NH Legislature This Week—April 23, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“These laws are vigilantism masquerading as self-defense, and getting 25 states to pass them is one of the best con jobs the NRA’s leaders have ever pulled off. They don’t give a damn whether innocent people are shot and killed. And they don’t give a damn about the integrity of the American justice system. They want to create a nation where disputes are settled by guns instead of gavels, and where suspects are shot by civilians instead of arrested by police. These laws destabilize our justice system, they degrade our society, and they destroy innocent lives. We can’t be silent — and we can’t let them stand.” New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg on the “Leave no witness alive” laws, such as the one just passed in New Hampshire.
Efficiency in the legislature
There has been a long standing rule that has been followed closely by the House and less so in the Senate in many years past. If a bill is voted down in the first year of the 2-year session, then it can not be brought back in the second year. This year, the roles are reversed as the House has been busy pushing legislation that failed last year. The Senate, however, has decided to reinstate this rule and has used it to eliminate several bills that were just passed (again) by the House. Bills rejected by the Senate under this rule include one to require the Attorney General to join the lawsuit against the federal Affordable Care Act, a resolution urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations, urging Congress to withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement, and a bill banning the use of corn-based ethanol as a gas additive.
Unite Against the War on Women
A new organization, Unite Women, is organizing rallies around the country next Saturday, April 28th. In New Hampshire, the rally will be held at the Statehouse in Concord from 11:00 to 3:00. See nhwomenunited.org for details.
On Wednesday, April 18th, the Senate voted on the following bills:
HB383 “Right to work for less”. The Senate “tabled” this bill, effectively defeating it on a voice vote.
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 decided to send the bill to “study”, effectively defeating it 17-7. Sen. Luther voted to send the bill to study.
On Wednesday, April 25th, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
HB1546 would allow businesses to refuse to cover contraception in their health care plans by providing a religious exemption. The Senate Public and Municpal Affairs committee recommends that the bill be sent to study, effectively defeating the bill, 5-0.
HB228 prohibits state funds from going to any health care provider that also provides abortion services. Current law prohibits state funds from being used to provide such services. The Senate committee is recommending an amendment that would exempt hospitals. The law is directed at preventing state monies from going to Planned Parenthood, which provides low-cost access to health care, cancer screenings, family planning and prenatal care to women, especially in the north country where medical services are less available. The Senate Health and Human Services committee recommends passing the amended form of the bill 3-2.
HB1659 requires women to wait 24 hours to terminate a pregnancy and specifies what information doctors are required to give to the women. The more version of the bill that was passed by the House removed the original provisions that required medically inaccurate and graphic depictions. The Senate Health and Human Services committee recommends that the bill be defeated 3-2.
HB1660 prohibits abortions after 20 weeks. The Senate Health and Human Services committee recommends sending the bill to study, effectively defeating it, 3-2.
HB1679 makes it illegal to perform an abortion procedure often called “partial birth”. The procedure is already illegal under federal law. The Senate Health and Human Services committee recommends passing the bill 5-0.
On Wednesday, April 25th, the House will vote on the following bills:
SB409 legalizes the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee recommends that the bill be passed 12-4.
Public Hearings Scheduled for the Tuesday, April 24th
Senate Commerce Committee (LOB room 102)
HB1727 would return $333,000 to the federal government which was granted to the state to create a Health Care Exchange. The state is still required by federal law to create a Health Care Exchange, but this will now have to be paid for with state tax money. This is in addition to $666,000 that the state has already returned to the federal government for the same purpose. 9:00am.
Public Hearings Scheduled for the Wednesday, April 25th
Senate Internal Affairs Committee (Statehouse room 100)
HCR2 is a resolution supporting the Arizona immigration law. 1:00pm.
Public Hearings Scheduled for the Thursday, April 26th
Senate Finance Committee (Statehouse room 103)
HB1666 requires all labor union contracts entered into by the state to be approved by the legislature. 1:00PM
Senate Health and Human Services Committee (Statehouse room 100)
HB 1642 would allow “specialty hospitals” (e.g. Cancer Treatment Centers of America) to operate in NH and to be exempt from the Certificate of Need process and the NH Medicaid Enhancement Tax that all hospitals are currently subject to. These hospitals would not be required to serve any uninsured or Medicaid patients. Opponents argue that this would shift cost to all the non profit Community based hospitals which do care for the uninsured and Medicaid patients.
Senate Judiciary Committee (LOB room 101)
HB1611 repeals the requirement that gun sellers be licensed. 1:30pm
HB1341 allows unauthorized gun use in the compact part of cities and towns including parks and playgrounds. Current law requires authorization from the chief of police before setting up a firing range in a densely populated area or near a playground or park. 1:50pm
HB217 expands the first and second degree murder statutes and the negligent homicide statute to include causing the death of a fetus. 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 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