NH Legislature This Week—May 18, 2015
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“Frank Guinta is a damned liar.” Union Leader publisher Joseph McQuaid in a front page editorial on the embattled Congressman. This one sentence was the entirety of the editorial. http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150515/OPINION01/150519437
“New Hampshire’s economic competitiveness depends on our ongoing commitment to ensuring that our students and workers have the skills needed to compete in the future. Senate Bill 101 serves no real function as it prohibits non-existent requirements. But allowing it to become law would have real and lasting consequences to New Hampshire’s economic competitiveness by sending a damaging signal that our state is not committed to the education standards necessary to prepare a 21st century workforce… The New Hampshire Business and Industry Association has called for a veto, writing ‘SB101 undermines New Hampshire’s commitment to higher educational standards and sends a message mediocre is okay.’” Governor Maggie Hassan on her vetoing SB101, which would prohibit the state from requiring school districts to implement the Common Core education standards.
Session is winding down
It has been a couple of weeks since we have publish NH Legislature This Week. This has mostly been due to other commitments and work, but the legislative session continues to wind down with less action going on each week as the number of bills left standing dwindles. As we have stated before, updates may be more intermittent for the rest of the session, which ends in June. The public hearings appear to be finished.
The House is not expected to meet again until early June with June 4th being the last day for the House to vote on Senate bills. After that date, the legislature will focus on negotiating differences between the House and Senate and voting on any vetoes issued by Governor Hassan. The Senate will meet on Thursday.
Mark Fernald to be the guest speaker at the Brookline Democrats
Mark you calendars for next Tuesday, May 19th. The Brookline Democrats will be meeting at 7pm at the Brookline Fire Station. Former State Senator Mark Fernald will be our guest speaker. His topic will be “Imperiling New Hampshire’s Future: 25 Years of Disinvestment.”
Voting suppression law struck down by NH Supreme Court
A law passed by the O’Brien legislature in 2012 to make voting more difficult was struck down by the NH Supreme Court in a unanimous decision last Friday. The law required people who register to vote to sign an affidavit agreeing that they are required “to register a motor vehicle and apply for a New Hampshire driver’s license within 60 days of becoming a resident.”
There is a legal distinction made between being a “resident” and being “domiciled” in a state. A “resident” is a more strict concept and requires that a person intend to live in the state for the indefinite future. A “domiciled” citizen may live here for a couple of years, such as college students or military personal who are stationed here. Domiciled individuals may still vote in the elections without having to comply with the laws governing residency.
Some contend that the law was largely aimed at discouraging college students from voting. Indeed, public statements made by some Republican lawmakers during the session expressed concern about students who were raised in other states but attending college in NH would vote in NH’s elections.
Historically, younger, college age voters tend to be more socially liberal and are more likely to vote for Democrats than the population as a whole. A recent Gallup survey found a significant preference for Democrats among people under 40. 49% of those age 19 considered themselves to be Democrats in the daily tracking poll which lasted a year and a half.
The law was SB318, which was passed by the Senate 19-5 and the House 224-102, largely along party lines with a few House Republicans joining all House Democrats in opposition. At the time, Rep. Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Belanger, Drisko and Gargasz voted against the bill.
Gilles Bissonnette, of the NH ACLU stated that “today’s ruling acknowledges that elections should be free, fair and accessible to all people in a democracy.”
The Guinta ship is sinking
Congressman Frank Guinta (representing eastern NH) is facing continuing questions about illegal campaign funds. On Friday, the Union Leader ran an editorial simply stating “Frank Guinta is a damned liar.”
When asked if he should resign, Senator Kelly Ayotte gave a vague reply: “that’s a decision that’s his, but time will tell.” Clearly, the Senator wants to distance herself from the Congressman ahead of her reelection campaign next year.
The Union Leader has published a lengthy article going into the details of the accusations at http://www.unionleader.com/article/20150515/NEWS06/150519434.
Here are the updates from the last couple of weeks on the bills that we are following:
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 bill had been passed by the House, but ran into trouble in the Senate. The bill came out of the Senate Committee with a recommendation that it be defeated, but the Senate tabled the bill instead. Tabling allows the Senate to bring it up for a vote later. However, if the Senate does not act on the bill by June 4th, then it is defeated.
HB403 would repeal the recently enacted law that establishes a buffer zone around women’s health care clinics to prevent protesters from harassing clients. The bill was passed by the House. In the Senate, the Judiciary Committee recommended passing the bill, but the vote in the Senate failed 12-12. The Senate then tabled the bill. The bill can be brought back up for another vote, but if no action it taken by June 4th, then the bill will be defeated. Republican Senators Gerald Little and Nancy Stiles joined all Democrats in opposing the bill. Sen. Avard voted in favor of the repeal.
HB681 would increase the marriage license fee from $45 to $50 with the extra funds going to domestic violence prevention programs. Currently, $38 of the $45 fee goes to domestic violence programs, which it is used as a state match to federal grant funding. The bill had been passed by the House in a 223-146 vote. Last week, the Senate amended the bill to also add a new fine for people who are convicted of domestic violence. Each charge will impose a $50 fine which will be used to fund domestic violence programs in addition to the increased marriage license fee. The bill now goes back to the House for a vote on whether to concur with the changes.
SB101 would prohibit the state from requiring schools to implement the Common Core standards. The state does not currently require schools to implement Common Core. The Senate passed the bill on a voice vote. The House passed the bill 202-138. However, Governor Hassan has vetoed the bill. The bill now goes back to the House and Senate for veto override votes, which requires a 2/3 super majority. Given the vote in the House, it is unlikely that the legislature will override the Governor’s veto.
SB113 would authorize the creation of two casinos in New Hampshire. The bill was defeated in the House 156-208. Rep. Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Adams, Ammon, Belanger and Gargasz voted against the bill.
SB116 would repeal the license requirement for carrying a concealed gun. It also extends the gun license from 4 years to 5 years. The Senate has passed the bill 14-9. The House has now passed the bill 212-150. There is a minor amendment which will require the bill to go back to the Senate for a second vote before going to Governor Hassan. A recent poll of likely NH voters by SurveyUSA found that 73% support keeping the existing licensing requirement for concealed handguns. Rep. Adams, Ammon, Belanger, and Flanagan voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Gargasz did not vote on the bill.
Next week, the Senate will vote 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 Senate Judiciary Committee recommends that the bill be passed with some minor amendments and a provision to make violations of the law a class B misdemeanor.
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