NH Legislature This Week—February 25, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Autonomous vehicles have enormous potential to provide transportation for elderly and disabled drives as well as provide a low cost transportation option for those currently without a vehicle. In addition to these potential benefits, autonomous vehicles may be the single best way to reduce automobile casualties.” Rep. Time O’Flaherty (D-Manchester) for the House Transportation Committee on HB 444, establishing a committee to study the use of autonomous vehicles in New Hampshire.
“I ____ do solemnly swear, that I will bear faith and true allegiance to the United States of America and the state of New Hampshire, and will support the constitution thereof. So help me God” part of the oath of office taken by every member of the legislature. Keep this in mind when you read the next quote.
Special Mega Quote of the Week. HB638, as introduced by Rep. Stella Tremblay (R-Auburn), Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), and Rep. Lars Christiansen (R-Hudson). We added the bolding, underlining and italics. This is a whole lot of crazy in one bill. Enjoy.
I. In 1810, a proposed amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibited titles of nobility and which later became known as the original Thirteenth Amendment, was introduced, passed both houses of Congress, and was sent to the states for ratification. On December 9, 1812, shortly after ratification by Virginia, New Hampshire became the thirteenth state to ratify the amendment. The amendment was therefore ratified by the requisite number of states and became Article XIII of the United States Constitution.
II. During the War Between the States, otherwise known as the Civil War, the country was under martial law, and all executive orders made by President Lincoln were, in effect, law. After the war, laws made during that period were to be abated; yet, vestiges of martial law remained and presidents continued to write executive orders.
III. The District of Columbia Organic Act of 1871, otherwise known as the Act of 1871, created a corporation in the District of Columbia called the United States of America. The act revoked prior legislation relative to the district’s municipal charter and, most egregiously, led to adoption of a fraudulent constitution in which the original Thirteenth Amendment was omitted.
IV. Today, what appears to the public as the United States Constitution is not the complete document, as it was never lawfully amended to remove the Thirteenth Amendment. Instead, the document presented as the United States Constitution is merely a mission statement for the corporation unlawfully established in the Act of 1871.
V. The purpose of this act is to recognize that the original Thirteenth Amendment, which prohibits titles of nobility, is properly included in the United States Constitution and is the law of the land. The act is also intended to end the infiltration of the Bar Association and the judicial branch into the executive and legislative branches of government and the unlawful usurpation of the people’s right, guaranteed by the New Hampshire constitution, to elect county attorneys who are not members of the bar. This unlawful usurpation gives the judicial branch control over all government and the people in the grand juries. As long as the original Thirteenth Amendment is concealed from the people, there shall never be justice or a legitimate constitutional form of government.
2 New Chapter; Thirteenth Amendment. Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 1-A the following new chapter:
ORIGINAL THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT
1-B:1 Original Thirteenth Amendment. The following shall be recognized as the original Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:
If any citizen of the United States shall accept, claim, receive, or retain any title of nobility or honor, or shall, without the consent of Congress, accept and retain any present, pension, office or emolument of any kind whatever, from any Emperor, King, Prince or foreign power, such person shall cease to be a citizen of the United States, and shall be incapable of holding any office of trust or profit under them or either of them.
Coming up in the Legislature
The Senate will not be meeting this week, but the House will be in full swing. Much of the focus remains on the budget and there are fewer committee hearings as the House makes it’s way through a lengthy set of bills. The House Finance Committee has until March 28th to finish their work on the state budget with a deadline of April 4th for the House to pass the budget.
Rep. Flanagan’s cost-saving bill overcomes committee recommendation and passes
One of the points of high drama in last week’s House session was a bill by Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) to enhance the existing state employee recognition program. His bill (HB325) would reward public employees who come up with cost-saving or revenue-producing suggestions by giving them 10% of the savings realized in the first year that the suggestion is implemented. The program mirrors similar employee incentive programs in industry.
Rep. Flanagan had introduced a similar bill in the last session which was passed by the House, but then sent to study in the Senate, effectively defeating it.
