NH Legislature This Week—March 5, 2012

NH Legislature This Week—March 5, 2012

Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats

 

Quotes of the Week

 

“After delaying action on redistricting for eight months, the legislature displays the ultimate in chutzpah to expect the court to be able to handle the matter in ten days…It’s time for us to stop huffing and puffing and demanding things which just aren’t possible, especially since we are the most guilty of delaying the process.”  Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester) on HB1718 which requires the courts to issue rulings on the constitutionality of the redistricting bills in ten days.

 

“If one cares to translate the name ‘New Hampshire’ to modern English, you would realize we’re living in New Hemp County.” Rep. Phil Greazzo (R-Manchester) on HB1615 which would legalize the production of industrial hemp.  Industrial hemp is different from the hemp plant that is turned into marijuana and has long been used for many industrial purposes.  However, federal law makes it illegal to grow industrial hemp because it is difficult to distinguish from the plants that are used for marijuana.  Ten states (including Vermont and Maine) have legalized industrial hemp under state law, but no industrial hemp is currently grown in the US because of DEA regulation.

 

“Requiring children who are physically able to stand for the pledge of allegiance doesn’t mean assent to the words.” Rep. Ann Cartwright (R-Alstead) on HB1146, which would require students to stand for the pledge of allegiance.

 

 

 

Legislators take Spring Break too

The legislature is on break this week.  The only thing that has happened this week is that the House released it’s calendar for the coming week. The House will be meeting both Wednesday and Thursday to get through an extensive list of House bills.   The House will be voting on all remaining House bills by the end of March.  Similarly, the Senate will be voting on all remaining Senate bills by the end of March.  Beginning in April, both chambers will be working on bills that have been passed by the other chamber.  Because of this, March 29th is known as the Crossover Date.

 

Wednesday is a Day of Action for women’s health

Women’s health organizations are hosting a Day of Action in Concord on Wednesday to protect women’s health.  A raft of women’s health bills will be voted on by the House that day.   The event starts at 8:00 at the Statehouse and will include a rally from 11:30 to 1:30.

 

HB1546 would allow any employer to not cover contraceptives as part of their health insurance plan.  In 1999 SB175 required that contraception be included in health care plans and passed the Senate 14-9 and the House 243-85.

 

HB1659 would require that any woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy must be told graphic details of the procedure and a graphic description of the fetus.  They will also be required to watch a video.  As if that didn’t go far enough, doctors would also be required to tell women that terminating a pregnancy could cause cancer and a host of other health issues, which are disputed by medical professionals.  The bill has a strong ought to pass recommendation from the committee that heard it.

 

HB1679 would make it illegal to terminate a pregnancy after the second trimester with a few exceptions.

 

HB1653 would allow health care workers to refuse to provide services for any reason of conscience.

 

HB1297 would prohibit the state from setting up a health care exchange, a market place where individuals and small business owners can compare insurance products and find competitive offerings.  Federal law requires all states to set up a health care exchange or a default exchange will be set up in the state by the federal government.

 

The House is also expected to pass a resolution calling on Congress to declare null the grant that was given by the federal Department of Health and Human Services to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England to provide health care and cancer screenings for low income and rural women in New Hampshire.

 

Let’s Play a Fun “What If” Game

 

What if we didn’t have those pesky courts always so concerned with what’s “Constitutional” or not?   What if we could set up courts rules to punish judges who make a ruling that we don’t like?   The House plans to have some fun with these questions in the months ahead.   This week the House will vote on a bill (HB1131) which would establish a committee to determine just what our laws and court system should look like if all references to the courts were taking out of the state constitution.  That would mean that the legislature would have the sole authority to create and dismantle courts, and set the rules under which the courts would operate.  Hey, with the House already holding hearings on divorce and child custody cases, who even needs a third branch of government?

 

 

 

On Wednesday, March 7th and Thursday, March 8th, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:

 

 

Alcohol

HB1452 would prohibit sobriety checkpoints.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 12-2.  This bill was on the House Calendar for Feb 15th, but was removed from the consent calendar and scheduled for floor debate by Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield).

 

Civil Servants

HB1344 would prohibit public employees from running for the legislature.  The House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 12-0.  This bill was on the House Calendar for Feb. 15th, but was removed from the consent calendar and scheduled for floor debate by Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester).

 

NH Constitution

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 controversy arises because the sentence did not appear on the ballot when voters approved the amendment in 1978.  The Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 13-0.

 

Contraception

HB1546 was originally a non-controversial bill updating laws regarding religious societies.  However, the House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee want to add an amendment that would allow employers to no longer cover contraception as part of their health care plans.  The committee vote was to pass with the amendment 10-6.

 

Courts

CACR11 is a constitutional amendment that would have judges serve 7 year terms instead of the current lifetime appointment.  The House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee recommend that the amendment be passed 10-5.

 

HB1131 creates a study commission to determine how to revise the laws “if the supreme court and superior court were abolished as constitutional courts”.  The House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification Committee recommend that the bill be passed 9-4.

