NH Legislature This Week—April 17, 2017
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“Well apparently he’s got – I don’t know, I don’t work there – apparently he has resistence within the department and he wants to be able to manage the department, that’s his job” Sen. John Reagan (R-Deerfield) on an amendment that he submitted to increase the power of Commissioner of Education, Frank Edelblut.
This is how things are (not) done in the Statehouse
Senator Avard (R-Nashua) submitted a bill to help the people who could potentially have their land taken by eminent domain to install a natural gas pipeline. The bill would require the pipeline company to pay for a recent appraisal of any lands taken, would require the pipeline company purchase entire pieces of property in some cases rather than strips, allows for relocation, temporary house and legal expenses, and allows the site evaluation committee to file with the FEC proceedings. SB229 has many sponsors in the Senate and House and was passed by the Senate on a voice vote.
Then, a funny thing happened on the way to the Governor’s desk. After being passed by the Senate, it went to the House where the bipartisan support for the bill turned into bipartisan opposition. The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommended that the bill be defeated 17-2. The bill was even put on the consent calendar, meaning that it will not even have a debate on the House floor or even a direct vote on the bill, but will be disposed of along with 34 other non-controversial bills like naming bridges.
In the House Calendar, the bill is described as “jeopardizing future options to lower electricity costs by placing unreasonable restrictions on pipeline projects” and that we “cannot afford to put up barriers to lowering electricity costs.” Typically, when a vote is not unanimous, there is a minority view expressed in the calendar, but not for this bill. The stern warning that this bill would hamper attempts to lower electricity rates was the only official, printed analysis that the House Reps will see.
The interesting part of the consent calendar is the word “consent”. It means that everyone is in agreement. It is called the consent calendar because, if any one Rep. wants to pull it off the consent calendar and have a debate about the bill, they may do so. It only takes one single member of the House. It will be interesting to see if, on Thursday, either Rep. John Lewicke (R-Mason) or Rep. John Carr (R-Brookline) ask for a public debate on the bill. Both are sponsors.
When it comes to the pipeline, there have been many bills introduced by legislators from the areas affected, but all have quietly died with hardly a sound of protest from those same legislators. We will find out the fate of this one on Thursday. Even if it is unanimously defeated, count on its sponsors to tell anyone who will listen how they tried to stand up for the property owners.
Implementor in Chief
When Frank Edelblut was being confirmed as the head of the Education Department, he assured Executive Councilors that he would be an “implementor” and not a policy setter. That role would remain the state Board of Education. Only a few days into his term, Senator John Reagan (R-Deerfied) has introduced legislation to dramatically increase Edelblut’s power. The proposal was submitted as an amendment to an unrelated bill after the bill had had a public hearing. The bill would give Edelblut direct and complete control over personnel, assignments and the ability to move funds around.
Edelblut has come under fire because he has no personal experience with public education, having been home schooled himself and having home schooled his children. Throughout his political career, he has been very critical of public education. Sen. Reagan said that he submitted the amendment at Edelblut’s request.
This week, the House will vote on the following bills:
SB229 would provide some guarantees and protections to residents whose land is taken by eminent domain for a natural gas pipeline. Sen. Avard is the primary sponsor. Rep. Lewicke and Carr are sponsors. The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 17-2. The bill is on the consent calendar.
House Hearings for this week:
Election Law (Representatives Hall)
SB3 would place further restrictions on voting regarding proving a person’s domicile. Sen. Avard is a sponsor. Tuesday 10:00.
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