NH Legislature This Week—April 10, 2017
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“They were bankrupt in terms of having ideas”, House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) on Republican legislators who voted against his proposed budget.
“I don’t want to talk about individuals, but there were clearly outside influences who were ginning up members to vote no. There’s no question about that, and that’s unfortunate.” House Speaker Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) on the defeat of the budget.
“I’m really surprised that the speaker and his leadership team did not meet their obligation to come up with a budget.”, former House Speaker Bill O’Brien, who led meetings, just before the vote, of the House Republican Freedom Caucus, who sided with Democrats in voting against the budget.
The ball is in the Senate’s Court
After failing for pass a budget for the first time since at least the 1960’s, the House will take a week off and return to session on April 20th. House committees will still meet to work on bills passed by the Senate. Similarly, the Senate will also not meet until April 20th, but will also continue to hold committee hearings and will work on the budget.
We have now reached crossover, when each chamber has (in theory) completed work on its own bills and now focuses on the bills that were passed by the other chamber. In general, all bills that point have been passed by either the Senate or the House and should be considered to have a reasonable level of support in the legislature. However, this is also a time of negotiations and issues that were defeated earlier could come back in the form of amendments.
The vote to defeat the budget was actually a vote on whether or not accept an amendment to the budget that was proposed by House Republican leadership. The House Freedom Caucus, a new group of conservative Republican House members, wanted more cuts to the budget. They and some other conservative Republican legislators joined with the Democrats in voting against Speaker Jasper’s budget. That vote to pass the Speaker’s budget failed 169-177.
The House leadership then decided to end the session and let the Senate make a budget rather than negotiating with either the Freedom Caucus or the Democrats. Rep. Belanger and Gargasz voted in favor of the Republican leadership budget. Rep. Ammon and Lewicke voted against the proposed budget. Rep. Carr was unable to attend the legislature that day.
Effects of partisanship
Part of the reason that the budget failed is because the House Republican leadership sees the budget as being purely a Republican bill and is not willing to work with the Democrats. When Speaker Jasper said “I do not intend to be held hostage by the minority”, he was referring to a minority within the Republican party. Those disgruntled Republicans, combined with the Democrats, formed a majority that defeated his budget proposal. Rep. Keith Ammon said “our party is having an intra-family squabble” and needs to work out the budget within their caucus. This attitude of not being willing to negotiate with the other party is putting their own political desires and power ahead of the best interests of the state.
Well, no one could have seen this coming
Leading up to his confirmation as Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut insisted that his role would be to implement the decisions of the state Board of Education and not attempt to make changes to state education standards. Edelblut is an outspoken opponent of public education and home schooled all of his children.
However, within days of being sworn in, Edelblut placed an agenda item on the state Board of Education to reconsider science standards. Nationally, science standards have been targeted in attempts to teach Christian creationism over evolution, and to minimize global climate change and its relationship with pollution.
Just last year, the Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, which had already been adopted by many school districts and several other states. Edelblut, however, stated that the science standards “have been evaluated by a third-party reviewer and rated as a ‘C’ standard.” The “third-party reviewer” was the socially conservative think tank, Fordham Institute.
The Board of Education unanimously rejected the proposal, stating that they had reviewed the critique while setting the standards, but were not convinced by it. As it had taken the Board 2 years to review and approve the current standards, the board unanimously voted not to review the science standards again until 2022.
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
HB1 is the state budget. The House tabled the bill on a voice vote.
HB2 is changes required to implement the state budget. The House tabled the bill on a voice vote.
HB25 is appropriations for capital improvements. The House passed the bill on a voice vote.
House Hearings for this week:
Capital Budget (Statehouse room 103)
HB25 is the portion of the budget dealing with capital improvements. It was the only part of the budget that was passed by the House. Thursday 9:00.
Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee (LOB room 205)
SB234 would allow the operation of a needle exchange program to reduce the spread of disease. Tuesday 10:15.
SB7 would restrict eligibility for federal food stamps. Sen. Avard is the primary sponsor of the bill. Wednesday 1:00.
Ways and Means Committee (LOB room 202)
SB2 would reduce the Business Profits Tax and the Business Enterprise Tax. The reduction would not take effect until after 2 more years, meaning that it would not affect the current budget, but would force the legislature after the next elections to find a way to pay for it. Starting in FY19, it is estimated to reduce state revenues by $81 million per year. Wednesday 11:00.
Senate Hearings for this week:
Judiciary Committee (Statehouse room 100)
HB640 would reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana by adults over 21 to a fine. Tuesday 9:20.
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 and archived
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.
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. John Carr (R) P: (603)673-3603 email@example.com
Brookline and Mason
Rep. John Lewicke (R) P: (603) 878-2610
Brookline and Mason