NH Legislature This Week—March 18, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Give credit to the Democrats; they are unified, we are not.” former Republican gubernatorial candidate Ovide Lamontagne.
“Kelly Ayotte has the crowd whipped into a frenzy of occasional light applause.” Benjy Sarlin describing Sen. Ayotte’s speech at the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) conference.
Crossover approaching fast
The House went through a LOT of bills last week. Keep in mind that we only report on a few of the many bills that the legislature is dealing with. This week, the House is scheduled to be in session Wednesday and Thursday. The House must resolve all remaining bills by March 21st, except for budget bills, which must be resolved by April 4th (Crossover). For the Senate, March 28th is Crossover—the date on which the Senate must act on all bills that were introduced in the Senate.
Big bill coming up as crossover nears
The Senate this week passed a bill to allow a casino by a 16-8 margin. Prospects are less certain in the House, which has traditionally opposed expanded gambling. If the House opposes the casino, however, budget writers will have to figure out how to offset the $80 million that was built into the Governor’s budget as casino revenues. The House will also have to figure out how to deal with a deficit that the state is currently facing while trying to close out the books on the current fiscal year, which ends in May.
Efforts to legalize marijuana failed in the House, as did an attempt to remove one of the tolls in Merrimack.
This week, the legislature will be voting on cigarette taxes, Medicaid, gun legislation, and voter ID laws, among many others.
Efforts to revive minimum wage take a step forward
There were several bills introduced in the House and Senate to reinstate the state minimum wage, which was repealed altogether in the last session. This week, the House voted to reinstate the minimum wage law, but rejected several attempts to raise the state minimum wage to a higher level than the federal minimum, which is $7.25. A Senate bill to reinstate the minimum wage (again, without raising it above the federal level) was tabled by the Senate two weeks ago.
What are our legislators doing?
This week, we are starting a series of articles that will be looking at specific bills that the legislators from Brookline, Mason and Hollis are working on. In this newsletter, we focus only on bills that we believe will have a wide audience of interest, but most of the work that goes on in the legislature is more mundane—although it is very important to some.
The intent of this series is to give an idea of the typical types of legislation which comprises the bulk of the hundreds of bills that are submitted each year. In looking at the bills being sponsored by different legislators, note that many of them deal specifically with topics covered by the committee on which they serve. For example, Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis) is a member of the House Children and Family Law Committee and has several bills that deal with child welfare. Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline) is a member of the House Election Law Committee and has several bills dealing with elections.
In this series, each week we will be looking at a different legislator and what bills they have sponsored or cosponsored this year. We will start off the series by looking at some of the bills sponsored by Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis). Next week, we will highlight Rep. Gary Daniels (R-Milford).
The “What are our legislators doing?” article appears at the bottom of the newsletter
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
SB1 would double the Research and Development business tax credit from $1 million to $2 million. The House passed the bill 342-7. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan, Gargasz and Levesque voted in favor of the bill. This bill has already been passed by the Senate. An effort by the Senate to pass an identical bill last year failed when Speaker O’Brien forced on an unrelated amendment restricting abortion.
Cars, Roads and Bridges
HB362 would ban the use of corn-based ethanol as a gasoline additive. The ban will not go 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 passed the bill on a voice vote.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB337 would legalize possession of marijuana. The House defeated the bill 239-112. Rep. Belanger voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Daniels, Flanagan, Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB579 would create an independent legislative redistricting commission every 10 years to redraw legislative districts. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
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 passed the bill on a voice vote.
HB127 would raise the state minimum wage from $7.25 (the federal limit) to $9.25. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB501 would reinstate the minimum wage but keep it at the $7.25, which is the current federal minimum. The House passed the bill 200-183. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill. Rep. Belanger did not vote on this bill.
HB501, addendum. During the floor debate, an amendment was proposed that would raise the minimum wage to $7.75. The amendment was defeated 152—182. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the amendment. Rep. Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the amendment. Rep. Belanger did not vote on this bill.
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 tabled the bill on a voice vote. A tabled bill can be brought up for a vote later, but requires a 2/3 majority. If the bill is not taken up again, it is defeated.
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 defeated the bill 229-121. Rep. Belanger and Daniels voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Flanagan, Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
Last Week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB152 would allow the creation of a casino, up to 150 table games and up to 5,000 video slot machines. The Senate passed the bill 16-8. Sen. Gilmour voted in favor of the bill.
SB3 would eliminate all 3 tolls in Merrimack. However, the Senate amended it to only eliminate the exit 12 toll. The original bill estimated that eliminating all 3 tolls would reduce state income by $2.4 million per year. The Senate passed the amended version on a voice vote.
On Wednesday and Thursday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
HB264 would decriminalize simple assault in which no bodily harm is done. Currently, simple assault is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail. This bill proposes that simple assault (such as kicks, shoves, slaps, grabs and spitting) would be a violation punishable by up to $100 fine with no jail time and no criminal record. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 16-4.
HB621 would make possession of less than an ounce of marijuana a non-criminal offense. Possession would still be illegal and could result in a fine, but would not result in jail time or be classified as a crime. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 12-6.
HB287 would eliminate the voter ID laws that were passed in the previous session. The House Election Law Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 12-6. See also HB595.
HB595 would repeal the more restrictive voter ID laws that are set to go into effect next year. This bill would leave in place the photo ID requirements as they were last year. The House Election Law Committee recommends that the bill be passed 11-7.
HB630 would repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommends that the bill be completely changed so that it doesn’t repeal RGGI, but instead directs that proceeds from RGGI should be prioritized to provide better energy efficiency to low-income residents. The Committee vote was 16-3.
HB638 declares that the US Constitution is a mission statement for a corporation set up in 1871 and that real 13th amendment does not abolish slavery, but instead forbids titles of nobility. Supporters also argue that this amendment essentially declares that anyone with a law degree loses their citizenship. The House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 10-5.
