NH Legislature This Week—January 28, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“I think I would like to be remembered as someone who believed what I said, who acted on what I believed and, within the abilities of my intellect, told the truth.” Claire Ebel reflecting on her 30 year career as head of NH Civil Liberties Union.
“The Times’ analysis found that the predictions that “stand your ground” would excuse Wild West-type behavior were right. The law has been regularly used in morally ambiguous circumstances that mock what lawmakers intended.
It has been used at least six times in drug deals gone bad, 23 times in cases involving fights at bars or parties, 12 times in neighborhood disputes and 30 times in arguments that turned violent.
As the law’s critics feared, “stand your ground” gives legal cover to hotheads who would escalate a tense situation and to people who carry weapons. In 157 killings where the “stand your ground” defense was invoked, the accused had a gun or knife. In 135 cases, the victim who died was unarmed.” Tampa Bay Times analysis of Florida’s “Stand your ground” gun law, similar to New Hampshire’s.
House, Senate to meet
The House will be meeting on Wednesday to cast the first votes on legislation as they start coming out of committee. The Senate will meet on Thursday morning to begin voting on Senate bills.
Committee leadership positions
This year, in a show of bipartisanship, House Speaker Terri Norelli (D) and Senate President Peter Bragdon (R) have appointed members of the minority party to leadership positions in the committees. Sen Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) is now the Vice Chair of the Senate Transportation Committee and Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) is now the clerk of the House Municipal and County Government Committee.
Horn to lead GOP
Nashua’s Jennifer Horn has been selected to chair the NH Republican Party.
House and Senate streaming audio
Have you been looking for exciting entertainment for your Wednesday mornings and afternoon? Well, look no further! The NH House and Senate live stream their sessions on the internet! Yes, that’s right, you can follow along with the latest progress on your favorite bills right from the comfort of your own computer. 🙂
Note: This week the Senate will be meeting on Thursday at 10:00am, but they normally meet on Wednesday. The House will be meeting on Wednesday at 1:30, but normally meets on Wednesday at 9:00.
Budget Preparations well underway
Governor Hassan has created a Governor’s Revenue Estimating Panel to provide independent feedback on what the state’s likely income will be and what the options are. Recent increases in consumer spending and a significant recovery of the housing market are making the panel feel cautiously optimistic.
Nevertheless, Gov. Hassan is being very cautious and has ordered state agencies to present budgets that cut spending by 3% in 2014 and remain level in 2015. That is a difficult objective to accomplish with the continued rise in health care and energy costs. Even if the panel’s estimates prove correct, the state income will still be significantly lower than what it had been before the Great Recession.
The week ahead
Much of the legislative focus right now is on putting together a budget. However, the legislature is still dealing with a number of issues as you can see below. Topics covered this week include taxes, education, children, minimum wage, unions, the environment, and child safety.
On Wednesday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
SB1 would double the Research and Development business tax credit from $1 million to $2 million. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommends passing the bill 5-0.
SB40 would ensure that no town or city receives less education funding from the state in 2013 than they received in 2012. The Senate Finance Committee recommends passing the bill 5-0.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote 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 Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 20-0.
HB116 would allow an executor of an estate to take control of the deceased’s social networking accounts. The House Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 13-7.
HB 167 would require that crime victims be notified when the person who committed the crime has a parole hearing coming up. The House Criminal Justice committee recommended that the bill be passed 17-0.
HB159 would require all schools to have patriotic exercises for Constitution Day. State law already requires patriotic exercises for Memorial Day and Veterans Day. The House Education Committee recommends that the bill be passed 15-4.
Committee Hearings for this coming week:
House Children and Family Law Committee (LOB room 206) Rep. Carolyn Gargasz(R-Hollis) is a member of this committee
CACR3 is a Constitutional Amendment declaring that parents control the health, education and welfare of their children. Tuesday, Jan 29 1:15.
House Finance Committee (LOB room 210)
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. Tuesday, Jan 29 2:45.
House Judiciary Committee (LOB room 208)
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. Tuesday, Jan 29 10:30.
House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee (LOB room 307). Rep. Jack Flanagan(R-Brookline) and Rep. Gary Daniels (R-Milford) are members of this committee.
HB127 would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 (the federal limit) to $9.25. Tuesday, Jan 29 1:40
HB241 would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 (the federal limit) to $8.00, but with that amount adjusted for inflation each year thereafter. Tuesday, Jan 29 1:30.
HB323 “Right to Work” would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join a union. Wednesday, Jan 30 9:30.
House Public Works and Highways Committee (LOB room 201)
HB257 would discontinue collection of tolls in Merrimack. This would decrease state revenue by over $500,000 per year. Toll revenues are used to pay principal and interest on highway construction bonds. Wednesday, Jan 30 10:30.
House Science, Technology and Energy Committee (LOB room 304)
HB362 would ban the use of corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive. Tuesday, Jan 29 2:00
House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee (LOB room 203)
HCR1 a resolution urging Congress to pass an amendment to the US Constitution to overturn the Citizen’s United court case which allows corporations to spend unlimited amounts of money on elections anonymously. Thursday, Jan 31 1:00
House Transportation Committee (LOB room 203)
HB242 would require child restraints in cars for children up to age 8. Current law requires child restraints for children up to age 6. Tuesday, Jan 29 11:00
House Ways and Means Committee (LOB room 202)
HB335 would make permanent the cut in tobacco taxes made in the last session. 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—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. Tuesday, Jan 29 11:00.
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 over $200 million per year. The BET is the second largest source of education funding after the statewide property tax. Tuesday, Jan 29 11:15.
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. Thursday, Jan 31 12:30.
Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee (LOB room 103). Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) is a member of this committee.
SB53 would repeal a law passed last session that requires schools to provide alternative educational materials and lessons when a parent finds the materials to be objectionable. Tuesday, Jan 29 10:30.
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.
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