NH Legislature This Week—May 12, 2014
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Through a nearly 30-year career as a State Representative, a State Senator and, most recently, an Executive Councilor, Deb Pignatelli has been a strong and thoughtful voice in Concord for her constituents. It has been an honor to work with her at the Council table, and I thank her for her dedication to serving the Granite State, as well as her friendship. The people of New Hampshire will miss her leadership and advocacy.” Governor Maggie Hassan on the recent announcement that Executive Councilor Deb Pignatelli will not be running for reelection. She will be missed.
“…it’s worth noting that moving [to New Hampshire] doesn’t necessarily require full-time residency. The Attorney General doesn’t require it for voting or even running for political office. The more time you spend here helping us reach our neighbors, the better—but not everyone can be here full-time, and that’s understandable.” Jason Sorens, founder of the Free State Project.
“feel good legislation” Senator Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) describing HB1403, which would raise the minimum wage. Senator Bragdon will be resigning his Senate seat soon to focus on his new $185,000 a year job.
The session is drawing to a close
This week is the last week to act on bills passed by the other chamber. After this, only bills needing a Conference Committee to resolve differences between the chambers will be considered. However, this is the time of year when both chambers attempt to pass bills that were defeated by tacking on unrelated amendments to other bills. Expect this to happen for bills where the votes were close. June 5th is the last legislative day.
Bill Duncan appointed to the State Board of Education
Bill Duncan recently attended a meeting of the Hollis Democrats in which he spoke on the Common Core standards and why they should be supported. Last week, Governor Hassan nominated him to the state Board of Education and the Executive Council approved the nomination.
Duncan has been fiery in his outspokenness, saying “When today’s Republicans talk public education reform, they mean to dismantle public education—or ‘government schools’ as they call them—and replace them with private, religious and home schools.”
Reactions to his appointment are predictable.
“Bill Duncan is a proponent of destroying a child’s future.” Rep. JR Hoell (R-Dunbarton).
“Can you spell NIGHTMARE to parents and school choice?” Rep. Jane Cormier (R-Alton).
Dartmouth College Polling
The Nelson Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College has released a comprehensive poll. Electorally, the poll shows Governor Hassan and Senator Shaheen leading their opponents, but not by huge margins. The Congressional races were not polled. Support has dropped for President Obama (36%-54% job approval) and the Affordable Care Act (34%-58% approval). Granite Staters were also asked their opinion on a number of social issues:
- There is strong support for a Constitutional Amendment to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation (62%-18%). This includes plurality support among Republicans (42%-29%).
- There is modest support for expanded gambling (47%-40%). There is little partisan difference on this topic, although Republicans and Independents are a little more likely to support expanded gambling and Democrats are slightly more likely to oppose.
- There is modest support for the Northern Pass project (40%-34%), although a significant 27% were undecided. As with expanded gambling, Republicans and Independents were a bit more likely to support and Democrats a bit more likely to oppose, but support and opposition are both broadly bipartisan.
- Marijuana legalization receives stronger support (50%-36%). Democrats and Independents support legalization by an almost 2-1 margin, while a moderate majority of Republicans remain opposed (34%-52%).
- There is overwhelming support for requiring photo ID for voting (75%-19%). This includes almost 2-1 support among Democrats and even higher support among Independents and Republicans.
- There is still strong support for the Death Penalty (52%-29%). A plurality of Democrats are opposed to the death penalty, but strong majorities of Republicans and Independents are supportive.
- A plurality opposes providing a pathway to citizenship on immigration issues (34%-44%). A pathway enjoys 2-1 support among Democrats, but plurality opposition among Independents and over 2-1 opposition among Republicans.
- Stricter gun laws are supported by 46%, while 34% support the current laws and 11% say that the current laws are too strict. 75% of Democrats support stricter gun laws. Independents are split between wanting stricter laws (44%) and leaving the laws as they are (38%). Republicans were more evenly divided with 43% supporting the current laws, 28% supporting stricter laws and 21% wanting less strict laws.
Last week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
HB1403 would establish a state minimum wage. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25. This bill would set NH’s minimum at $8.25 on January 1, 2015 and $9.00 on January 1, 2016. The minimum wage would then be raised each September according the Consumer Price Index. The Senate defeated the bill on a party line 13-11. Senator Gilmour voted in favor of the bill.
This week, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
HB286 would make it easier for towns to issue bonds to bring broadband internet services to their citizens. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recommends sending the bill to study, effectively defeating it 4-1.
HB1407 would prohibit employers from requiring employees to provide their social media login information. The Senate Commerce Committee recommends that the bill be passed with minor changes 5-0.
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
SB366 would create 2 casinos with 5,000 slot machines. Some of the revenues would go directly to all towns in the state. The bill was defeated in the House the previous week 173-172, however the House can reconsider the bill at any time. Last week, there was a vote to reconsider the bill, but it failed 172-192. Rep. Flanagan and Levesque voted in favor of reconsideration. Rep. Belanger, Daniels and Gargasz voted against reconsideration.
This week, the House will vote on the following bills:
SB202 is a bill making a minor change to the burglary laws, but the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the House add an amendment to repeal the death penalty. The House had previously passed a death penalty repeal bill, but the Senate tabled it after it failed to pass on a 12-12 vote.
SB319 would create a “buffer zone” up to 7.6 meters (25 feet) around reproductive health clinics to prevent protesters from preventing clients from accessing the clinic. The House Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be passed with minor changes 12-7.
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:
- 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 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