N.H. State Senate Acts on Bills Vetoed by Gov. Lynch

This afternoon, the state Senate voted on six bills previously vetoed by Gov. Lynch. 16 votes were required to override the Governor’s veto. The bills that were successfully overridden by the Senate today now go to the House for action.

SB 3: Senate overrides Gov. Lynch veto, 19-5

SB 3 makes comprehensive changes to the state pension system.

SB 57: Senate overrides Gov. Lynch veto, 17-7

SB 57

 permits short-term lenders to charge interest rates of up to 

25 percent a month

 on title loans, loans taken out when the collateral the borrower supplies is the title to a car.

SB 88: Senate overrides Gov. Lynch veto, 17-7

SB 88 eliminates the requirement for a permit to carry a concealed weapon, allows gun owners to brandish their weapon, and permits use of deadly force without retreat.

SB 91: Senate overrides Gov. Lynch veto, 17-6

SB 91 prohibits local boards from requiring residential fire suppression systems.

SB 129: Senate sustains Gov. Lynch veto, 7-17

SB 129 would require voters to present photo identification to vote in person.

 SB 154: Senate sustains Gov. Lynch veto, 15-9

SB 154 would end the state’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The initiative reduces carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by requiring the plants to purchase an allowance for the carbon dioxide they emit and distributes the proceeds for energy efficiency initiatives.

WMUR Poll: GOP in Legislature "Important Problem"

6% of New Hampshire adults say the most important problem facing the state of New Hampshire today is “Republicans in the state legislature.” This was the third most frequently cited problem, following jobs and the economy (48%) and the state budget (7%). Republicans in the legislature are seen as a bigger problem than taxes (5%), health care (4%) and education funding (4%).

The WMUR Granite State Pollconducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center, surveyed 558 New Hampshire adults by phone from October 7 to 16, 2011 and has a margin of error of +/-4.1%.

PPP Poll: NH Voters Favor Democrats, 49% - 41%

A new poll from Public Polling Policy indicates New Hampshire voters might be experiencing buyer’s remorse with the Republican majorities they elected to the state legislature in 2010.

By a 49% - 41% margin, voters now say they would vote for a generic Democrat over a generic Republican in their district if the election were held today. This represents a 16-18 point swing from voter sentiment measured just before the 2010 midterm election. In October 2010, a WMUR Granite State Poll found voters favoring Senate Republicans by a 47% - 39% margin and House Republicans by a 47% - 37% margin.

The plurality of voters identified as Independents favor Democrats by a 46% - 34% margin. Voters describing themselves as “moderate” favor Democrats by a whopping 61% - 22% margin.

PPP surveyed 769 New Hampshire voters on March 31-April 3, 2011. The margin of error is +/-3.5%.

Lynch Vetoes Bills to Roll Back Bipartisan Legislation

Yesterday, Gov. Lynch vetoed two bills that would roll back legislative initiatives previously passed with the support of bipartisan majorities.

SB 57 would permit short-term lenders to charge interest rates of up to 25 percent a month on title loans, loans taken out when the collateral the borrower supplies is the title to a car. In 2008, bipartisan legislation capped interest rates on title and payday loans at 36 percent APR. Lynch pointed out 31 states prohibit these high interest loans.

For vulnerable families, these excessive interest charges could force them further into a cycle of debt, and potentially onto public assistance. The New Hampshire Local Welfare Administrator’s Association said the “temporary relief” that may come from a title loan “often comes at the cost of enslaving recipients in a cycle of increasing debt for basic needs, causing an ultimate crash and the need to come to the legal welfare office.” …

That cycle of debt hurts our families, hurts our local communities, and ultimately our economy. Therefore, I am vetoing SB57.

SB 154 would end New Hampshire’s participation in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). The initiative reduces carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by requiring the plants to purchase an allowance for the carbon dioxide they emit and then distributes the proceeds for energy efficiency initiatives. In his veto statement, Lynch cited the bipartisan team that worked to craft the initiative.

[T]he cumulative impact of the initiative through the end of 2010 has been a net benefit of over $16 million in allowance revenue. These are funds that have been invested directly in helping New Hampshire families, businesses and local governments become more energy efficient, reduce costs, and create jobs.

