NH Legislature This Week—January 19, 2015
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Committee work is the focus of the next few weeks
Before bills can be brought up to House or Senate for a vote, they must be sent to a Committee, which must hold a public hearing and then debate and make a recommendation for each bill. The first few weeks of each session are focused on doing the critical committee work that sets the stage for the House votes later. This is the first week that the legislative committees will be in full swing.
The Senate will meet next on January 29th. The House has not yet set a date for it’s next meeting.
As a reminder, the legislature studies and votes on over a thousand bills each session. We go through them and report on only the bills that we believe will have wide interest to our readers. Not reported, for example, are bills regarding the unauthorized practice of law, changes to the homestead exemption amount, most study committees, minor changes to speed limits on state highways, etc. For the full list of bills being worked on, you need to spend time at the state legislature’s web site, www.gencourt.state.nh.us.
Also, keep in mind that new bills are still being filed until January 30th.
Rep. Flanagan files bill to exempt inheritance and gifts from alimony
Rep. Flanagan has filed a bill, HB106, which would exempt inheritance and gifts from divorce proceedings.
On Tuesday, a House committee is holding a public hearing on the bill. Rep. Patrick Abrami (R-Stratham) and Rep. Jeffrey Oligny (R-Plaistow) are cosponsors.
In his biography on the state web site, Rep. Oligny states his concerns that current divorce laws set “a legal standard that removes children’s fit parents from them” and “reduces… the earnings capacity of the American workforce.” The Representative was also the sponsor or cosponsor of numerous bills placing restrictions on alimony and child support in previous legislative sessions. Rep. Oligny was also a cosponsor of Rep. Itse’s domestic violence arrest bill in 2013 (see below).
Rep. Abrami is also the primary sponsor of HB249 which would place several limits on alimony judgments. Rep. Flanagan and Rep. Oligny are cosponsors.
Other hearings of interest this week
Rep. Belanger has a bill (HB102, cosponsored by Rep. Flanagan) which would prohibit towns from voting to “pass over” warrant articles during town meeting and school district meeting. This would require that every warrant article receive an up or down vote. In the meetings, a vote to pass over a warrant article is equivalent to defeating the article. Rep. Belanger is the chair of the committee that is hearing the bill.
HB208 would repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). This is a perennial bill, but the sponsors are back for another try. Rep. Richard Barry (R-Merrimack) is the primary sponsor.
Another bill that is back, but in a slightly different form is HB207, sponsored by Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont). Rep. Itse in previous sessions has sponsored bills to prevent police from making arrests during domestic violence disputes until after official criminal complaints have been filed. Domestic violence advocates argued against this because sometimes action needs to be taken immediately for the safety of the family involved. HB207 is very similar, but does not specify domestic violence situations. It says that, in any situation, a police officer may not arrest someone unless they have either a warrant, personal knowledge that a crime has been committed, another police officer has personal knowledge of a crime, or there is a sworn statement from at least 2 witnesses.
Sen. Avard is the primary sponsor of SB101, which would prohibit the state from requiring that school districts implement the Common Core education standards, which were developed by state governors, educators, and business leaders across the country.
HB152 would establish “My Homeland Sea” as the official state poem. It was written by a Navy seaman during World War II about his thoughts of going home. We have included it here in it’s entirety. Background information can be found at myhomelandsea.com.
My Homeland Sea
Sitting alone on a coral beach,
I looked far out to sea,
And memories cherished reflected then,
Of days that used to be.
The wintry blasts, the summer calm,
The quiet woodlands, the New England farm,
The sleeping pines, the springtime thaw,
Are only a few of the visions I saw.
Thanksgiving day and Christmas morn,
The day that Christ, Our Lord, was born,
New Years – birthdays – weddings – and births,
Burning embers in hand hewn hearths.
Will I see them again, I then asked of myself,
These things man can’t buy with material wealth?
Will I again see those mountains and the valleys below,
All covered in winter with a blanket of snow?
Will the church by the roadside with its white steeple high,
Still be sheltered by willows beneath the blue sky?
Will the robins in springtime still play on the lawn,
And the sleeping flowers blossom at each waking of the dawn?
The air of pines, the morning fog,
The singing loon on the cranberry bog,
The rockbound coast, my homeland sea,
Will they still be there awaiting me?
And the lovely lass I left behind,
Those memories, too, are on my mind.
Will she still be there when war is done,
And proudly sailing home we come?
And clouds once dark turn fleecy white,
And men no more for freedoms fight.
When human hearts rejoice in peace,
And America ours for life to lease,
When guns are silenced and lands are free,
The answers then will come to me.
Richard T. Hartnett
Navy Patrol Bombing Squadron 16
Saipan, Marianas Campaign
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (LOB room 204)
HB207 would prohibit police officers from making an arrest without a warrant unless they or another police office had personal knowledge of the crime or if there were sworn, written statements from at least two witnesses. Rep. Itse (R-Fremont) is the primary sponsor of this bill and had sponsored a bill in the last session to prevent police from making arrests in domestic violence disputes unless the officer had personally witnessed an assault. Thursday at 10:00.
House Judiciary Committee (LOB room 208)
HB106 would exempt gifts and inheritance from divorce proceedings. Tuesday at 2:00. Rep. Jack Flanagan is the primary sponsor.
House Municipal and County Government (LOB room 301). Rep. Belanger is the Chair, Rep. Ammon is a member.
HB102 would require that all warrant articles be voted upon at town and school district meetings, eliminating the ability to “pass over” questions. Currently, only towns with less than 10,000 population can skip over questions. Tuesday at 10:00. Rep. Belanger is the primary sponsor. Rep. Flanagan is also a sponsor.
House Science, Technology and Energy Committee (Representatives Hall)
HB208 would repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). Thursday at 10:00.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Education Committee (LOB room 103) Sen. Avard is a member.
SB101 would prohibit the state from requiring schools to implement the Common Core education standards. Tuesday at 9:50. Sen. Avard is the primary sponsor.
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 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