NH Legislature This Week—May 27, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“The freedom of deliberation, speech, and debate, in either house of the legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any action, complaint, or prosecution, in any other court or place whatsoever.” NH Constitution. Rep. John Hikel (R-Goffstown), who has filed criminal complaints against Reps who voted to repeal the Stand your Ground law, responds “It didn’t say vote. If the framers wanted it to, it would have been included.”
The legislature is winding down
As we rapidly approach the end of the session, there are very few bills that we are tracking. Many were defeated in the House or Senate this last week, but some may reappear as the legislature gets down to the hard business of negotiating the budget.
After this last week, we have only a very few bills left to be dispositioned, although several were retained in committees until next year. The budget bills (HB1, HB2 and HB25) have yet to receive a vote in the Senate, but we are certain to see these scheduled for next week. Legalization of medical marijuana (HB573), voter ID (HB595), and RGGI changes (HB630) are now before the House to either agree with the Senate’s position or to form a joint House/Senate conference committee to resolve the differences, if possible.
The House has yet to act on bills to reduce the tolls in Merrimack (SB3) and to require legislative approval for state employee union contracts (SB153).
Expansion of Medicaid for family planning (SB194) is now in it’s last stage at it has reached Governor Hassan’s desk.
The House and Senate will be meeting again this week, but next week is the final deadline for voting on all legislation. After that, they will be dealing only with bills that have gone to conference committees.
The issue of Voter ID has always been partisan and remains so. In the last session, the Republicans had a super-majority in the legislature and had the power to make it much more difficult for certain people to vote, such as college students. This session, the Democratically controlled House has passed a bill to block the more restrictive “phase 2” limitations from going into effect next year, but the Republican controlled Senate is having none of that—although they appear to be willing to delay implementation of phase 2 by another 2 years.
Many political observers had thought that this might be the time when the House ends it’s long standing opposition to a casino, but that was not to be. The House defeated the Senate’s casino bill 199-164. The Senate can continue to push for a casino as part of the budget process, however, just as the House can continue to push for other items that the Senate doesn’t want.
Following the House defeat of the Casino legislation, the Senate fired back by not only defeating the gas tax bill passed by the House, but by doing so using a procedural move that will now require a 2/3 supermajority of the Senate in order for the gas tax to be included in the budget. As others have noted, the casino and gas tax (and perhaps cigarette tax) are all linked. They will likely all be passed or none will be passed. We will find out in the next few weeks how far each side is willing to compromise.
This is beginning to look like the year that NH will finally legalize medical marijuana. Previous legislatures have passed such bills, but opposition from Governor Lynch prevented them from becoming law. This year, with Governor Hassan supporting the concept, the only question is what the final bill will look like. The House would like a more expansive version where patients can legally grow marijuana at home with a doctor’s permission and state approval. The Senate wants a more restrictive law in which all sales must be made by state–approved dispensaries. The House and Senate are expected to formally begin negotiations soon.
Occasionally we lose track of one…
We try to keep track of over 100 bills, but sometimes important progress is made on an important bill and it gets by us. Such is the case with SB194, which requires the state to implement Medicaid expansion for family planning services. Earlier, we reported that the Senate passed this bill on a voice vote, but we can now belatedly report that the House has also passed this bill by a vote of 212-120. The bill is now at Governor’s Hassan’s desk. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Daniels and Flanagan voted against the bill. Rep. Gargasz was not able to be present for the vote.
Last week, the House 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 House defeated the bill 199-164. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
Last week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
HB630 directs that proceeds from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) should be prioritized to provide better energy efficiency to low-income residents. The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote with a minor amendment.
HB399 prohibits the state from supporting or implementing 2 sections of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, pertaining to the authority of the United States armed services to detain persons suspected of terrorism. The Senate defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB325 would enhance the existing state employee recognition program by rewarding state employees with 10% of the first year’s cost savings that employee’s cost-saving or revenue-producing suggestion. Rep. Jack Flanagan is the primary sponsor. The Senate defeated the bill on a voice vote.
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. The bill would keep the part of the current law that provides for immunity from civil suits when deadly force is used. The Senate tabled the bill, effectively defeating it, 19-5. Sen. Gilmour voted to table the bill.
HB573 would legalize medical marijuana. The Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee recommends that the bill be passed with amendment 5-0. The Senate passed the bill with an amendment that would allow marijuana to be sold from regulated dispensaries, but not allow for home grown marijuana, 18-6. Sen. Gilmour voted to pass the bill. It now goes back to the House or to a joint House/Senate committee to reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate.
HB501 would reinstate the minimum wage but keep it at the $7.25, which is the current federal minimum. The Senate defeated the bill 13-11. Sen. Gilmour voted to in favor of the bill.
HB659 would increase the cigarette tax by $0.20 per pack. The Senate defeated the bill 13-11. Sen. Gilmour voted to in favor of the bill. However, the cigarette tax increase is also included in the budget.
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 $0.30 per gallon over the next three years. The gas tax was last raised in 1991. The increase is expected to generate almost a billion dollars in funding for road and bridge maintenance over the next 10 years.
The Senate defeated the bill 18-6. The particular motion that was used to defeat the bill also means that, under Senate rules, the Senate can not debate the gas tax as part of the budget or any other bill without a 2/3 supermajority vote in favor. The is effectively saying that the Senate is taking a strong position against including the gas tax in the budget as well. Sen. Gilmour voted to against the bill.
HB595 would repeal the more restrictive voter ID laws that are set to go into effect next year (“phase 2”). This bill would leave in place the photo ID requirements as they were last year. The Senate passed a version that would just push back the implementation of “phase 2” by two years and would keep in place the current provision that someone may vote if the supervisor of the checklist knows them. The vote was a party line 13-11. Sen. Gilmour voted to against the Republican version of the bill and voted in favor of a number of amendments offered by Democrats, all of which were defeated by the Republican majority. The bill will now go back to the House or a special House/Senate committee to reconcile the differences between the House and the Senate.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
SB153 would require all collective bargaining agreements with state employees to be approved by the fiscal committee of the legislature. The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 11-9.
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.
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 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