NH Legislature This Week—February 19, 2018
Brought to you by the Brookline Democrats
Quotes of the Week
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” United States Constitution, Second Amendment
What we have today is not a well regulated Militia.
This special edition of NH Legislature This Week is dedicated to the memory of the 17 people who were murdered at Stoneman Douglas High School and the many others who were wounded.
The murderer, a teenager with a lengthy history of aggression and disturbing behavior, was legally allowed to purchase an AR-15 assault rifle and large amounts of ammunition.
It is difficult to estimate how many guns have flooded the streets of America in recent years. Guns are not only being manufactured, but they are being imported and resold with fewer and fewer regulations and less and less enforcement.
At the same time, gun violence has been escalating. The number and severity of school shootings has increased dramatically, to the point where it is now difficult to get through a week without another school shooting. Offering “thoughts and prayers” has not helped to stem this crisis. It’s time for our leaders to lead and actually do something about it. It is our responsibility as citizens in a Democracy to hold them to it.
As an example of how bad the gun culture in NH is, a $200,000 federal grant to help prevent gun and game crime in Manchester and other cities was recently held up by Executive Councilor David Wheeler (R-Milford, but includes Hollis, Brookline, Mason, Nashua and many other towns in Hillsborough and Cheshire Counties) because the grant proposal included language he felt was “anti-gun”. The proposal states “In February of 2017 Gov. Sununu signed legislation removing the licensing requirement for carrying concealed firearms; it is too soon to tell if this will adversely affect gun crime across the state. The legislation has created some concern for law enforcement requiring strategic planning to address these concerns.” Councilors David Wheeler, Joe Kenney and Russell Prescott voted to table the grant.
The grant application states that between 2015 and 2016, gun crime in Manchester rose 25 percent. There was an all-time high of 57 shootings in 2016, an increase of over 60% from 2015. Much of this rise is associated with the rise in illegal drugs. The grant states that “the number of illicit firearms on the street is alarming.” Councilor Wheeler is working with the grant application writers to remove the language indicating police concerns about the law for unlicensed carrying of concealed, loaded guns. He is also working with the application writers to redirect what the funds would be used for to be less “anti-gun”.
In this week’s newsletter, we have attempted to compile a comprehensive list of all gun related legislation that has been filed during this session (last year and this year) along with the status of each bill. If we as citizens don’t like what has been happening (or not happening) legislatively, than we have to hold our elected officials responsible. If our legislators are spending their efforts to make it easier for mentally unstable to get guns and encouraging more guns to flood our streets, it is time to replace them.
First, let’s quickly look at what laws we do have in place. Not many. The big one forbids towns and schools from enacting restrictions on guns that are not explicitly allowed by state law. There are no restrictions, permits or licenses required to own or purchase a gun or assault weapons. There are no restrictions on the capacity of magazines. There are no restrictions on “bump stock” devices that turn semi-automatic rifles into full machine guns, as was used by the Las Vegas shooter. Last year, the state made it legal to carry concealed pistols and revolvers without a permit. A permit is still offered, but this is just for use in other states where permits are actually needed. Permits are issued by police chiefs, but there are very few circumstances under which an application for permit can be denied.
Currently, it is illegal to carry loaded rifles and shotguns in motor vehicles, but there are several bills to change this. It is also illegal to fire a gun from a motor vehicle. While there are federal restrictions, there are no state restrictions on machine guns, sawed off shotguns, silencers, bombs, grenades, or poison gas weapons.
NH requires licensing for professional sellers and distributors, but there are no background checks required for purchases. It is legal to sell guns to strangers at gun shows without any background checks. While it is illegal to sell a gun to a convicted felon, there is no requirement for a seller to determine if the purchaser is a felon.
Unlike other states, NH does not require fingerprinting for purchasers of handguns, the “ballistic signature” of a gun does not need to be recorded and trigger locks are not required.
Below, we have attempted to compile a comprehensive list of gun legislation filed in NH in 2017 and 2018.
Note: Under “Sponsors:”, the legislator who introduced the bill is always listed first.
Bills to place restrictions on the sale and use of firearms:
Summary: This bill prohibits the manufacture, sale, possession or use of “bump stocks”, which turn semi-automatic guns into fully automatic (rapid fire) guns. This was used by the gunman who killed many people at the Las Vegas concert. Violation of this bill would be a class A misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine).