RGGI continues to have bipartisan support today because it is helping to reduce our dependence on foreign oil, creating jobs, and helping our businesses save money and become more competitive. I believe that we should continue that progress. Therefore, I am vetoing this legislation.

Gov. Lynch to Act on 31 Bills by Midnight

Gov. John Lynch has until midnight tonight to act on 31 more bills passed by the legislature this session. Here’s his first batch of responses.

VETOHB 380, to exempt the Commission on the Status of Men from repeal.

People may in good conscience disagree and debate the relative merits of the two commissions. But there can be little disagreement that eliminating the Commission on the Status of Women while extending the Commission on the Status of Men makes little sense.

VETOSB 91, to prohibit local boards from requiring residential fire suppression systems. (The legislature has already overridden the Governor’s veto of HB 109, a similar measure that became law on July 1, 2011.)

The decision of whether or not to require automatic sprinkler systems for new or renovated residential development has been, and should remain, a local one. The State should not preempt local decision-making.

VETO: SB 88, to broaden New Hampshire’s deadly force law.

SB 88 would unleash the potential for increasing deadly violence in our communities. It would allow the use of deadly force on street corners, in shopping malls, public parks, and in retail stores. Drug dealers and other felons who brandish weapons will be further emboldened to use their weapons, while prosecution of those criminals will be made more difficult because of this bill’s expansion of the right to use deadly force.

ICYMI: N.H. Senate Acts on 75 Bills Before Lunch

As the end of the legislative session looms, the state Senate yesterday acted on 75 bills – before lunch. The chamber was addressing bills that had been previously approved by the Senate and then amended by the House.

The Senators could take one of three actions: they could concur with the amended version (after which the bill would then be sent to the Governor for his signature), they could non-concur (which would kill the bill), or they could agree to a Committee of Conference to work out a compromise with the House.

The Senate killed bills that would have established a 24-hour waiting period for abortions (SB 295), allowed towns to refuse to accept refugees (SB 155) and eliminated the the state university system’s chancellor’s office (HB 1692).

Senators approved, and sent to the Governor, legislation creating a school voucher program (SB 372) and a system to monitor prescription drug use (SB 286).

Committees of Conference will be formed to negotiate with the House over medical marijuana (SB 409), photo identification for voting (SB 289), medical malpractice reform (SB 406) and a religious exemption for contraception insurance coverage (SB 356).

[View the story “N.H. Senate Acts on 75 Bills Before Lunch” on Storify]

N.H. Senate Acts on 75 Bills Before Lunch

Storified by William Tucker · Thu, May 24 2012 15:16:09

NH State Senate kills corporate rewrite bill (SB 205); House had turned it into a study. #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

NH Senate quickly kills mini-Xmas tree bill (SB 399) that includes ban on taxing internet data; issue will resurface. #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

#NHSenate non-concurs w #NHHouse on SB378, snow removal & decertifying bargaining units. Bragdon, tongue in cheek, calls it “wonderful bill” The Lobby NH

#NHSenate will concur w/ #NHHouse on SB175, protecting commercial use of a person’s identity, JD Salinger-inspired legislation The Lobby NH

#NHSenate concurs w/ #NHHouse to pass pro- #NHbiz LLC rewrite bill, SB203 The Lobby NH

RT @Klandrigan: #NHSenate kills 14 #NHHouse bills loaded up with non-germane amendments; the final battle is joined The Lobby NH

#NHSenate non-concurs w/ #NHHouse on SB295, maintaining R&D Tax Credit for #NHbiz AND 24-hr waiting period for abortion The Lobby NH

NH Senate votes, 15-5, to endorse House-passed private school education tax credit (SB 372); now goes to Gov. John Lynch. #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

#NHSenate concurs w/ #NHHouse on passing SB286, est. a prescription drug program. The Lobby NH

#NHSenate concurs w/ #NHHouse on SB288, passing health info through health information organization The Lobby NH

As expected, NH Senate again kills a bill requiring a 24-hour waiting period before a woman’s abortion. #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

#NHSenate non-concurs w/ #NHHouse on SB295, maintaining R&D Tax Credit for #NHbiz AND 24-hr waiting period for abortion The Lobby NH

