NH Legislature This Week—February 20, 2017
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
Reactions to the defeat of SB11, an anti-union bill:
“I am deeply disappointed today”, Governor Chris Sununu.
“We’re feeling very good about what happened today, and I think this is a victory for all in the middle class today” Bill McQuillen, director of the Professional Firefighters of New Hampshire.
“I consider it a victory for working families in New Hampshire”, Glenn Brackett, president of NH AFL-CIO.
The House will not be meeting this week, but committee will continue to meet. The Senate will meet on Thursday.
For those who missed our monthly meeting on Wednesday, we were joined by Olivia Zink, Executive Director of non-partisan Open Democracy organization, who spoke about the NH Rebellion project to end the corrupting influence of large donors in politics and to protect our right to vote.
There are a large number of bills in the legislature mostly focused on making it more difficult for college students and members of the military to vote by changing the residency requirements.
There are also several proposals to end the ability of voters to register at the polls, requiring voters to register well in advance of the elections. In November, there were 81,242 election day registrations. Only 6,540 of them used an out of state drivers license as a form of ID. The vast majority were people who had moved from one town or ward to another. Governor Sununu’s proposed budget does not include funding for a full-time elections investigator as requested by the AG to comply with new laws.
Additionally, Olivia informed us of some of the loopholes that are used to get around campaign finance laws and attempts that are being made to close those loopholes. This is a topic that could be explored in depth and will likely be highlighted in future issues, but for now we will point interested readers to their web site www.nhrebellion.org.
WBIN-TV shutdown, layoff
WBIN TV, which was created five years ago by Republican Bill Binnie after his failed bid for U.S. Senate, will be closing it’s doors in the coming months. The TV station was competing with WMUR but last Friday laid off a number of staff. Binnie Media, which owns the station, will transfer some employees to its other media business, which include nh1.com and various radio stations.
Right to Negotiate a Contract
For the umpteenth time, the NH House has defeated legislation that supporters call “right to work”, SB11. The legislation makes it illegal for negotiated contracts to include a provision that non-union members must join or contribute to the union that negotiated the contract. Currently about 25 states have similar laws and enacting them has been a major effort of conservative groups such as ALEC and Americans for Prosperity.
Thirty two Republican legislators joined Democrats in defeating the bill. There were no Democratic votes in favor. The bill has been passed by the Senate and was strongly supported by Governor Sununu.
Edelblut confirmed as NH Education Commissioner
The Executive Council has voted 3-2 along party lines to confirm Frank Edelblut as commissioner of the Department of Education. Councilor David Wheeler (R-Milford) voted in favor of the confirmation.
There has been strong public opposition to the nomination due to his inexperience with public education and his support of creationism over evolution. In a letter to the Governor, the chair of the Board of Education, Tom Raffio, said “After discussion with the public today and among board members, we have to say, Governor, that we share the public’s concerns about Mr. Edelblut’s qualifications for the role of New Hampshire Education Commissioner.” Edelblut home schooled his seven children and so has less experience with public education than a typical parent.
NH Supreme Court Justice Carol Ann Conboy Retires
Justice Carol Ann Conboy has submitted her resignation from the NH Supreme Court effective July 1, 2017. This will give Governor Sununu and the Republicans their first opportunity to nominate a NH Supreme Court justice since Governor Craig Benson nominated Judge Richard Galway in 2005. The current court were all appointed by Democrats with Chief Justice Linda Dalianis nominated to the court by Governor Shaheen and Justices Gary Hicks, Carol Ann Conboy, Robert Lynn and James Bassett nominated by Governor Lynch.
Unfinished Business in NH’s Civil Rights Laws
New Hampshire’s civil rights laws make it illegal to discriminate in employment, housing and public accommodations based on many categories that have historically seen discrimination. This includes age, sex, race, creed, color, marital status, familial status, physical or mental disability, national origin or sexual orientation. However, NH does not explicitly cover transgender people.
HB478 was submitted by Rep. Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location) to include “gender identity” which is defined as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior.” Bills have been submitted in recent years, but support for this legislation is growing and HB478 now has three Republican Senators as sponsors – Sen. Dan Innis, Sen. John Reagan, and former Congressman Sen. Jeb Bradley.
Currently, 20 states and Washington D.C. prohibit employment and housing discrimination based on gender identity. New Hampshire is the only New England state that does not. The House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on HB478 on Tuesday at 1:15 in room 305 of the Legislative Office Building.
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
HB133 would require judges to instruct juries that they have the option of finding someone not guilty even if the state has proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This is known as Jury Nullification. The added instruction would be “Even if you find that the state has proved all of the elements of the offense charged beyond a reasonable doubt, you may still find that based upon the facts of this case a guilty verdict will yield an unjust result, and you may find the defendant not guilty.” The House passed the bill 170-160. Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr, and Lewicke voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Gargasz vote against the bill.
HB203 would establish an independent commission to redraw the legislative districts in 2021, after the next census. The House defeated the bill 164-190. Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr, Gargasz and Lewicke voted against the bill.
HB621 would create a new Road Usage Fee (RUF) that would be paid only by cars that are more fuel efficient. This new tax would be paid as part of the annual car registration. The House tabled the bill on a voice vote. The bill can be brought back at any time by a vote of the House.
HB201 would require background checks to purchase guns through gun shows, online and classifieds. The House defeated the bill 151-221. Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr, Gargasz and Lewicke voted against of the bill.
SB11 would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require all employees to join a union or contribute to a union. The House defeated the bill 177-200. Further, the house voted for Indefinite Postponement, meaning that the subject can not be taken up again by the House during this session. Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr, Gargasz and Lewicke voted in favor of the bill and against Indefinite Postponement.
House Hearings for this week:
Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee (LOB room 305)
HB587 would prohibit “conversion therapy” which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation for persons under the age of 18. “Conversion therapy” is strongly opposed as being harmful by all major medical, psychological, and psychiatric professional organizations. Tuesday 10:00. See also SB224.
HB478 would expand NH’s civil rights laws to inlude “gender identity”. This would prohibit discrimination in employment, housing and public accomodations based on a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior. Tuesday 1:15.
Legislative Administration (LOB room 104)
HB429 claims to be able to overturn the NH Supreme Court decision on education funding. It is a change in laws, not the state Constitution, upon which the decision was based. Sen. Avard is a sponsor. Tuesday 10:50.
This week, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
SB44 would prohibit the state from requiring the implementation of the Common Core standards. The Senate Education Committee recommends that the bill be passed 3-2. Sen. Avard is the prime sponsor.
SB224 would prohibit “conversion therapy” which seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation for persons under the age of 18. “Conversion therapy” is strongly opposed as being harmful by all major medical, psychological, and psychiatric professional organizations. The Senate Health and Human Services Committee recommends that the bill be passed 3-2. See also HB587.
Senate Hearings for this week:
Health and Human Services Committee (LOB room 101)
SB236 would make the Medicaid expansion law permanent. Tuesday 2:00.
Judiciary Committee (Statehouse room 100)
SB233 would legalize the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by people who are at least 21 years of age. Tuesday 9:30.
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