NH Legislature This Week—February 10, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“We took an important step in that effort working together through the budget. We restored higher education funding and made it possible for our universities and community colleges to freeze in-state tuition. New Hampshire’s public schools are often ranked among the nation’s best in graduation rates, in reading proficiency and in math proficiency. We may be doing better than most states, but we have heard from our businesses that we still have work to do to ensure that we have a workforce that can compete in the future. ” Governor Maggie Hassan in the State of the State address
“Obamacare is the gateway drug to full socialism” Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire in a preamble to a pledge to “not support the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in any form” which was signed by almost all Republican candidates for the higher offices.
“Crazy people need to face consequences equal or greater than everyone else. If you are unable to distinguish between obeying and breaking the law you represent a clear and present danger to yourself and the fabric of society as a whole. The idea that being crazy is a shield against the full force of the justice system is laughable. Texas doesn’t have a problem with executing the mentally ill.” Rep. Kyle Tasker (R-Nottingham) in opposition to a bill that he cosponsored, which would expand the use of mental health courts. He explains how he came to cosponsor a bill that he opposes by saying “Damn it this is why you need the full language before you sign off on bills like this…now my name is attached to this turd.” He goes on to say “I know what happened. I traded horses with the sponsor to get her to sponsor my cameras on state troopers bill.”
Death Penalty Repeal forum on Monday
On Feb 10th, there will be a forum on the repeal of the Death Penalty at the Brookline Community Church. The forum begins at 7:00. Rep. Melanie Levesque is cosponsoring a bill to repeal the death penalty in NH.
State of the State
Governor Maggie Hassan stressed the need to expand Medicaid coverage to more than 20,000 low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act, in which the federal government will pay 90% or more of the costs. Twenty Five states plus Washington D.C. have expanded Medicaid so far, including all New England states except Maine and New Hampshire. It looks like a bipartisan deal is in the works to do some form of Medicaid expansion and we should be hearing details about this soon.
The Governor also called for a raise in the minimum wage and recent polling finds high levels of support for this even among Republicans (see below). She also announced a new Gold Standard program to ease regulations on businesses that have a strong history of compliance. Noting that the state will soon be losing an estimated $75 million per year to Massachusetts casinos, the Governor called on the state to pass new casino legislation.
Governor Hassan also called for strengthening the criminal background check system by ensuring that people with known mental health issues are reported into the system. She also called for the creation of a new domestic violence law known as Joshua’s Law.
Latest from the Granite State Poll
Every quarter, the UNH Granite State Poll takes the pulse of the state on the many political issues of the day. Over the last couple of weeks, they have released their latest finds with both good new and bad news for NH’s Democrats. Which is good and which is bad may depend on your own political leanings. 😉 You can find the detailed breakdowns at cola.unh.edu/press-releases/survey-center. We have summarized them here:
- President Barack Obama has 42% approval and 51% disapproval. This is down 7 points since last July due primarily to a decline in support among Democrats. Support among independents has fallen in the last year and now stands at 34% approval.
- Only 34% think that the country is going in the right direction. 58% think that the country is on the wrong track. Granite Staters have held a negative view of the country’s direction since 2005.
- Governor Maggie Hassan remains popular with 51% approval compared to 21% disapproval. Hassan maintains a strong lead over announced GOP rivals Ted Gatsas and Andrew Hemingway, who are both largely unknown.
- The NH Legislature has 46% approval and 29% disapproval. This is a considerable improvement over the previous legislature.
- 64% of NH adults believe that the state is on the right track with just 28% believing that the state is on the wrong track. Granite Staters have held very positive views of their state’s future for the last 10 years.
- The most important issue facing the Granite State continues to be jobs and the economy, although this issue has declined in importance over the last 5 years.
- Senator Jeanne Shaheen maintains a high 50% favorability rating compared to a 34% unfavorable rating. Potential rival Scott Brown has a net 11 point unfavorable rating (27% to 38%) while other potential rivals (former Senator) Bob Smith, Jim Rubens and Karen Testerman are largely unknown. In a matchup against Scott Brown, Senator Shaheen is polling at 47% support compared to Brown’s 37%. Polling against Smith is similar, while Rubens and Testerman have lower support with more people in the “undecided” column.
- Senator Kelly Ayotte maintains a 43% favorability rating with a 30% unfavorable rating.
- In the 1st Congressional district, former Congressman Frank Guinta has surged to a lead over Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (45% to 39%). Against lesser known Dan Innis, Shea-Porter maintains a 43%-33% lead.
