NH Legislature This Week—February 24, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“All the Democrat representatives except two and a bunch of Republican representatives voted for HB 1251. Their votes were to require you to pay, through your taxes and whether you want to or not, for the culture-destroying, anti-American, statist propaganda that is public television. … So now, if the Senate agrees, you too will be financing the collectivists in their efforts to convert all of us into European socialists.” Rep. Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) and former House Speaker. As an experiment, I decided to see what “culture-destroying, anti-American, statist propaganda” was currently showing on NHPTV as I was writing this and it was “WordGirl”. http://pbskids.org/wordgirl/
“Most agreed that the advantages of covering more people with health insurance far outweighed the disadvantages. To refuse to participate, 50,000 NH citizens would remain uninsured, and suffer the health and economic impacts being uninsured brings; hospitals, doctors, health clinics and mental health centers would continue to care of those uninsured without any compensation; all those with health insurance would continue to pay for the uninsured through ‘cost shifting’ to their own insurance premiums; NH would continue to forgo the return of our own tax dollars and lose millions of dollars that could pay providers, create jobs, benefit our economy.” Senator Peggy Gilmour (D-Hollis) on the expansion of Medicaid. Her full column on this issue is available at http://www.ledgertranscript.com/home/10758201-95/senate-came-together-on-nh-specific-solution
Next week, the legislature will be on vacation
Every year, the legislature takes a week off to correspond with school vacation, so there will be no hearings or votes this week. Additionally, there are no public hearings in the House for the next week that would be of general interest. The Senate did not publish a calendar this week, so we do not know what hearings the Senate may be planning for the first week of March.
We do not know which bills will be coming up for votes in the House and Senate when they return (aside from Medicaid expansion, see below), but that information will likely be available at the end of this week and will be the focus of next week’s newsletter.
Deal Reached on Medicaid Expansion
The NH Senate has finally reached an agreement on Medicaid expansion. While some Senators oppose the compromise, it is expected to have enough votes to pass and has the support of Governor Hassan. Senator Peggy Gilmour is one of six Senators on the committee which hammered out the compromise.
Under the terms of the agreement, the Medicaid expansion will be automatically repealed on one of three conditions: if federal funding for the program falls below 100%, if certain federal waivers are not granted; or the program is not reauthorized by the legislature before 2017. In order to gain Republican support, the word “Medicaid” does not appear in the bill; it instead refers to “access to health insurance coverage”.
SB413 expands coverage to 50,000 Medicaid-eligible people. Under Obamacare, the federal government will pick up 100% of the costs for the first three years and then gradually reduce the federal government’s share to 90%. The Medicaid expansion would provide health care for individuals making less than $16,000 annually.
Last Week, the House voted on the following bills:
Note: Rep. Flanagan and Gargasz were not able to attend on the day that these votes were cast.
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 passed the bill 268-29. The vote was not recorded.
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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
CACR12 is a Constitutional Amendment to require that judges and the Attorney General be elected instead of appointed. The House defeated the amendment 245-74. Rep. Belanger and Daniels voted in favor of the amendment. Rep. Levesque voted against the amendment.
CACR16 is a Constitutional Amendment to require that judges be confirmed by the legislature. The House defeated the amendment 233-83. Rep. Belanger and Daniels voted in favor of the amendment. Rep. Levesque voted against the amendment.
NH Public Television
HB1251 would repeal a law enacted in 2011 that forbids the University System from giving money to NH Public Television. The House passed the bill 223-104. Rep. Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger and Daniels voted against the bill.
Last Week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB411 would require that genetically engineered foods be labeled as such. The Senate sent the bill back to committee to be studied, which effectively defeated the bill on a voice vote.
SB319 would create a buffer zone to ensure patient access to reproductive health care clinics. The Senate passed the bill 15-9. Senator Gilmour voted in favor of the bill.
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