NH Legislature This Week—February 4, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“These bills are direct attempts to dismantle New Hampshire’s domestic violence laws,” Amanda Grady Sexton, director of public policy for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. HB502 would prohibit a police officer from arresting someone for domestic violence until a the victim files a complaint with the court, unless the officer directly witnesses the abuse. HB503 would prohibit police from arresting someone for stalking or violating a protective order until after the victim files a criminal complaint with the court.
“The main reason for the Second Amendment … is because our founders knew that this day would come. They understood clearly, that we may have to fight off an oppressive and tyrannical government and the only way you can do that was to have compatible arms as the oppressors do. That’s why you have to have semi-automatic weapons. That’s why you have to have high capacity magazines.” Jack Kimball, former chairman of the NH Republican Party.
Correction: Senate to meet on Thursdays
Last week, we said that the Senate normally meets on Wednesdays, which had been true in previous years. This session, the Senate has decided to regularly meet on Thursdays instead.
The House and Senate will be meeting together on Thursday at 10:00am to hear the Governor’s budget address. The House will also meet on Wednesday at 10:00am to vote on bills coming out of committees. The sessions will be broadcast live on the internet at the link given at the bottom of the newsletter.
Free Staters don’t seem to like freedom of speech
The Free Staters submitted a petition the NH House to censure Rep. Cynthia Chase (D-Keene) over a comment that she made on the progressive/Democratic blog bluehampshire.com. Commenting on an article about Free State Project trying to get 20,000 people to pledge to move to New Hampshire by 2014, she said that the Free State Project represents “the single biggest threat the state is facing today.”
Wednesday’s House session opened with an effort to send the petition to a committee for a public hearing. The effort failed on a House vote of 77-276.
The 2009 federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care law (affectionately called ObamaCare) gives the states the option to expand the number of people who can receive health insurance under Medicaid with most of the expense paid for by the federal government. If New Hampshire were to take this option, it is estimated that it would cost the state $85 million by 2020, but would provide health care coverage to 50,000 citizens.
There are a couple of bills to create committees to study the costs, benefits and details of how this would be implemented, but the legislature is expecting a large crowd to testify about HB271, which would prohibit NH from expanding Medicaid. The primary sponsor of the bill is Rep. Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon), the former Speaker of the House. The hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday at 10:00am in Representatives Hall.
United Nations Conspiracy Theories, part 2
This week, the NH House will vote on HB144, which would prohibit town and cities from joining ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis), who is also a member of the committee that heard the bill. The committee recommended that the bill be defeated 14-3. Here are the “blurbs” placed in the House Calendar by the committee members on both sides of the debate. Note in particular the parts that we have underlined.
Rep. Syndi G White for the Majority of Municipal and County Government: The International Council for
Local Initiatives (ICLEI) is a U.N. sponsored organization which helps promote sustainability, climate protection,
and clean energy initiatives for towns, cities and counties who choose to join. ICLEI supports local
governments by providing technical assistance and training, events, software and networking opportunities.
In NH, four municipalities (Wolfeboro, Nashua, Keene and Portsmouth) are members. Supporters of this
bill testified that ICLEI (also known as Agenda 21) is impacting property rights, ruining farms and forcing
people to live in “smart zones”. They inferred that ICLEI reaches further into areas of education, religion
and mind-control. However, NH towns and cities who have membership in ICLEI have not experienced
any of these perceived threats or negative impacts. Opponents of this bill cite the importance of keeping
the decision whether or not to join ICLEI, or any such organization, at the local level. The issue for the
committee in deciding to ITL was indeed one of local control. This bill would strip municipalities of their
decision-making ability to join an organization which they feel provides services, advice, and solutions to
some of the 21st century challenges they are facing. Vote 14-3.
Rep. James E Coffey for the Minority of Municipal and County Government: The constitution of the United
States prohibits states from entering into any compact or agreement with a foreign power without prior approval
by congress. The towns, cities and counties are political subdivisions of the state and therefore cannot
enter into any compact or agreement with a foreign power. The international council of legislative environmental
initiatives known as ICLEI, has 84 foreign states among it’s membership. The U.S. Congress has not
authorized states, counties, or municipal governments permission to join ICLEI.
