NH Legislature This Week—March 4, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Throughout our history, every time we have sought to include all people in the life of our democracy, we have grown stronger. I’m proud that New Hampshire has led the way in ensuring marriage equality for all of our citizens, because encouraging strong marriages for loving couples strengthens families and communities. We are urging the Supreme Court to strike down these discriminatory measures because all New Hampshire married couples should receive fair and equal treatment from the federal government.” Governor Maggie Hassan, announcing that NH has submitted a brief to the US Supreme Court urging the court to overturn the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which prevents marriages of same-sex couples from being recognized by the federal government.
“LGBT Americans and families deserve equal treatment under the law but as long as DOMA remains in place, same-sex couples will be wrongfully denied important benefits. In this day and age, we cannot tolerate this type of discrimination. DOMA is unconstitutional and I am committed to doing all I can to see it abolished.” Senator Jeanne Shaheen, announcing that she, Rep. Ann Kuster, and Rep. Carol Shea-Porter have joined 209 other members of congress is submitting a brief to the US Supreme Court urging the court to overturn DOMA. Senator Kelly Ayotte was not a sponsor.
“Some people could make the argument that a lot of people like being in abusive relationships. It’s a love-hate relationship. It’s very, very common for people to stick around with somebody they love who also abuses him or her.” Rep. Mark Warden (R-Goffstown) speaking on a bill to reduce the penalty for domestic violence. Rep. Warden is the former chairman of the NH Liberty Alliance.
“Woodrow Wilson, because he was a sympathizer and he believed in the Aryan race, he believed that Hitler was correct in the races, where our Founding Fathers believed that all men were created equal,. He went through all the educational material and wiped out all the — all anything that he could about the true history.” Rep. Stella Tremblay (R-Auburn) testifying on HB638, which declares that the United State is a private corporation established in the 1870s and that the real US Constitution is very different from what everyone else thinks that it says. Note that President Woodrow Wilson died in 1924 when Hitler largely unknown outside of Germany.
Hollis-Brookline Coop School District meeting is this Tuesday
March 5th is when Hollis and Brookline residents will be getting together at the High School to hold the annual coop school district meeting. It’s always a packed event, so we hope to see many of our fellow Brookline and Hollis community members there. The meeting starts at 7:00.PM
Last week’s House session cancelled
Last week’s House session was cancelled due to the snowstorm. Some committee meetings were also rescheduled. The Senate was unaffected because they were on break last week anyway.
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.
More on the topic of marriage equality
Governor Hassan, Senator Shaheen, and Congresswomen Ann Kuster and Carol Shea-Porter were not the only Granite Staters to petition the US Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and thus give federal recognition to same-sex marriages. Not to be outdone, a number of prominent Republicans also signed on to petitions to overtun the federal law, including former Congressman Charlie Bass, State Senator John Reagan (R-Deerfield), State Senator Nancy Stiles (R-Hampton), State Rep. Adam Schroadter (R-Newmarket), Tyler Deaton (secretary of the New Hampshire Young Republicans) and Jake Wagner (chair of the New Hampshire Federation of College Republicans).
Most noticeably missing: Sen. Kelly Ayotte.
More on the domestic violence bill
HB264 (see above quote by Rep. Mark Warden) is a bill to reduce the penalty for certain simple assaults. Under current law, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if that person “purposely or knowingly causes bodily injury or unprivileged physical contact to another”. A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that could involve up to a year in jail and there would be a criminal record. HB264 would remove “or unprivileged physical contact” and would specify that any simple assault that does NOT result in physical injury would instead be charged as a violation. A violation is not a criminal offense and would not appear on a criminal record. There would be no jail time and the bill specifies a maximum fine of $100 or 10 hours of community service.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 16-4.
HB264 is sponsored by Rep. Frank Sapareto(R-Derry), Rep. Keith Murphy(R-Bedford), and Rep. Kelleigh Murphy (R-Bedford).
Few committee hearings this week
The House committees will largely be spending this week dispositioning bills that have been heard earlier. Some are also continuing to hold informational sessions about state agencies to better understand the budget, as they have been doing each week since January.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
HB322 would require students to pass a state-wide proficiency test before being allowed to enter grades 4 and 8. The House Education Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 17-1. 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.”
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 Education Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 18-0.
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.
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.
HB445 would allow local government employers to participate in the state health insurance plan. Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) is a cosponsor. The House Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 15-3. 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.
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.
Cars, Roads and Bridges
HB489 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 three years. The gas tax was last raised in 1991 when gas was $1.13/gal. The increase is expected to generate almost a billion dollars in funding over the next 10 years.
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.
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 Finance Committee recommends that the bill be passed 22-1.
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 Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 16-1.
On Wednesday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
SB183 would repeal “phase 2” of the voter ID law which is scheduled to go into effect next year. The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be sent back to committee for further work, 5-0.
SB153 would require all collective bargaining agreements with state employees to be approved by the fiscal committee of the legislature. The Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee recommends that the bill be passed 5-0.
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 Health, Education and Human Services Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 4-1.
Committee Hearings for this coming week:
House Finance Committee (Representatives Hall)
BUDGET The Committee will hold a public hearing on the proposed state budget in Representatives Hall beginning at 4:00.
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 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