NH Legislature This Week—May 9, 2011

NH Legislature This Week—May 9, 2011

Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats

 

 

Quote of the Week (Mother’s Day edition)

“For the average woman, joining a union has a much larger effect on her probability of having health insurance (an 18.8 percentage-point increase) than finishing a four-year college degree would (an 8.4 percentage-point increase, compared to a woman with similar characteristics who has only a high school diploma).”  Center for Economic and Policy Research.

 

The full House will not be in session this week, although the House Committees will continue to meet.  The Senate has a full schedule.

 

There will be a special election on May 17th to replace Rep. Robert Mead, who resigned to be come the House Chief of Staff.  Voters in Wilton, Mont Vernon, Lyndeborough, Temple and New Boston will be choosing between Democrat Jennifer Daler and Republican Peter Kucmas.  House Speaker Bill O’Brien also represents this district.

 

The Senate Internal Affairs Committee is holding a public hearing on Wednesday to get feedback on a constitutional amendment that would require a 3/5 supermajority vote of each chamber of the legislature in order to raise existing taxes, create new taxes or issue bonds.  Passage of this amendment would have a profound effect on the state’s ability to balance it’s budget when faced with unknown challenges in the future.  Other states have adopted such provisions and many of them are in serious trouble.  Arizona, for example, recently sold their Capital building and the building that houses their state Supreme Court.  The state now rents those buildings.  It will cost the state more in the long run, but it was the only way to get a desperately needed cash infusion.  Stunningly, the Senate Committee has allotted only 15 minutes for public testimony.  The hearing begins at 2:00 while a hearing on a different bill is scheduled to begin at 2:15.

 

There is an excellent letter to the Editor in Saturday’s Nashua Telegraph.  A woman in Nashua writes to express her dismay at a recent practice on the House floor of having a legislator in the Republican leadership wave a red flag or a green flag to tell the Republican legislators which button they should press when votes are being taken.  While leadership in both parties have historically pressured their members to vote a certain way on a few specific bills, it’s usually done in a far more subtle manner.

 

The House has voted to amend a bill (SB148) to require the state to return federal money that was given for the purpose of implementing the health care reforms required by federal law.  If this bill becomes law, NH will return the federal money, then be forced to spend our own money to implement the programs that are required by federal laws.  Apparently NH must be awash with money that we can afford to do this.

 

Hot Topics This Week:

Right to work, public employee retirement system, collective bargaining, health care reform, photo id to vote, line item veto, Lyme disease, bullying, ethanol, deadly force, NH Rail Transit Authority, medical marijuana, business and sports on Sundays, NH Public Television, campaign signs, Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), guns, business profits tax, education funding, minimum wage, supermajority vote to raise taxes, affirmative action, and the death penalty.

 

 

The following bills were passed by the House:

These bills were already passed by the Senate and now go to either Governor Lynch or a committee of conference.

 

HB474—Right to work.  Prohibiting employees from being required to join a union or to pay dues to a union.  This bill was passed by the House, then the Senate passed a modified version.  Last week, the House concurred with the Senate changes and so now the bill goes to Governor Lynch.

HB580—Making many significant changes to the public employee retirement system.  This bill was passed by the House, then the Senate passed a modified version.  Last week, the House concurred with the Senate changes and so now the bill goes to Governor Lynch.

HB580—Originally, this bill was to make changes in the public employee retirement system.  There is a similar bill, SB3, which will do this instead.  The Senate modified this bill to instead create a committee to study the collective bargaining process.  The House agrees with Senate amendment, so this study committee bill will now go to Governor Lynch.  However, SB3 is still moving forward.

SB3—Makes many major changes to the public employee retirement system.  Senator Luther is a cosponsor.  This House made two changes to the bill (which had previously passed the Senate).  One amendment would further increase the member contribution rates.  The other change would require that all public employees become “at will” employees at the end of the current collective bargaining contracts, effectively eliminating collective bargaining.  The Senate voted to not agree with that provision and therefore this bill will now go to a committee of conference to resolve the differences.  The House vote on the amendment to make employees “at will” was a voice vote.  The overall bill was passed by the House with a vote of 238-121.  Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted to pass.

