NH Legislature This Week—April 24, 2017
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“When you couple that with an ideologically driven commissioner who is trying to build up his powers at the department (Frank Edelblut), I think that’s a pretty precarious situation for public education in our state.”, Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) on Governor Sununu nominating conservative editorialist Drew Cline to the state Board of Education.
The House will not be meeting this week, but the committees will be holding public hearings and making recommendations on bills that have passed the Senate. The Senate will be meeting on Thursday at 10am.
I am against the gas pipeline, hear me whisper
As predicted last week, SB229, which would place restrictions on future natural gas pipelines was defeated in the House without a single word of support. Not even from the sponsors. Any one member of the House could have pulled the bill off of the consent calendar and requested a public debate on the bill. Dead silence. Remember this when our current legislators tell us how passionately they are opposed to the pipeline.
Governor Sununu continues to reshape state education into his own image
This week, Governor Sununu decided not to reappoint Tom Raffio to the state Board of Education. Raffio, the CEO and president of Northeast Delta Dental, is the current chairman of the Board and has served for 10 years under Governors Hassan and Lynch.
In his stead, Governor Sununu has appointed Drew Cline, the fiery former editorial page editor for the Union Leader. The Governor said that he wants members who will “bring some outside perspective to the Board of Education”, presumably meaning people who have no background in public education. It remains to be seen if any of his future appointments will have any background in education.
Additionally, the Senate is pushing to give Frank Edelblut sweeping control of the Department of Education. They are attaching an amendment to an unrelated bill (HB356). Originally, they were not planning to hold a public hearing on this amendment, but agreed to have a hearing this Tuesday at 10:00 after public outcry. It will be held at the Legislative Office Building in room 103.
Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) said “When you couple that with an ideologically driven commissioner who is trying to build up his powers at the department (Frank Edelblut), I think that’s a pretty precarious situation for public education in our state.”
The year that town elections would just never end
This year, due to a severe snow storm, almost 80 towns rescheduled elections to be up to 2 weeks later. There are conflicting laws on the books as to whether or not they had that authority, but many towns decided to err on the side of safety. At the last minute before elections were to be held, Secretary of State Bill Gardner suddenly announced his belief that towns did not have that authority. By then, the postponements had already been announced.
Since then, the legislature has been in a quandary about what to do with those elections that were rescheduled. Some are arguing the results of the elections could be challenged in the courts as not being legal. If they are not, it is not clear what recourse there could be. The issue affects not only election of officers, but also bonds and (for SB2 districts like the Brookline School District) the budgets and other warrant articles.
The final version requires each governing body (town Selectboard, school board) to vote on whether or not to ratify the results of their elections after holding a public hearing. The legislation did not specify what would happen if the governing body voted “no”.
Legislature looks to expand town authority to institute water bans
During last year’s exceptionally severe water drought, many towns enacted water bans to preserve the low water tables and help prevent wells from going dry. The House has passed a bill to allow towns to restrict lawn water usage on commercial properties as well as residential. The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee agrees with the change, but wants an exemption for golf courses, because priorities, people! The full Senate will vote on the bill this week.
Last week, the House voted 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 defeated the bill on a voice vote.
This week, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
HB238 would establish a committee to study broadband access to the Internet. The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee recommends that the bill be passed 4-1.
Senate Hearings for this week:
Senate Education Committee (LOB room 103)
HB356 The Senate is adding an unrelated amendment to this bill to give Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut sweeping control of the Department of Education. Tuesday 10:00.
Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee (LOB room 101)
HB171 would prohibit the state or its political subdivisions (such as towns) from assisting a federal agency in the collection of electronic data without a warrant. Wednesday 9:00.
Senate Judiciary Committee (Statehouse room 100)
HB133 would instruct juries that, even if the state has proven someone guilty of a crime, the jury may still find the defendant not guilty if they believe the outcome to be unjust. This concept is known as jury nullification. 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 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