 

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.

 

Education

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 Education Committee recommend defeating the bill 16-0.

 

HB1167 would repeal the requirement that public schools hold sessions for 180 days per year.  The House Education Committee is recommending an amendment that would keep the 180 day requirement, but repeal the requirement that any equivalency in terms of hours would need to be approved by the Department of Education.  The committee vote was 15-0.

 

HB1382 would require truant officers to obtain a warrant or the permission of a parent prior to returning a child to school.  The House Education Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 15-1.

 

HB1712 would require elective bible classes in the public schools.  The House Education committee recommend that the bill be defeated 17-0.

 

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.

 

HB1713 abolishes the Department of Education.  The House Education committee recommend that the bill be defeated 16-1.

 

Elections

HB1595 would prohibit a voter from changing their party status for 90 days after a primary.  It says that if you vote in a party primary, then you may not change your status back to undeclared for at least 90 days.  The House Election Law committee recommend that the bill be passed 12-7.

 

Environment

HB1214 would ban corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive.  The House Science, Technology and Energy committee recommend that the bill be passed 7-6.

 

Federal Government

HB1277 requires federal law enforcement agencies to notify New Hampshire law enforcement agencies before doing an investigation or enforcing any law in New Hampshire.  The State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 8-2.

 

HR25 House Resolution declaring that the NH Legislature has the power to overturn any federal law or ruling of the US Supreme Court.  The State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee recommend that the resolution be passed 8-2.

 

HB1126 would require that only the NH House and NH Senate could place names on the ballot for election to the United States Senate.  The House Election Law Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 14-1.

 

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.”  Senator Jack Barnes (R-Raymond) is a cosponsor.  The House Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 10-0.

 

Gambling

HB1348 would exempt poker from the gambling laws by declaring it to be “mind sports”.  The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 15-1.

 

Guns

HB1220 would repeal the requirement for a criminal background check and a protective order check for the sale of firearms.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 15-2.

 

HB1318 would allow anyone 18 or older to carry a gun openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded without a license.   The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee recommend that the bill be defeated 10-6.

 

HB1341 would allow the unauthorized firing of guns in compact parts of cities.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee recommend that the bill be passed 11-5.

 

HB1511 would allow felons to possess certain firearms including a black jack, brass knuckles, sword cane, billy clubs, etc.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee recommend that the bill be defeated 14-2.

 

Health Care

HB1297 would prohibit the creation of a health care exchange and would prohibit any state agency from planning for the creation of an exchange.  The federal Affordable Patient Care Act requires each state to set up a health care exchange.  If a state does not actively plan a health care exchange, then a federally mandated default exchange will be created.  The  House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee recommend that the bill be passed 10-6.

 

HCR41 is a resolution urging Congress to void the grant that the Department of Health and Human Services provided to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England which funds health care and cancer screens for low income and rural women.  The House Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification committee recommend that the resolution be passed 8-4.

 

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 Judiciary committee recommend that the bill be passed 13-4.

 

HB1679 would make it illegal in most cases to terminate a pregnancy after the second trimester.  The House Judiciary Committee recommend that the bill be passed 13-4.

 

Hemp/Marijuana

HB1527 would legalize the cultivation of marijuana.  It would still be illegal under federal law.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommend that the bill be defeated 15-1.

 

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 Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommend that the bill be passed 15-1.

 

HB1526 would decriminalize possession of less than one ounce of marijuana.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee recommend that the bill be defeated 9-7.

 

HB1705 would legalize, regulate and tax the sale of marijuana.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee recommend that the bill be defeated 10-7.

 

Labor Unions

HB1206 would prohibit employers from withholding union dues from employees paychecks.  The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee recommend that the bill be passed 12-5.

 

Marriage Equality

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 Judiciary committee recommend that the bill be defeated 9-5.

 

Traffic

HB1696 would eliminate the speed limits unless someone caused property damage or injured someone other than themselves.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee recommend that the bill be defeated 15-1.

 

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 Transportation committee recommend that the bill be modified to allow students to take online classes in lieu of the classroom hours, but still require instructor-led driving training.   The committee vote was 14-2 to pass the bill as modified.

 

 

 

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 brooklinedemocrats@gmail.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:

 

Nashua Telegraph

letters@nashuatelegraph.com

 

Hollis Brookline Journal

http://www.cabinet.com/submitnews/317648-310/Submit-News.html

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.

 

The Brookliner

thebrookliner@yahoo.com

Submission deadline is noon on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month.

 

The Hollis Times

hollistimes@tds.net

 

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.luther@leg.state.nh.us

 

Rep. Jim Belanger   P: (603)465-2301   Jim.belanger@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Dick Drisko   P: (603)465-2517   driskorb@aol.com

Rep. Jack Flanagan   P: (603)672-7175   Jack.flanagan@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Carolyn Gargasz   P: (603)465-7463   cgargasz@cs.com