NH Legislature This Week—February 17, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
[on the topic of suicide prevention in the public schools]
“…it’s fundamentally about ‘do we believe that the young people in our society own their lives?’ And, if we were to fear that one of them might consider taking their life, do they have the ability, if you implement this, to execute on that? Or, do we end up with a system of government that denies them the right to actually contemplate suicide? Fundamentally, our Constitution deals with suicide … if someone who is contemplating suicide, if this is enacted and a young person is actually contemplating suicide, what happens to them if we actually implement all of these programs? Are they denied their ability to actually evaluate whether or not that’s an option for them?” Rep. George Lambert (R-Litchfield) speaking in opposition to HB 1588 which would require suicide prevention education in public schools. The question was asked of Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis) who was speaking in support of the bill. The bill was defeated 203-145 partially because the state already provides some suicide prevention information to schools and in part due to a historic reluctance to create mandates for locally controlled schools.
“That was quite a question. In other words ‘do we have the right to stop them if they want to commit suicide?’ Is that the question? … I think that we owe it to our children and their families and their friends to prevent suicide.” Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R-Hollis) responding to the above.
“America’s experiment with collectivism died before actually the country was even founded with the Jamestown colony. What happened was, you had these colonists there and certainly they had a lot of things to deal with, the weather, food, shelter. But what actually happened? The vast majority of them starved to death. And why was that? Because they had public land.” Rep. Marilinda Garcia (R-Salem) and candidate for Congress. Jamestown was actually financed by the Virginia Company of London with the hope of seeing profits. As historian Daniel Honan notes, “The colonist’s fate had much more to do with geography.”
Compromise language is rapidly being reached to expand Medicaid coverage under the federal Affordable Care Act. We should be hearing details soon, but it looks like part of the compromise is to not actually use the word “Medicaid” in the final bill, but to refer to it indirectly.
This is why we don’t have background checks for many gun sales
Currently, NH only requires a background check for gun sales through a licensed dealer or for inter-state sales. Last week, the NH House debated HB1589, which would require background checks for gun sales at gun shows, flea markets and other commercial sales. It still would not have required background checks between “two individuals who know each other”. Polls have indicated that at least 84% of Granite Staters support background checks, including 60% of gun owners.
When the bill came up for discussion, there was a motion to “table” the bill, effectively defeating it. That motion failed on an unrecorded vote of 163-165. The House then accepted the changes recommended by the House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee on a 174-166 vote.
However, a floor amendment was then made to strip the bill of all of it’s language and instead create a committee whose purpose would be to explain how the current gun laws contribute to NH’s low rate of violent crime. This amendment was passed 177-175, effectively defeating the bill. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz all supported the amendment and thus opposed expanding background checks to include gun shows, etc. Rep. Levesque opposed the amendment and supported the background checks.
After a series of votes to table or indefinitely postpone the bill, it was ultimately defeated on an unrecorded vote of 242-118, but that was only after the bill had been stripped of all language that would require background checks.
Last Monday, the Brookline Community Church hosted a forum in support of a bill to repeal the death penalty in NH. HB1170, “an act repealing the death penalty in New Hampshire” is cosponsored by Rep. Melanie Levesque (D-Brookline) who organized the forum.
Panelists included Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton), the prime sponsor; Rep. John Cebrowski (R-Bedford), co-sponsor; Pastor Renee Rouse, Brookline Community Church Interim Minister; Margaret Hawthorn, parent of a murder victim; Richard O’Leary, former Deputy Chief of Police in Manchester; and Rep. Melanie Levesque.
Jennifer Dahler of the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty was also there, but not on the panel. The panel discussed the many reasons to abolish the death penalty including the cost of $7 million to date spent on appeals for Michal Addison, over 160 Cold Cases that are unfunded and unsolved, innocent people on death row, unequal justice based on race and income, and the religious and moral perspectives.
The House Criminal Justice committee voted 14-3 in favor of repeal. A vote will be held in the House on February 19, 2014.
