NH Legislature This Week—February 27, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“[Gay couples are] seeking to destroy the very society that we have… [and] an ever-growing government that has to compensate for the damage that they would do to our families” House Speaker, Rep. William O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) speaking at a rally to repeal the marriage equality law for gay and lesbian couples.
“[Executive Council] District Two now resembles a dragon that has swallowed a medium sized mammal. This most tortuous of districts starts at the Connecticut River with Charlestown and Walpole, curves south to include Keene east to Marlborough to Dublin, then curves north only to bulge out again around the Concord area, from whence it zigzags east in a line a single town wide until it reaches the seacoast and curves south again to end at Portsmouth.” Rep. Lucy Weber (D-Walpole) on HB1670 which redraws the Executive Council districts.
“The ‘kitchen’ can sometimes get hot.” Rep. John W Cebrowski (R-Bedford) in opposition to HB1533, which would prohibit bullying in the Statehouse.
“I’d go into the back of committees where we had problems with members and stand with arms folded and just glare at the members. It was effective” Rep. Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson), House Majority Whip.
“ Although the goal of this bill is worthy, the timing of its introduction would be better suited to be outside the presidential election cycle, so the policy consideration at issue could be considered apart from any connection to the question of President Obama’s qualification for office.” Rep. William B Smith (R-New Castle) on HB1164, requiring documentation of qualifications for presidential candidates.
Legislative Spring Break
This week the legislature will be on Spring Break. There are no hearings or sessions scheduled this week. However, the House has decided not to publicly release their next Calendar until Friday, March 2nd. This means that we will not know for certain which bills will be taken up the legislature the first week of March until the end of this week. The Senate already published their next Calendar at the end of last week.
Because the legislature is in recess this week and the next House calendar will not be published until later, this legislative report covers only the bills voted on by the legislature in the past two weeks. Next week’s edition will contain only bills and hearings that are scheduled for the week that the legislature returns.
In the last 2 weeks, the House voted on the following bills:
Note: Rep. Jack Flanagan and Rep. Carolyn Gargasz could not be in the legislature on Feb 15th and thus do not have recorded votes on some bills.
HB1533 would prohibit bullying in the Statehouse. The House defeated the bill 224-78. The individual votes were not recorded.
CACR32 is a constitutional amendment that would give the legislature the power to investigate the conduct of judges. Currently, the judiciary branch handles questions of conduct. The amendment was defeated by the House on a voice vote.
CACR28 is a constitutional amendment that would forbid the courts from deciding on the constitutionality of laws. The House defeated the amendment 239-108. Rep. Drisko voted to defeat the amendment. Rep. Belanger voted to pass the amendment. Rep. Flanagan and Gargasz could not be present the day that the vote was taken.
HB1180 prohibits juries from issuing awards for noneconomic damages. For example, juries would not be able to award damages for pain and suffering. The bill was defeated by the House on a voice vote.
HB1406 would exempt goods and services in NH from federal laws. This bill was defeated by the House on a voice vote, however a similar bill, HB324, was sent to interim study. The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs committee notes “The committee is committed to working on the issue and will have a recommendation for next year.”
HB1688 would exempt maple syrup and milk products from federal regulation. The bill was defeated by the House on a voice vote.
HB1611 repeals the requirement that gun sellers must be licensed. Also repeals the requirement that guns can only be sold to non-state residents if they could have legally purchased a gun in their home state. The bill was passed by the House on a voice vote.
HB1560 would allow the state government to take over medicare and medicaid. The House passed the bill 253-92, but then sent it to the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee for a second public hearing. Rep. Belanger and Drisko voted to pass the bill. Rep. Flanagan and Gargasz could not be present the day that the vote was taken.
HB1513 changes the membership of the public employee labor relations board. Current law requires the board to be made of 5 members—two from the labor unions, two representing management and a chair who has no background on either side and has never held public office. This bill would remove those requirement and require that all 5 “shall own or shall have previously owned a business in New Hampshire.” The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1412 would require warning signs along the Massachusetts border. The bill was defeated in the House 285-16. The individual votes were not recorded.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.email@example.com
Rep. Jim Belanger P: (603)465-2301 Jim.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Dick Drisko P: (603)465-2517 email@example.com
Rep. Jack Flanagan P: (603)672-7175 Jack.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz P: (603)465-7463 email@example.com