NH Legislature This Week—March 11, 2013

NH Legislature This Week—March 11, 2013

Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats

www.BrooklineDemocrats.org

 

 

 

Quote of the Week

 

“As someone who has voted for Gene Chandler for both Speaker and Minority Leader, it’s time somebody warns my friend from Bartlett, ‘There’s a cancer growing on your leadership team’ … Republicans need to ask themselves, before we get any further into a session sure to be laced with defeat after defeat, whether a leadership team divided against its party can stand.”  Rep. Steve Vaillancourt (R-Manchester)  warning that some House Republicans are considering replacing Minority Leader Rep. Gene Chandler (R-Bartlett) with Rep. Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon).

 

 

 

 

TUESDAY IS TOWN ELECTIONS

 

Don’t forget to vote!  In Brookline, we have 3 people running for 2 positions on the Board of Selectmen—Brendan Denehy, Susan Adams, and Jack Flanagan.  Polls will be open from 7:00am to 7:30pm at Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.

 

Also, Wednesday is Town Meeting—for Brookline, the meeting is at 7:00pm at Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.  See you there!

 

For Hollis, the polls are open Tuesday at the Lawrence Barn from 7:00am to 7:00pm.   Town Meeting is on Wednesday and will begin at 7:00pm at the High School.

 

For Mason, the polls are open 11:00am to 7:oopm at Mason Town Hall on Tuesday.  Mason’s Town Meeting will be Saturday, March 16th, at 9:00am at the MES multipurpose room.

 

 

Reminder: State budget hearing coming to Nashua

 

The House Finance Committee will be going around the state, holding public hearings on Governor Hassan’s proposed budget.  They will be in Nashua on Monday, March 11th, from 5:00 to 8:00 PM at the NH Community Technical College, 505 Amherst St.  This would be a good time to ask questions and express concerns.  The House must pass a budget bill by April 4th.

 

The details of the budget have just been released from the Governor’s office.  You can find all of the documents here:

 

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/LBA/Budget/fy2014_2015_budget.aspx

 

 

House playing catch-up

 

Last week the House voted on a large number of bills, but was not able to make up completely for missing a week.  Some of the bills that had been scheduled for a vote last week are still on the docket for action by the House this week.   The House must vote on all non-budget bills in the next two weeks (by March 21st), so there may be some long sessions between now and then.  Budget bills have to be voted on by April 4th.

 

April 4th is “crossover” for the House.  By this date, the House must have voted on all House bills and will then take up Senate bills that have passed the Senate.  The Senate crossover date is March 28th.  By that date, the Senate will have voted on all Senate bills and will take up House bills that have been passed by the House.

 

 

Self-Driving cars update

 

The House passed a bill to create a committee to study self-driving cars and what laws may be needed to govern them.  We don’t usually report on bills that just form committees to study an issue, but hey, self-driving cars.  How cool is that?

 

 

Paying people to sue the state  – update

 

The bill to pay a certain individual $176,000 to reimburse them for their expenses when they filed a lawsuit against the state was defeated in the House on a voice vote this week.

 

 

Aerial Wars II—Attack of the Drones

 

We had previously discussed HB619, which would prohibit all aerial or space-based photography.   The sponsor has come up with a much more carefully worded amendment which the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee has found sufficient to earn the bill an “ought to pass” recommendation, 16-2.

 

The amendment would prohibit the use of unmanned aircraft (drones) from taking pictures or otherwise monitoring people.  For government drones, there are exceptions for counter-terrorism activities or when a warrant is issued.   The prohibition applies to both government drones and private drones (which can be purchased in many toy stores).  Further, any government agency that operates a drone in the state would need to file an annual report with the state specifying how many, which kind, and how they are used.

 

 

 

Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:

 

Cars, Roads and Bridges

 

HB617 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 four years.  The gas tax was last raised in 1991.  The increase is expected to generate almost a billion dollars in funding over the next 10 years.  The House passed the bill 207-163. Because this is a financial bill, it now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee for a second public hearing.  The House will vote on the bill a second time after the hearing.

 

 

Education

 

HB322 would require students to pass a state-wide proficiency test before being allowed to enter grades 4 and 8.  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.”  The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.

 

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 defeated the bill 287-48.  Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan, Gargasz and  Levesque voted to defeat  the bill.

 

 

Government

 

HB445 would allow local government employers to participate in the state health insurance plan.  Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) is a cosponsor.  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.  The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.

 

 

Taxes

 

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 passed the bill 302-34.  The bill now goes to Governor Hassan.  Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Gargasz and Levesque voted to pass the bill.  Rep. Flanagan voted to defeat the bill.

 

 

Welfare

 

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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.

 

 

 

Last Week, the Senate voted on the following bills:

 

Elections

 

SB183 would repeal “phase 2” of the voter ID law which is scheduled to go into effect next year.  The Senate sent the bill back to committee for further work on a voice vote.

 

 

Government

 

SB153 would require all collective bargaining agreements with state employees to be approved by the fiscal committee of the legislature.  The Senate passed the bill on a party line 13-11.  Sen. Gilmour voted to defeat the bill.

