NH Legislature This Week—January 23, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“She was emotional about it, but not because of anything I said. It pains me to this day to say Rep. Emerson has fabricated all of this,” Speaker Bill O’Brien referring to a well known incident in which he was heard yelling at Rep. Emerson (R-Rindge). She later filed a bill to prohibit bullying in the Statehouse. The Committee held a public hearing on the bill a couple of weeks ago while Rep. Emerson was in a hospital in Maryland and couldn’t attend.
Nashua Democrats hold successful spaghetti dinner
A great time was had by all as a large crowd got together in Nashua for a fundraising dinner. Former Congressman Paul Hodes and his band provided excellent music and former Senators Maggie Hassan and Jackie Cilley laid out a strong case for their bids to become New Hampshire’s next Governor.
There are MANY committee hearings on important bills coming up next week. See below for details. Highlights include legalizing gun use in schools and playgrounds, allowing people convicted of felony drug offenses to possess guns, removing background checks for protective orders before gun purchases, repealing the speed limits, creating a commission to study how the state will function in the event of a war between the state and the federal government (yes, an actual war), declaring that the legislature can overturn any act of Congress or ruling of the US Supreme Court and can imprison any federal official that attempts to enforce federal laws in NH.
It would be easy to dismiss some of these crazier bills except that the are being sponsored by members of the leadership (committee chairs) and some were passed by the House last year. For example, the resolution declaring that the state legislature can overturn acts of Congress and the US Supreme Court passed 242 to 109 last year (Reps. Belanger and Flanagan voted in favor of it). It’s back this year because the Senate refused to vote on it.
As expected, the House passed a bill to redraw the House district lines that completely ignores the explicit instructions in the New Hampshire Constitution that was passed overwhelmingly by the voters in 2006. Expect this to go to the courts. Under the House passed plan, Brookline and Mason will elect two House Reps. Hollis will elect two House Reps. In addition, Hollis will also be combined with Milford, New Boston and Mont Vernon to elect one House Rep. Currently, Hollis, Brookline and Mason are grouped together into one district that elects four House Reps.
The New Hampshire constitution (as amended by the people in 2006) states:
[Art.] 11. [Small Towns; Representation by Districts.] When the population of any town or ward, according to the last federal census, is within a reasonable deviation from the ideal population for one or more representative seats, the town or ward shall have its own district of one or more representative seats. The apportionment shall not deny any other town or ward membership in one non-floterial representative district. When any town, ward, or unincorporated place has fewer than the number of inhabitants necessary to entitle it to one representative, the legislature shall form those towns, wards, or unincorporated places into representative districts which contain a sufficient number of inhabitants to entitle each district so formed to one or more representatives for the entire district. In forming the districts, the boundaries of towns, wards, and unincorporated places shall be preserved and contiguous. The excess number of inhabitants of district may be added to the excess number of inhabitants of other districts to form at-large or floterial districts conforming to acceptable deviations. The legislature shall form the representative districts at the regular session following every decennial federal census.
Based on the 2010 census, Hollis is large enough to have 2 Reps of their own (which the bill provides), Brookline is large enough to have 1 Rep of it own (which the bill does not provide) and Mason, which does not have enough population, should be combined with other small towns until they have enough population for a Rep. For example, Mason and Greenville combined would have enough population for their own Rep.
Party like its 1215
HB1580, which will have a public hearing this coming week, would require that any bill dealing with individual liberties must provide a quotation from the Magna Carta which supports such a right. The Magna Carta was created in 1215 to place limits on the power of King John. Here are a couple of quotes.
“Comites et barones non amercientur nisi per pares suos, et non nisi secundum modum delicti. ”, meaning “Earls and barons shall not be amerced (fined) except through their peers, and only in accordance with the degree of the offense. ”
“Nullus capiatur nec imprisonetur propter appellum femine de morte alterius quam viri sui. ”, meaning “No one shall be arrested or imprisoned upon the appeal of a woman, for the death of any other than her husband. ”
Hungary’s new Constitution
The House is expected to kill a few bills that could become controversial if a floor fight were to ensue, namely a bill to declare an annual day to remember Terri Schiavo, declaring the Thompson/Center Contender to be the official state firearm, and a resolution congratulating Hungary on adopting a new Constitution.
In Hungary, the legislature adopted a new Constitution (no vote of the people) after tea-party style conservatives won a super-majority (like NH). They actually won 53% of the popular vote, but that translates to 68% of the seats given they way that districts are drawn. The latest polls show that only 16% of the voters would vote to reelect them. During the elections they said that they were not going to rewrite the Constitution, but that was then.
The new Constitution requires a 2/3 super majority in the legislature to raise taxes, declares that legal protections for a fetus begin at conception, and forbids marriage equality for gays and lesbians. It does provide for some non-discrimination protections but does not include age or sexual orientation. The preamble contains references to Christianity and “traditional family values”. It also declares that family law, taxes, and the pension system can only be changed with a 2/3 super majority vote and that the courts may not challenge these laws. The new Constitution has been condemned by Amnesty International as well as other European countries and the Hungarian citizenry.
One fun note: Hungary’s new Constitution was drafted on an ipad.
One resolution that is expected to pass next week is in support of Arizona’s immigration laws.
Bills of Interest that were voted on last week:
HB228 would prohibit the state from entering into contracts with any organization that also provides abortion services, such as Planned Parenthood. The Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs committee had recommended ITL 12-5. However, the full house rejected the ITL recommendation 150-195. The House then amended the bill, but the new version also prohibits the state from funding or allowing federal funds to support any organization that provides abortion services, even if the funds are used for other purposes. Currently, Planned Parentood receives federal funds to provide pre-natal care and cancer screening to low income women, especially in the rural portions of the state where health care services are more scarce. Abortion services are funded entirely through private donations. The bill now goes to the Senate. Rep. Belanger voted to pass the bill. Rep. Drisko, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
CACR13 is a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the state from taxing income. The bill would add the statement “No new tax shall be levied upon a person’s income, from whatever source it is derived.” to the state constitution. The House passed the amendment 257-101 (satisfying the 3/5 majority required). The amendment now goes to the Senate. If passed by the Senate, it will go on the ballot in November and will need a 2/3 vote to pass. Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to pass the amendment. Rep. Drisko and Gargasz voted against the amendment.
