NH Legislature This Week—March 31, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Our bipartisan health care expansion plan is a historic step forward for the health and financial well-being of Granite State families, businesses and communities. It is a fiscally responsible, uniquely New Hampshire solution that will inject $2.5 billion in federal funds into our state’s economy and improve the lives of 50,000 hard-working people who deserve the security of health insurance.” Governor Maggie Hassan on signing the Medicaid expansion bill into law this week.
“[U.S. Senate candidate Scott] Brown is worse than Shaheen because he ruins the Republican brand and lets the Dems claim that their policies are good because since Brown supports them, they have bi-partisan support. Ruining the Republican brand is like buying a coke and finding a rat’s head inside. You never buy another can of coke again.” Rep. Laura Jones (R-Rochester)
“Do I have the best credentials? Probably not. ‘Cause, you know, whatever.” U.S. Senate candidate Scott Brown in an interview with the Associated Press.
The House will not be meeting for at least two weeks, possibly longer. In the mean time, the committees will be holding numerous public hearings on the bills that were passed by the Senate. May 15 is the last day for the House to act on bills passed by the Senate.
The Senate will not be meeting for the next two weeks, but will meet again on Thursday, April 17th. The Senate committees will spend the next two weeks holding public hearings on the bills that were passed by the House.
We may not be publishing next week
Since the House and Senate will not be in full session this week or next week, we will likely not publish NH Legislature This Week next week. If there are any particularly important hearings scheduled the following week, we may publish a short notice. There are some Senate hearings for that week published below, but the full list of hearings won’t be available until the House and Senate Calendars are published at the end of the week.
Governor Hassan signs Medicaid expansion into law
On Thursday, Governor Hassan signed into law SB413, which allows NH to use federal funding under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid coverage to 50,000 Granite Staters. Individuals who make up to 133% of the federal poverty level (around $16,000 for an individual) may qualify.
Congresswoman Ann Kuster speaks at Brookline Democrats Pasta Dinner
The pasta dinner was a great success. Thanks to all of our volunteers and friends who made it such a great evening. Thanks in particular to our guest speakers, Congresswoman Ann Kuster, Senator Peggy Gilmour, and Representative Melanie Levesque.
Ann Kuster spoke eloquently about the need to change the tone and way of doing business in Congress and reminded us that she has a newsletter to keep to us informed of what’s going on in Congress legislatively. You can sign up at kuster.house.gov.
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
Note: Rep. Flanagan was not able to attend the House meeting this week.
HB1508 would terminate state participation in Common Core education standards. The House defeated the bill 201-138. Rep. Belanger and Daniels voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
HB492 would legalize and regulate recreational marijuana. The House defeated the bill 192-140. Rep. Belanger voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Daniels, Gargasz and Levesque voted against the bill.
SB413 would expand Medicaid coverage to 50,000 Granite Staters under the federal Affordable Care Act. The House passed the bill 202-132. The bill has already been passed by the Senate. Rep. Gargasz and Levesque voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger and Daniels voted against the bill.
Last week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB307 would establish a committee to review potential amendments to the United States Constitution to address the issues raised by the Citizens United decision. The Senate passed the bill 23-1. Senator Gilmour voted in favor of the bill. Senator Sanborn was the lone vote against the bill. Note: the version that was passed charged the committee to “study” the decision and “ensure protection of the First Amendment”. There was an amendment, which failed 12-12, which said “recognizing the need for a constitutional amendment to overturn the Citizens United ruling…” and suggested that one possible short term solution would be to require shareholder approval before corporate funds could be spent on elections. Senator Gilmour supported this amendment. The committee will have four members, a Republican Senator, a Democratic Senator, a Republican House Rep. and a Democratic House Rep.
SB244 would require that people who have been adjudicated as not mentally competent should be reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The bill was essentially defeated on a party line vote when an amendment was introduced that replaced the entire text of the bill with new language that would instead make it much easier for someone to REMOVE their name from the NICBCS and would also create a commission to “study” the links between mental illness and guns. Almost half of the membership of the proposed committee would be appointed by gun rights groups such as the NRA. The essential amendment and the final bill were passed on voice votes. An attempt to table the bill was defeated on a party line vote.
SB 367 would increase the gas tax to provide extra funding for highways and bridge repair, and for widening I-93. The Senate passed the bill 15-9. Senator Gilmour voted in favor of the bill.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Judiciary Committee (LOB room 208)
CACR17 is a Constitutional Amendment that would add “sexual orientation” to the list of categories for which discrimination is prohibited (currently race, creed, color, sex and national origin). Senator Gilmour is a cosponsor. Wednesday 1:00.
House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee (LOB room 307). Rep. Flanagan and Daniels are members of this committee.
SB390 would prohibit employers from discriminating against the victim of domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault, or stalking. Wednesday 10:45.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (LOB room 101)
HB1376 would establish a committee to study large, commercial pipeline safety in NH. Wednesday 9:15
Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee (LOB room 103) Senator Gilmour is a member of this committee.
HB1170 would repeal the death penalty in New Hampshire. Rep. Levesque is a cosponsor of the bill. Thursday 9:00.
Senate Judiciary Committee (Statehouse room 100)
HB1435 would require that the location, time and duration of any police (sobriety) checkpoint be made public a week beforehand. Tuesday 10:30.
Senate Transportation Committee (LOB room 103) Senator Gilmour is a member of this committee
HB1360 would prohibit the use of cell phones and other electronic devices while driving. Exceptions are allowed for Bluetooth enabled devices, 2-way radios, and calling 911. For drivers under 18 years of age, calling 911 is the only exception. Tuesday 1:45.
Senate Hearings for the following week (April 7-11):
Senate Health, Education and Human Services Committee (LOB room 103) Senator Gilmour is a member of this committee.
HB1548 would bring the penalties for crack cocaine into line with the penalties for other forms of cocaine. Tuesday APRIL 8th 9:00.
HB1620 would restrict the use of drones (unmanned aerial vehicles). Tuesday APRIL 8th 9:30.
HB1503 would allow additional charges to be brought when a homicide of manslaughter results in a miscarriage or stillbirth. Tuesday APRIL 8th 10:30.
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 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