 

 

Schools

 

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.  The Senate defeated the bill on a voice vote.

 

 

 

On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:

 

Businesses

 

SB1 would double the Research and Development business tax credit from $1 million to $2 million.  This bill has already been passed by the Senate.  The House  Ways and Means Committee recommends that it be passed with minor changes 18-0.

 

 

Cars, Roads and Bridges

 

HB362 would ban the use of corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive.  A proposed committee amendment would prevent the ban from going into effect until either 3 other New England states had also banned corn-based ethanol or until a non-corn based form of ethanol becomes available.  The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommends that the bill be passed with the proposed amendment 11-6.

 

 

Crime

 

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.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 20-0.

 

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.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 20-0.

 

 

Drugs

 

HB337 would legalize possession of marijuana for recreational use.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 12-8.

 

 

Education

 

CACR6 is a constitutional amendment which would completely rewrite Article 6 of the Bill of Rights, governing schools and certain religious freedoms.  The bill makes many changes such as allowing the legislature to eliminate state education funding, requiring all new schools to be pre-approved by the legislature and eliminating the provision that all people must be treated equally under the law.  The House Education Committee recommends that the amendment be defeated  16-2.

 

CACR7 is a constitutional amendment that would give the legislature the sole power to decide how much or if the state funds education.  It would also give the legislature the power to raise such taxes from any potential source, such as an income tax.  The House Education Committee recommends that the amendment be defeated  14-4.

 

 

Guns

 

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).  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 18-0.

 

HB609 would allow a school district to vote to require the school board to create a policy to allow school employees to carry concealed guns on school property.  It is not clear whether or not all school districts would be required to vote on this at school district meeting.  This bill is sponsored by Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont) and Rep. Tim Comerford (R-Fremont).  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 18-0.

 

 

Health Care

 

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 House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 13-6.

 

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).  The Committee notes that no one testified on the bill and that “there was a great deal of work to be done on a bill about which the committee knew very little.”  The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 11-6.

 

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 House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 13-6.

 

Hemp

 

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.

 

 

Minimum Wage

 

HB127 would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 (the federal limit) to $9.25.  The House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 19-1.

 

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.  The House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 19-1.

 

HB501 would reinstate the minimum wage and raise it to $8.25 per hour.  The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour.  NH’s minimum wage law was repealed in the last session.  The House Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services Committee recommends that the bill be passed 15–5, HOWEVER, they also recommend that the bill be rewritten to set the minimum wage at $7.25.  The effect would be put a minimum wage law back on the books, but to keep the minimum wage at the existing federal level.

 

 

Privacy

 

HB619 would prohibit photography and monitoring of individuals by unmanned drones.  Exceptions apply to terrorism-related emergencies or when a court order is obtained.  The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed as amended 16-2.

 

 

Reproductive Health

 

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.

 

 

Road Tolls

 

HB257 would discontinue collection of tolls at exit 12 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.  The House Public Works and Highways Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 19-0.  See also SB3 below.

 

 

Taxes

 

HB659 would increase the cigarette tax by $0.20 per pack.  The House Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be passed 11-7.

 

 

 

On Wednesday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the following bills:

 

 

Road Tolls

 

SB3 would eliminate all 3 tolls in Merrimack.  The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be passed, BUT that it should be amended to only eliminate the exit 12 toll.  The proposed amendment would leave the exit 10 and exit 11 tolls.   The original bill estimated that eliminating all 3 tolls would reduce state income by $2.4 million per year.  The Senate Ways and Means Committee vote was 3-2.  See also HB257 above.

 

 

 

Committee Hearings for this coming week:

 

 

House Ways and Means Committee (Representatives Hall)

 

HB617 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 four years.  The gas tax was last raised in 1991.  The increase is expected to generate almost a billion dollars in funding over the next 10 years.  The House passed the bill 207-163, but then sent the bill to the House Ways and Means Committee for a second public hearing.  The House will vote on the bill a second time after this hearing.  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 brooklinedemocrats@gmail.com.

 

Watch and listen to House and Senate sessions live

 

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/media/default.htm

http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/Senate/Media/Session_Media.aspx

 

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:

 

Nashua Telegraph

letters@nashuatelegraph.com

 

Hollis Brookline Journal

cabnews@cabinet.com

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.

 

The Brookliner

thebrookliner@yahoo.com

Submission deadline is noon on the 2nd and 4th Mondays of the month.

 

The Hollis Times

hollistimes@tds.net

 

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   peggilmour@aol.com

Nashua Wards 1, 2, 5, Hollis, Brookline, Mason, Greenville, New Ipswich, and Rindge

 

Rep. Jim Belanger (R)   P: (603)465-2301   Jim.belanger@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R)   P: (603)465-7463   cgargasz@cs.com

Hollis

 

Rep. Gary Daniels (R)   P: (603)673-3065   gldaniels@myfairpoint.net

Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston

 

Rep. Jack Flanagan (R)   P: (603)672-7175   Jack.flanagan@leg.state.nh.us

Rep. Melanie Levesque (D)  P:(603)249-3367   mlevesque1@charter.net

Brookline and Mason

 

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