NH Legislature This Week—February 2, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“We have seen that be a successful model of expansion of work force in the health care realm. We must find ways to move our health care system forward.” Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) on her bill to expand the role of dental hygienists (SB193). She compared an expansion of the role of dental hygienists to the expanded role of nurse practitioners. The Senate changed the bill to instead create a study committee, however.
“…we heard testimony that regional planning commissions [RPCs] are tools of the United Nations and its Agenda 21, and that the RPCs, by conforming to the department of housing and urban development standards, are violating our local property rights. Membership in a regional planning commission is entirely voluntary. No community is forced to join or required to remain a member…Regional planning commissions serve an important function in the state; abolishing them would be foolhardy.” Rep. Kris Roberts (D-Keene) on HB1573, which would abolish regional planning commissions. The House Municipal and County Government Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 15-0.
State of the State
Governor Maggie Hassan will deliver the State of the State address before a joint session of the House and Senate on Wednesday, at 10:00am.
Last Thursday, the Hollis Brookline SAU gave an informative presentation on Common Core education standards. As part of an agreement between the state and federal governments, the state has agreed to implement the standardized testing portion of the Common Core program in exchange for being exempt from the federal No Child Left Behind laws. This was important to school districts like Hollis Brookline because NCLB required schools to be continuously improving or they risk being labeled as “failing.” This then sets a very high bar for the school districts such as HB Coop that are among the top schools in the state. The best schools risk being treated as “failing” schools under this formula.
The state has adopted the Common Core standards for literature and math, but it is up to each school district to determine how they are implemented and there is a process to not participate, which only 1 or 2 school districts have chosen to do. In Hollis/Brookline, the new academic standards represent a subset of the standards that school already maintains.
Several people at the forum expressed concerns about Common Core. One concern was that, because these standards are less than the standards already implemented, that they would result in “dumbing down” our high standards. The administration emphasized that Common Core represents a MINIMUM set of standards and that school districts are expected to set higher standards, as long as they include the “basics” spelled out in Common Core.
Others expressed concerned about the federal government being too intimately involved in local education. However, supporters of Common Core point out that having school districts with completely different sets of standards makes it more difficult for children to transfer from one district to another. Common Core establishes a minimum set of standards that school districts are expected to augment with their own additional standards.
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
HB286 would allow towns with limited or no broadband internet access to purchase bonds to build such infrastructure. The towns would not provide the services, but could lease the infrastructure to the lowest bidding provider. The telecom industry has indicated that they have been reluctant to provide broadband in more rural areas because of the difficulty in recuperating the costs of building infrastructure. The House passed the bill 204-78. Rep. Belanger and Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Daniels and Flanagan voted against the bill. Rep. Gargasz was not present for the vote.
Last Week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB217 would make it illegal to have collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union. The Senate defeated the bill 13-11. Senator Gilmour voted against the bill.
HB153 would legalize the growth of industrial hemp. The Senate changed the bill to create a study committee instead of actually legalizing industrial hemp. The study committee version of the bill was passed on a voice vote. Because the House and Senate have now passed different versions, either the House will pass the Senate version, or a conference committee will be set up to work out the differences, or the bill will fail if no further action is taken.
On Wednesday, the House is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
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.
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 State, Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be passed 13-0. A similar bill was passed by the House last year 337-15, but was defeated in a voice vote in the Senate.
On Thursday, the Senate is scheduled to vote on the following bills:
SB366 relative to video lottery and table gaming. This bill would establish two casinos in NH. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be passed 4-1.
SB238 would restore $7 million to the Health and Human Services budget. The Senate Finance Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 4-2. Sen. Gilmour is a sponsor of this bill.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (LOB room 304)
HB1503 would include “fetus” in the definition of “another” for the purpose of first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide. Tuesday 1:30
HB1362 would prohibit law enforcement officials from enforcing any federal law which bans certain guns or limits the magazine size. Enforcement of federal laws would be a class B felony under this bill. Thursday 10:30.
HB1264 would allow non-residents to carry loaded guns without a license if their home state does not require them to have a license. Thursday 11:30.
House Environment and Agriculture Committee (LOB room 303)
HB1608 would prohibit hydraulic fracturing (aka, “fracking”) for natural gas and oil production. Tuesday 10:00.
House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee (LOB room 205)
HB1501 would impose extensive licensing requirements on abortion providers. The licensing would make it practically impossible to provide abortion services outside of a major hospital. Thursday 11:30.
House Ways and Means Committee (LOB room 202)
HB1633 relative to expanded gaming in New Hampshire. Thursday 9:00.
HB1626 establishing up to 6 gambling establishments in the state and a gaming oversight authority and continually appropriating a special fund. Thursday 2:00.
HB1627 relative to video lottery and table gaming. Thursday 2:30.
HB1628 relative to games of chance and establishing a gaming regulatory commission and video lottery gaming. Thursday 3:00.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Finance Committee (Statehouse room 103)
SB203 relative to permissible uses of electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards. This bill expands the restrictions on use of EBT cards. Tuesday 1:45.
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 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