NH Legislature This Week—June 2, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“This agreement is fair to the hospitals and to New Hampshire taxpayers, bringing stability to our budget while ensuring that our hospitals and the state can continue to provide critical health services to our people. I encourage the full Legislature to vote in favor of this important measure to protect our budget and the health and well-being of Granite Staters.” Governor Maggie Hassan on the Medicaid Enhancement Tax compromise (see below)
June 3rd: last day to change party affiliation before September 9th primary
June 4-13th: Filing period for state and federal offices
June 17th: Brookline\Mason Democrats meet at the Brookline Fire Station
June 24th: Hollis Democrats meet at the Lawrence Barn
June 26: Hillsborough County Democratic ‘Grassroots Dinner’
The End (of the Legislative Session) is Near!
The Legislature will meet on Wednesday, June 4th for the last time this session. Both the House and Senate will vote on the 64 bills that have agreements from the Committees of Conference (CoC) (12 bills could not be reconciled, and have thus been defeated). Each Chamber will give the bills a yes/no vote; if either chamber votes ‘no’, then the bill is defeated. No amendments are allowed.
The Committee of Conference process is filled with compromise, political maneuvering and positioning for the upcoming elections. For example, on HB 496, a bill allowing a limited license for first time DWI offenders, the CoC agreed to a 45 day license suspension before a limited license could be provided (a compromise between the House’s 20 days and the Senate’s 60 days). In order to get some bills out of Conference, the leadership removes members who refuse to agree and replaces them with members who will support the compromise. And in some cases, totally unrelated (non-germane) items are added to a bill in order to get support. HB 1282-FN was originally a bill related to payments to towns in certain flood control districts; it now includes language which provides consumers who ‘pre-buy’ oil with certain protections.
Governor Hassan has not expressed intentions to veto any of the CoC bills. If she should do so, the Legislature could choose to meet again to take up those vetoes, but this is unlikely to happen.
Compromise on ‘Medicaid Enhancement Tax (MET)’ SB 369-FN-A
A major compromise was made this week on the Medicaid Enhancement Tax. This tax is applied to hospitals; currently some of this money is returned to the hospitals to reimburse for uninsured patients but most ($185 million) is kept by the State to balance the budget. The hospitals had sued the state, and had two lower court wins. The case was on the way to the NH Supreme Court. Had it won there, it would have caused a major deficit.
Governor Hassan worked with the Committee of Conference and the hospitals to come up with a compromise plan. To quote from the CoC report: In many measures, it brings the division of MET revenue nearly back to the situation that existed prior to FY 2012. It also manages risk for both the hospitals and the state, capping the state’s potential liability for payments and providing a floor to the hospitals. The alternative is to continue the litigation. The potential risk to the state if it was not successful in the litigation was hundreds of millions of dollars.
While 25 of the hospitals which had sued the state have agreed to this plan, St. Joseph’s hospital in Nashua has not agreed with this plan, and will continue the lawsuit.
Highlights from the Committee of Conference bills
(the full list can be found at: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/caljourns/calendars/2014/HC_42A.pdf )
SB 235, relative to the patients’ trust fund and relative to a 10-bed psychiatric crisis unit.
HB 256-FN, relative to establishing a voluntary hike safe card for fish and game search and rescue opera-
tions, relative to deputy fish and game conservation officers, and relative to the commission on sustainability of the fish and game department.
HB 1128, establishing a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a chartered public school. This bill establishes a committee to study issues related to students receiving special education services while attending a charter public school.
HB 1129, requiring the development of an energy efficiency implementation plan.
HB 1188, relative to paycheck equity for men and women.
HB 1282-FN, relative to prepaid contracts for home heating fuel.
HB 1376, establishing a committee to study pipeline safety and development in the state of New Hampshire. The House agrees with the Senate amendment which establishes a study committee to study transportation and delivery of oil, gas, natural gas and propane throughout the state of NH. The Senate added review of rail transportation and the feasibility of re-establishing the Pease rail spur.
HB 1383, relative to municipal monitoring of large groundwater withdrawals. The Senate amended the bill to specify that backflow prevention devices installed solely to prevent possible contamination of public water systems from residential irrigation systems be tested annually when the irrigation system is in operation.
HB 1407, relative to privacy in the workplace. The House agreed to the Senate changes to this bill to delete a reference to social media and modify references to login information versus passwords/user names for employer- provided accounts or devices. Employers will still be able to monitor network devices and any personal account information of employees will still be protected from employer use.
HB 1533-FN, requiring a warrant to search information in a portable electronic device.
HB 1534, establishing a commission to study fiscal disparities between public school districts.
Committee of Conference bills that failed. Among the bills that the CoC’s were unable/unwilling to find compromise:
SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United amendments to the United States Constitution.
HB 1499-FN, increasing the maximum weekly benefit amount of unemployment benefits;
HB1532, relative to notification of radon and arsenic levels. The conferees were unable to agree. In amending this bill, the Senate removed language that the House be- lieves is crucial to the intent and goal of the bill. The Senate was not willing to consider alternative language proposed by the House.
In addition, any bills that have been ‘tabled’ will die unless action is taken (unlikely to happen).
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:
- The bill is assigned to a committee and the committee holds a public hearing.
- The committee either retains the bill or votes to recommend that the bill be passed (OTP), changed (OTPA), or defeated (ITL).
- 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.
- 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.
- If passed by the House, the bill goes to the Senate
- The bill is assigned to a Senate committee which then holds a public hearing
- The Senate committee either retains the bill or votes to recommend that the bill be passed (OTP), changed (OTPA), or defeated (ITL).
- 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.
- 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.
- If passed by the Senate, the bill goes to the Governor who may sign the bill into law or veto it.
- If the Governor vetoes the bill, it goes back to the House
- If 2/3 of the House votes to override the veto then the bill goes back to the Senate
- 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:
- Assigned to a committee and the committee holds a public hearing.
- The committee votes to recommend that the CACR be passed, changed, killed or sent to study
- 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.
- If passed by the House, the bill goes to the Senate
- Assigned to a Senate committee which then holds a public hearing
- The Senate committee votes to recommend that the bill be passed, changed, killed or sent to study
- 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.
- 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