State Senate votes, 11-9, to create conference committee over LGC reform. #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

#NHSenate votes for cmte of conference on SB229, changing #NH retirement system to Defined Contribution plan The Lobby NH

#NHSenate debating forming committee of conference for SB409, legalization of marijuana in #NH The Lobby NH

SB289, presenting photo ID for voting, gets committee of conference on voice vote in #NHSenate The Lobby NH

Thus far, NH Senate has sprinted through 60 bills in 90 minutes. #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

USNH off the hook; Senate kills bill to cut chancellor’s office or require yearly report. (HB 1692). #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

NH Senate goes to conf. committee on medical malpractice reform bill (SB 406); House loaded it with Senate-killed ideas. #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

#NHSenate votes 14-6 for formation of a cmte of conference on SB356, which has non-germain religious exemption for contraception amndmt The Lobby NH

Senate GOP leaders vow to block any effort to ultimately pass contraception exemption; they want original bill (SB 356). #Klandrigan Kevin Landrigan

#NHSenate rips thru 75 bills before lunch, rejects House’s 24-hour abortion waiting period. Now giving each other end-of-session shoutouts. Matthew Spolar

NH Republicans Can't Read a Poll

Here’s what they say:

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt (Salem) says the WMUR/UNH poll backs what Republicans have been saying all along -– that people are most concerned about the economy, jobs, and taxes. “What is most encouraging was the majority of those polled see that spending cuts are the best way to balance the budget, rather than new taxes. [Emphasis added]

What the WMUR Granite State Poll really said: 65% of New Hampshire adults support a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to address the state’s budget shortfall. 29% prefer to rely on spending cuts alone.

Respondents were asked to select the approach they would choose to deal with the budget shortfall. 29% responded entirely with spending cuts, 21% said mainly spending cuts with some tax increases, 35% chose an even balance, 9% said mainly tax increases and some spending cuts, and 2% chose to address the budget shortfall entirely with tax increases.

Cross-posted to Blue Hampshire

Poll: Close NH Budget with Mix of Taxes & Spending Cuts

By a 67% - 29% margin, New Hampshire residents support a mix of tax increases and spending cuts to address New Hampshire’s budget shortfall – rather than relying on spending cuts alone.

In a WMUR Granite State Poll released today, respondents were asked to select the approach they would choose to deal with the budget shortfall. 29% responded entirely with spending cuts, 21% said mainly spending cuts with some tax increases, 35% chose an even balance, 9% said mainly tax increases and some spending cuts, and 2% chose to address the budget shortfall entirely with tax increases.

When asked to identify the most important problem that the State Legislature should address, 48% said the state budget (25%) or jobs/economy (23%). Education funding (7%), taxes (6%) and education quality (5%) trailed. “Almost no one mentioned dealing with hot button social issues such as gay marriage or abortion.”

The comprehensive survey indicates Gov. John Lynch’s job approval (67% - 23%) and personal favorabilty (66% - 17%) ratings have rebounded to 18-month highs. By a 65% - 25% margin, Granite State residents say the state is headed in the right direction.

The Granite State Poll – sponsored by WMUR-TV, and conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center – interviewed 520 New Hampshire adults between January 27 and February 6, 2011. The margin of error is +/- 4.3 percent.

By the Numbers: 1,376 Jobs Lost to State Budget Cuts

1,376. That’s the number of jobs lost in New Hampshire, since July 1, as a direct result of the state budget passed by the GOP-dominated legislature. The Portsmouth Herald reports hospital workers and state employees have been hardest hit by the budget cuts.