This year, the House Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommended that the bill be defeated on a vote of 9-5. They cited the complexity of the bill and uncertainty as to how it would be implemented as their concerns. However, when the full House took up the bill last Wednesday, the motion to defeat the bill failed by a single vote, 179-179. The House then voted 199-162 to pass the bill, which now goes to the Senate.
Gun owner immunity bill advances
Another bill that saw a committee recommendation being overturned was HB388, which would give owners of guns legal immunity if their weapons were stolen and then used in the commission of a crime. Opponents had argued that the bill was unnecessary because there is no record of someone being charged with a crime because their gun was stolen and then used to commit a crime. The House Judiciary Committee had recommended that the bill be defeated by a 12-6 vote. However, the House felt differently and motion to defeat the bill failed 167-192. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the committee recommendation, while Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the committee recommendation.
A motion was then made to pass the bill and succeeded 211-151. The second vote was not recorded.
It’s time to start preparing for self-driving cars
As we move further into the 21st century, state legislatures are moving to stay a step ahead of the technology curve. Recently, Google has been experimenting with automatic, self-driving cars in limited areas. Some states are setting up laws to govern self-driving cars while others are studying the legal and safety issues involved.
This week, the NH House will vote on HB 444, which would create a committee to study automatic, self-driving cars in NH. The House Transportation Committee recommends that the bill be passed 14-1.
Paying people to sue the State
This week, the House will be voting a resolution (HJR2) that illustrates one of the many sagas related to the recent redress of grievances emphasis made by some House members. The resolution, sponsored by Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont), asks the state to reimburse a certain individual for $176,448.50 in legal expenses. From what we have been able to gather through internet sources, the story goes something like this.
The individual is owner or part owner of two LLC real estate companies. Recently, each LLC encountered an unusual situation in which each companies decided to provide a client with a mortgage, even though the are not mortgage companies and have never issued mortgages before. The State recently changed it’s laws and requires any mortgage issuing company to register with the state. When one of the loans went sour and ended up in court, it came out during the legal proceedings that the company had issued the mortgage without registering. The NH Banking Department then issued criminal and civil charges against both companies for violating the law.
However, it turns out that the mortgages were issued before the law went into effect and had not, in fact, been illegal. When the NH Banking Department made it’s complaints against the companies, it offered each the opportunity to dispute these charges. Instead, the individual involved hired a very expensive law firm and filed a case in Superior Court, which threw out the charges brought by the Banking Department. The legal team then asked for the state to pay for their legal expenses. The Superior Court denied this request.
They then appealed to the NH Supreme Court, again asking for reimbursement of legal expenses. The NH Supreme Court also ruled that were not entitled to reimbursement because they could potentially have avoided a great deal of expense for both themselves and the state by simply disputing the charge with the Department directly instead of filing a court case.
Now that the NH Supreme Court has denied their claim, they have come to the NH House and asked for the expenses to be reimbursed anyway.
The House Judiciary Committee unanimously recommends that the resolution be rejected. Rep. Itse, the sponsor of this resolution, was the Chair of the Redress of Grievances Committee in the last session, which heard many cases such as this.
House turns focus to Roads and Bridges
HB617 would pay for widening I93 and repairing the 1661 miles of state roads that are currently listed as being in poor condition and in need of major work. In 2000, only 630 miles of state roads were considered to be in poor condition. For reference, the state maintains a total of 4500 miles of roads. There are also currently 140 red listed state bridges plus 353 red listed town and city bridges, with an additional 10-12 bridges being closed each year.
HB617 takes a 10 year view of these problems and addresses the needed funding by raising the gas tax from $0.18 per gallon to $0.33 per gallon over the next three years, with the funds being dedicated to road and bridge maintenance. The increase in the gas tax would raise almost a billion dollars over a 10 year period.
The House Transportation Committee recommends that the bill be passed by a bipartisan and unanimous 18-0. The full House is scheduled to vote on this bill this coming week.
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
CACR3 is a Constitutional Amendment declaring that parents control the health, education and welfare of their children. The House defeated the amendment 228-133. Rep. Belanger, Daniels and Flanagan voted in favor of the amendment. Rep. Gargasz and Levesque voted against the amendment.