Sponsors: Sen. Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield), Sen. Kevin Cavanaugh (D-Manchester), Sen. Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), Sen. Dan Feltes (D-Concord), Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth), Sen. Martha Hennessey (D-Hanover), Sen. Betty Lasky (D-Nashua), Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester), Sen. David Watters (D-Dover), Rep. Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook), Rep. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland), Rep. Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst), Rep. Robert Cushing (D-Hampton)
Status: The Senate sent to study, effectively defeating the bill, 14-9. All Republicans voted against the bill. All Democrats voted in favor of the bill except Sen. D’Allesandro (a sponsor) who had an excused absence for the day.
Local votes: Sen. Avard voted against the bill.
Summary: This bill requires commercial firearms sales or transfers to be subject to a criminal background check and provides a criminal penalty for violation. The bill excludes private, noncommercial sales or transfers between individuals, provided neither individual is prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm under state or federal law. The penalty was a class B misdemeanor ($1,200 fine) for the first offense and class A misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine) for subsequent offenses.
Sponsors: Rep. Katherine Rogers (D-Concord), Rep. Marjorie Smith (D-Durham), Rep. Skip Berrien (D-Exeter), Rep. Mary Heath (D-Manchester), Rep. Tim Horrigan (D-Durham), Rep. Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland), Rep. Sue Newman (D-Nashua), Rep. Mary Jane Mulligan (D-Hanover), Rep. Raymond Gagnon (D-Claremont), Sen. Betty Lasky (D-Nashua)
Status: Defeated in the House 151-221.
Local votes: Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr, Gargasz and Lewicke voted against the bill.
Summary: This bill prohibits possession of a firearm at a polling place during a federal, state, or municipal election.
Sponsors: Rep. Wayne Burton (D-Durham), Rep. Gerald Ward (D-Portsmouth), Rep. Sharon Nordgren (D-Hanover)
Status: Defeated in the House 144-204
Local votes: Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr and Lewicke voted against the bill. Rep. Gargasz was not present.
Summary: This bill allows for rental and lease agreements for residential property to include a clause prohibiting tenants from possessing firearms, explosives, or ammunition within the premises.
Sponsors: Rep. Jan Schmidt (D-Nashua)
Status: In House Judiciary Committee. Hearing held on Jan 24. The committee has yet to issue a recommendation.
Local votes: Has not yet come to the full House for a vote
Summary: This bill prohibits the open carrying of a firearm in hospitals and clinics, places where alcohol is sold, polling places, churches, large entertainment venues (5000 people or more), and government and school buildings
Sponsors: Rep. Delmar Burridge (D-Keene)
Status: Defeated in the House 126-194
Local votes: Rep. Belanger, Gargasz and Lewicke voted against the bill. Rep. Ammon and Carr had excused absences for the day.
Bills to expand the use and sale of firearms:
Summary: Allows carrying a loaded, concealed pistol or revolver without a permit and extends the period for which a license to carry a loaded pistol or revolver is valid from 4 years to 5 years.
Sponsors: Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfboro), Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), Sen. Birdsell, Sen. Carson, Sen. Daniels, Sen. Gannon, Sen. Giuda, Sen. Gray, Sen. Innis, Sen. Morse, Sen. Reagan, Sen. Sanborn, Sen. Ward, Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont), Rep. Spilane, Rep. Pearl, Rep. Hinch, Rep. Harrington.
Status: Signed into law by Governor Sununu. Passed the Senate on a party line 13-10 (Republican Sen. Giuda was absent, but was a cosponsor). Passed by the House 200-97.
Local votes: Rep. Ammon, Belanger, Carr and Lewicke voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Gargasz had an excused absence for the day. Sen. Avard voted in favor of the bill and was a sponsor.
Summary: This bill allows the possession of a loaded rifle or loaded shotgun, or a rifle or shotgun with a cartridge in a magazine or clip attached to the gun in a motorhome when not driven.
Sponsors: Rep. Mark Proulx (R-Manchester), Rep. Jeff Goley (D-Manchester), Rep. Linda DiSilvestro (D-Manchester), Rep. Michael McCarthy (R-Nashua)
Status: In a committee of conference. The Senate wants to add a provision to allow loaded guns to be stored in the open beds of moving pickup trucks. The House does not agree with this provision.
Local votes: The House passed the original bill on a voice vote. Sen. Avard offered the amendment to allow loaded guns in pickup trucks, which was approved by the Senate on a party line 14-9 vote. The Senate then voted 15-8 to pass the amended bill with Democratic Senator Jay Kahn of Keene joining the Republicans in support.
Summary: This bill repeals the prohibition on carrying a loaded firearm on an off highway recreational vehicle or a snowmobile.
