NH Legislature This Week—January 16, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“If you own a car, how can you be poor?” Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis). This statement was made on the House floor while he was arguing in favor of raising the maximum interest rates on payday (title) loans from 34% to 300%. In title loans, cars are used as collateral.
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The House has been busy voting on bills left over from last year and there are still several more to go. The Senate will be voting on a number of bills next week. Both chambers have also been busy working on new legislation and hearings have already begun on a number of bills.
More bullying in the Statehouse
Union Leader columnist Garry Rayno notes in his column this week that Rep. Susan Emerson (R-Rindge) will not be able testify at the hearing on her own bill, to prohibit bullying in the Statehouse. She introduced the bill after having a confrontation with House Speaker William O’Brien. Rep. Emerson is recovering from surgery and won’t be able to come to the Statehouse until later in the month, but Committee Chair Daniel Itse (R-Freemont) scheduled the bill to be heard this Thursday at 10:00am and is refusing to move the hearing back.
The big news is that the legislature has overridden Governor Lynch’s veto and raised the interest rate on payday loans to 300%. This will have a terrible effect on people who live paycheck to paycheck as they find themselves in a debt that they can not hope to pay off. These kinds of predatory loans are illegal in many states and were illegal here until now. The new law goes into effect March 4th.
Rep. Flanagan did an admirable job arguing against this bill on the House floor. He pointed out that the average loan is repaid in 8 months and that there already 16 locations in NH where payday loans can be made under the current law (which sets a maximum interest rate of 36%). It was a sharp contrast with Rep. Belanger’s comments on the house floor (see above).
There are (as always these days) many gun bills in the legislature, but one has now been modified to forbid any governmental body other than the legislature from restricting the possession of guns. This means that colleges, schools and towns would no longer be able to regulate the sale or possession of guns on their property. The House passed the bill 180 to 144. Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Flanagan all support the bill while Rep. Gargasz opposes it.
The following bills have become law after the legislature overrode Governor Lynch’s veto:
- SB57—Increases the maximum interest rate charged on a pay-day title loan (loans secured by a car) to 300%. Rep. Belanger voted to override the veto. Rep. Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to sustain the veto.
Status of Bills of Interest:
HB125 would declare that guns made in New Hampshire are exempt from federal law as long as they remain in New Hampshire. After “passing” this bill 240-120 last February, the House had sent this bill to a second committee (Commerce and Consumer Affairs), where it is just now seeing the light of day. That committee recommended that the bill be sent to be studied. On a voice vote, the House agreed. This effectively defeats the bill this year. The study will be done later this year and a report filed for the House to consider for future legislation.
HB334 makes it illegal for any government entity other than the legislature (such as colleges and schools) to regulate possession of guns. The House passed this bill 180-144. Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Gargasz voted to defeat.
HB536 makes it legal to carry gun concealed or unconcealed without a license. The House passed this bill 193-122. Rep. Belanger voted to pass. Rep. Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat.
HB194 legalizes the possession of a loaded gun or crossbow in a vehicle as long as the vehicle is on personal property. Current law does not allow loaded guns or crossbows in any vehicle. The bill also specifies that having a clip or magazine attached to the gun does not make it “loaded”. Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to pass. Rep. Drisko and Gargasz voted to defeat.
HB324 would declare that goods and services provided in New Hampshire would be exempt from federal laws. The House voted 188-114 to send the bill to study. This effectively defeats the bill this year. The study will be done later this year and a report filed for the House to consider for future legislation. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz all supported sending the bill to study.
CACR4 is a constitutional amendment that would require future members of Congress from New Hampshire to pledge allegiance to the State of NH and removes the current requirement that they pledge allegiance to the United States. The bill was defeated in the House on a voice vote.
NH Rail Transit Authority
HB218 would have repealed the ability of the NH Rail Transit Authority to use federal grants to do a study on bringing commuter rail from Lowell up to Concord. This bill was passed by the House and Senate, then vetoed by Governor Lynch. The House failed to override the veto (231-128), defeating the bill. Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted to override the veto. Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted to support the veto.
HB233 would enact a law that would declare that the NH courts could not make rulings on the constitutionality of the state’s funding for public education. The Special Committee on Education Funding Reform voted for ITL 15-0. The full House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB217 allows someone to be charged with murder or manslaughter for the intentional death of a fetus at least 24 weeks old. The bill exempts abortions and does not declare a fetus to be “another” (ie, a person) for legal purposes. The House passed the bill 213-125. Rep. Belanger, Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz opposed the bill.
CACR11 is a constitutional amendment that would have future judges be appointed for 5 year terms, requiring them to be reappointed every 5 years. Currently, judges serve for life. The House failed to defeat the bill outright (151 to defeat—160 to keep the bill alive). The House instead sent it back to committee for study. Rep. Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to defeat the amendment. Rep. Belanger voted to support the amendment.
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