NH Legislature This Week—April 15, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Well the Democrats I’m sure they’ll support it. I think they’ll support anything that protects the wildlife,” Rep. Al Baldassaro (R-Londonderry) referring to SB89, which would tighten restrictions on lead fishing tackle. Rep. Baldassaro vehemently opposes the bill and called it “feel-good BS”.
“My personal opinion on the Colorado issue is that the Sheriff’s need to arrest the Governor. Their Governor is actually giving up his State Sovereignty to the Feds. He is also putting the lives of his Country Sheriff’s in jeopardy. If the Sheriff’s don’t nip this in the bud, there is sure to be a very bad outcome. This may sound extreme but it is time to take extreme measures.” former NH Republican Party chairman Jack Kimball on Colorado’s new gun safety law, and who is also supporting such “extreme measures” in NH, see below.
Senate back in session, House focuses on hearings
The NH Senate is back in session now to vote on a number of bills that had public hearings the last couple of weeks. However, none of the bills being voted on the Senate are ones that we are following. The House continues to hold public hearings (as is the Senate) and the full House will meet again on April 4th.
Both chambers are working through the bills that were passed by the other chamber and both expect to vote on all such bills by June 6th.
Background on NH”s “Stand your ground” law
You will need to know this to understand the items below. From 1977 to 2011, NH had a sensible gun law that said that people can defend themselves with deadly force if they or someone else were in danger. However, if someone could retreat from a dangerous situation with complete safety, then they are required to do so. However, you are not required to retreat if you are in your own home or if there is a clear danger to someone else.
In the last session, the Republicans passed a bill that they call “Stand your ground” which says that if you believe that there is a threat, then you can use deadly force even if the situation could be safely avoided. In other words, if you feel like you have an excuse to start shooting people, then go ahead if you feel like it. It no longer matters whether or not there is any real need.
Opponents point to states that have enacted such laws where instances of gun violence are up and prosecutions are down because whenever there is gun related violence, the shooter claims self-defense and it is longer possible to prove that they were acting irresponsibly or maliciously.
This year, the House passed HB135, which would repeal the “Stand your ground” law and revert back to the self defense laws that were in place before.
Republican Rep. John Hikel files criminal complaint calling for the arrest of most House Democrats
The big news of the week comes from Rep. John Hikel (R-Goffstown) who has filed an emergency criminal complaint against 189 members of the House. The complaint was filed on Wednesday with the Hillsborough County Sheriff and alleges that the 189 House members violated their oaths of office and conspired to deprive Rep. Hikel of his constitutional rights by voting in favor of HB135, the bill to repeal the “stand your ground” law. The complaint calls the 189 Representatives “usurpers of justice”.
The criminal complaint alleges that the members supported a bill that “was clearly contrary to the fundamental principles of the New Hampshire Constitution.”. The complaint says that voting in favor of HB135 was a violation of the Oaths of Office and a breach of the public trust. It goes on to state that the bill is “repugnant and contrary to this constitution…for the necessary support and defense of the government thereof”, quoting the NH Constitution.
The criminal complaint further alleges that the 189 House Reps. “have disqualified themselves and are thus ineligible to hold office as lawgivers in the New Hampshire General Court (ie, the legislature) because their actions prove they have failed to meet the requirements set by the People in Article 38”.
Article 38 is a bit lengthy, but just quoting the portions that the complaint put in bold with underlining, it says “…the fundamental principles of the constitution…the people ought, therefore,…and they have a right to require of their lawgivers and magistrates, an exact and constant observance of them, in the formation and execution of the laws.” The non-bolded part says that Representatives should uphold the principles of the constitution, which are “justice, moderation, temperance, industry, frugality, and all the social virtues.” THAT bolding is ours. 🙂
Unsurprisingly, the complaint also alleges that the Representatives violated the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which states “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Bizarrely, however, the complaint goes on to quote Noah Webster’s 1828 definitions of “militia” which are “a soldier”, “The body of soldiers in a state enrolled for discipline”, and “The militia of a country are the able bodied men organized into companies, regiments and brigades, with officers of all grades, and required by law to attend military exercises on certain days only”.
The complaint also states that “the accused threaten, via HB135, to diminish My Right to, ‘in a word’ seek and obtain Happiness.”
Item 20 in the complaint alleges that “the accused threaten, via HB135, to indirectly steal My intangible property and give it to another person for the purpose of private development.” The “intangible property” is further explained to be “My Article 7 Right of self-governance”, “My duty to protect Article 13 Conscientious Objectors” and “My Article 12 responsibility to the community.”
The criminal complaint is asking that they be charged with federal “Conspiracy against rights” and that they be fined and/or imprisoned for up to 10 years.
The complaint also asks that the House members be charged under NH laws with class A felony “theft”, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
Former NH Republican Party Chairman Jack Kimball has also confirmed on his facebook page that he has filed an identical complaint in Strafford County.
It has been reported that other members of the House have also filed or are planning to file identical criminal complaints with county sheriffs and with the U.S. Marshals Service.
Hillsborough County Sheriff James Hardy responded to the complaint by saying “After taking a look at it, I do not anticipate taking any action.”
See the full complaint here:
Related: Emergency Petition for Redress filed in the NH House
In addition to the criminal complaint, Rep. John Hikel (R-Goffstown), Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry) and Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack) have introduced an Emergency Petition for Regress in the NH House against the 189 Representatives who voted in favor of HB135.