HCR2 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. The House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be passed 9-8.
HCR3 is a resolution declaring that state legislatures can nullify any act of Congress or decision by the US Supreme Court that they feel is unconstitutional. The House State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee does not have a recommendation on this resolution.
HB665 would allow two casinos to be built in New Hampshire. The House Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 12-6.
HB135 would repeal a law passed last year which allows anyone to use deadly force “anywhere that they have a right to be” (known as the “Stand your ground” law) 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). The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that passed, but with an amendment that would keep immunity from civil suits when deadly force is used. The Committee vote was 12-6.
HB290 would prohibit unlicensed people from openly carrying a gun in public buildings. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Delmar Burridge (D-Keene) and Rep. Tim Robertson (D-Keene). The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 15-5. The committee notes that this bill would make it a class B felony to carry a pistol while carrying a rifle or assault weapon would still be legal.
HB451 would repeal the licensing requirement to carry a concealed gun. This bill is sponsored by Rep. J. R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton) and Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont). The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 14-4.
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.
HB573 would legalize medical marijuana. The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be passed 14-1.
HR6 is a House resolution commemorating the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and affirming support for the principles established by this historic Supreme Court decision. The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee does not have a recommendation on this bill.
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.
What are our legislators doing? Part 1—Rep. Jim Belanger
Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) is now serving his second term in the NH House. He is the Clerk of the House Municipal and County Government Committee, and has sponsored 11 bills and cosponsored 6 other bills. Because he is sponsoring so many bills, we will just be discussing the first nine.
HB113 would permit the erection of a building on a lot that has access to a class VI or better highway via a private right-of-way. A class VI highway is defined as “…all other existing public ways, and shall include all highways discontinued as open highways and made subject to gates and bars, except … [boating access highway] … and all highways which have not been maintained and repaired by the town in suitable condition for travel thereon for 5 successive years or more except as restricted by RSA 231:3, II.”
The bill was passed by the House on a voice vote and is now in the Senate Public & Municipal Affairs Committee. Rep. Belanger is the only sponsor.
HB 114 would require a developer to deed an easement to an abutting owner of property if the development would block the abutter from having access to their property.
The bill is currently being retained in the House Municipal and County Government Committee. Rep. Belanger is the only sponsor.
HB 115 changes the procedure for filling a vacancy on a cooperative school district budget committee (such as the Hollis Brookline Coop school district). Currently, a vacancy on a coop school budget committee is filled by a majority vote of that budget committee or by the Chair of the coop school board. Under this bill, a member must be replaced by someone from the same town. Only the budget committee members from that town would decide. If they can not, then the board of selectmen from that town will appoint a replacement member.
The bill was passed by the House on a voice vote and has a hearing scheduled in the Senate Public & Municipal Affairs Committee on Wednesday. Rep. Belanger is the primary sponsor. Rep. Flanagan (R-Brookline), Rep. Gargasz (R-Hollis), Sen. Bragdon (R-Milford) and Sen. Gilmour (D-Hollis) are cosponsors.
HB 130 would require retail service stations (ie gas stations) to be wired to support generators or similar alternate power sources. All gas stations would be required to have such wiring by January 1, 2018.
The bill was defeated in the House on a voice vote. Rep. Belanger is the only sponsor.
HB 131 would allow the superintendent of a county correctional facility (ie, jail) to negotiate medical service rate agreements for providing services to county prisoners.
The bill was heard by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which recommended passage 15-3. The House then sent the bill to House Finance Committee for a recommendation. The Finance Committee is expected to make a recommendation on Tuesday and send the bill back to the House for a final vote. Rep. Belanger is the primary sponsor. Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (D-Penacook) is a cosponsor.
HB 132 would require that a person who is in jail and then purposely causes injury to themselves shall be responsible for all medical costs related to the injury.
The bill was defeated in the House on a voice vote. Rep. Belanger is the primary sponsor. Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (D-Penacook) is a cosponsor.
HB 133 would allow the superintendent of a county corrections facility (ie, jail) to release any prisoner if they feel that it would be beneficial to that person’s rehabilitation.
The bill was defeated in the House on a voice vote. Rep. Belanger is the primary sponsor. Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (D-Penacook) is a cosponsor.
HB 134 would permit towns to establish contingency funds for unanticipated expenses and to make expenditures from such funds. Such a fund must be approved at town meeting and can not exceed 1% of the total town budget.
The bill was passed by the House on a voice vote and now has a public hearing schedule on Tuesday before the Senate Public & Municipal Affairs Committee. Rep. Belanger is the primary sponsor. Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis) is a cosponsor.
HB 144 would prohibit the state, counties, town, or cities from implementing programs of, expending money for, receiving funds from, or contracting with the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives. We have written on this topic several times, related to the conspiracy theory around United Nations Agenda 21. The ICLEI (renamed ICLEI -Local Governments for Sustainability) is a global association of towns and cities that work together to promote local businesses and environmental initiatives. Participation is voluntary and several NH towns and cities are members. Conspiracy theories have been promoted by the John Birch Society for several years.
The bill was defeated in the House on a voice vote. The primary sponsor is 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) are cosponsors.
Next week: we look at the bills sponsored by Rep. Gary Daniels (R-Milford).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com
Nashua Wards 1, 2, 5, Hollis, Brookline, Mason, Greenville, New Ipswich, and Rindge
Rep. Jim Belanger (R) P: (603)465-2301 Jim.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R) P: (603)465-7463 email@example.com
Rep. Gary Daniels (R) P: (603)673-3065 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston
Rep. Jack Flanagan (R) P: (603)672-7175 Jack.email@example.com
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D) P:(603)249-3367 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookline and Mason