NH Legislature This Week—May 14, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“I think same-sex couples should be able to get married…it wouldn’t dawn on them [daughters Sasha and Malia] that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them. And frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change of perspective — not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated differently when it comes to eyes of the law.” President Barack Obama.
Thanks to Rep. Rosenwald
Rep. Cindy Rosenwald (D-Nashua) was kind enough to attend Brookline Democrats meeting last week and update us on the latest happenings in Concord. Her insights were thoughtful and informative and very much appreciated.
Education— a major focus of the legislature, but not always in a good way
The state budget this biennium cut the support for the university system in half, down to around $50million per year. Even before this, NH had the lowest level of financial support per capita for it’s public university system of any state in the nation. Speaker O’Brien is now saying that, if the Republicans are reelected, they will cut an additional $400 million from the budget next time. Given the severe cuts already made to aid to children, the disabled and the elderly, is almost certain that NH will no longer support the University System. That means that UNH, Keene State, Plymouth State and Granite State College will become private colleges with even higher tuition. It’s difficult to see how the legislature could cut that much money from the budget without taking this final step. Of course, that would still only account for 1/4 of the cuts that they are looking to make.
There have been many other bills dealing with public education and one excellent resource for putting it all together is Bill Duncan’s web site Defending New Hampshire Public Education at www.dnhpe.org.
The End is Near
By the end of this week, the House and Senate must vote on all bills that have already been passed by the other chamber. This means that, after this week, the only bills that will be left standing will be those that have been passed by both the House and the Senate. The House is planning to meet Tuesday and Wednesday. The Senate is planning to meet Wednesday.
If the House and Senate passed the bill using the same language, then the bill goes to Governor Lynch for either approval or a veto. If the House and Senate pass different versions of the bill, then the process is more complex.
Either the House or Senate could just vote to accept the changes made by the other chamber. In this case, the final version of the bill goes to Governor Lynch. Another option is that the House and Senate could agree to a Committee of Conference which consists of 3 members of the Senate and 3 members of the House. All 6 members of the committee must agree to the final language. That version of the bill will then go back to the House and Senate for a final vote with no amendments allowed. If the bill is passed by both, then it goes to Governor Lynch.
A bill can be defeated if 1) either the House or Senate refuses to form a committee of conference 2) the 6 members of the committee of conference can not reach an agreement [keeping in mind that committee members can be replaced at any time by the Senate President and Speaker of the House] or 3) either the House or Senate votes against the compromise language created by the committee of conference.
A Surprising Defeat
The House Finance committee has recommended stripping off a 24 hour waiting period for abortions from an unrelated bill dealing with a research and development tax credit for businesses (SB295). The House had attached the amendment 190-109 before sending the bill to the House Finance committee. The bill will go back to the full House for another vote on Wednesday. Speaker O’Brien is expected to push to overturn the Finance committee recommendation and keep the amendment.
May 17—last day for each chamber to act on bills that were passed by the other chamber
May 24—last day to create committees of conference
June 7—last day to act on bills that were sent to a committee of conference. Any bills not sent to Governor Lynch are automatically defeated.
Sep 17—first day for incumbent legislators running for reelection to file bills for 2013.
Sep 26—last day for incumbent legislators running for reelection to file bills for 2013 before the elections.
Nov 6—Election Day
Nov 13—first day for all elected legislators to file bills for 2013.
Dec 7—last day for all elected legislators to file bills for 2013.
On Wednesday, May 9nd, the Senate voted on the following bills:
HB217 would expand the first and second degree murder statutes and the negligent homicide statute to include the death of a fetus. The Senate was scheduled to vote on this bill, but again decided to delay the vote until next week.
HB1704 eliminates the voluntary campaign expenditure limits and increases the maximum amount that individuals may donate to campaigns . The Senate tabled the bill on a voice vote. The bill could be brought back later; if not, it will be defeated.
