NH Legislature This Week—May 20, 2013
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“I’m under attack for standing up for the U.S. Constitution by voting against flawed legislation that would have compromised our 2nd Amendment rights while doing nothing to prevent horrific tragedies such as Newtown. I won’t back down.” Sen. Kelly Ayotte in a fundraising letter, explaining her vote against background checks at gun shows.
“The senator repeatedly faulted the bill’s requirements for being too burdensome on gun dealers but without ever saying just what that burden would be. In most cases a background check takes just a few minutes to complete, and the bill exempts private transactions like the sale of a gun to a friend or relative. Ayotte’s explanation took an even more bizarre turn earlier when she said she was concerned that the bill could lead to the creation of a registry for gun owners, something the bill doesn’t just forbid but would make a felony. The attempted misdirection continued with Ayotte’s attempt to explain her vote and rebut her critics in a column that appeared in the Monitor and elsewhere Tuesday. In it Ayotte explains that she voted for improved background checks before voting against them. But the Republican-backed bill Ayotte did support would do nothing to expand background checks at gun shows and it would have weakened gun laws as much as strengthened them. That’s why it had the backing of the National Rifle Association.” Concord Monitor editorial.
It’s a big week for the legislature
The House and Senate will both be in session this week and they are scheduled to vote on a number of controversial bills. By the end of this week, both chambers will have voted on all bills on our watch list with the exception of the budget and the bill to remove tolls in Merrimack, which are still pending in the Senate. The House will be taking up the Casino bill while the Senate will take up Stand Your Ground, medical marijuana, cigarette taxes, gas taxes, voter id, minimum wage, and other topics.
The House session begins on Wednesday at 10:00am and you can follow the action by watching or listening to the live internet stream at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us. The Senate sessions are also streamed live and this week’s session beginning on Thursday at 10:00am also promises to be lively.
Gambling on a Casino
On Wednesday, the House will vote on the Casino bill passed by the Senate. The House vote is expected to be very close with the super committee studying the bill narrowly rejecting it 23-22. This is expected to be a long, protracted debate on the House floor with many amendments offered.
The voting on this bill may be difficult to follow. The House will first take up the committee recommendation of defeating the bill. Some legislators who oppose the bill are expected to vote against this recommendation so that they can offer amendments to the bill. Some hope that these amendments will pass, but will alter the bill enough that it will not have majority support when it comes up for a final vote.
Interesting Historical Note
House Speaker Terie Norelli (D-Portsmouth) notes that Tuesday, May 21st is the 100th anniversary of the passage of the law that created the original New Hampshire Presidential Primary.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote 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 special super committee voted to recommend that the bill be defeated 23-22
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.
On Thursday, the Senate is scheduled to vote 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 Energy and Natural Resources Committee recommends that the bill be passed 5-0.
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 Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 5-0.
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 Finance Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 4-2.
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 Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 4-1.
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 amendment would allow marijuana to be sold from regulated dispensaries, but not allow for home grown marijuana, which is allowed in the House passed bill.
HB501 would reinstate the minimum wage but keep it at the $7.25, which is the current federal minimum. The Senate Commerce Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 3-2.
HB659 would increase the cigarette tax by $0.20 per pack. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 3-2. 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 Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be sent back to committee 3-2, effectively pushing it back to next year. However, the gas tax increase is also included in the budget.
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 Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be passed with amendment 3-2. However, the amendment would just push back the date in which town election officials would have to photograph people without a “valid” id. The amendment would keep in place the other parts of “phase 2” of the voter ID law due to take effect later this year. The other parts of Phase 2 include restricting the forms of ID that are considered valid, such as not allowing student IDs.
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