NH Legislature This Week—April 1, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Expanding the R&D tax credit is a critical component of our innovation agenda. By doubling funding for the R&D tax credit, we can help more businesses develop in New Hampshire the new products that can lead to growth and job creation….Increasing funding for the research-and-development tax credit also sends a message to entrepreneurs and businesses considering where to locate that the State of New Hampshire will continue to work with them to encourage innovation and invest in our economic future.” Governor Maggie Hassan on signing SB1.
“I printed it out and made the most use out of it as I needed a place to spit my gum.” Executive Councilor Chris Sununu responding to a Freedom of Information Act request by the NH Democratic Party regarding letters written on official Executive Council stationary that Councilor Sununu hand delivered to the Salem court. The letters were written by Sununu as a character reference for a defendant who pled guilty to a misdemeanor of criminal obstruction in a 911 call placed by his wife.
“In a (Republican) primary, he certainly will have the opportunity to be competitive. But, I have yet to wrap my head around how he could realistically compete in a general election. It would be a huge challenge.” Dean Spiliotes,professor of political science at Southern New Hampshire University, comment on news that former House Speaker, Rep. Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) is running for Congress against Democrat Ann Kuster.
Rep. Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) on the proposed House Budget:
The proposed budget for 2014/2015 represents a process of re-building from the 2012/2013 budget, in
which a number of the state’s most important programs and services experienced significant reductions.
In the health and human services area, appropriations did not meet projected need, and a waitlist for
individuals with developmental disabilities began again after having been eliminated in the prior budget.
Inadequate services continued in mental health services, leading to a system in chaos, with dozens of people
experiencing psychiatric crisis waiting in emergency rooms across the state for a bed to open at New
Hampshire Hospital. The state is facing federal litigation over its ability to provide mental health services to
citizens in the community. The near-elimination of the Children in Need of Services program (CHINS) has
shifted costs for at-risk minors to local budgets and left children with serious behavioral problems untreated.
Funding for higher education was slashed, with appropriations to the university system decreased by half
and by a third to the community colleges. Tuitions jumped, and the community colleges have seen enrollment
Building a budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 has not been easy. We started from a point of previous
budget reductions, made more difficult by tax cuts layered upon an economy still in recovery from the worst
economic recession in memory. This is a careful budget, too, increasing general funds 3% over the biennium.
Our priorities include rebuilding New Hampshire’s essential human services, safety net, and education infrastructure.
Our budget restores full funding to eliminate the Developmental Disabilities waitlist for the
more than 650 individuals currently waiting and those who will turn 21 and become eligible in the next two
years. We have made major investments in the state’s 10 year mental health plan, significantly improving
treatment resources for our residents who suffer from serious mental illness. The CHINS program will be
restored, serving hundreds of at-risk children before they wind up in the criminal justice system. New Hampshire
Legal Assistance receives additional funding, to help restore the appropriation cut in the last biennium,
and funding for legal representation for indigent parents in cases of abuse and neglect is restored. We have
begun to restore funding to our larger hospitals to help make up for the uncompensated care they provide.
This budget also adopts the expansion of Medicaid to thousands of New Hampshire residents who are newly
eligible under the Affordable Care Act at a net general fund cost for the biennium of $1.3 million.
Full funding is restored to the community colleges, a top source of enrollment and thus revenue for the university
system. The university system will receive an investment of more than $150 million. This budget also
repeals the education tax credit program, which will divert public resources to private and religious schools.
$25 million is appropriated to assist local and county taxpayers: $5 million extra Meals and Rooms tax revenue
to cities and towns, $15 million to counties for long term care, and $5 million to 60 cities and towns
for drinking water, waste water, and landfill grants. We invest $5 million in LCHIP to save important New
The proposed budget for 2014/2015 makes significant investments to fund the essential services citizens expect
of government. These investments will help New Hampshire continue to be the best state in which to live,
work, and raise a family.
House will be voting on budget; Senate not in session
By now, the House has voted on all non-budget bills and has only three bills left to consider. HB1 is the budget. HB2 is the “budget trailer”. This bill contains all of the changes in laws needed to implement the budget. HB25 is the capital improvements plan. House Speaker Terri Norelli (D-Portsmouth) has asked legislators to keep Thursday open in addition to Wednesday in case they need more than a day to vote on these bills.
