NH Legislature This Week—March 10, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Residents of the District of Columbia pay federal taxes and serve in the armed forces on behalf of our nation. However, they lack one major privilege of citizenship: voting representation in the U.S. Congress. The resolution seeks to achieve equal access to federal democracy. At issue here is ‘taxation without representation’.” Rep. Robert Theberge (D-Berlin) in support of HR21, a resolution supporting a change in the US Constitution to allow the citizens of Washington DC to have their own representation in Congress. They have no representation currently because they are not part of any state.
The House will be meeting every Wednesday at 10am and Thursday at 9am until March 27th to complete work on all remaining House bills. March 27th is “crossover”. By that date, the House will have voted on all House bills and the Senate will have voted on all Senate bills. After that date, each chamber will be dealing only with bills that have passed the other chamber. The Senate will continue to meet on Thursdays.
Medicaid Expansion passes in the Senate
The big story from the statehouse this week was a surprisingly strong vote in the Senate to expand Medicaid health care coverage for 50,000 low-income Granite Staters. SB413 passed by a vote of 18-5. Senator Peggy Gilmour is a cosponsor of the bill and served on the committee which negotiated it’s passage. The House has scheduled a hearing on the bill for Tuesday.
Hollis/Brookline COOP 3rd meeting to be scheduled
At the second Hollis/Brookline Cooperative School District meeting on Thursday, the meeting decided to reconsider the $5.5 million bond. Because of this, there will be a 3rd meeting, which will be called sometime between March 13th and April 10th to revote on this and to take up the remaining warrant articles which have still not been addressed. We will publish the date of the (hopefully final) meeting when the Coop School Board sets the date. There is discussion that the bond may be reduced by removing the athletic fields, but the voters can do anything that you want. It’s important to have your voice heard.
Tuesday is town election day. Here are the contested races in Hollis and Brookline. We are not aware of any contested races in Mason.
Brookline Selectman (2)
- Karl Dowling
- Darrell Philpot
- Keith Thompson
Hollis/Brookline COOP (Brookline) (1)
- Randy Farwell
- Carolyn Johnson
- Eric Pauer
Hollis Selectman (2)
- Frank Cadwell
- Vahrij Manoukian
- Spenser Stickney
Hollis Budget Committee (2)
- Susan Benz
- Robert Labednick
- Frank Whittemore
Hollis School Board, one year (1)
- Laurie Miller
- Tammy Fareed
Hollis School Board, three year (2)
- Debbie Pucci
- Betsey Cox-Buteau
- Robert Mann
- James O’Shea
Hollis/Brookline COOP (Hollis, three year) (1)
- Cindy Van Coughnett
- William Beauregard
Hollis/Brookline COOP (Hollis, one year) (1)
- Elizabeth Brown
- Michael Patz
- Stephan Schmalz
Important Town Dates—Brookline
Tuesday, March 11th is town and school elections. Voting booths are open from 7AM to 7PM at Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.
Wednesday, March 12th is the Brookline Town Meeting, also at 7PM at the Captain Samuel Douglass Academy.
Important Town Dates—Hollis
Tuesday, March 11th is town and school elections. Voting booths are open from 7AM to 7PM at the Lawrence Barn.
Wednesday, March 12th is the Hollis Town Meeting, at 7PM at the High School.
Important Town Dates—Mason
Tuesday, March 11th is town and school elections. Voting booths are open from 11`AM to 7PM at the Town Hall.
Saturday, March 15th is the Mason Town Meeting, at 9AM at the Elementary School.
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
HB1221 would declare NH fruit and vegetables exempt from the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1263 would declare NH maple syrup exempt from federal regulation. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1270 would declare NH meat and meat products exempt from the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1273 would declare NH dairy products exempt from the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1464 would declare NH agricultural products exempt from the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act. The House sent the bill to be studied 13-0. This effectively defeated the bill.
HB1582 would declare NH poultry and poultry products exempt from the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1583 would declare NH apian products (such as honey) exempt from the FDA Food Safety and Modernization Act. The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1325 would allow a doctor to prescribe a lethal medication to a person who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and has a prognosis of six months to live or less by two corroborating physicians. The patient would decide whether or when to take the medication. The House defeated the bill 219-66. Rep. Belanger, Daniels, Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill. Rep. Flanagan did not vote on the bill.
