NH Legislature This Week—January 30, 2017
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments. We also assess Putin and the Russian Government aspired to help President-elect Trump’s election chances when possible by discrediting Secretary Clinton and publicly contrasting her unfavorably to him. All three agencies agree with this judgment. CIA and FBI have high confidence in this judgment; NSA has moderate confidence.” Recently declassified government Intelligence Community Assessment.
“The fact that it fell out means I need to find a better way of carrying it. My firearms instructor advised against carrying it that way.” Rep. Carolyn Halstead (R-Milford) explaining why her gun fell out of her waistband during a public hearing on kindergarten.
We are back!
Well, that was a nice vacation, but it is time to get back to work. We did not publish NH Legislate This Week last year because it takes a considerable amount to time and effort to put these together each week and dedicating a large portion of the weekend every week from January to June is a big commitment. We appreciated taking a year off, but we could not let this current legislature go by without keeping you informed.
In the past, we have seen many bills be defeated that would be harmful to our public education, health care, civil rights, reproductive rights and environment. However, many times they were defeated because there was a Democratic Governor waiting to veto them. Often, bills would be defeated in the legislature because leadership knew that they would not become law and did not want to create media focus on these issues if there was no chance of success.
Unfortunately, those days are over. With the Republicans now in charge of the House, Senate, Executive Council and Governor’s office, it remains to be seen what influence Democrats and moderate Republicans will have on the outcome.
Guns without Safety Training
In recent years, there have been at least five incidents in the Statehouse in which improperly holstered guns owned by legislators have fallen on the floor during hearings and other occasions over the last six years. A couple of weeks ago, a gun owned by Rep. Carolyn Halstead (R-Milford) fell on the floor during a hearing on kindergarten. This has become a state embarrassment and a regular topic of news articles.
Describing the situation as “a tragedy waiting to happen”, Rep. Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) proposed a rule change to require gun safety training before being able to bring a gun in the statehouse. House Majority Leader Rep. Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) described the proposal as “unacceptable.”
The rule change was defeated along a largely party line vote of 156-208. Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr, Gargasz and Lewicke all voted against the rule.
Edelblut nomination as Secretary of Education
On Tuesday, the Executive Council will hold a public hearing on the nomination of Frank Edelblut to lead the Department of Education. Edelblut ran for the Republican nomination for Governor, but lost the primary to now Governor Chris Sununu. Edelblut is facing significant criticism for his support of teaching creationism in science classes and his lack of job experience in education. He has home-schooled his seven children, leaving him without much experience with public education as a parent. During his campaign, he stressed his opposition to Common Core, which sets a minimum standard for education for all students.
Next week, the House will vote on the following bills:
The House will meet on Thursday.
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. The House Education Committee recommends that these bills be defeated 12-7.
HB191 would allow towns to purchase a bond for the purpose of expanding broadband Internet services. The House Science, Technology and Energy Committee recommends that this bill be defeated 14-7.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
Rep. Gargasz is a member of this committee.
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. Wednesday 10:00 in Representatives Hall.
HB640 would de-criminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana by people at least 21 years old, but possession would still be subject to a fine. Wednesday 1:00 Representatives Hall.
HB656 would legalize and tax possession of marijuana by people at least 21 years old. Wednesday 2:00 Representatives Hall.
House Election Law (LOB room 308)
HB320 would change the process for drawing district maps after the census every 10 years to use a computer algorithm that would equalize the number of people per district while minimizing the total land area of each district. Wednesday 10:30.
House Executive Departments and Administration Committee (LOB room 308)
HB 540 would prohibit the Department of Health and Human Services from applying for federal grants related to climate change. This would end an existing program funded by the Centers for Disease Control that provide support services and regional/local planning for extreme weather events. Tuesday 2:30.
House Judiciary Committee (LOB room 208)
HB578 would ban pregnancy termination after “viability” defined as being capable of surviving on life support systems. Wednesday 10:00.
House Science, Technology and Energy Committee (LOB room 304)
HB493 would require that high capacity gas pipelines shall pay full fair market value and other expenses for land taken through eminent domain. Also, at least 74% of the gas transmitted would need to be distributed within New Hampshire. Rep. Lewicke is a sponsor. Wednesday 11:00.
HB179 would prohibit taxes and fees on electric ratepayers to finance high pressure gas pipelines. Rep. Lewicke is a sponsor. Wednesday 1:30.
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 email@example.com.
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.firstname.lastname@example.org
Rep. Carolyn Gargasz (R) P: (603)465-7463 email@example.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Brookline and Mason
Rep. John Lewicke (R) P: (603) 878-2610
Brookline and Mason