HB1341 would repeal the law restricting firing guns in the compact part of cities and towns, including playgrounds. The Senate set the bill to study on a voice vote, effectively defeating it.
HB1297 prohibits NH from creating a health care exchange, as required by federal law, which would allow individuals and small business to do comparison shopping for health coverage insurance. The Senate tabled the bill on a voice vote. The bill could be brought back later; if not, it will be defeated.
HB1560 would create an interstate Health Care Compact in which states would take complete control over Medicare and Medicaid and could require the federal government to spend federal funds on those programs while the state legislatures would be able to override any federal laws governing such programs. The Senate tabled the bill 21-3 The bill could be brought back later; if not, it will be defeated. Sen. Luther voted to table the bill.
HCR41 is a resolution urging Congress to void the grant given by the Department of Health and Human Services to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. The Senate defeated the resolution 20-4. Sen. Luther voted to defeat the resolution.
HCR2 is a resolution supporting the Arizona immigration law. The Senate passed the resolution 15-9. Sen. Luther voted to pass the resolution.
HB1206 requires that future increases in cost of benefits after a contract expires with a public employee should be borne equally between the employee and the employer. The Senate decided to delay this vote until next week.
HB263 would set a 3 year total lifetime cap on receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). This limit includes assistance provided by similar programs in other states. The Senate sent the bill to study on a voice vote, effectively defeating it.
On Wednesday, May 16th, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
HB1350 would require that certain words such as “God”, “Marriage” and “Christian” be capitalized in future constitutional amendments. The Senate Internal Affairs committee recommends passing a modified version that just says that all proper nouns and titles should be capitalized. The committee vote was 4-0.
CACR26 is a constitutional amendment that would repeal the right of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to make rules governing the courts. The amendment does not specify who would make the rules—presumably the legislature. The Senate Judiciary committee recommends that the amendment be passed 4-1.
HB1474 would remove the requirement that attorneys be members of the state bar association. The Senate Judiciary committee recommends that the bill be sent to study 4-1.
HB217 would expand the first and second degree murder statutes and the negligent homicide statute to include the death of a fetus. The Senate Judiciary committee recommends expanding the bill further to take effect on the moment of conception and to eliminate the requirement that someone knowingly caused the death. The committee vote was 4-1.
HB1403 requires schools to teach children that NH is “sovereign”. The Senate Education committee recommends defeating the bill 5-0.
HB1607 would create a tax credit for businesses to provide scholarships to private and religious schools. See also SB372 below. The House and Senate each have their own versions of this that they favor.
HB1206 requires that future increases in cost of benefits after a contract expires with a public employee should be borne equally between the employee and the employer. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration committee was deadlocked 2-2, so the bill goes to the Senate without a recommendation.
HB1666 requires that the legislature approve all negotiated contracts with public employee labor unions. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration committee recommends that a modified version be passed 7-0. The committee’s version requires the approval of the legislative fiscal committees rather than the entire legislature and restricts the consideration to cost items.
CACR13 is a constitutional amendment that would prohibit any tax on income. The Senate Internal Affairs committee recommends that the amendment be passed 3-1.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, May 15th and 16th, the House will vote on the following bills:
SB372 would create a tax credit for businesses to provide scholarships to private and religious schools. The House Ways and Means committee recommends that the bill be passed with some changes 14-6.
SB289 requires a photo ID to vote. The Senate passed a version allows student IDs to be used and also allows town clerks to personally vouch for people that they know, such as elder citizens who have regularly come out to vote. The House wants a more restrictive version that does not have those and other provisions.
SB295 increases the research and development tax credit. However, the House added an amendment requiring a 24 hour waiting period before an abortion can be performed. The House then sent the bill to the House Finance Committee, which recommends that the abortion related amendment be removed 17-9.
SB409 legalizes marijuana for medical purposes. The House Finance committee recommends that the bill be passed 18-8. The bill was already passed by the House 236-96 before being sent to Finance for further review.
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