NH Legislature This Week—February 11, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“We should not abandon good NH programs like CHINS in deference to a federal mandate that will not even be funded.” NH Republican Party Chair Jennifer Horn speaking on the topic of expanding Medicaid coverage. In the last session , the Republican-led House eliminated the Children in Need of Services (CHINS) program entirely from the state budget. The Senate later restored a very small amount of the funding. The CHINS program went from supporting 1,000 children a year to 50 children per year.
Last week we said that Governor Hassan would be delivering her budget speech to the legislature on Thursday. However, we were off by a week. The budget address will be delivered THIS coming Thursday, Feb 14th.
Commuter Rail Study passes Executive council
The study to look at extending commuter rail from Lowell to Concord via Nashua is finally getting it’s funding. The federal government had offered to fund the study, but the grant was rejected by the Executive Council last year on a 3-2 vote.
Two of the Republicans who opposed the funding were replaced with Democrats who support the grant, giving 4-1 majority in favor of the rail study now. Councilor Chris Sununu (R-Newfields) was the sole vote against the grant, while our Councilor, Deborah Pignatelli (D-Nashua) was joined by Councilors Ray Burton (R-Bath), Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) and Colin Van Ostern (D-Concord) in supporting the rail study.
The study is strongly supported by the Nashua Chamber of Commerce.
Granite State Poll on gun control
UNH Survey Center has just released a new Granite State Poll revealing some interesting public opinions on gun control in the Granite State. The poll of 581 randomly selected residents was conducted January 30th through February 5th and has a margin of error of 4.1%.
The poll found that 44% of households reported having a gun in the house (31% of Democrats, 51% of Independents and 57% of Republicans). A ban on “military style assault weapons” was supported 64-31 (94% support among Democrats, 55% among Independents, 38% among Republicans and 51% of gun owners).
A ban on ammunition clips that hold more than 10 bullets was supported by 61% (89% of Democrats, 51% of Independents, 36% of Republicans and 46% of gun owners). Requiring background checks before purchasing a gun at a gun show was supported by 91% (96% of Democrats, 87% of Independents, 88% of Republicans and 88% of gun owners).
Also, 63% favor “creating a federal government database to track all gun sales” (86% of Democrats, 52% of Independents, 43% of Republicans, and 53% of gun owners).
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
Note: Rep. Jack Flanagan could not be in the legislature that day.
HB358 would restore $4million in funding to the Children in Need of Services (CHINS) program. The program would also receive an additional $3.5million in federal matching funds. The CHINS program provides a wide array of services to troubled children to keep them from entering the criminal justice system. The House defeated this bill on a voice vote after the committee that heard the bill recommended that this be taken up as part of the budget instead of separately.
CACR4, a constitutional amendment that would allow the legislature to set the rules that would govern the courts. Currently, the NH Supreme Court sets the rules. Last November, a similar amendment was on the ballot and was voted down 48% in favor to 52% opposed. Constitutional amendments require 66 2/3% to pass. The House defeated the amendment on a voice vote.
HB144 would prohibit the state and any town from working with or implementing any programs of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) is a cosponsor. The House defeated the bill 211-141. Rep. Belanger and Daniels voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
HB218 would make it a misdemeanor to enforce federal health care laws unless approved by the NH legislature. The bill also includes a lengthy diatribe explaining that the NH legislature can overrule any act of Congress or decision made by the US Supreme Court that the NH legislature feels is unconstitutional. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
CACR1, a constitutional amendment that would require a 3/5 super majority vote of the legislature to create any new taxes or to raise existing taxes. The House defeated the amendment 206 to 149. Rep. Daniels voted in favor of the amendment. Rep. Belanger, Gargasz and Levesque voted against the amendment.
CACR2, a constitutional amendment that would allow taxes to be graduated (ie, with rates based on income similar to federal income taxes). The House defeated the bill 302-38. The individual votes were not recorded.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
HB371 would repeal common law marriage. Many states have common law marriages in which a marriage is recognized as being legal even if there is no marriage license. In NH, if a couple lives together for 3 years, presents themselves as being married and are generally believed to be married by others, then they are legally married. This bill would repeal that law. The House Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 18-0.
HB323 “Right to Work” would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to contribute to the cost of labor negotiations. The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 13-5.
Committee Hearings for this coming week:
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (LOB room 204)
HB492 would legalize possession of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults over 21. It would also legalize marijuana cultivation, wholesale and retail and would impose a 15% tax on marijuana sales. Thursday 1:00.
HB337 would legalize possession of marijuana. Thursday 2:00.
HB621 would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a non-criminal offense. Possession would still be illegal and could result in a fine, but would not result in jail time or be classified as a crime. Thursday 3:00.
House Education Committee (LOB room 207)
HB479 would allow any 10 people to form their own school district. Their school taxes would then be set based on the expenses of this new district and not the town’s public school system. So, just for example, if 10 people without children formed their own school district, then their school taxes would be zero. The bill also allows people to send their children to schools in other towns (for example, parents in Milford or Nashua could decide to send their children to Hollis-Brookline). The bill is sponsored by Rep. J.R.Hoell (R-Dunbarton). Tuesday 11:00.
House Election Law Committee (LOB room 308) Rep. Melanie Levesque(D-Brookline) is a member of this committee
HB595 would repeal the more restrictive voter ID laws that are set to go into effect next year. This bill would leave in place the photo ID requirements as they were last year. Tuesday 10:00.
Senate Finance Committee (Statehouse room 103)
SB153 would require that all collective bargaining agreements entered into by the state must be approved by the legislative fiscal committee. Tuesday 1:50.
House Finance Committee (LOB room 210)
SB40 would ensure that no town or city receives less education funding from the state in 2013 than they received in 2012. The Senate has already passed this bill unanimously. Tuesday 10:00.
House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs
HB452 would allow health care facilities and doctors to use medicines, equipment and procedures that were not approved by the FDA. No, this is not simplifying a complex bill. The bill is literally two sentences that says that any clinic or doctor can use non-FDA approved medicines, equipment and procedures without restriction. The bill is sponsored by Rep. J.R.Hoell (R-Dunbarton). Tuesday 10:30.
HR6 is a House resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and affirming support for the principles established by this historic Supreme Court decision. Thursday 1:00.
House Judiciary Committee (LOB room 208)
HB483 would require a 24 hour waiting period to have an abortion and would require that the patient be given certain “information”. The bill states “many abortion facilities or providers hire untrained and unprofessional ‘counselors’ to provide pre-abortion counseling, but whose primary goal is actually to ‘sell’ or promote abortion services.” Among other “information” that the bill would require doctors to explain to their patients is “the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child at the time the abortion is to be performed.” Thursday 1:30.
House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee (LOB room 203)
HCR3 is a resolution declaring that state legislatures can nullify any act of Congress or decision by the US Supreme Court that they feel is unconstitutional. Thursday 1:30.
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