SB148—The version passed by the Senate declares that no NH resident can be required to purchase health care insurance and states that the NH Attorney General should join the lawsuit against federal health care reform.  The House amended the bill to require the Attorney General to join the lawsuit and also to direct that federal money that has already been given to the state to implement the health care exchanges (which allow individuals to purchase insurance at lower group rate costs) should instead be returned to the federal government.  Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted in favor of the House amendment and voted to pass the bill.  Rep. Drisko and Gargasz voted against the House amendment and voted  against the bill.

 

The following bills were “passed” by the House, but then sent to a second committee:

These bills were already passed by the Senate.

 

SB129—Requiring a photo ID to vote.  The House amended the bill to allow an exception for people who do not want their photographs taken for religious reasons.  The House also defeated three Democratic amendments.  The first would allow people without ID to vote, but would then require those people to be notified by certified letter of the voting.  This would allow the state to determine if fraudulent voting is a significant problem or not.  Another amendment would allow the town clerk to take a photo ID at the time of the election and the third amendment would require the annual town reports to inform voters ahead of time about the change in voting requirements.  The bill was passed 243-111 but then sent to the House Finance Committee.  It will be brought up again for a final vote.   Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted against the Democratic amendments and all voted to pass the bill.

 

The following bills were tabled by the House:

These bills were already passed by the Senate, but have been tabled by the House.  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.

 

CACR5—Constitutional Amendment to give the Governor a line item veto to reduce spending on specific items in the budget.   The vote to table was 293-33.  The individual vote was not recorded.

 

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.

 

HB295—Allows the use of long-term antibiotics to treat Lyme disease.  The bill passed on a voice vote.

 

The following bills were defeated in the Senate:

These bills were passed by the House, but defeated by the Senate.

 

HB370—Waters down the anti-bully law by prohibiting schools from punishing students for bullying that occurs off campus, but would have required schools to notify parents of off-campus incidents.  Current law also requires parents to be notified, but allows for exceptions to be made.  The vote was 23-0.  Senator Luther voted to defeat.

HB374—Banning the use of ethanol as a gasoline additive.  The bill was defeated on a 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.

 

HB210—Expands the right to use deadly force to protect yourself or another by essentially removing the current requirement to retreat from a deadly situation if the retreat can be performed with complete safety.  Essentially, this bill is saying that, if there is a deadly situation, you have the option of getting into a gun fight if you want to, even though that could have been safely avoided.   Note that current law does not require people to retreat if they are in their own homes.  The committee vote was 3-1.

HB218—Repealing the NH Rail Transit Authority.  The committee recommends an amendment that would not repeal the RTA altogether, but would restrict it’s mission.  The current purpose of the committee is to implement passenger rail service if funding can be found.  The proposed amendment would restrict the purpose to just doing a cost-benefit analysis of passenger rail service.  The committee vote was 4-1.

HB442—Allows for the creation of non-profit alternative treatment centers that will be authorized to dispense medical marijuana for patients with severe medical problems that have not responded to other treatments.  The bill creates a very restrictive and regulated oversight system.  The committee vote was 3-2.

HB617—Originally, this bill would remove the restrictions on businesses and sporting events on Sundays.  However, the Senate committee is recommending an amendment which would not change the current law, but instead create a committee to study the issue.  The committee vote was 3-2.

HB557—Allows business owners to deduct any amount that they want as “compensation” from the business profits tax and puts the burden of proof on the Department of Revenue Administration.  The Department estimates that this bill would make it very difficult to collect business taxes and could result in the loss of $49 million per year up to over $200 million per year in business tax revenue.  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.

 

HB113—Prohibits the use of state funds for New Hampshire Public Television.  The committee vote was 4-3.

HB257—Removes the requirement that all campaign signs must be removed within 2 weeks of an election.  This bill would not require election campaign signs to be removed at all.  The committee vote was 5-0.

HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  The committee vote was 3-2.

 

The following bills were recommended to be rereferred back to Committee in the Senate:

Bills that are sent back to committee can be held over until next year or they could be brought back up for a vote later this year.  These bills have already passed the House.