The ICLEI is governed by an executive committee that is elected by the member cities and towns.
Last Week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB1 would double the Research and Development business tax credit from $1 million to $2 million. The Senate passed the bill 23-0. Sen. Gilmour voted in favor of the bill.
SB40 would ensure that no town or city receives less education funding from the state in 2013 than they received in 2012. The Senate passed the bill 23-0. Sen. Gilmour voted in favor of the bill.
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
HB107 would require that the losing side pay for the legal expenses of the winning side in a lawsuit. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB116 would allow an executor of an estate to take control of the deceased’s social networking accounts. The House tabled the bill by an unrecorded vote of 222-128. The bill’s sponsor asked that the bill be tabled to give him an opportunity to amend to the bill to address the concerns raised. A tabled bill can be brought back for a vote later.
HB 167 would require that crime victims be notified when the person who committed the crime has a parole hearing coming up. The House passed the bill on a voice vote.
HB159 would require all schools to have patriotic exercises for Constitution Day. The passed the bill 326-29. The House also added a committee amendment to the bill to also recognize NH’s Constitution. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan, Gargasz and Levesque voted to pass the bill.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
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 Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommends (24-0) that this bill be defeated and that funding for the CHINS program should be taken up in the full budget bill rather than being handled 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 Judiciary Committee recommends that the amendment be defeated 13-1.
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 Municipal and County Government Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 14-3. This bill is discussed at the top of this report.
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 Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 16-0.
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 Ways and Means Committee recommends that the amendment be defeated 14-3.
CACR2, a constitutional amendment that would allow taxes to be graduated (ie, with rates based on income similar to federal income taxes). The House Ways and Means Committee recommends that the amendment be defeated 14-2.
Committee Hearings for this coming week:
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (LOB room 204)
HB502 would forbid police from arresting someone for domestic violence unless the officer witnessed the act or a criminal complaint is filed. Current law allows an arrest to be made with probable cause. Tuesday 1:00.
HB503 would allow a police officer to render aid in a domestic violence situation only if a criminal complaint has been filed. Current law allows aid to be rendered if probable cause for domestic violence exists. “Aid rendered” includes confiscating deadly weapons and transporting the victim or child to counselor, family member or friend. Tuesday 1:30.
House Education Committee (LOB room 207)
HB322 would require students to pass a state-wide proficiency test before being allowed to enter grades 4 and 8. Tuesday 10:00.
House Election Law Committee (LOB room 308) Rep. Melanie Levesque(D-Brookline) is a member of this committee
HB250 would create a Clean Elections Fund to pay the expenses of candidates for Governor, Executive Council and State Senate who agree to the strict fund raising restrictions. This bill requires a complex explanation, which will be the subject of a future newsletter. HB250 is sponsored by Rep. Barbara French (D-Henniker), Rep. Maureen Mann (D-Deerfield), Rep. Kathleen Hoelzel (R-Raymond), Rep. Robert Perry (D-Strafford), Rep. Charles Weed (D-Keene), Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester) and Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth). Tuesday 11:00.
HB287 would eliminate the voter ID laws that were passed in the previous session. Tuesday 1:00.
HB579 would create an independent legislative redistricting commission every 10 years to redraw legislative districts. Thursday 1:30
House Executive Departments and Administration Committee (LOB room 306)
HB445 would allow local government employers to participate in the state health insurance plan. Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) is a cosponsor. Tuesday 1:30.
House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs
HB271 would prohibit the state from expanding Medicaid under the federal 2009 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Rep. William O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon), former Speaker of the House, is the primary sponsor. The hearing will be held in Representatives Hall Tuesday at 10:00.
House Ways and Means Committee (LOB room 202)
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. The BET generates around $200 million in revenue each year. Tuesday 2:00.
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