NH Legislature This Week—February 9, 2017
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quote of the Week
“There is no one in our way but us.” Governor Chris Sununu addressing the NH Republican Party at an annual meeting.
Governor’s Budget Address
Governor Sununu will address a special joint meeting of the legislature on Thursday at noon to address his priorities for his budget proposal.
Concealed Gun bill close to becoming law
A perennial bill in the NH Legislature has been to allow any gun owner to carry a loaded, concealed gun. Law enforcement has been strongly opposed to this, but with a new Republican governor and a Republican legislature, the bill is close to becoming law. The legislature has been fast tracking this bill as an ultra-high priority. The Senate has already passed it and the House has already sent it through committee and is set to vote on it on Thursday. Normally, the House does not take up Senate bills until after crossover, which is March 23rd. Assuming that it passes the House, Governor Sununu could sign it into law as early as Thursday.
Rep. Robert Marple (R-Hooksett) has some filed some interesting bills this year
Rep. Marple is a 5th term Republican from Hooksett with strong ties to the Free State movement.
Most recently he has been arrested for driving without a license in May 2016. When he didn’t pay his fine, he was arrested on a bench warrant, at the polls on November 8th, Election Day (he proceeded to win reelection). In January, he appeared in court, arguing that the state of New Hampshire has no right to issue licenses to individuals. His 22 page brief to the judge, declaring his residence to be “Hooksett, New Hampshire Republic”. Here is a look at some of the bills that he has introduced this year.
HB292 would allow individuals who have a lien on their property due to nonpayment of taxes to have a right to trial by jury.
HB374 would create a process in which any citizen who feels that their rights are being violated in any unspecified way may file a complaint with the offending government department and the secretary of state. If the department does not respond with 30 days, then the complaint is automatically considered to be valid and any demand made in the complaint would be granted.
HB382 would prohibit the use of electronic warrants, requiring paper warrants instead. Rep. Marple was recently arrested under an electronic warrant.
HB598 would make motor vehicle registration voluntary.
HB618 would eliminate the bureau of certificate of title (which maintains records of car ownership) and “orders the attorney general to immediately investigate and determine who initiated the deception that has burdened the people with the excessive cost of their right to travel. Upon such determination the attorney general shall prosecute the culprits that have unlawfully trespassed upon the people’s right to travel and committed the common law crime of unlawful conversion of people’s private property.” In case there is any doubt as to who Rep. Marple suspects is “the culprit”, the bill is titled “AN ACT eliminating the bureau of certificate of title and providing for the criminal prosecution for its supervisor.”
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
Note: Rep. Gargasz was not able to be present in the legislature this day.
HB129 and HB297 would repeal the education tax credit. This law was enacted in 2012 as an end-run around the NH Constitution’s prohibition against using tax money to support religious schools. Under this law, businesses can reduce their taxes by providing scholarships for charter schools and religious schools. In 2016, $385,000 was redirected from state tax revenue to support these scholarships, around 70% of which went to religious schools. HB129 was defeated 154-205. HB297 was defeated 157-206. Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr and Lewicke voted against both bills (i.e., to keep the tax credit).
HB191 would allow towns to purchase a bond for the purpose of expanding broadband Internet services. The House defeated the bill 168-193. Rep. Lewicke voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Ammon, Belanger and Carr voted against the bill.
Next week, the House will vote on the following bills:
The House will meet on Thursday.
SB12 would repeal the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver. This bill was passed by the Senate on a party line 13-10 vote on January 19th. Sen. Avard is a sponsor. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed 12-8.
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 Judiciary Committee recommends that this bill be passed 10-8.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee (LOB room 205)
HB610 would create a needle exchange program. Needle exchange programs allow people who use drugs illegally to exchange used needle for clean ones in an effort to reduce the spread of disease. Tuesday 1:15.
House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee (Representative’s Hall)
SB11 would prohibit collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to the labor union that negotiated the contract. Wednesday 10:00.
House Science, Technology and Energy Committee (Representative’s Hall)
HB592 would repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) which requires utility companies that emit greenhouse gasses to provide funding for clean energy initiatives. Tuesday 10:00.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
Senate Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee (LOB room 102)
SB111 would establish a bipartisan commission to evaluate New Hampshire’s response to Russian interference in the election of 2016. The commission would look at divesting New Hampshire retirement system investments in Russian companies and ending purchases of Russian liquor by the New Hampshire Liquor Commission. Tuesday 10:00.
Senate Health and Human Services Committee (LOB room 101)
SB224 would prohibit “conversion therapy” for persons under 18 years of age. “Conversion therapy” is a practice supported by certain religious and socially conservative organizations of attempting to change a person’s sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. The practice can be harmful to patients and is opposed by all major psychological, psychiatric, and medical organizations. Tuesday 2:15.
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