Committee Hearings for this coming week:
House Municipal and County Government (room 301, LOB) (Rep. Jim Belanger is on this Committee)
Monday, Jan 23 11:35AM HB1498—repealing dog licensing requirements
House Commerce and Consumer Affairs (room 302, LOB)
Tuesday, Jan 24 1:15PM HB 1348—exempts poker from state gambling laws. Fun note: defines poker, chess, bridge, etc as “mind sports”
House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification (room 206, LOB)
Tuesday, Jan 24 11:00AM HB 1580—requires a direct quote from the Magna Carta on all future legislation dealing with individual rights or liberties.
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety (room 204, LOB)
Tuesday, Jan 24 1:00PM HB1341—repealing the law the restricts use of guns, firecrackers and cannons in densely populated parts of towns and cities, as well as schools and playgrounds.
Tuesday, Jan 24 1:30PM HB1375—allows people convicted of non-violent felonies to own and possess guns. The bill explicitly repeals a law that forbids people convicted of felony drug-related offenses from possessing guns.
Wednesday, Jan 25 11:00AM HB1705—legalizes possession of marijuana and imposes sales taxes on the sale of marijuana.
Wednesday, Jan 25 1:30PM HB1696—essentially repeals the speed limits. This bill declares that a person is guilty of violating the speed limit only if there is an accident that causes property damage or personal injury.
Thursday, Jan 26 1:00PM HB1220— “repealing the criminal history record and protective order check for the sale of firearms”
House Education (room 207, LOB)
Wednesday, Jan 25 10:00AM HB1692—eliminates the chancellor of the university system of New Hampshire. The chancellor is essentially the CEO of the university system, which has a total budget of about $500 million. This bill transfers the powers and duties to the board of trustees, who are part-time volunteers.
Thursday, Jan 26 10:30AM HB1167—repeals the requirement that public schools be in session at least 180 days per year. There would be no minimum under this bill.
House Executive Departments and Administration (room 306, LOB)
Tuesday, Jan 24 1:30PM HB1634—creates a commission to prepare for “possible action” in the event that the “the federal government [is] unable to function”. Buried in the text it further states that the “The commission shall also consider what action the state may take in the event that the federal government takes action that is in conflict with the constitution of the state of New Hampshire.” Senator Jack Barnes (R-Raymond) is a cosponsor.
House Finance (room 210, LOB)
Thursday, Jan 26 10:00AM HB1658—limiting financial assistance for mothers who have additional children while receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Assistance is currently based in part on the number of children that a parent is raising. This bill would exclude from that any children born 10 months after the start of receiving TANF funds. The Department of Health and Human Services says that in 2011, 74 births would have been effected by this change and that the average monthly increase in assistance due to the birth was $72.50.
House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs (room 205, LOB)
Tuesday, Jan 24 1:30 HB 1680—”requiring the department of health and human services to compile and maintain induced termination of pregnancy statistics”
House Judiciary (room 208, LOB)
Tuesday, Jan 24 9:30AM HB1264— “establishing a religious exemption for individuals who do not wish to provide accommodations, goods, or services for marriages”
Tuesday, Jan 24 11:00AM HB1653—declares that any health care worker can refuse to provide any service and can not be subject to disciplinary actions. Yes, it actually says that.
Tuesday, Jan 24 11:30AM HB1659—”the women’s right o know act regarding abortion information”. This bill would require that any woman seeking to terminate a pregnancy must be told and shown graphic details about the fetus and the procedure because “it is essential to the psychological and physical well-being of a woman”.
Tuesday, Jan 24 12:30PM HB1660—prohibits terminating pregnancies after 20 weeks.
Tuesday, Jan 24 1:30PM HB1679—probits terminating pregnancies during the third trimester.
House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services (room 307, LOB) Rep. Jack Flanagan is a member of this committee
Tuesday, Jan 24 10:15AM HB1513—changing 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.”
House Municipal and County Government (room 301, LOB) Rep. Jim Belanger is a member of this committee
Tuesday, Jan 24 11:30AM HB1342—prohibits towns from hiring lobbyists.
House Public Works and Highways (room 201, LOB)
Tuesday, Jan 24 9:30AM HB 1412—requiring signs on all roads that cross the border into Massachusetts that say “Warning: Massachusetts Border 500 Feet”.
House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs (room 203, LOB)
Thursday, Jan 26 9:00AM HCR32—resolution urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations
Thursday, Jan 26 10:00AM HCR34—resolution urging Congress to withdraw from NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement)
Thursday, Jan 26 11:00AM HCR37—resolution urging Congress to eliminate the Federal Reserve System and return to the gold standard.
Thursday, Jan 26 1:00PM HR25—resolution declaring that state legislatures can overrule any act of Congress or decision by the United States Supreme Court and that the states have a “duty” to punish the enforcement of such acts. This resolution has 9 cosponsors including some in leadership positions.
Friday, Jan 27 10:30AM HR26—expressing support for making Washington DC the 51st state. Currently, residents of DC can not elect members of the House or Senate because the city is not part of any state.
Friday, Jan 27 11:30AM HB1277— “requiring federal law enforcement agencies to notify New Hampshire law enforcement agencies prior to investigation or enforcement of federal law in New Hampshire”
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