NH Legislature This Week—April 27, 2015
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“The CBL (Conservative Business League of New Hampshire) is an LLC (Limited Liability Company), that means we’re a business and any money that comes to us is our business, not the state’s business, not reporting on any campaign site and, I’ll be honest, we probably will be the primary funder of the 603 Alliance, which will be a political entity and have to report everything they do.” former state Rep. Francine Wendelboe, explaining how a new conservative PAC is going to get around state campaign finance laws by funneling money through a company.
House and Senate to meet this week
After taking a short break, the full House and Senate will be meeting to take up bills this week. However, the number of bills remaining in the system is dwindling quickly as we approach the close of this year’s session in June.
Campaign finance laws? What campaign finance laws?
When the US Supreme Court, in the Citizens United decision, decided the companies can provide unlimited funding to political campaigns, the inevitable result is that all of the campaign finance laws will become meaningless. That was demonstrated amply this week with the formation of a new PAC for NH called the 603 Alliance. According to former state representative Francine Wendelboe (see quote of the day above), they are planning to ask donors to send money instead to a company called the Conservative Business League and that company then turn around and donate to the PAC. In this way, it becomes impossible for the state or the public to know who is funding our elections and what they expect in return.
Miscellany Blue has a great article with more details at http://miscellanyblue.com/post/117033216562.
Jack is not getting much respect in the GOP
While Rep. Jack Flanagan is officially the House Majority Leader, some Republicans are refusing to recognize him as such and are referring to former Speaker Bill O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) as the “House Republican Leader”. You might be tempted to think that it is just a few disgruntled House Republicans, but take a look at the official NH Republican Party web site where Rep. O’Brien is listed as the “House Republican Leader”. www.nhgop.org/about/executive-committee.
Gas Pipeline Eminent Domain bill running into resistance in the Senate
HB227 would require a vote of the town before public lands could be taken by eminent domain. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Jim Belanger (R-Hollis) and was passed by the House on a voice vote after passing out of committee unanimously. The Senate, however, seems to be a different story. The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee has recommended that the bill be defeated by a 4-1 vote. It’s not a good sign for opponents of the pipeline. We will see on Thursday what the full Senate does with the bill.
Also, this week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will be holding a public hearing on another of Rep. Belanger’s bills, HB572. This bill would require that property owners be given the right to sell their land to Kinder Morgan in the event that the company is able to take part of the property through eminent domain.
One amendment that is being offered would require the pipeline to be more than 100 yards from a residence or business; more than 300 yards from a public building; would require compressor stations to be more then 300 yards from any residence or business; would restrict noise from the pipeline to 55 decibels; would require the company to maintain a $100 million bond for liability and would impose stiff penalties for violations. The amendment is sponsored by Senator Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro), Rep. Patrick Abrami (R-Stratham), Rep. Jack Flanagan (R-Brookline) and Rep. Chris Adams (R-Brookline).
The hearing will be held on Wednesday at 9:00am in Statehouse Room 100.
State Adequate Education Aid likely to be cut yet again
This week the House will be voting on SB227, which would reduce the amount of funding that the state provides to towns for education from what had been promised. This would continue the recent of history of shifting costs to the towns and the local property taxes. Current law specifies that the amount of funding that each town receives will be adjusted for inflation based on the Consumer Price Index. This bill would freeze the current level of funding and then promise to make CPI adjustments starting in 2 more years, just has been promised in the past.
The bill comes out of the House Education Committee with a unanimous 19-0 vote. Rep. Chris Adams (R-Brookline) is a member of the committee.
Notably, the House “blurb” (the one paragraph summery of the bill read by Reps. before they vote) just says “This is a housekeeping bill that clarifies language based upon current practice as a result of previous legislation and a recent performance audit.” That’s all that it says.
However, by not adjusting for inflation, the value of the funding goes down each year and this effectively down-shifts the costs to the towns.
Next week, the House will vote on the following bills:
SB116 would repeal the requirement to obtain a license to carry a concealed gun. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee instead recommends that the bill be changed to instead extend the license period from 4 to 5 years. The committee vote was 10-6.
SB227 would, among other things, reduce the amount of state aid for education funding by not applying a Consumer Price Index adjustment for the next two years. This will reduce the amount of funding for Brookline by $250,000; Hollis by $96,000 and Mason by $12,000 over the next two years. The House Education Committee recommends by that the bill be passed 19-0. Rep. Adams is a member of the committee.
SB113 would authorize the creation of two casinos in New Hampshire. The House Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be passed 11-10.
HB227 would require a vote of the town before public lands could be taken by eminent domain. Rep. Belanger is the primary sponsor. Rep. Gargasz is a cosponsor. The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 4-1.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (Statehouse Room 100)
HB572 would give property owners the option of selling their property to Kinder Morgan if Kinder Morgan is successful in taking part of their property under eminent domain laws. The bill would also require Kinder Morgan to pay moving expenses, including up to 6 months of rent. Rep. Belanger is the sponsor. Amendments will be presented during the hearing. Wednesday 9:00.
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 Mason Grapevine
Residents of Mason can submit letters to the Mason Grapevine at TheMasonGrapevine@yahoo.com
Hollis, Brookline, Mason Reps:
Sen. Kevin Avard (R) (603) 271-4151 Kevin.Avard@leg.state.nh.us
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. Keith Ammon (R) P: (603)296-9879 Keith.Ammon@leg.state.nh.us
Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston
Rep. Jack Flanagan (R) P: (603)672-7175 Jack.email@example.com
Brookline and Mason
Rep. Chris Adams (R) P: (603) 673-3212 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookline and Mason