NH Legislature This Week—May 7, 2012
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“The word Potheads that’s you in the house and senate that just
legalized the rectum as a sexual organ and now you Potheads you
in the house and senate whom I am referring to as Potheads even
if use it or not you are Potheads in your ridiculous attempt to
legalize it as medicine and sell it to those with major health
problems . Shame on every dam one of you who voted for this
pathos for your attempt at such exploitation of the sick.
I just wish I could sell this to SNL and start something new like
the cone heads after all its not called DOPE for nothing
RHINO republicans Hunting season is about to begin and I Love
hunting for these its going to be a Great Kill this year !”
Rep. Jerry Bergevin (R-Manchester) in an email sent to every member of the legislature. Spelling, punctuation, etc. are his. Rep. Bergevin is the prime sponsor of HB1490 (withdrawing from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative) and also a cosponsor of HB217 (adding the death of a fetus to the murder statutes—see below) and HB1659 (requiring certain “information” be given to women who seek to terminate a pregnancy). Other bills that he has sponsored include a day of remembrance for Terri Schiavo, teaching evolution as a theory, a religious exemption for businesses providing marriage services, establishing an official state firearm, requiring that the Bible be taught in public schools and a resolution urging Congress to privatize Social Security.
Legislature looking for more money to fund campaigns – a LOT more
Current law allows individual donations of up to $10,000 for a candidate who agrees to the voluntary spending limits and $2,000 for a candidate who does not agree to the limits.
HB1704, as passed by the House, increases the maximum amount that individuals may donate to campaigns to $15,000 ($5,000 for the general election, $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for an exploratory period. The House passed version also eliminates the voluntary spending limits option.
The Senate is now proposing a version that would keep the voluntary spending limits, but allow $19,000 for candidates who agree to the spending limits ($7,000 for the general election, $7,000 for the primary and $5,000 for an exploratory period). For those candidates who do not agree to the spending limits, they can receive up to $12,000 from each donor ($3,500 for the general, $3,500 for the primary and $5,000 for an exploratory period.
For those candidates who do agree to spending limits, the Senate version raises those limits by 40% to 60% for Governor, US Senate, Congress and Executive Council. For the State Senate, the spending limits are more than doubled from $40,000 to $100,000. Voluntary spending limits for NH House races would be doubled.
Unlawful death of an unborn child.
Typically, the Senate likes to water down bills passed by the House, but apparently not when it comes to HB217, which adds “the death of a fetus” to the homicide statutes. The House passed version would including knowingly causing the death of a fetus at least 24 weeks old in the capital murder, first and second degree murder, and negligent homicide laws. The Senate Judiciary Committee is instead recommending an amendment that would apply to “an unborn child” starting at the moment of conception. The Senate version also removes the requirement that suspect knows about the pregnancy and would apply to manslaughter and assisted suicide in addition to the murder statutes. Both House and Senate versions have an exemption for abortions. Sen. Luther will be presenting the amendment on the Senate floor. Rep. Jerry Bergevin (see quote of the week above) is one of the cosponsors.
In the status, you are starting to see the House and Senate passing different versions of the same bill. When this happens, the House and Senate will form a conference committee make up of legislators appointed by the Speaker of the House and the Senate President. The conference committee, if they can come to an agreement, will write one final version of the bill which will be sent back to both the House and Senate for a final up or down vote. If either chamber rejects the bill, then it is defeated. If both chambers pass the same version of the bill, then it goes to Governor Lynch.
Upcoming Legislative Deadlines
Next week (May 17th) is the deadline for House and Senate to vote on bills that have been passed by the other chamber. This means that, after next week, the only bills that the legislature will be dealing with are those that were passed in some form by both the House and the Senate. All bills that are being negotiated in a committee of conference must be voted on by June 7th and either defeated or sent to Governor Lynch.
Education is very important, Falconry is less so
We have addressed this before, but we have several new subscribers now and it’s worth repeating. The legislature deals with over a thousand bills each session. All of those bills receive a public hearing, a committee vote and (at a minimum) a vote of either the House or the Senate in the first few months of the year. It would be impossible to report on every bill and most people would only be interested in a few of those bills.
For example, the House this week is voting on a bill, already passed by the Senate, on “including owls within the definition of raptor for the purpose of falconry.” How many people want to follow that bill avidly? Probably not many. However, if there are bills that you are aware of that are particularly important but are not being covered here, let us know.
On Wednesday, May 2nd, the Senate voted on the following bills:
HB1526 would legalize the possession of less than one-half ounce of marijuana. The Senate defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1615 would legalize the growing of industrial hemp. The Senate voted to send the bill to study on a voice vote, effectively defeating it.
HB217 would expand the first and second degree murder statutes and the negligent homicide statute to include the death of a fetus. The Senate had been scheduled to vote on this bill, but instead decided to push the vote to May 9th.
HB1607 allows businesses to make donations for scholarships to private and religious schools and then deduct those contributions from their business profits taxes. The Senate “passed” the bill 17-7 vote but then sent it to the House Finance Committee. It will come back to the full Senate for a second vote by May 17th. Sen. Luther voted in favor of this bill.
HB1692 would eliminate the chancellor’s office of the University System. The Senate passed a modified version of the bill that keeps the chancellor’s office, but requires the University System to create new reports to the legislature detailing how they are trying to operate more efficiently. The vote was a voice vote. The bill will now go to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate.
HB1490 would repeal NH”s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The Senate passed a modified version of the bill 18-6. The bill will now go to a conference committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate. Sen. Luther voted to pass the modified version of the bill.
HB1727 would return money granted by the federal government to implement a health care exchange. NH is still required to create a health care exchange. The Senate defeated the bill on a voice vote. Note that some of the funding has already been returned due to previously passed legislation.
HB536 removes the requirement to obtain a license to carry a pistol or revolver openly or concealed, loaded or unloaded. The Senate tabled the bill 17-7. It is possible, but unlikely that the bill could be brought back at a future session. Sen. Luther voted to table the bill.
HB1611 removes the requirement that businesses selling guns must be licensed. The Senate sent the bill to study, effectively defeating it, on a voice vote.
On Wednesday, May 9th, the Senate will vote 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 Judiciary committee recommends expanding the bill further (see above) 4-1.
HB1704 eliminates the voluntary campaign expenditure limits and increases the maximum amount that individuals may donate to campaigns . The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs committee recommends passing an amended form of the bill 4-0. See above for details.
HB1341 would repeal the law restricting firing guns in the compact part of cities and towns, including playgrounds. The Senate Judiciary committee recommends sending the bill to study 4-0.
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 Commerce Committee recommends that the bill be sent to study 2-1.
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 Health and Human Services committee recommends sending the bill to study 5-0.
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 Health and Human Services committee recommends defeating the resolution 4-1.
HCR2 is a resolution supporting the Arizona immigration law. The Senate Internal Affairs committee recommends defeating the resolution 2-1.
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 recommends that the bill be defeated 2-2.
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 Finance Committee recommends sending the bill to study, 7-0.
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