ORGANIZATION                        LOCATION        JOBS       NOTICE
Catholic Medical Center . . . . . . Manchester . . . 101 . . . Aug 18
Dartmouth-Hitchcock Hospital  . . . Lebanon  . . . . 300 . . . Aug 10
Elliott Hospital  . . . . . . . . . Manchester . . . 182 . . . Jul 26
N.H. Court System . . . . . . . . . Concord  . . . .  68 . . . May 12
N.H. DOT  . . . . . . . . . . . . . Concord  . . . .  42 . . . Jul 30
N.H. Legal Assistance . . . . . . . Nashua . . . . .  14 . . . Aug 21
N.H. Public Television  . . . . . . Manchester . . .  20 . . . Jun 2
St. Joseph Hospital . . . . . . . . Nashua . . . . . 174 . . . Aug 2
Southern N.H. Medical Center  . . . Nashua . . . . . 100 . . . Jul 28
State of N.H. . . . . . . . . . . . Concord  . . . . 130 . . . Jul 17
University of New Hampshire . . . . Durham . . . . . 200 . . . Apr 13
Wentworth-Douglass Hospital . . . . Dover  . . . . .  45 . . . Aug 11

Republican legislators responsible for the state budget dismissed the report:

When reached for comment through a spokeswoman, House Speaker William O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, issued a statement that said, “Clearly, this is a smokescreen by the Democratic party to detract from the news that they have admitted to breaking campaign laws….

[State Rep. Will Smith] said it is to be expected that budget cuts would cost jobs, but he added not all employment is of economic value to the state….

Gov. Lynch Vetoes Parental Notification Bill

Gov. Lynch tonight vetoed HB 329, which would requires parents or a judge to be notified before a girl obtains an abortion. Lynch reiterated his support for the involvement of parents in a minor’s decision to seek an abortion, but said a bill must meet the following requirements:

  • Contain exceptions for rape, incest and abuse. “A young woman should not be forced to involve the person that abused her in the first place in this decision,” Lynch wrote.
  • Allow a physician to sufficiently exercise his or her best medical judgment and proceed with an abortion when a delay would create a grave and immediate risk to the minor’s health.
  • Provide providers with sufficient guidance on how to comply with the law. The law should include clear standards on what information must be collected from the minor and what records should be kept.

Lynch said he will sign parental notification legislation if the legislature makes the changes he outlined.

    NRA: The NH Legislature's "Dangerous Delusion"

    How radical is the Granite State’s Tea Party/Free State/GOP-dominated legislature? So radical they make the National Rifle Association look moderate. That’s right. The organization that once referred to federal agents as “jack-booted government thugs” is appalled by the New Hampshire legislature and schools them on the Constitution’s division of powers between the states and the federal government.

    First of all, however one might feel about federal gun control law, it obviously applies in New Hampshire. To ignore that fact is to entertain a dangerous delusion that could lead to very serious consequences…

    Senate candidate Kevin Avard: Al Qaeda is coming after you, how are you going to defend yourself?

    Image: facebook.com

    Former state House Representative and District 12 Senate candidate Kevin Avard (R-Nashua) asks, “How are you going to defend yourself” against Al Qaeda “if your politicians start voting to take away your guns?”

    What’s frightening is that you have ISIS or Al Qaeda across the country teaching children how to kill from a very young age, to cut people’s heads off. That’s their world. They’re being trained on a regular and they’re being brainwashed.

    I’m not paranoid, but I think when you have thousands of people crossing our borders on a regular basis. When you don’t know who’s coming in. Could it be Al Qaeda? Could ISIS be coming to our country? How are you going to defend yourself if your politicians start voting to take away your guns? Their guns aren’t going to be taken away. They’re coming after you.

    Avard made his comments while hosting Speak Up, which airs on Nashua public access television. His guests were gun rights activists Susan Olsen and state Rep. JR Hoell (R-Dunbarton), who were promoting Packing NH, a political action committee dedicated to recruiting and electing legislators who support their gun rights agenda.

    Video: youtube.com
    ACLU to challenge N.H. educational tax credits

    Bill Duncan writes that a court challenge to the new educational tax credit law is in the works.

    The New Hampshire ACLU is committed to challenging the constitutionality of vouchers in New Hampshire on the basis that public money cannot go into religious education. [email]

    Article 83 of the New Hampshire Constitution states, “no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination.”

    Students attending sectarian schools can receive the so-called scholarships under the new law. Supporters claim the system of tax credits and scholarship organizations evades the Constitutional prohibition. The ACLU apparently disagrees and will ask the Courts to decide.

    House Bill Threatens State's $1.4B Medicaid Program

    New Hampshire’s $1.4 billion Medicaid program could be jeopardized, writes Norma Love, by proposed legislation that would prohibit the use of public funds going to any health care provider who performs elective abortions.