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
HB1486 would reduce the fines for underage possession or consumption of alcoholic beverages. The House defeated the bill 251-68. Rep. Belanger and Daniels voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Flanagan, Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
HB1589 would require background checks for all firearm sales. 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. The House defeated the bill 177-175. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
Redress of Grievances
HB1165 would create a legal process to restart the “Redress of Grievances” committee that had been created by the previous legislature. As before, any legislator would be able to have the committee hold a public hearing on any divorce proceeding, child custody case, or local disciplinary issue. The committee that had existed under the previous legislature held many “public hearings” in which an individual who felt the court had decided against them wrongly and the committee made numerous attempts to get the other side to submit public testimony. Also, the Division of Youth and Child Services was repeatedly threatened with subpoenas demanding that they violate federal privacy laws and publicly release welfare and abuse information on specific children. This bill would reestablish that committee and set aside $1million for funds to compensate any individual whom the committee decided had been “wronged” by the courts. The House defeated the bill 249-88. Rep. Daniels and Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger and Levesque voted against the bill. Rep. Gargasz did not vote on this bill.
Last Week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB318 establishes the crime of domestic violence. NH is currently one of a few states that do not specifically have a “domestic violence” law. This bill pulls together existing laws relating to domestic violence into one section and establishes it as a “domestic violence” law for clarity. The Senate passed the bill 24-0. Senator Gilmour voted in favor of the bill.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
HB1125 would repeal the crime of adultery. Adultery would still be grounds for divorce, however. Although it has not been enforced in many years, current law defines adultery as a class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $1200, but no jail time. The House Children and Family Law Committee recommends that the bill be passed 15-0.
HB1341 would not allow a couple to divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” if they have minor children. If a couple has minor children, divorce would only be allowed based on impotency, adultery, extreme cruelty, imprisonment for at least a year, “when either party has so treated the other as seriously to injure health or endanger reason”, when person has not been seen or heard of for at least 2 years, when one has been “an habitual drunkard” for at least 2 years, when one joins a religious sect that does not believe in marriage AND that person refuses to cohabit for at least 6 months, or when one person abandons the other and cohabits with another for at least 2 years. The House Children and Family Law Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 14-0.
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.
On Wednesday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
SB411 would require that genetically engineered foods be labeled as such. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recommends that the bill be sent back for further study, which would effectively defeat the bill, 5-0.
SB319 would create a buffer zone to ensure patient access to reproductive health care clinics. The Senate Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 3-2.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Education Committee (LOB room 207)
HB1432 would delay for 2 years the implementation of the Common Core state standards approved by the Department of Education. Tuesday 10:45.
HB1508 would forbid the use of the Common Core state standards. Thursday 11:00.
House Judiciary Committee (LOB room 208)
HB1504 would declare that life begins at conception. Thursday 2:00
House Science, Technology and Energy Committee (LOB room 304)
HB1376 would require the Department of Environmental Services to examine the potential harm to the public and the environment from the transportation of bituminous tar sands through Coos county by the Portland-Montreal pipeline. Tuesday 10:45.
House State, Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee (LOB room 203)
HR21 is a resolution supporting the residents of Washington, D.C. to be able to elect members of Congress. Currently, DC can not elect any members to the House or Senate because they are not part of any state. There are more residents of Washington, D.C. than there are in either Vermont or Wyoming.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Rules, Enrolled Bills and Internal Affairs Committee (Statehouse room 103)
SB307 would establish a committee to review the Citizens United Supreme Court decision and recommend amendments to the United States Constitution to address the problems created by the decision. Wednesday 10:30.
SB314 would establish an independent legislative redistricting commission. Wednesday 10:45.
CACR17 is a Constitutional Amendment that would add “sexual orientation” to the list of categories where discrimination is prohibited. The current NH Constitution provides for “equality of rights under the law” based on “race, creed, color, sex or national origin”. Senator Gilmour is a cosponsor of this bill. Wednesday 11:15.
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 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 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
Brookline and Mason
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D) P:(603)249-3367 email@example.com
Brookline and Mason