The petition uses the same arguments and much of the language used in the criminal complaint, including Webster’s definition of “militia” and the argument that the legislators are guilty of felony “theft” of the same “intangible property”.
The petitions seeks the following remedy:
A) The immediate removal from office of these 189 disqualified members of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
B) The immediate nullification of any of the of the votes these 189 members have cast during their current term in office.
C) The scheduling of a special election as soon as possible to replace the 189 members with people qualified to be those seats.
See the full text of the petition here:
Criminal complaints, petition followed up with “Honor Your Oath” rally
Opponents of HB135 also held a rally at the Statehouse this week. Speakers included Rep. John Hikel, Jack Kimall, Rep. Al Baldasaro and Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont). Around 300 people showed up at the rally, including an 11 year old who held an AR-15 assault rifle and a large flag that read “Come and Take It”. The gun was real, but the child insists that it was “not loaded.”
Yet more on guns
The US Senate overcame a filibuster by some Republican Senators to block discussion of proposed gun control measures. Senator Ayotte was one of 16 Republican Senators who sided with the Democrats (including Senator Shaheen) and voted to allow the gun control debate to move forward.
The Nashua Telegraph has a new owner
The Telegraph announced last week they have been bought by Ogden Newspapers, which owns 40 newspapers in 12 states. The new owners immediately announced that they would be reducing the staff at the paper.
G. Odgen Nutting, the head of the family that owns Odgen Newspapers, is a well known conservative who has donated over $100,000 to Republican candidates over the years. There are reports that the company has a history of running identical, unsigned editorials in the papers endorsing conservatives and conservative causes.
House to hold public hearing on Casino bill on Tuesday
The House is expecting a large crowd to provide public testimony on a Senate bill to create a casino. The House has scheduled a joint meeting of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Finance Committee. The hearing will be held on Tuesday beginning at 10:15 in Representative’s Hall, where the full House meets.
The hearing comes just as WMUR/UNH released the results of the latest Granite State Poll which found that 63% favor a casino “with 150 table games and five thousand slot machines” while 30% were opposed.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee (Representatives Hall)
SB152 would allow the creation of a casino, up to 150 table games and up to 5,000 video slot machines. Tuesday 10:15.
What are our legislators doing? Part 5—Rep. Melanie Leveque
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline) is currently serving her 3rd term in the NH House. She is currently a Majority Floor Leader, which is a leadership position involving articulating the goals of the Democratic Caucus, surveying representatives on bills and other issues, and assisting with motions on the floor. She also serves on the House Election Law Committee. In her first term, she served on the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee. Rep. Levesque is currently cosponsoring the following three bills.
During her previous term, Rep. Levesque sponsored a bill (now law) that requires the Bureau of Emergency Communications to develop and maintain a statewide emergency notification system.
HB206 relative to political advertising. This bill requires that any political signs taken down by a town or police be kept until one week after the election. Current law specifies that such signs must be kept for one week after they are taken down. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Robert Perry (D-Strafford). Rep. Levesque and Rep. Peter Leishman (D-Peterborough) are cosponsors. The bill was passed by the House on a voice vote. The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be passed and the full Senate will vote on the bill on Thursday.
HB392 relative to political contributions and expenditures and relative to reporting by political committees. This is a lengthy bill that makes many changes to the election laws governing political committees. This bill would exempt smaller political committees (those that raise and spend less than $2,500 or, in some cases, $5,000) from having to file with the state. This bill also expands the political activities covered by the election laws to include communications that identify a particular candidate without expressly supporting or opposing that candidate, thus closing a loophole. The bill would also impose of fine on political committees that do not register when they should. The fine would be 25% of the expenditures made before filing.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. Robert Perry (D-Strafford). Rep. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland), Rep. Charles Weed (D-Keene), Rep. Larry Phillips (D-Keene), Rep. David Kidder (R-New London), Rep. Kathleen Hoelzel (R-Raymond), Rep. Maureen Mann (D-Deerfield), Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline), Rep. Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth) and Sen. David Pierce (D-Etna) are cosponsors. The bill has been retained by the House Election Law Committee until next year.
HB490 relative to the tax on tobacco products other than cigarettes and establishing a tobacco use prevention and cessation program fund. Currently, non-cigarette products are taxes at 48% of the wholesale price. This bill would change that to tax non-cigarette products at the same rate as cigarettes. The bill further states that, if the tax is above 48%, then any amount of tax raised over the previous 48% level will be go to a new fund which will support tobacco use prevention and cessation programs.
The bill is sponsored by Rep. William Butynski (D-Hinsdale). Rep. Joy Tilton (D-Northfield), Rep. Jim MacKay (D-Concord) and Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline) are cosponsors. The bill has been retained by the House Ways and Means Committee until next year.
Next week: Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
Nashua Wards 1, 2, 5, Hollis, Brookline, Mason, Greenville, New Ipswich, and Rindge
Rep. Jim Belanger (R) P: (603)465-2301 Jim.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R) P: (603)465-7463 email@example.com
Rep. Gary Daniels (R) P: (603)673-3065 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston
Rep. Jack Flanagan (R) P: (603)672-7175 Jack.email@example.com
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D) P:(603)249-3367 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookline and Mason