NH Legislature This Week—March 26, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Brookline Democrats spaghetti supper a huge success
About 60 people attended the Brookline Democrats spaghetti supper last Friday. Our special guests included Ann Kuster, candidate for Congress, Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Jackie Cilley, and Sen. Peggy Gilmour, candidate for state senate. Rep. Jennifer Daler (D-Temple) spoke on behalf of Gubernatorial candidate Sen. Maggie Hassan. Robin Peringer gave remarks in support of teachers, police, and fire professionals. Special thanks go to the many people who worked so hard to make this event a success. There is a renewed energy in the local democratic committees. Many are looking for ways to help to elect democrats at every level of office especially to re-elect President Obama.
Two year Anniversary of Affordable Care Act
It was two years ago this last Friday that President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law. Now, 434,000 New Hampshire residents have no out-of-pocket costs for preventive care; 545,000 New Hampshire residents no longer face lifetime caps on their health care; $8.2 million has been saved providing medicare to 13,000 people in New Hampshire, and soon women will not be charged more than men (currently women can be charged 50% or more for health care than men). Nationally, 2.5 million young adults are now covered under their parent’s health insurance, drug costs are down for 5.1 million seniors ($3.2 billion), and 50,000 people with pre existing conditions now have health insurance.
This coming week marks “crossover” in the legislature. By the end of this week, the House will have voted on all House bills and the Senate will have voted on all Senate bills. After this week, the House will be dealing with bills that passed the Senate and the Senate will be dealing with bills that passed the House. Much of the “weeding” of weak bills will have been done, leaving only bills with a strong chance of being passed by the legislature.
IMPORTANT NOTE: To understand the importance of some of the Quotes of the Week, you have to understand that the House voted on several amendments to HB437, which would repeal marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. After all of the amendments were defeated, the House voted on the “original bill” which would have declared all existing marriage licenses issued to gay and lesbian couples to be invalid, would prohibit any future marriages, and would NOT have allowed for civil unions or anything similar to replace them. This would have forcibly divorced over 2,000 gay and lesbian couples and left them with no legal protections for their families.
Quotes of the Week
“The bill was full of issues. First, is it constitutional to allow SSM [same sex marriage] and then repeal? A question that should have been put to the NH Supreme Court. Can and should we have a referendum? We are not a referendum state. We have a 400 member House. The 3rd largest political body in the world! … The me SSM is not the same as a traditional marriage and it should be a civil union with all the same rights as a traditional marriage.” Rep. Jack Flanagan(R-Brookline), who voted to repeal marriage equality, voted to have a referendum, and then voted to pass the original bill which repealed marriage equality and didn’t even allow civil unions.
“I have 3 close female relatives who have… had lesbian relationships on the order of 20 years each, including my mother and my sister” Rep. Dan McGuire (R-Epsom), who voted to pass the original bill.
“My name, Marilinda, was created in honor of Maria and Linda, two women who raised my wonderful mother. I certainly consider them to be a family, though it remains tragic that my mother did not have a father. But why should these loving, committed, emotionally attached and supportive women who shared their adult lives not enjoy all the alleged rights that a man and a woman as a married couple can? For me, it’s simple. It’s purely based on biology. They can raise a child, but they are biologically incapable of producing a child together” Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem), who voted to pass the original bill.
““If you believe that marriage is between one man and one woman, you have that right and if you do not, you also have that right. People should be free to follow their own beliefs and their own conscience without government standing in their way” Rep. Jennifer Coffey (R-Andover), who voted against the bill and it’s amendments.
“Usually you have to buy a ticket to see the circus, but yesterday we got to see it for free” Kevin Landrigan, political reporter for the Nashua Telegraph.
Reactions to the Marriage Repeal vote
“In 2009 we had the courage to stand up, do the right thing and recognize the equal rights of all Granite Staters. Today, the O’Brien Legislature is once again trying to turn back the clock on that equality. New Hampshire’s citizens have said loudly and clearly they oppose any repeal…As a state senator, I was proud to be a part of that history, and as your governor, I will remain vigilant in protecting marriage equality.” Sen. Jack Cilley, Democratic candidate for Governor.
“In 2009, we answered the civil rights call of our time by making marriage equality a reality for each and every New Hampshire citizen. I sincerely thank each legislator who stood up for equality and stood up for what is right. I strongly oppose any repeal of marriage equality. As governor, just as I did in the state Senate, I will fight for equality for all.”, Sen. Maggie Hassan, Democratic candidate for Governor.
“If Gov. Lynch prevents a return to traditional marriage, you can count on me to aggressively work to make this happen once I’m governor,” Ovid Lamontagne, Republican candidate for Governor.
“I’ve made it very clear that if the next Legislature were to send a repeal of same-sex marriage to my desk, I would gladly sign it.” Kevin Smith, Republican candidate for Governor.
“With a new governor, a new Legislature and a new strategy, this issue can come back with renewed strength in 2013,” Rep. Dan Itse (R-Freemont)
Marriage wrap up
As has been widely reported, the House voted down HB437, which would have repealed marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. The most important vote was one to pass “the Bates amendment” which would have recreated civil unions exactly as they used to exist in New Hampshire and would have continued to recognize the existing marriages. It also would have placed a non-binding referendum on the ballot in November. That amendment was defeated 162-188.
