NH Legislature This Week—April 3, 2017
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“It is an unacceptable but accurate fact that the number of uninsured Americans has risen to forty-two million. Working out detailed plans will take time… We must have universal healthcare… With more than forty million Americans living day to day in the fear that an illness or injury will wipe out their savings or drag them into bankruptcy, how can we truly engage in the “pursuit of happiness” as our Founders intended?” President Donald Trump in his 2000 book “The America we Deserve”. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) dropped the number of uninsured to 27 million.
“Every one of my senior staff members has and continues to do this [provide ‘conversion therapy’ to attempt to change gays into heterosexuals] when an under-18 person asks for help to work through these things … Would you believe that I am grateful that my staff does this because if my staff didn’t do this, I know some back-alley people and their techniques are not good.” Rep. Mark Pearson (R-Hampstead) who co-founded a center for faith healing and Christian counseling. Conversion therapy is strongly opposed by all professional medical, psychological, psychiatric and counseling organizations as being harmful.
The House will be meeting on Wednesday to take up the last 3 remaining House Bills. HB1 is the state budget. HB2 are changes to the laws that are required to implement the budget. HB25 is appropriations for capital improvements.
R.I.P. Rep. Steve Vaillancourt
This week, one of the more fanciful characters in the House passed away. Rep. Steve Vaillancourt has represented Manchester Ward 8 for over 18 years as a Republican, a Democrat, and a Libertarian at various times. A fiery personality that sometimes needed a filter, he was a passionate fan of history and politics and had a great love of the NH Legislature. He was known for incorporating his recently read history books into sometimes lengthy speeches on the House floor which some have called “book reports”. He was a strong advocate of LGBT issues, legalization of marijuana and expanded legalized gambling, while opposing the death penalty and animal cruelty.
SB224 would prohibit “conversion therapy”, a form of pseudo-science that claims to be able to change gays into heterosexuals, was passed by the Senate, but is being held up in the House. The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee voted on a party line vote to retain the bill until next year, assuring that no further action will be taken this year. In the Senate, Sen. Avard voted against the bill. A similar bill was passed by the House and Senate last year, but died when leaders in the House and Senate refused to come to an agreement on the final wording of the bill.
Food Stamps Update
The Senate passed SB7, which would restrict eligibility for federal food stamp assistance. The bill was passed on a party line 14-0. Sen. Avard voted in favor of the bill.
More Voter Suppression Shenanigans
SB3 was passed by the Senate this week. The amended version of the bill calls for people who register within 30 days of elections to provide written proof of intent to live in NH. Towns are required to track down this documentation or to visit the address of the voter to obtain documentation. In some cases, a voter can be fined up to $5,000 if they do not produce adequate documentation within 10 days of the election. The voter registration form, already lengthy and complex, is made considerably longer and more complex. Here is a sample of the new language added.
By placing my initials next to this paragraph, I am acknowledging that I am aware of no evidence of actions carrying out my intent to be domiciled at this address, that I will not be mailing or delivering evidence to the clerk’s office, and that I understand that officials may be sending mail to the address on this form or taking other actions to verify my domicile at this address.
That seems crystal clear. The bill was passed by the Senate on a party line 14-9. Sen. Avard voted in favor of the bill.
The House Budget is $11.9 billion over 2 years, $279 million less than the Governor’s proposed budget and up from the $11.3 billion budget for the previous two years. Included are funds to complete a new women’s prison that will offer the same services as the men’s prison, as required by court order. State employees under age 65 will see an increase in retirement premiums and the state will require them to pay a larger percentage of the costs.
To raise revenues, the budget authorizes Keno gambling and expands the lottery to be more accessible on the Internet and smart phones. Funding for adequate education (state funding for public schools) was reduced “to reflect lower student enrollments”. Funding for the University System was flat at $81 million per year. Funding for the Community College System was increased by $6 million. Funding for alcohol and drug treatment and prevention was increased by $21 million to $54.8 million.
However, the budget eliminates the $18 million proposed by Governor Sununu to begin adequacy funding for full day kindergarten.
HB25 would provide $125 million in funding to a wide array of projects, many of which include federal matching funds. Several information technology and roofing projects are included along with new court facilities in Milford and Hampton. $9.6 million is included for improvements for the community college system, plus additional funding for renovations and upgrades to the life science building at Plymouth State. Other improvements are on tap for the state prisons, state library, the Department of Environmental Services, Veteran’s Home and numerous other departments and agencies. HB25 has significant bi-partisan support.
This week, the House will vote on the following bills:
HB1 is the state budget. The House Finance Committee supports the bill 16-9.
HB2 is changes required to implement the state budget. The House Finance Committee supports the bill 16-9.
HB25 is appropriations for capital improvements. The House Public Works and Highways Committee supports the bill 20-2.
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