NH Legislature This Week—January 21, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“Let us promise ourselves today that we will meet our challenges by focusing on commonsense solutions born of collaboration. That we will together end the era of hasty, reactive government.
Scripture refers to something called, “gladness of heart,” an appreciation of the opportunity and freedom to do difficult things. In this time and in this place, let’s choose to move our state forward with the optimism and pragmatism that is our hallmark. With “gladness of heart,” let’s choose to remember what a gift it is to be citizens of the Granite State.” Gov. Maggie Hassan.
Now that the NH legislature is back in session, we will be continuing our weekly update on the latest goings-on at the Statehouse.
This newsletter, a project of the Brookline Democrats, has always focused on Hollis, Brookline and Mason because we share the same Representatives and Senator. With the recent redistricting, Hollis is now split off from Brookline and Mason. We have decided to continue to focus on the representation of all three towns, although this will be a bit more complicated now.
Brookline and Mason are now represented by Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline) and Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline). Hollis has two legislators that represent only Hollis—Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis) and Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis). In addition, Hollis is also part of a multi-town district. Rep. Gary Daniels (R-Milford) will be representing Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon and New Boston. We will be tracking the votes of all five Representatives.
Our Senate district has also changed. Nashua ward 9 has been removed while the towns of Greenville, New Ipswich and Rindge have been added. Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) who was our Senator from 2008-2010 is back for a second term after defeating Sen. Jim Luther in a rematch.
A Representative’s greatest influence is often in on the committee that they serve on. It is particularly important that Representatives hear from the constituents regarding bills that are up for consideration by the committee that they serve on. When we list committees in the listings below, we will note when a Representative or Senator of Hollis, Brookline, or Mason is a member of a particular committee. For the 2013-2014 session, the committee assignments are:
Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis): House Municipal and County Government Committee
Rep. Gary Daniels (R-Milford): House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee
Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline): House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis): House Children and Family Law Committee
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline): House Election Law Committee
Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis):
Senate Transportation Committee, Vice Chair
Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee
Agenda 21 conspiracy theorists aren’t ready to give up.
You may remember from the last couple of years, that members of the John Birch Society have been going crazy (crazier?) over United Nations Agenda 21. That was a non-binding resolution passed by the United Nations in the 1990s that said that working and buying locally can help developing countries economically and can also help reduce our impact on our environment.
Conspiracy theorists see this as a terrible threat to our freedoms. The national Republican Party platform states “We strongly reject the U.N. Agenda 21 as erosive of American sovereignty.”
In 1990, a number of towns and cities decided to form the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. In 2003, the organization was renamed to “ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability”. Keene, Nashua, Portsmouth and Wolfeboro are all members.
An unsuccessful attempt was made in the legislature last year to make it illegal for any NH towns to be members of or work with this organization in any way. This year, that bill is back in the form of HB144, which is scheduled for a hearing on Thursday. Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) is now a cosponsor of this bill and is also a member of the House Municipal and County Government Committee, which is holding the hearing.
The Budget, Hearings, and More Hearings
Many members of the House and Senate are focused on the budget writing process—a major endeavor. Other committees are holding a lot of hearings to start going through the lengthy list of bills that have been filed.
The House will next meet on January 30th to begin voting on bills as they come out of committee.
There are a number of bills that will have hearings this week that are interesting to note in passing, but we will not be tracking them to our usual detail. They are:
HB153 would prohibit the designation of industrial hemp as a controlled substance. Industrial hemp has traditionally been used to make products such as rope. While it does not have the physiological effects of marijuana, it is commonly banned because the industrial hemp plants are difficult to distinguish from marijuana hemp plants. There have been efforts for several years now to start an industrial hemp industry in New Hampshire.
HB197 would redraw the House districts involving Hudson, Pelham and Litchfield. Currently, Hudson and Pelham are together in a super-district with 11 Reps. This bill would separate them, allowing Hudson to elect 7 Reps and Pelham to elect 4. Also, Litchfield would be combined with Hudson to elect 1 Rep. Currently, Litchfield is combined with Manchester wards 8 and 9 to elect 2 Reps.
HB179 would prohibit state agencies from engaging in weather modification experimentation. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Stella Tremblay (R-Auburn), Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), and Rep. Patrick Abrami (R-Stratham). Do any state agencies currently engage in weather modification experimentation? We would like to know.