    House Bill 228, which the House passed in January with a 207-147 vote, originally targeted Planned Parenthood but was subsequently expanded to include any hospital, clinic or doctor regardless of whether public funds are used to pay for the abortion services.

    If the bill becomes law, the federal government could potentially shut down the state’s Medicaid program for lack of compliance with its rules. That action would leave the state on the hook for the federal government’s half of the annual $1.4 Medicaid budget.

    “States are required, for example to exclude providers that commit fraud or certain criminal acts. States are not, however permitted to exclude providers from the program solely on the basis of the range of medical services they provide,” wrote CMS director Cindy Mann.

    Lisabritt Solsky, New Hampshire’s deputy Medicaid director, said the bill could violate a federal provision that allows Medicaid recipients to receive services from any willing provider….

    “State Medicaid programs are required to assure Medicaid members have the same access to medical services as those that have commercial coverage,” Solsky said.

    House Speaker Bill O'Brien pooh-poohed the risk as a “hypothetical horrible” and said he doesn’t trust the guidance provided by the Obama administration.

    “Sometimes when you allow conscience objection or religious freedom to have a play in individual’s decisions then the temptation is always to draw out what I call the hypothetical horribles and say, ‘What if this, what if that,’ but those hypothetical horribles really don’t show up,” O'Brien said.

    H.B. 228 now moves to the Senate Health and Human Services Committee where it will receive a public hearing this spring.

    Taking Stock of New Hampshire's GOP Budget

    Rep. Cynthia Chase takes a look at how the state is faring under the budget, opposed by Democrats and moderate Republicans, that cut funding for many state services that formed our social safety net.

    • [T]he finance committee decided to keep the federal [Medicaid] reimbursement funds. … The net result: a $250 million cut to our hospital operating budgets over two years.
    • A recent report by the U.S. Department of Justice said that the New Hampshire mental health system is in crisis.
    • The Children in Need of Services (CHINS) program … has been cut to 50 children from over 1,500, with the fallout being experienced by schools and families across the state.
    • [T]he cost cutting to higher education has left New Hampshire in-state students with the dubious distinction of graduating with the highest debt load of any state in the nation.
    • This Legislature has passed the most frightening relaxation of gun laws seen in modern times.
    • Other items facing cuts are Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, heating assistance, social service agencies and senior services.

    “The majority in Concord,” she concludes, “appears to see no reason why they should be concerned about the needs of others less fortunate than themselves.”

    NH Ranked 4th Highest in Marijuana Use

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration ranks New Hampshire as having the 4th highest (pun intended) level of pot use in the country. SAMHSA estimates 14.9% of New Hampshire residents smoke pot, trailing only Colorado, Vermont, and #1 Alaska.

    Why are there so many stoners in New Hampshire? According to the Justice Department’s National Drug Intelligence Center, New Hampshire’s pot preference is nothing new. A 1997 DOJ survey found marijuana was the state’s drug of choice “even among elementary school age youth.”

    HB 442, a bill to permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, passed the New Hampshire House by a 221-96 veto-proof majority. The state Senate postponed legislative action by tabling the bill. In 2009, Gov. Lynch vetoed similar legislation.

    NH Budget Will Slow Economic Recovery & Job Creation

    Speaker Bill O'Brien claims the GOP's 2012-2013 state budget will “help our economy grow and create jobs.” Not so, says Michael Leachman, Senior Policy Analyst with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Leachman explains why the budget, which relies on substantial cuts to services, “will slow the economic recovery and undermine efforts to create jobs.”

    Cutting state services not only hurts vulnerable residents but also slows the economy’s recovery by reducing overall economic activity. When states cut spending, they lay off employees, cancel contracts with vendors, reduce payments to businesses and nonprofits that provide services, and cut benefit payments to individuals. All of these steps remove demand from the economy.

    Moreover, many of the services that states are cutting are important to states’ long-term economic strength. For instance, research shows that in order to prosper, businesses need a well-educated, healthy workforce. Many of the budget cuts described here will weaken that workforce by diminishing the quality of elementary and high schools, making college less affordable, and reducing residents’ access to health care. That, in turn, could slow the state’s economic growth over the long term.