NH Legislature This Week—February 23, 2015
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“Implemented efficiency projects return around $4 dollars for every $1 invested. As an example of effectiveness of these incentives, the PUC [Public Utilities Commission] lifetime estimated energy savings for participating NH municipalities for 2014 projects alone will approach 67,000,000 KWH (KiloWatt Hours) of electricity that will no longer need to be paid out of local property taxes.” Rep. Willam Baber (D-Dover) on HB208, which would eliminate funding for energy efficiency programs. The bill was passed.
Last week, we were on break, now the legislature is on break
Our weekly report author was unable to put together a report last weekend due to other commitments and a general need for some R&R. 🙂 This week, the legislature is taking its annual break, so there are no hearings or meetings this week.
House votes to defund energy efficiency programs
NH participates in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative in which carbon emitting companies pay a “carbon tax”. In New Hampshire, 80% of the revenues from the carbon tax go back to the ratepayers to offset energy costs while 20% goes to the low-income core energy efficiency program and the town energy efficiency projects. Rep. Michael Vose (R-Epping) states that the RGGI carbon tax brings in $15-$18 million (presumably per year).
HB208, as introduced, would have removed New Hampshire from this program, which includes most of the northeastern states. However, the House amended the bill to instead eliminate funding for the low-income energy efficiency program and the local town energy efficiency grant program. Instead, all of the state revenue will go towards lowering utility rates. Rep. William Baber (D-Dover) states that the bill is expected to reduce utility bills by only 16 cents per month for the average ratepayer.
The amended bill passed the House with the support of 201 Republicans. The bill was opposed by 144 Democrats and 11 Republicans.
Locally, Rep. Keith Ammon and Rep. Jack Flanagan voted in favor of eliminating the energy efficiency programs. Rep. Jim Belanger and Rep. Carolyn Gargasz voted against the bill, while Rep. Chris Adams was not able to attend the legislature that day.
House defeats State Guard bill
Last week, the House defeated HB433, which would have created a “state guard”. We put that phrase in quotes because, according to Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), the bill would reorganize “the state guard so that it would normally operate on a volunteer basis and be fully self-supplied, including its administration, so that there will be no regular cost to the state.” So, apparently, gun enthusiasts would be able to volunteer for this force, provide their own weapons, and be able to run the “state guard” themselves. Who needs all that pesky training, standardization, or oversight, right? What could possibly go wrong?
Some of the legislators may have had some concerns with the provision that states that the unpaid volunteers in the “state guard” would be immune from any liability, civil or criminal, for “any damage to property or injury to any person, including death” and that the state would be legally liable instead.
The bill also provided that the unpaid volunteers in the “state guard” would be “priveleged from arrest and imprisonment” for any offenses except “treason, felony or breach of the peace”. Also, any communications between the volunteers would be “privileged communications and shall not be competent evidence against the writer in any civil or criminal action in the courts of the state.”
Apparently, these provisions did not cause problems for all members of the House, as 137 Republican House members voted in favor of it (none of the Democrats supported the bill). Among the legislators supporting HB433 were Rep. Keith Ammon and Rep. Jim Belanger.
Two weeks ago, the House voted on the following bills:
HB338 would require that only the NH House and NH Senate could place names of candidates for U.S. Senate on the primary ballot. The bill was removed from the consent calendar and a roll call was called. The bill was defeated 252-75. Rep. Ammon voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz voted to against the bill. Rep. Adams did not vote.
HB168 would prohibit a couple from divorcing based on irreconcilable differences if they have children under 18 years of age. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
Rep. Adams was not able to be present that day.
HB468 would prohibit the government from tracking and/or locating people using electronic devices such as cell phones or GPS without a warrant. Exceptions are made for emergency situations. Private companies, such as rental car providers must make the customer aware of tracking in a written statement and may not share the information with the government without a warrant. The House passed the bill on a voice vote, but then sent it to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee for further review.
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. The house passed the bill on a voice vote, but then sent it to the House Ways and Means Committee for further review.
HB686 would create a single payer health care system in which every citizen of New Hampshire would have health insurance which would be paid for by the state. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
HB677 would prohibit the state from signing any contracts with health care organizations that provide abortion services or with any organization that supports abortion. The House defeated the bill 216-142. Rep. Ammon and Belanger voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
HB208 would repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The House changed the bill to keep RGGI, but to eliminate funding for energy efficiency programs. Rep. Ammon and Flanagan voted in favor of the amended bill. Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted against the amended bill.
HB433 would create a State Guard, a para-military force controlled by the Governor. This state military force would be all volunteer, but a different version of this bill submitted in previous years allowed the state to draft almost all adults. The Governor currently has the ability to create a temporary militia in emergencies if the New Hampshire national guard is in active service to the United States government. The bill was defeated 215-137. Rep. Ammon and Belanger voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Flanagan and Gargasz voted against the bill.
Two weeks ago, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB81 would restrict the powers of the state Board of Education to just the Department of Education, removing any authority over local schools. Sen. Avard is the prime sponsor. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
SB82 would restrict the commissioner of the Department of Education from having any authority over the local schools. Sen. Avard is the prime sponsor. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
CACR3 is a Constitutional Amendment that would give the legislature the sole power to determine how much, or if, it funds public education. The legislature would also be given the power to set education standards. Sen. Avard and Rep. Flanagan are cosponsors. The bill was defeated on a voice vote.
SB116 would repeal the license requirement for carrying a concealed gun. The Senate passed the bill 14-9, on a party line vote. Sen. Avard voted in favor of the bill.
Last week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB204 would repeal the controversial tax credit established by the O’Brien legislature which allows businesses to fund private and religious schools using tax dollars. The Senate defeated the bill on a party line vote of 14-10. Sen. Avard voted against the bill.
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 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.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R) P: (603)465-7463 email@example.com
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.firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookline and Mason
Rep. Chris Adams (R) P: (603) 673-3212 email@example.com
Brookline and Mason