change in language to the bill.  The committee vote was 4-1.

 

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

These bills will now go to the full Senate for a vote.  They have all passed the House.  If the Senate approves the recommendation of ITL, then the bill will be defeated.

 

HB429—Lowers the dropout age from 18 to 16.  The committee vote was 3-1.

 

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.

 

CACR6—Constitutional Amendment that would require a 3/5 supermajority in both the House and the Senate to raise taxes or create new taxes.

CACR12—Constitutional Amendment proposed by the House to overturn the Claremont decision requiring the state to provide funding for education.  Similar to CACR14, the Senate version, which is currently before the House.

 

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.

 

SB88 (cosponsored by Senator Luther) Removes the requirement that an individual must retreat from a deadly encounter if they may do so in complete safety.  The bill also declares that a person is not guilty of criminal threatening if they point a gun at someone when they feel threatened.  The House committee recommends an amendment that  would not require most out of state people to obtain a license, eliminates the minimum sentencing for criminal threatening, and allow people to carry guns openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded, on or about his or her person or in a vehicle.  The committee vote was 9-3.

SB129—Requiring photo ID to vote.  This bill has already been passed  by House, but was sent to a second committee (Finance) for a second recommendation.  The Finance committee recommends Ought to Pass 18-8.  The bill will now go back to the House for a second vote.

SB183 (Senator Luther is a cosponsor) Changes the Education Funding formula.  The committee recommends changing the bill to match HB377, the House’s version.  The committee vote was 11-4.

 

Senate Session for Wednesday,  June 1st

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

 

HB429—Lowers the dropout age from 18 to 16.  The committee vote was ITL 3-1.

HB623—Prohibits affirmative action programs in the state government and in the university system.  The bill would also add “national origin” to the list of categories for which discrimination is prohibited for state agencies and the university system.  The Senate Executive Departments and Administration committee recommends a minor change in language to the bill.  The committee vote was OTP 4-1.

HB1—The state budget.  The Senate Finance Committee recommends several changes that restores some of the cuts proposed by the House, but not others.  The committee vote was OTP 6-1.

HB2—Budget rider.  This bill makes many, many changes to the laws in order to implement the budget (HB1).  The committee vote was OTP 6-1.

HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI).  The Senate already voted on this and amended the bill to keep RGGI, but to automatically withdraw if any other New England state withdraws.  After the passing the bill, the Senate sent the bill to the Finance Committee to make a second recommendation.  The Finance Committee has now recommended that the bill be passed.  It will now go back to the Senate for a second vote.  The committee vote was OTP 6-1.

CACR6—Constitutional Amendment that would require a 3/5 supermajority in both the House and the Senate to raise taxes or create new taxes.  The committee recommendation is to rerefer back to committee.

CACR12—Constitutional Amendment proposed by the House to overturn the Claremont decision requiring the state to provide funding for education.  Similar to CACR14, the Senate version, which is currently before the House..  The committee recommendation is to rerefer back to committee.

HB147—Expands the death penalty to include murders committed during a home invasion.  The Senate Judiciary Committee recommends changing the bill to also include murders committed during the burglary of a business.  The language proposed by the Senate would also limit death penalty for home invasion to cases involving burglary.  Thus, if someone entered a home with the sole purpose to kill and not burglarize, they would not be subject to the death penalty.  The committee vote was OTP 3-1.

 

 

House Session for Wednesday, June 1st

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

 

SB88 (cosponsored by Senator Luther) Removes the requirement that an individual must retreat from a deadly encounter if they may do so in complete safety.  The bill also declares that a person is not guilty of criminal threatening if they point a gun at someone when they feel threatened.  The House committee recommends an amendment that  would not require most out of state people to obtain a license, eliminates the minimum sentencing for criminal threatening, and allow people to carry guns openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded, on or about his or her person or in a vehicle.  The committee vote was OTP 9-3.

SB129—Requiring photo ID to vote.  This bill has already been passed  by House, but was sent to a second committee (Finance) for a second recommendation.  The Finance committee recommends Ought to Pass 18-8.  The bill will now go back to the House for a second vote.

SB183 (Senator Luther is a cosponsor) Changes the Education Funding formula.  The committee recommends changing the bill to match HB377, the House’s version.  The committee vote was OTP 11-4.

CACR14—Constitutional Amendment to limit state funding for education.  This is the Senate’s version.  The House version, CACR 12 is currently in the Senate.  The House Special Committee on Education Funding Reform sent this bill to the full House without a recommendation.

 

 

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