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. The House Executive Departments and Administration bill recommended that the bill be defeated due to complexity and uncertainty in how to implement it. However, the House passed the bill 199-162. Rep. Jack Flanagan is the primary sponsor. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Levesque voted against the bill.
HB335 would make permanent the cut in tobacco taxes made in the last session (ten cents per pack). When the legislature lowered the tobacco tax in 2011, there was a provision that would restore previous tax rate if total tobacco tax income fell. Since then, tobacco tax income has fallen significantly ($30.5 million relative to 2011)—exactly as had been predicted by Department of Revenue Administration. This bill would repeal that provision and make the tax cuts permanent. Tobacco taxes are dedicated to funding education and are the 3rd largest source of funding after the statewide property tax and the Business Enterprise Tax. The House defeated the bill 207-135. Rep. Daniels and Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
HB354 would repeal the Business Enterprise Tax. The BET is a tax paid by most businesses which taxes 0.0075% of the salaries, benefits and profits paid by businesses. This bill would repeal that tax over 5 years. If repealed, state revenues would be down by $75—$100 million per year. The BET is the second largest source of education funding after the statewide property tax. See also HB434 below. The House defeated the bill 192-161. Rep. Belanger, Daniels and Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
HB370 would repeal the business tax credit, passed last session, the allows businesses to take a tax credit if they provide scholarship funds to private and religious schools. The House passed the bill 188-151. Rep. Gargasz and Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Daniels and Flanagan voted against the bill.
HB434 would repeal the Business Enterprise Tax over a period of 20 years. The BET is the second largest source of state funding for education after the state property tax. See also HB354 above. The House defeated the bill 201-128. Rep. Belanger, Daniels and Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
HB322 would require students to pass a state-wide proficiency test before being allowed to enter grades 4 and 8. The House Education Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 17-1. The committee feels that the pending change to implement the common core curriculum includes periodic assessments which would serve this purpose. The committee goes on to state that “research indicates that a single ‘high stake’ test does not adequately demonstrate the total academic achievement of a student.”
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). The House Education Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 18-0.
HB153 would legalize the growing of industrial hemp under state law. Growing hemp is still illegal under federal law. Industrial hemp has traditionally been used in many applications, such as rope and typically does not have the properties that marijuana has. However, industrial hemp is commonly outlawed because it can be difficult to distinguish the industrial hemp plants from marijuana plants. In the US, growing industrial hemp is illegal under federal law, but is legal under state law in 10 states, including Vermont and Maine. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed 17-2.
HB445 would allow local government employers to participate in the state health insurance plan. Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) is a cosponsor. The House Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 15-3. The committee expressed concerns with the complexity of the bill, unintended consequences, and concerns about the ability of the department of administrative services to effectively handle the increased workload.
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.” The House Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 13-6.
Roads and Bridges
HB489 would increase the gas tax to pay for improvements to roads and bridges. The gas tax would be raised from the current $0.18 per gallon to $0.33 per gallon over the next three years. The gas tax was last raised in 1991 when gas was $1.13/gal. The increase is expected to generate almost a billion dollars in funding over the next 10 years.
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. The House Finance Committee recommends that the bill be passed 22-1.
HB121 would require drug testing for people who apply for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF). Sponsored by Rep. Donald LeBrun (R-Nashua ward 5) and Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack). The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 16-1.
Committee Hearings for this coming week:
House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee (LOB room 302)
HB544 would repeal the prohibition on a state-based health insurance exchange. State-based health exchanges are required under federal health care reform laws and provide a place where businesses can shop for health insurance. The current prohibition was enacted last year. Tuesday, 11:30.
HB562 would reduce the maximum interest that can be charged on title loans from 300% to 36%. Title loans are payday loans in which a car title is used as collateral. Last year, the maximum interest rate on these loans was raised from 36% to 300%.
House Science, Technology and Energy Committee (LOB room 304)
HB630 would repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Tuesday, 2:30.
House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee (LOB room 203)
HB638 declares that the US Constitution is a mission statement for a corporation set up in 1871 and that the bill’s sponsors know the real, secret US Constitution. See Mega Quote of the Day at top. Thursday 10:00.