The Senate will not be meeting this week, but is instead spending this time to conduct public hearings on the numerous bills that have been passed by the House.
Budget is $11 billion over next two years.
Rep. Wallner does a very good job of summarizing the budget (see quotes above). Some details that we would like to add are to note that the budget includes $0.12 gas tax increase to pay for road and bridge repair (as was passed by the House earlier in a separate bill).
The budget also includes a $0.10 cigarette tax increase in addition to the $0.10 increase that was already approved. Note, also that the cigarette taxes are already scheduled to go up $0.10 per pack in August due to the expiration of a tax cut enacted in the last session. All told, cigarette taxes could go up $0.30 per pack over current prices. This would still put the price FAR below the cost in Massachusetts, where cigarette taxes are not only higher, but there is also a state law that mandates a minimum price per pack. Each $0.10 increase is expected to raise $20 million in state revenues.
The capital improvement plan (a separate bill) includes funds to build a $38 million women’s prison next to the men’s prison in Concord. That cost is almost 1/3 of the biennium’s $124 million budget. Another $24 million is set aside to renovate and update the regional technical centers in Whitefield and Salem. The budget also allows $20 million in liquor revenues to be used to build three new state liquor stores in Salem, Epping and Warner.
The State is currently running a $41 million deficit.
Due in part to less expected revenues from business taxes, the state is going to need to come up with a significant amount of money very soon to balance the state’s budget before the end of the current fiscal year. To meet this challenge, Governor Hassan is looking to get legislative approval to use dedicated funds to balance the budget—especially the Renewable Energy Fund which has $15 million now and is expected to add another $10 million by June. The fund is used to encourage renewable energy such as wind and solar power. The hope in Concord is that business tax revenues will pick up in the next couple of months, but contingency plans are being worked out if that doesn’t happen.
O’Brien running for Congress
Former House Speaker, Rep. Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) has officially formed an exploratory committee to run for Congress against our current Congresswoman , Ann Kuster. Having the committee will allow him to raise funds and do some early polling and organizing. He says that “we have certainly been approached by a number of people who are … very disappointed in the current representation they have in Congress.” Note that Congresswoman Kuster has been in office for less than 3 months as a member of the minority.
Other Republicans who have expressed an interest in running against Kuster are former State Senator Gary Lambert and Karen Testerman, who formerly was the head of Cornerstone Policy Research, a socially conservative NH organization that primary focuses on restricting abortion rights and opposing gay and lesbian equality.
No Committee to study self-driving cars
The Senate has killed a bill to create a committee to study self-driving cars. The bill was passed by the House. The Senate says that it is simply too early to be writing legislation governing technology that is at such an early stage of development. Practical? Yes. Fun? No. Oh well.
Actions by the Governor:
Last week, we forgot to report that Governor Maggie Hassan had signed into law SB1, which doubles the research and development tax credit for businesses. This bill has been the top priority of the business community since the start of the recession. The bill died in the legislature in the last session when former House Speaker Bill O’Brien insisted that the bill had to including an unrelated amendment restricting abortions. Sen. Gilmour is a cosponsor of this bill.
Governor Hassan also signed into law SB40, which would ensure that no town receives less state funding for education in the coming biennium than they had in the previous biennium. Sen. Gilmour is a cosponsor of this bill.
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
HB135 would repeal a law passed last year which allows anyone to use deadly force “anywhere that they have a right to be” (known as the “Stand your ground” law) and returns to the previous policy of allowing deadly force only in your own home. The House amended the bill to keep the part of the law that provides for immunity from civil suits when deadly force is used. Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (D-Penacook). The House passed the bill 189-184. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
HB451 would repeal the licensing requirement to carry a concealed gun. This bill is sponsored by Rep. J. R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton) and Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont). The House defeated the bill 226-144. Rep. Belanger, Daniels and Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
HB619 would make it illegal to photograph someone’s home from an unmanned aerial drone. The House tabled the bill 278-87. The vote was not recorded. A tabled bill can be brought back for consideration later, but requires a 2/3 majority vote to do so. If not brought back for consideration, then tabled bills are defeated automatically at the end of the session.