- In the 2nd Congressional district, Congresswoman Ann Kuster is struggling with 30% favorability and 32% unfavorability. 31% say that they don’t know enough about her to form an opinion. Her two potential Republican challengers, Gary Lambert and Marilinda Garcia are virtually unknown by the general public. In matchups, Congresswoman Kuster comes out ahead of Lambert 38% to 34% with 31% undecided. Against Garcia, Kuster comes out ahead 36% to 30% with 30% undecided. Congresswoman Kuster does well with senior citizens (52% favorable vs. 27% unfavorable) but is not doing as well with younger voters (20% favorable to 34% unfavorable among 18-34 year olds).
- Opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ie, Obamacare) has risen with 53% now opposed to the law and 34% supporting the law. While 67% say that the law has had no effect on their family, twice as many people say that the law has hurt rather than helped their family.
- Support for legalizing recreational use of marijuana continues to increase steadily. In the latest poll, 53% support legalization of recreational marijuana compared to 38% who oppose. If marijuana is sold at licensed outlets and taxed at the same rate as liquor, then support goes up to 65%. Support for legalization is strong among Democrats (61%-31%) and Independents (50%-36%), while Republicans are evenly divided (46%-48%).
- Granite Stater’s overwhelmingly support raising the minimum wage from the current $7.25 to $8.25 in 2015 and then $9.00 in 2016. 76% were favor of this move, including 64% of Republicans, 70% of Independents and 91% of Democrats.
- Support for the death penalty remains high with 58% support and 29% opposition. Given a choice between the death penalty and life in prison for a convicted murderer, 48% would choose the death penalty while 40% would choose life in prison.
- There is strong support for labelling genetically modified organisms, at 73%.
- 45% of Granite Staters would like to see stricter gun control laws, while 40% would like the laws to remain unchanged. Only 11% feel that the current laws are too strict. Support for stricter gun control legislation comes largely from Democrats.
- Support for preventing mentally ill people from buying guns remains strong at 73%, including 70% of Republicans. 49% support adding the names of people deemed mentally ill to the National Background Check system, while only 16% oppose.
- As always, civics remains a challenge. 42% of those polled could correctly name both US Senators from New Hampshire and another 29% could name one. Only 18% could correctly name their member of Congress in the House. 19% could name their State Senator and only 17% could name at least one of the State Representatives. There did not appear to be any significant differences between Democrats and Republicans as to how well they could answer these questions.
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
HB1279 would require that the National Guard, when under command of the Governor, refrain from detaining and holding any American citizen or other person lawfully in the United States under the provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act. The House passed the bill on a voice vote. A similar bill was passed by the House last year, but was defeated in a voice vote in the Senate.
Last Week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB366 relative to video lottery and table gaming. This bill would establish two casinos in NH. The Senate tabled the bill on a voice vote. A tabled bill can be brought back for a vote at any time, but requires 2/3 support to do so. If the bill is not brought back up before the session ends, then it is defeated.
SB238 would restore $7 million to the Health and Human Services budget. The Senate defeated the bill on a party-line 13-11 vote. Sen. Gilmour is a sponsor of this bill and voted in favor of the bill.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
HB1486 would reduce the fines for underage possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages. The House Children and Family Law Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 14-1.
CACR12 is a Constitutional Amendment to require that judges and the Attorney General be elected instead of appointed. The House Judiciary Committee recommends that the amendment be defeated 16-2.
HB1589 would require background checks for all firearm sales. The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be passed with an amendment 10-8. The amended bill would require background checks at gun shows, flea markets, and other commercial transactions, but would not apply to sales between two people who know each other.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (LOB room 304)
HB1625 would reduce the penalties for possession of marijuana or marijuana plants. Under this bill, an adult with less than an ounce of marijuana would be fined at most $100. Anyone under the age of 18 with marijuana would have to complete a substance abuse program and community service and their parents would be notified. Other offenses would also be reduced in severity. Thursday 1:00.
House Education Committee (LOB room 207)
HB1432 would delay for 2 years the implementation of the Common Core set of minimum education standards for public schools. Also suspended would be the assessments that the state agreed to as part of it’s exemption from No Child Left Behind. Tuesday 10:00.
House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee (LOB room 305) Rep. Flanagan is a member of this committee.
HB1403 would re-establish the state minimum wage, which was repealed by the previous legislature. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. This bill would create a state minimum wage of $8.25 starting January 1, 2015, then raising it to $9.00 starting January 1, 2016. Each September, starting in 2016, the proposed state minimum wage would be increased annually based on the Consumer Price Index. Tuesday 10:15.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (LOB room 101)
SB411 would require that genetically engineered foods be labeled as such. Wednesday 9:45.
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:
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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
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Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston
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