HB152 would establish a committee to study the feasibility of Personal Rapid Transit Systems. These are essentially train systems with independent cars for small groups of people. Only three such systems are operational in the world, with the only American system being in Morgantown, West Virginia. See “Personal Rapid Transit” in Wikipedia for more information.
HB129 would place into law a provision of the NH state constitution that requires the House gallery to be open to non-disruptive members of the public. In 2011, during a vote on the state budget, the House voted along largely party lines to close the gallery to all members of the pubic, although the debate was still streamed on the internet. The gallery was reopened when House Democrats sought an emergency order from a judge.
HB 230 would require county budgets to be published on the internet.
HB240 would extend indefinitely the Research and Development tax credit for businesses. The credit was created in 2007 by the Democratic legislature and was created with an automatic expiration date in 2013. Last year, the legislature extended the expiration date to 2015. This bill would eliminate the expiration date altogether. Sponsored by Rep. Gary Richardson (D-Hopkinton) and Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (D-Penacook).
SB1, like HB240, would also extend the Research and Development tax credit for businesses, but would also double the tax credit from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000. The bill is sponsored by 21 of the 24 Senators, including Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) and Sen. Betty Lasky (D-Nashua).
SB40 is a Senate bill that would ensure that no town receives less in education funding this year than they did last year. The bill is sponsored by a majority of the Senate, including Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) and Sen. Betty Lasky (D-Nashua).
Last week, the House and Senate held hearings on the following bills of interest:
HB143 would reinstate straight ticket voting, allowing voters to check off one box to vote for all candidates for a particular party.
HB148 would require that NH’s delegates in the Presidential Election vote for whichever candidate received the most votes nationally, rather than the candidate that received the most votes in New Hampshire.
HB155 would require the use of open source software in state agencies
HB116 would allow an executor of an estate to take control of the deceased’s social networking accounts
HB107 would require a losing litigant to pay victor’s legal fees
HB159 would require patriotic exercises in schools on Constitution Day (Sept. 17th) This holiday was created in 2004 as an amendment to the federal budget.
SB18 allowing the American University of Madaba to confer degrees. This is a Catholic university in Jordan (yes, the middle east) that was incorporated in New Hampshire.
SB12 would authorize town planning boards to protect significant archeological sites.
Committee Hearings for this coming week:
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (LOB room 204)
HB209 would prohibit judges from requiring the relinquishment of guns as a condition of bail for nonviolent crimes or crimes in which a weapon was used. Sponsored by Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield), Rep. Joseph Pitre (R-Farmington), Rep. Jordan Ulery (R-Hudson), Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont), Rep. Lawrence Kapler (R-Raymond), and Rep. Tim Comerford (R-Fremont). Tuesday Jan 22 1:00.
HB135 would repeal a law passed last year which allows anyone to use deadly force “anywhere that they have a right to be” and returns to the previous policy of allowing deadly force only in your own home. This bill would also repeal a provision, also passed last year, that provides for immunity from civil suits when deadly force is used. Sponsored by Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (D-Penacook). Tuesday Jan 22 1:30.
House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee (LOB room 205)
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). Tuesday, Jan 22 1:00.
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. Sponsored by Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont) and Rep. Tim Comerford (R-Fremont). Wednesday, Jan 23 10:00.
House Judiciary Committee (LOB room 208)
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. Sponsored by Rep. Lars Christiansen (R-Hudson). Tuesday, Jan 22 1:30.
House Municipal and County Government (LOB room 301). Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) is a member of this committee
HB144 would prohibit the state and any town from working with or implementing any programs of the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. Sponsored by Rep. Lenette Peterson (R-Merrimack), Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), Rep. Regina Birdsell (R-Hampstead), Rep. Peter Hansen (R-Amherst), Rep. Donald LeBrun (R-Nashua ward 5, Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis), and Rep. David Murotake (R-Nashua ward 5). Thursday, Jan 24 1:30.
House Ways and Means Committee (LOB room 202)
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. Sponsored by Rep. Jordan Ulery (R-Hudson) and Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry). Wednesday, Jan 23 1:45.
CACR2, a constitutional amendment that would allow taxes to be graduated (ie, with rates based on income similar to federal income taxes). Sponsored by Rep. Charles Weed (D-Keene) and Rep. Timothy Robertson (D-Keene).
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.
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