NH Legislature This Week—April 14, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“It was another great Chamber dinner, as it is every year, except for the two congressional candidates, who put me to sleep… If that’s the best the Republican Party has to offer, we’re in trouble as a party.” Hudson Selectman Roger Coutu speaking to the Lowell Sun about the Greater Hudson Chamber of Commerce dinner featuring Congressional candidates Marilinda Garcia and Gary Lambert.
Death Penalty repeal up for a vote in the Senate
The big event to watch this week will be the Senate vote on HB1170, which would repeal the death penalty. The legislature had passed a repeal bill several years ago, only to be vetoed by then-governor John Lynch. Governor Maggie Hassan has said that she will sign the bill as long as it does not affect the sentencing of the one person currently on death row, Michael Addison.
Hospital Tax continues to plague budget writers
Under the O’Brien legislature, NH decided to start taxing hospitals to raise revenue. Technically speaking, the hospitals have been taxed since 1991, but those taxes were always reimbursed fully. The tax and reimbursement scheme were part of an accounting effort to secure more Medicaid funding from the federal government. The state stopped reimbursing the hospitals, effectively making the existing tax a real tax rather than an accounting maneuver. This resulted in many hospital layoffs and service closings and some called it the biggest ever levied state tax.
Since then, the legislature has restored some, but not all of the reimbursement funds to the hospitals.
The hospitals have sued the state arguing that other organizations that provide the same services are not having to pay the tax. Although the case is likely to go to the NH Supreme Court, so far Superior Court judges have sided with the hospitals.
The hospital tax brings in $150 million per biennium, but may not be available when legislators sit down to write the budget next year. That’s a large hole in the budget that will likely need to be addressed.
This week, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
HB125 would repeal the crime of adultery. The Senate Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be passed 3-1.
HB1170 would repeal the death penalty. Rep. Levesque is a cosponsor. The Senate Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be passed 3-2.
HB1224 would require annual inspections of pipelines. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee recommends that the bill be passed 5-0.
HB562 would limit title loans (short term loans secured by a car title). Currently, title loan companies can charge up to 25% interest per MONTH. This bill would allow 25% interest the first month, then cap the interest at 3% per month for each additional month. The Senate Commerce Committee recommends studying the bill, effectively defeating it, 3-2.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (LOB room 204)
SB318 would establish the crime of domestic violence. NH is one of a handful of states that does not have a specific “domestic violence” law, although existing laws are applied to these crimes. This bill would group together certain existing laws and make domestic violence a separate category of crime. Tuesday 1:00.
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 Journal 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 Journal 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
Brookline and Mason
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D) P:(603)249-3367 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookline and Mason