NH Legislature This Week—March 19, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Legislatively or judicially-imposed same-sex marriage seeks to enforce its proponents’ idea of the Golden Rule, not through persuasion and appeal to our better nature, but through threats of litigation, fines and imprisonment. We are often told that we cannot legislate morality. If that is so, then by what contortion of logic does it follow that we must legislate approval of what many regard as immorality? Governmental recognition of marriage is pointless except as a way to nurture the vital but delicate relationship between sex and the rearing of children. Rather than expand the institution, same-sex marriage empties it of content.” Rep. Gregory Sorg (R-Easton).
“Evolution has caused more hideous deaths than anything in world history…The history of evolution implemented as a part of a nations ideology like in the former Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, eastern Europe during the cold war, North Korea, China, Cuba, has lead to concentration camps, gulags, and with violent brutal mass murder I can not convey in words.” Rep. Jerry Bergevin (R-Manchester).
Repealing Marriage Equality – it’s just a temporary repeal – trust us
Rep. David Bates (R-Windham) is submitting a floor amendment to the bill that would repeal marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. The new amendment would repeal marriage and recreate civil unions as they had existed in New Hampshire before. The bill would also put a non-binding referendum on the ballot in November asking the voters if they approve of the repeal or not. If the voters say that they did not want the repeal, then there would “plenty of time” for the next legislature for stop the repeal from going into effect since the repeal would take place on March 31, 2013. There are several problems with this.
First off, March 31st is “Crossover”. This is when each house of the legislature typically just finishes work on it’s own bills and starts to schedule hearings on bills from the other chamber. A bill would have to be “fast tracked” to make it to the Governor’s desk in time. For example, there are 1,088 bills under consideration this year. Exactly two of them have become law as of this writing in mid March.
Second, we would be required to trust that the legislature would actually obey the will of the people. The most recent will of the people in a direct vote was expressed in 2006 when the voters changed the New Hampshire Constitution (not just a non-binding vote) to specify how the electoral district maps must be created to give more representation to small towns like Mason and Greeneville. This legislature has completely ignored this amendment (passed by 70% of the voters) and have created districts that glob the small towns onto much larger towns and combine the larger towns into mega districts in direct violation of the state constitution.
If the Republicans will completely ignore 70% of the voters when they change the New Hampshire Constitution, why should we expect that they will respect a non-binding referendum?
Pregnancy misinformation 2nd hearing.
The NH House has passed a bill that requires that any woman choosing to terminate a pregnancy must be told, among other things, that doing so will increase her risk of developing breast cancer among many other problems. This claim by the legislature is not true and the American Medical Association and the National Cancer Institute, among others, have studied this issue exhaustively and concluded that there is no link. Nevertheless, doctors would be required by law to tell their patients information that they know is wrong because state law would require them to do so.
The House passed this bill (HB1659) by a vote of 189 to 151. Locally, Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) voted in favor of this bill. Rep. Carolyn Gargasz and Rep. Jack Flanagan opposed the bill while Rep. Dick Drisko was not able to be present for the vote.
However, the House has scheduled a second public hearing on the issue. On Tuesday, March 20th at 10:30am in LOB room 204, the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee will be holding the hearing. The bill then go back to the full house for a second vote before going to the Senate.
There is an excellent letter in the Nashua Telegraph celebrating the many accomplishments of the Affordable Care Act, the national health care reform that was championed by President Obama. Over 16,000 NH children are now protected from losing their health insurance coverage. Almost 12,000 NH young adults are being covered by their parent’s health care.
Congressional Districts—final version has even fewer changes.
There were more (or rather fewer) changes made to the Congressional redistricting map when the bill finally came out of committee this past week. Last week we reported that only a few towns would be moved (including Merrimack). However, the final version instead leaves the districts as they are now with only two exceptions. Sargent’s Purchase Coos County and Waterville Valley in Grafton county will be moved from CD2 (currently represented by Charlie Bass) to CD1 (currently represented by Frank Guinta).
This is VERY good news for Anne Kuster, who came very close to beating Rep. Bass in 2010 when there was a large Republican wave. Rep. Bass had been lobbying very hard to have some of the more Democratic towns in his district be moved to CD1 and more Republican towns in CD1 moved to his district.
Kuster will be joining the Brookline Democrats (all are welcome) at our spaghetti supper on Friday evening at 7:00pm at the Brookline Community Church (2 main street).
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
Note: Rep. Drisko could not be in the legislature for these votes.
HB1194 directs the Secretary of State to remove a sentence from the NH Constitution that states that rulings of the Court system shall have the force of law. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
HB1148 would require that evolution be taught as a “theory” and that schools would required to identify major proponents of evolution and discuss those people’s views on atheism. The House defeated the bill 280-7. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
HB1382 would require truant officers to obtain a warrant or the permission of a parent prior to returning a child to school. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1712 would require elective bible classes in the public schools. The House defeated the bill 284-5, but the votes were not recorded.