After the Bates amendment and other amendments were defeated, the House then took up a vote on the bill as it was originally introduced. The original version of the bill simply outlawed all same-sex marriages. Existing married couples would be instantaneously and forcibly divorced by the state on the day of passage. The original bill did not recreate civil unions (which were repealed with the passage of the marriage equality law) nor did it create anything else. Gay and lesbian couples would have been left with no legal recognition whatsoever. 133 legislators voted to pass this original bill while 202 legislators voted against it.
In Hollis, Brookline and Mason, Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis) and Rep. Dick Drisko (R-Hollis) voted consistently against repealing marriage equality. Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) and Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) voted to repeal marriage equality and they both voted for the original bill, to forcibly divorce existing marriages.
House makes it easier to issue political subpoenas
In the past, the House has used it’s Constitutional power to subpoena a witness and secure information by a vote of the entire House, and under very specific circumstances. Last Wednesday, the House voted 214-114 to allow committees to subpoena witnesses on their own, without a House vote or debate. The new rule requires that subpoenas must be approved by the Speaker and the Rules Committee. However, opponents point out that the Speaker has the power to replace members of the standing committees and the Rules committee at will, effectively giving the Speaker this power that has always been reserved for the House as a whole.
The House Redress of Grievances committee wants the rule change because they have been holding public hearings to discuss child custody disputes in which one parent feeds that they haven’t been treated fairly. The committee has been trying to get information and witnesses to testify from the Division of Children and Family Services, which has largely refused to cooperate because privacy laws make it illegal to make such information public.
More gambling coming to NH?
The House will be voting on a bill this coming week (HB?) to expand gambling in New Hampshire by allowing two large casinos and two small casinos. However, don’t expect any revenues generated to go to education or lowering property taxes. The bill specifies that the money raised must be used to lower the Business Profits Tax and the Business Enterprise Tax. Both taxes would be cut to half of their current rate, or less. The Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling says that the revenue estimates are far too optimistic and will not be able to generate the revenue lost by the business tax cuts. Governor Lynch is expected to veto the bill if it is passed by the legislature.
Last week, the House voted 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”. While a majority of the House voted in favor of the amendment, 204-154, it fell short of the 3/5 needed for a constitutional amendment. Rep. Drisko and Flanagan voted to pass the amendment. Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted against the amendment.
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 passed this amendment 239-114. Rep. Belanger and Flanagan voted to pass the amendment. Rep. Gargasz voted against the amendment. Rep. Drisko voted in the favor of the amendment on a first vote, but then voted against the amendment on a second vote.
HCR39 is a resolution urging Congress to “privatize” all aspects of Social Security. The resolution was defeated 124-161. Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted against the resolution. Rep. Drisko and Flanagan did not vote.
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
SB would allow businesses to make “donations” to private and religious schools and homeschooled students and would be able to take 85% of the donation off of their business taxes as a tax credit. The Senate passed the bill 15-9. Senator Luther is a co-sponsor of the bill and voted to pass it.
On Wednesday, March 28th, the House will vote on the following bills
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.
HB1274 transfers ownership of the McAuliffe-Shepard discovery center to a private company. The House Finance committee recommends that the bill be passed 21-3.
HB1275 repeals the state art fund. The House Finance committee recommends that the bill be sent to study, which would effectively defeat the bill, 15-9.
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.
HB1692 eliminates the chancellor’s office in the university system. The House Finance committee recommends changing the bill to keep the office, but to require the university system to cut expenses by $2.4 million in an unspecified way and to use that money to reduce tuition. The committee vote was 14-10.
HB1607 would allow businesses to make “donations” to private and religious schools and homeschooled students and would be able to take 85% of the donation off of their business taxes as a tax credit. The House Ways and Means committee recommends that the bill be passed 16-5.
HB1476 prohibits the enforcement of out-of-state laws, rules and codes not approved by the NH legislature. The House Executive Departments and Administration committee recommends that the bill be defeated 13-0.
HB593 allows 4 casinos to be built in New Hampshire with the revenues generated being used to reduce business taxes. The House Ways and Means committee recommends that the bill be passed 14-7.
HB1659 requires that women seeking to terminate a pregnancy must be given graphic and scientifically invalid information before the procedure. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee recommends that the provision creating a felon be removed, but leaves other misdemeanors and fines for failing to obey the law. The committee vote was 8-7.
HB1560 would allow the state to take over administration of medicare in NH. The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs committee recommends that the bill be passed 11-2.
HB1727 would return an additional $333,000 to federal government. The money was given to the state to implement a health care exchange, as required by federal law. The state has already returned $667,000 of the $1M grant. The House Finance committee recommends that the bill be passed 19-4.
HB1653 allows medical professionals to refuse service to people if they “conscientiously object” to provide the care. The House Judiciary committee recommends that the bill be passed 12-5.
HB1660 prohibits pregnancy termination after 20 weeks. The House Judiciary committee recommends that the bill be passed 12-4.
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
On Wednesday, March 28th, the Senate will vote on the following bills
SB409 allows the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The committee recommendation is to pass the bill 5-0.
Public Hearings Scheduled for the Upcoming Week
Tuesday, March 27th
House Executive Departments and Administration (LOB room 306)
SB339 establishing Loon Appreciation Day. 11:30am.
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