NH Legislature This Week—April 16, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Before we begin our newsletter, we have to acknowledge the recent loss in our community of nine year old Maximos Hebert of Hollis, who died from a gunshot wound on Saturday. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends.
Also in our thoughts and prayers are the family and friends of Greenland Police Chief Michal Maloney, who died this week from a gunshot wound while executing a search warrant in a drug related case. Our police place their lives on the line every day to protect and serve and we mourn the loss to our communities.
Quotes of the Week
“This was obviously a terrible tragedy here in New Hampshire, and I know I speak for everyone in New Hampshire when I say our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Chief Maloney as well as the officers and the families of the other four involved police officers,” Governor John Lynch, on the tragic shooting death of Greenland chief of police, Michael Maloney.
“Over the last year, I have observed, with increasing concern, the negative impact the Redress of Grievance Committee is having on the State’s effort to protect the health and safety of New Hampshire’s children,” Attorney General Michael Delaney, who notes that the committee, which was just given subpoena powers by the House, has been asking state officials to violate state and federal laws by publicly commenting on cases protected by privacy laws. The committee has also been asking state agencies to answer questions such as “Under what DCYF [Division of Children, Youth and Families] policy does it state slandering parents and family members is allowed in order to place a child in foster care?”
“His nickname in the House is der Fuhrer.” Rep. Tony Soltani (R-Epsom) describing House Speaker Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon).
“It’s quite a mystery to me. I didn’t do anything illegal or immoral.” Rep. Tony Soltani (R-Epsom) explaining why, after seeing a car pull away after being stopped by police, he decided to pursue the car at speeds of up to 100 MPH before he himself was stopped and arrested for reckless driving and placing another person in danger. Rep. Soltani went on to describe the officer that arrested him as “vicious, malicious, vengeful and very violent.”
Gas price fixing?
Attorney General Michael Delaney wants to join a lawsuit against the major oil companies. When a request was filed with the House, the oil company funded lobbying group, Americans for Prosperity, assuming that the lawsuit was about price gouging, immediately responded and the Republican Speaker of the House Bill O’Brien and Majority Leader DJ Bettencourt pounced. Speaker O’Brien said “for an attorney general … to suddenly rush to waste taxpayer money to join a speculative and likely frivolous lawsuit against energy companies is a sad day for our state.” Rep. Bettencourt said “Sadly, this episode once again highlights just how far this attorney general has taken his personal partisan politics and placed them ahead of the best interests of our citizens…We need change in the Attorney General’s Office, and the sooner the better.”
It turns out, however, that the AG was NOT asking to join a lawsuit involving price gouging, but wants to join a lawsuit because the oil companies claimed that they had no insurance to cover gas spill incidents and so the state provided funding to them for that purpose. It later turned out that they did have insurance and that they were collecting money from the insurance and from the state at the same time to clean up the same spills.
The House has tabled the request, saying that they don’t have enough information to act upon.
While the AG is not planning to sue over price gouging, perhaps he should. Over the last few years, gas prices have skyrocketed an so have oil company profits.
Exxon Mobil, the most profitable company in the world for the last several years, has seen it’s profits increase from $25 billion in 2004 to $41 billion in 2011. To put that in perspective, Exxon Mobil’s profits last year were more than the budgets of NASA, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National Science Foundation combined.
Meanwhile Exxon Mobil and other oil companies continue to receive huge federal tax breaks because efforts by Democrats in Congress to end those tax breaks have been firmly opposed by the Republicans.
Yet more rewrites of history from NOM
The National Organization for Marriage (a national anti-gay organization) has taken out a full page ad in the Union Leader and perhaps other papers (no sign of it in the Nashua Telegraph) advertising the need for social conservatives to run for the NH House. They also list the names of every Republican member of the House who voted against the bill to repeal the marriage equality law and state “They led voters to believe they supported traditional marriage, but instead voted in favor of same-sex marriage.” That is not true as several of the legislators listed publicly supported marriage equality before the election, including openly gay Rep. Steve Vaillencourt (R-Manchester).
We are proud to note that two of our Representatives were listed – Rep. Dick Drisko (R-Hollis) and Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis). Be sure to thank them when you see them.
Not listed were our other two Representatives – Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) and Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) who both voted to repeal marriage equality. In 2010, NOM provided “independent expenditures” for a mailing supporting their campaigns and opposing the reelection of Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline).
Kevin Smith for governor?
Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) has endorsed Kevin Smith for Governor. Smith is the former head of NH’s Cornerstone Policy Research, a conservative “family policy council” that is associated with the Family Research Council, as is viewed as being even more socially conservative than Ovid Lamontagne. Cornerstone’s mission is to lobby for socially conservative causes such as restricting women’s reproductive freedoms, opposing equality for gays and lesbians, restricting the availability of divorce, and cutting funding for welfare programs.
On Wednesday, April 11th, the Senate voted on the following bills:
HB581 would repeal the law protecting consumers who purchase home heating oil in prepay contracts when the oil company goes out of business. Current law requires that either the oil must be purchased, or at least half of the prepay money must be in a bank account so that it could be returned to the customer. This bill replaces that protection with a “buyer beware” statement. The Senate defeated this bill 18-6.
HB1677 “Right to Work for Less”. The Senate tabled the bill on a voice vote. A tabled bill could be brought back for a vote later, otherwise it dies. Also note that HB383, to be voted on this week, does the same thing.
On Wednesday, April 18th, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
HB383 “Right to work for less”. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration committee recommends that the bill be defeated 2-1.
HB1440 allows teens to take an online driving course instead of an instructor led course and eliminates the requirement of driving with an instructor in a “student driver” car. The Senate Transportation committee recommends that the bill be studied, effectively defeating it, 4-1.
Public Hearings Scheduled for the Tuesday, April 17th
Senate Public and Municipal Affairs committee (LOB room 101)
HB1546 allows employers to refuse to cover contraception in their health care benefits by allowing them to cite a “religious exemption”. 10:00am
Public Hearings Scheduled for the Thursday, April 19th
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (LOB room 305-307)
HB1490 withdraws New Hampshire from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative effective January 1, 2015. 9:30am
Senate Finance Committee (statehouse room 103)
HB1692 eliminates the chancellor’s office in the university system, forcing each college in the system to duplicate the work that was being done for all colleges. 2:00PM
Senate Health and Human Services (LOB room 102)
HB1560 allows NH to participate in an interstate healthcare compact, which would be exempt from federal health care laws. 2:00pm
Senate Judiciary Committee (LOB room 101)
HB1526 reduces the penalty for possession of less than 1/2 ounce of marijuana from a misdemeanor to a violation, with fines up to $250 or $500 for a first or second offense. 1:45PM
HB1615 legalizes the growing of industrial hemp. 2:15pm
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 email@example.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:
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 2nd and 4th 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