HB617 would increase the gas tax to pay for improvements to roads and bridges. The House amended the bill such that the gas tax would be raised from the current $0.18 per gallon to $0.30 per gallon over the next three years. The gas tax was last raised in 1991. The increase is expected to generate almost a billion dollars in funding over the next 10 years. The House passed the bill 206-153. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
HB1 is the two year budget. The House Finance Committee recommends that the budget be passed 14-8.
HB2 is the “budget trailer”. This bill contains all of the policy changes that are needed by the budget in HB1. The House Finance Committee recommends that the bill be passed 14-8.
HB25 is the capital improvements part of the budget. It addresses non-highway improvements and repairs to state-owned buildings, facilities, parks, etc. The Public Works and Highways Committee recommends that the bill be passed 19-0.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Finance Committee (Statehouse room 103)
HB325 would enhance the existing state employee recognition program by rewarding state employees with 10% of the first year’s cost savings that employee’s cost-saving or revenue-producing suggestion. Rep. Jack Flanagan is the primary sponsor. Tuesday 1:00.
What are our legislators doing? Part 3—Rep. Jack Flanagan
Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) is now serving his second term in the House. He is a member of the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee, which is responsible for legislation regarding workplaces, labor unions, minimum wage, worker’s compensation, and similar employment law. This year, Rep. Flanagan has sponsored or cosponsored 9 bills, some of which were mentioned previously. Here are some of those bills:
HB215 relative to workforce housing and the definition of community. “Workforce housing” refers to current NH laws which requires towns to set ordinances in such a way that some of the housing available in each town is affordable to low income families. The current law is vague and more precise standards have been developed through court cases. This bill would make the standard more precise by specifying that 5% of the residential housing in each town must qualify as “workforce housing”. The bill would also change the law such that towns would need to consider only the housing with their own borders—current court decisions require towns to take into consideration neighboring towns as well. The bill was opposed by the Business and Industry Association, the chambers of commerce from several cities, the NH Planners Association and housing advocates. The bill was defeated by the House 213-125. Rep. Flanagan was the primary sponsor. The bill was cosponsored by Rep. Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson), Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown), Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), Rep. Kris Roberts (D-Keene), and Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry).
HB325 relative to public employee suggestions for cost-saving measures. The bill would provide a one-time award of 10% of the saving achieved during the first year that a public employee’s cost-saving or revenue-producing suggestion is implemented. The bill was passed by the House 199-162 and is scheduled for a hearing by the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. Rep. Flanagan is the primary sponsor. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Ken Weyler (R-Kingston) and Rep. Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson).
HB334 requiring pharmacy interns to register with the pharmacy board. The bill was passed by the House on a voice vote. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee has scheduled a public hearing on Wednesday. Rep. Peter Schmidt (D-Dover) is the primary sponsor. Rep. Flanagan is the only cosponsor.
SB123 relative to the use of proceeds from the regional greenhouse gas initiative program. This bill would dedicate profits from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) for town and local government energy efficiency projects, up to $2 million per biennium. The Senate passed the bill 23-1, but it has not reached the House yet. Sen. Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton) is the primary sponsor. The bill is cosponsored by Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), Sen. Bob Odell (R-Lempster), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), Rep. Naida Kaen (D-Lee), Rep. David Borden (D-New Castle), Rep. John Hunt (R-Rindge), Rep. Tim Copeland (R-Stratham) and Rep. Flanagan are cosponsors.
Next week: Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis)
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.
Watch and listen to House and Senate sessions live
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. Peggy Gilmour (D) P: (603)465-2336 firstname.lastname@example.org
Nashua Wards 1, 2, 5, Hollis, Brookline, Mason, Greenville, New Ipswich, and Rindge
Rep. Jim Belanger (R) P: (603)465-2301 Jim.email@example.com
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R) P: (603)465-7463 firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Gary Daniels (R) P: (603)673-3065 email@example.com
Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston
Rep. Jack Flanagan (R) P: (603)672-7175 Jack.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D) P:(603)249-3367 email@example.com
Brookline and Mason