 

HB330—Removes almost all licensing requirements for guns.  Permits people to carry firearms openly or concealed, loaded or unload, on their person or in a vehicle.  The committee vote was 4-0.

 

Senate Session for Wednesday, May 11th

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

 

HB617—Originally, this bill would remove the restrictions on businesses and sporting events on Sundays.  However, the Senate committee is recommending an amendment which would not change the current law, but instead create a committee to study the issue.  The committee vote was OTP as amended 3-2.

HB519—Repealing the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative.  The committee vote was ITL 3-2.

HB113—Prohibits the use of state funds for New Hampshire Public Television.  The committee vote was ITL 4-3.

HB442—Allows for the creation of non-profit alternative treatment centers that will be authorized to dispense medical marijuana for patients with severe medical problems that have not responded to other treatments.  The bill creates a very restrictive and regulated oversight system.  The committee vote was OTP 3-2.

HB210—Expands the right to use deadly force to protect yourself or another by essentially removing the current requirement to retreat from a deadly situation if the retreat can be performed with complete safety.  Essentially, this bill is saying that, if there is a deadly situation, you have the option of getting into a gun fight if you want to, even though that could have been safely avoided.   Note that current law does not require people to retreat if they are in their own homes.  The committee vote was OTP 3-1.

HB330—Removes almost all licensing requirements for guns.  Permits people to carry firearms openly or concealed, loaded or unload, on their person or in a vehicle.  The committee vote was to rerefer back to committee 4-0.

HB257—Removes the requirement that all campaign signs must be removed within 2 weeks of an election.  This bill would not require election campaign signs to be removed at all.  The committee vote was ITL 5-0.

HB218—Repealing the NH Rail Transit Authority.  The committee recommends an amendment that would not repeal the RTA altogether, but would restrict it’s mission.  The current purpose of the committee is to implement passenger rail service if funding can be found.  The proposed amendment would restrict the purpose to just doing a cost-benefit analysis of passenger rail service.  The committee vote was OTP as amended 4-1.

HB557—Allows business owners to deduct any amount that they want as “compensation” from the business profits tax and puts the burden of proof on the Department of Revenue Administration.  The Department estimates that this bill would make it very difficult to collect business taxes and could result in the loss of $49 million per year up to over $200 million per year in business tax revenue.  The committee vote was OTP 4-0.

 

Hearings for Monday, May 9th

 

House Special Committee on Education Funding Reform

SB183—Changing the education funding formula.  Senator Luther is a cosponsor.  LOB room 207 9:30am.

 

Hearings for Tuesday, May 10th

 

Senate Commerce Committee

HB133—Repeals New Hampshire’s minimum wage.  Note, however, that NH’s minimum wage is currently the same as the federal minimum wage.  LOB room 102 9:45am.

 

House Finance Committee

SB129—Requiring photo ID to vote.  This bill has already been passed by both the Senate and the House.  The committee will make a recommendation on the financial aspect, then send it back to the House for a final vote.  LOB 210 1:00pm.

 

Hearings for Wednesday, May 11th

 

Senate Internal Affairs Committee

CACR6—Constitutional Amendment that would require a 3/5 supermajority vote in both the House and the Senate to create or raise taxes or fees, or issue bonds.  The bill passed the House 256-117.  Statehouse room 100 2:00pm.

CACR12—Constitutional Amendment to overturn the Claremont decision requiring the state to provide funding for adequate education.  This bill passed the House 252-113 and is similar to CACR14 which passed the Senate and is now before the House.  Statehouse room 100 2:15pm.

 

Hearings for Thursday, May 12th

 

Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee (Senator Luther is a member of this Committee)

HB623—Prohibits the university system and college system from implementing affirmative action programs.  Statehouse room 100 9:30am.

 

Hearings for Wednesday, May 18th

 

Senate Judiciary Committee (Senator Luther is a member of this committee)

HB147—Expanding the death penalty to include murders committed during a home invasion.  This bill passed the House on a voice vote.  LOB room 305 1:30pm.

 

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