NH Legislature This Week—March 30, 2015
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“It’s kind of sad. You see these people who want to be called Free Staters, Sovereign Staters, or Libertarians; they don’t want to be called Republicans. And the real Republicans are called RINOs.” House Democratic Leader Rep. Stephen Shurtleff (D-Penacook) at the Brookline Democrats 4th annual Pasta Dinner.
Brookline Democrats Pasta Dinner a Big Success
It was great to see so many members of the community come out to the 4th Annual Brookline Democrats Pasta Dinner last Saturday. Our special guest, House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff provided some wonderful insight into the inner goings on at the Statehouse, including the power struggles between the different factions and the implications for the state budget. Peggy Gilmour and Melanie Levesque also spoke passionately about Democratic ideals and emphasized the need for more Democrats in the legislature.
Many thanks go to the many volunteers and the great community that made this such a successful event. It was great to see everyone together again.
The State Budget is up next – No Foolin’
The House will be meeting Wednesday, April 1st (April Fools Day) to vote on the state budget for the next two years. The Senate will not be meeting this week, but does have some public hearings scheduled.
Budget planners are dealing with several long-term losses of revenue that have been masked in the past by a number of one-time revenue sources. One such loss is that gas tax revenues are declining due to having more fuel efficient cars. There has been discussion of raising the gas tax to offset this, but that was determined to be politically untenable.
The budget plan being put forward by House Republicans includes very large cuts for mental health care (sorely needed in Concord these days), people with developmental disabilities, and seniors (Meals on Wheels, etc.). The budget would also eliminate health insurance for 37,000 Granite Staters who are currently receive health insurance through the bipartisan Medicaid enhancement recently enacted.
The University System would see a $28 million cut while $50 million would be cut from energy efficiency programs.
The proposed budget cuts the Department of Transportation, but most of the earlier proposed cuts are now being offset by the cuts just mentioned. Maintenance of numerous roads and bridges would be turned over to towns, down shifting those costs to the towns.
In all, the Republican proposed budget would cut state services by $271 million out of an $11.2 billion budget. This budget was passed by the House Finance Committee along party lines.
Whatever budget does pass the House (if any) may face a tough time in the Senate. The Senate plans to start from scratch and will have the benefit of seeing some better revenue estimates that will be coming out in the next few days. Those revenues are expected to increase because of business tax revenues.
Even once that hurdle is passed, Governor Hassan stands ready with a veto pen if the budget is too far away from her priorities.
Raptors – feathers still being ruffled
Last week we reported on the bill to declare a state raptor (a fourth grade educational project) and the unbelievable language and rancor that was exhibited by certain members of the House while the children were in the gallery. The situation later sparked a debate about how much latitude the Speaker has to enforce decorum. The House legal counsel sites Part 1, Article 30 of the NH Constitution, which provides that “speech and debate” on the House floor cannot be the basis of any law suit “in any other court or place whatsoever”. Counsel then cites House rules and Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure and concludes:
“Accordingly, based upon the above authority, the Speaker has the power to call on members to use language appropriate to young students in the gallery during a debate on hawks as the State raptor … Your call for corrective action is completely within your constitutional authority as presiding officer of our House.”
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
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.
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 364-5. Rep. Adams, Ammon, Belanger, Flanagan and Gargasz all voted in favor of the bill.
Next week, the House will vote on the following bills:
HB25 is the state budget for capital improvements. The House Public Works and Highways Committee recommends that the bill be passed 18-0.
HB1 is the state budget. The House Finance Committee recommends that the amended bill be passed 14-9.
HB2, known as the budget rider bill, contains the changes in state laws and policy needed to implement the budget in HB1. The House Finance Committee recommends that the amended bill be passed 14-9.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee (LOB room 302)
SB218 would make “spoofing” an unfair and deceptive act under the consumer protection law. Spoofing refers to transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller identification information. Thursday 11:30.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Judiciary Committee (Statehouse room 100)
HB403 HB403 would repeal the recently enacted law that establishes a buffer zone around women’s health care clinics to prevent protesters from harassing clients. Tuesday 9:50.
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