HB1187 would establish a committee to figure out how to set up New Hampshire as an independent country “in the event that the federal government takes action that is in conflict with the constitution of the state of New Hampshire.” The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1220 would repeal the requirement for a criminal background check and a protective order check for the sale of firearms. The House tabled the bill 252-36. A tabled bill could be brought back for a vote later, otherwise the bill is defeated automatically.
HB1659 would require women having abortions to have to watch graphic videos and to be described in detail the procedure and a graphic depiction of the fetus. The House passed the bill 189-151 but the bill was then sent to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee for a second public hearing on Tuesday, March 20th at 10:30AM in LOB room 204. Rep. Belanger voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
HB1679 would make it illegal in most cases to terminate a pregnancy after the second trimester. The House changed the bill to instead ban so-called “partial birth” terminations. Doctors who perform such a procedure would be guilty of a felony subject to a minimum of a year in prison. The House bill was passed 224-110. Rep. Belanger voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
HB1527 would legalize the cultivation of marijuana. It would still be illegal under federal law. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1615 would legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp under state law. The state would still need approval from the DEA to be able to license industrial hemp growers. Currently, 10 states have applied for approval and none have been received. Industrial hemp is controlled by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 because it physically looks like hemp plants used for marijuana, but industrial hemp plants can not be used to make marijuana. The House passed the bill on a voice vote.
HB1206 would require that, absent a contract, any increases in benefit expenses for public employees will be split equally between the employer and the employee. The House passed the bill 198-137. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted in favor of the bill.
HB1264 would create an exemption to the civil rights laws and allow any business to refuse to provide services for weddings. Current law exempts businesses with fewer than six employees from all state civil rights laws. The House defeated the bill 246-85. Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted against the bill. Rep. Flanagan voted in favor of the bill.
HB1440 would eliminate the requirement for instructor-led drivers education and allow teens to get a drivers license by taking an online course. The House passed the bill 240-74. Rep. Gargasz voted against the bill. Rep. Belanger and Flanagan did not vote on this bill.
Wednesday, March 14th, Thursday, March 15 and Friday, March 16th the House will vote on the following bills
CACR31 is a constitutional amendment stating that “parents have the natural right to control the health, education, and welfare of their children”. The House Children and Family Law committee recommends that the amendment be defeated 11-3.
CACR26 is a constitutional amendment that would repeal the ability of the chief justice NH Supreme Court to establish rules governing the administration of the courts. The House Judiciary committee recommend that this amendment be passed 11-5.
CACR22 is a constitutional amendment that would require the legislature to approve any rules changes governing the court system. Currently, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court sets the rules for the court system. The House Judiciary committee recommends that the amendment be passed 12-4.
CACR26 is a constitutional amendment that would repeal the authority of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to set rules for the court system. The legislature believes that, if this amendment is passed, then the legislature will have the full power to set the rules that govern the courts. The House Judiciary committee recommends that the amendment be passed 11-5.
CACR8 is a constitutional amendment that gives the legislature the sole power to authorize public and private schools, removes the requirement that the state provide funding for public education. The House Education committee recommend that the amendment be passed 12-5.
HB1671 sets the Congressional House districts. Only Sargent’s Purchase (in Coos county) and Waterville Valley (in Grafton county) are changed. The Special Committee on Redistricting recommends the change 14-1.
HB437 would repeal marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. A proposed amendment for the bill would reinstitute civil unions (which were discontinued in 2010) for same-sex couples. The bill would also place a non-binding referendum on the ballot in November 2012, however marriage rights would be repealed regardless.
HCR39 is a resolution urging Congress to “privatize” all aspects of Social Security. The House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs committee recommends that the bill be passed 8-6.
On Wednesday, March 21st, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
SB150 would allow individuals and certain businesses to purchase health insurance from out-of-state insurance companies. The Senate Finance committee recommends that the bill be defeated 7-0 and states that they feel that it would increase health care costs.
Public Hearings Scheduled for the Upcoming Week
Tuesday, March 20th
HB1659 requires that women seeking to terminate a pregnancy must be given graphic and scientifically invalid information before the procedure. House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee, LOB room 204 at 10:30am.
HB1658 limits financial assistance to mothers who have additional children while receiving Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). House Finance Committee, LOB room 210 at 10:00am
HB1350 would require that future amendments to the NH Constitution capitalize certain specific words including “Christian” “God” and “Marriage”. House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification committee, LOB room 206 at 10:30am.
The House Redress of Grievances committee will be holding 12 public hearings on different petitions, largely involving alimony and child custody disputes in LOB room 307 between 10:00am and 11:00am. That’s 5 minutes for each public hearing.
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