NH Legislature This Week—January 2, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It’s a worldview and it’s godless. Atheism has been tried in various societies, and they’ve been pretty criminal domestically and internationally. The Soviet Union, Cuba, the Nazis, China today: they don’t respect human rights … As a general court we should be concerned with criminal ideas like this and how we are teaching it. . . . Columbine, remember that? They were believers in evolution. That’s evidence right there.” Rep. Jerry Bergevin (R-Manchester), introducing HB1148, a bill that requires that evolution be taught as only one theory and requiring that “the theorists’ political and ideological viewpoints and their position on the concept of atheism” also be taught.
“Not only does throwing more and more taxpayer money at funding college education cause more problems than it solves, it inaccurately signals that college attendance is the only route for success in life,” House Speaker Rep. Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon). The current budget cut state funding for the University System by 48%.
“The people of New Hampshire must be held competent to understand that every November, without fail, it gets cold at this latitude and that they must arrange their affairs so as to provide for this fact of life as a matter of personal responsibility. And again, if the state of New Hampshire considers assistance in the purchase of home heating oil for needful citizens and the preservation of its sovereignty both to be worthwhile, it must provide and pay for such assistance itself and cease accepting federal funding and the accompanying federal rules.” Legislative Report issued November 1st, 2011 by a committee established by law to review state participation in federal grant programs.
We haven’t published since late June because the NH Legislature has not been meeting regularly, but much has happened and the legislature will now begin meeting weekly again as the 2012 session begins this week.
Over the coming weeks, we hope to be experimenting with the format of the weekly newsletter to make the information more easily available. There are so many important bills being debated and the process is complex. Making this information easy and accessible is a difficult task.
We would like to hear your suggestions for improvements! What do you like/dislike? What can we do to make the weekly newsletter easier? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also, please forward these updates to friends and anyone that you think would be interested!
Coming in January: a deluge of bills
The legislature will be voting on a huge number of bills in January that were left over from 2011. Included in them are bills to expand the death penalty, include “unborn child” in the definition of “other” for purposes of murder and manslaughter, requiring a photo id to vote, repealing the marriage equality law, prohibiting no-fault divorce when there are minor children involved, expressing support for Arizona’s immigration laws, Constitutional Amendments, lots of gun bills, abolishing the department of education, etc. etc. Additionally, the new bills for 2012 (many of which are identical bills introduced last year) will be finalized in early January. It’s going to be a busy session.
The following bills were signed into law by Governor Lynch:
- HB337—Changes the education funding formula to reduce the funding for public education from $942 million to $788 million. Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) is a cosponsor.
- SB52—Exempts persons convicted of violent crimes from the early release program.
The following bills have become law without Governor Lynch’s signature:
- HB590—Established a committee to review state participation in federal grant programs. The committee met and wrote a report which is available at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/statstudcomm/reports/2069.pdf See quotes above.
- HB623—Prohibits Affirmative Action programs in the University System and Community College system.
- SB148—States that no resident can be required to purchase health care insurance except in certain circumstances.
The following bills have become law after the legislature overrode Governor Lynch’s veto:
- SB88—Allows greater use of “deadly force” when feeling threatened, declares that pulling out a gun during a confrontation does not constitute use of deadly force, and eliminating the minimum sentence for firearm offences. The Senate voted 17-7 to override the Governor’s veto. Sen. Luther voted to override. The House voted 251-111 to override the Governor’s veto. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to override the veto. Rep. Drisko voted to sustain the veto. Sen. Luther is a cosponsor.
The following bills were defeated after being vetoed by Governor Lynch (the legislature did not have the votes to override the veto):
A 2/3 majority in each chamber is needed to override a veto.
- HB474—prohibiting bargaining agreements that require employees to join a labor union. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to override the Governor’s veto. Rep. Drisko did not vote on the override, but did vote to pass the bill when it was first introduced.
- HB542—Requires school districts to allow exceptions to course material that a parent finds objectionable. Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to override the Governor’s veto. Rep. Gargasz voted to sustain the veto. Rep. Drisko did not vote on the override. [Note: this bill originally stated that parents can not be required to send their children to school and was opposed by all four Reps.] [Second Note: Rep. Neal Kurk has moved that this bill be brought back in early January for reconsideration]
- SB129—Requires a photo Id to vote. The Senate voted 7-17 to sustain the veto (7 votes to pass the bill, 17 to defeat the bill). Sen. Luther voted to override the Governor’s veto. Note, however, that HB356 does the same and is currently being retained.
The following bill was defeated in the House:
- CACR14—Constituional Amendment to give the legislature more control over education funding. The House vote was 114-264. Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Gargasz voted to pass. Rep. Flanagan voted to defeat.
The following bills are still pending, but here is their updated status:
* SB57—Increases the maximum interest charged by payday loans to 300% interest. Governor Lynch vetoed the bill. The Senate voted to override his veto 17-7. The bill is now waiting for the House to vote on overriding the veto. The bill originally passed the House 180-171. Sen. Luther voted to override the veto.
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