HB1435 would require that the location, time and duration of any police (sobriety) checkpoint be made public a week beforehand. The House passed the bill 242-49. The vote was not recorded.
HB1533 would prohibit government entities (such as police) from searching “portable electronic devices” such as cell phones, without a search warrant. The House passed the bill on a voice vote.
HB1548 would eliminate separate penalties for crack cocaine. The penalties would become the same for possession of other forms of cocaine. The House passed the bill on a voice vote.
HB1550 would allow audio and video recording of any public official (such as police) while in the course of his or her official duties. The House sent the bill to be studied on a voice vote.
HB1388 would require public schools to give more leeway to students expressing religious viewpoints. In particular, the bill would require schools to allow a student or faculty member to recite the Pledge of Allegiance (including the phrase “one nation under God”) over the PA system. The bill would also require schools to have a “limited public forum” for students at all school events in which students may speak publicly, such as graduation ceremonies. The committee states “student’s rights … are already well-protected by existing law. This bill could likely result in religious coercion of students who are subjected to the ‘limited public forum’ condition of this bill. It could also result in costly litigation for school districts.” The House defeated the bill on a voice vote.
HB1622 would allow patients and caregivers who are authorized to purchase medical marijuana to also cultivate their own medical marijuana. The committee recommends that the bill be expanded to allow for medical marijuana for the treatment of epilepsy, lupus, Parkinson’s disease and dementia associated with Alzheimer’s disease as well as Crohn’s disease. The House passed the bill 227-73. The vote was not recorded.
HB1573 would disband all regional planning commissions. The House defeated the bill 238-91. Rep. Daniels and Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
Next week, the House will vote on the following bills:
HB1170 would repeal NH’s Death Penalty. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed 14-3. Rep. Melanie Levesque is a cosponsor.
HB1608 would prohibit hydraulic fracturing (AKA, “fracking”) for natural gas or oil. The House Environment and Agriculture Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 17-1.
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. The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommends that the bill be passed 14-1.
HB1633 would allow a casino and create regulations around it. The House Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 11-9.
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. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed 12-5.
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. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed 10-8.
HB1567 would require police to obtain a search warrant before accessing location information from a cell phone or portable electronic device. Certain exceptions would be allowed, such as responding to calls for emergency services. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed 17-0. The bill is on the consent calendar.
HB1619 would prohibit government agencies from acquiring personal information from third party providers such as utility and credit card companies. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed 16-1. The bill is on the consent calendar.
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. The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 17-0.
Last week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB413 would expand Medicaid coverage to 50,000 Granite Staters under the federal Affordable Care Act. The Senate passed the bill 18-5. Senator Gilmour is a sponsor of this bill and voted in favor of it
Next week, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
CACR17 is a Constitutional Amendment that would add “sexual orientation” to the list of categories where discrimination is prohibited in the NH Constitution. Article 2 would be amended to state “All men have certain natural, essential, and inherent rights—among which are, the enjoying and defending of life and liberty; acquiring, possessing, and protecting, property; and, in a word, of seeking and obtaining happiness. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by this state on account of race, creed, color, sex, national origin, or sexual orientation.” The Senate Rules, Enrolled Bills and Internal Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be passed 4-0. Senator Gilmour is a cosponsor of the Amendment.
SB214 would establish an independent legislative redistricting commission. The Senate Rules, Enrolled Bills and Internal Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be studied 4-0, which would effectively defeat it.
SB281 relative to the siting of wind turbines. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recommends that the bill be passed 5-0.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Finance Committee (LOB room 210)
SB413 would expand Medicaid coverage to 50,000 Granite Staters under the federal Affordable Care Act. Tuesday 9:30.
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:
Sen. Peggy Gilmour (D) P: (603)465-2336 email@example.com
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
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R) P: (603)465-7463 email@example.com
Rep. Gary Daniels (R) P: (603)673-3065 firstname.lastname@example.org
Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston
Rep. Jack Flanagan (R) P: (603)672-7175 Jack.email@example.com
Brookline and Mason
Rep. Melanie Levesque (D) P:(603)249-3367 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookline and Mason