Sponsors: Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown), Rep. Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield), Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Rep. Chris True (R-Sandown), Rep. Sherman Packard (R-Londonderry), Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), Rep. Ken Weyler (R-Kingston), Rep. Josh Moore (R-Merrimack), Rep. Dennis Green (R-Hampstead), Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfboro), Sen. Harold French (R-Franklin)
Status: In House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee. Hearing held on Jan 16. The committee has yet to issue a recommendation.
Local votes: Has not yet come to the full House for a vote
Summary: This bill allows for the discharge of a firearm within the compact part of a city or town (densely populated) with the written permission of all abutting property owners.
Sponsors: Rep. Caleb Dyer (L-Pelham), Rep. Brandon Phinney (L-Rochester)
Status: Defeated in the House on a voice vote (consent calendar)
Local votes: No recorded vote
Summary: This bill allows anyone who is not otherwise prohibited to carry a pistol or revolver on the grounds of any university system or community college.
Sponsors: Rep. Brian Stone(R-Northwood)
Status: The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 15-5. The minority want the bill to be passed with an amendment specifying that it permits carrying concealed pistols and revolvers. The House will vote on this bill on Thursday.
Local votes: Has not yet come to the full House for a vote
Summary: This bill would permit the use of air rifles in hunting.
Sponsors: Rep. James Spillane (R-Deerfield), Rep.Raymond Howard (R-Alton), Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont), Rep. Josh Moore (R-Merrimack), Sen. John Reagan (R-Deerfield), Sen. Andy Sanborn (R-Bedford)
Status: In the House Fish and Game and Marine Resources Committee. Hearing held on Jan 30. The committee has yet to issue a recommendation.
Local votes: Has not yet come to the full House for a vote
Summary: Current law prohibits towns and schools from regulating the use and possession of firearms except as allowed by the state. This bill would modify that prohibition to specify that only ordinances expressly allowed by the state legislature and not state departments would be allowed. Further, any town or school official that violates the provision could be fined up to $5,000. The bill also explicitly states that a violation of the law is grounds for termination of employment. Also, the town or school would be prohibited from using tax funds to defend itself from any lawsuit regarding this bill. The bill also explicitly authorizes “a person or an organization whose membership is adversely affected by” the bill to file a lawsuit for up to $100,000 plus legal fees. This would turn any effort by local towns or schools to regulate guns into funding opportunities for the NRA using taxpayer dollars.
Sponsors: Rep. J. R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton), Rep. Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield), Rep. Dan Itse (R-Fremont), Rep. Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Rep. John Burt (R-Goffstown), Rep. James Spillane (R-Deerfield), Rep. Jeanine Notter (R-Merrimack), Rep. Al Baldasaro (R-Londonderry), Rep. James McConnell (R-North Swanzey), Rep. Scott Wallace (R-Danville)
Status: The recommendation of the House Municipal and County Government Committee, the House voted to send the bill to study, effectively defeating it 239-71.
Local votes: Rep. Belanger and Garagasz voted to send the bill to study. Rep. Lewicke voted against sending the bill to study. Rep. Ammon and Carr had excused absences for the day.
Summary: This bill removes the prohibition of carrying a loaded rifle or shotgun in or on a stationary motor vehicle, off road recreational vehicle, snowmobile or aircraft. The bill also modifies certain language to be consistent with federal law by citing the federal laws that govern those items.
Sponsors: Sen. Kevin Avard (R-Nashua), Sen. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfboro)
Status: In Senate Judiciary Committee. Hearing held on Feb 13. The committee has yet to issue a recommendation.
Local votes: Has not yet come to the full Senate for a vote
When a tragedy like this happens, it is normal to want to talk about the perpetrator, but it is far more important to remember the innocent victims who paid the price for our easy access to guns.
Jaime Guttenberg, 14
Gina Montalto, 14
Alyssa Alhadeff, 14
Alaina Petty, 14
Cara Loughran, 14
Martin Duque, 14
Alex Schacter, 14
Luke Hoyer, 15
Peter Wong, 15
Carmen Schentrup, 16
Nicholas Dworet, 17
Joaquin Oliver, 17
Helena Ramsey, 17
Meadow Pollack, 18
Scott Beigel, 35, geography teacher and cross country coach
Aaron Feis, 37, security guard and Assistant Football Coach
Coach Chris Hixon, 49, Athletic Director and wrestling coach
Upcoming meetings of the Brookline, Mason and Hollis Democrats
The Brookline and Mason Democrats will be meeting Monday, Feb. 19th (today) at 6:30 at Brusch Hall (36 Main St, behind the old Catholic Church).
The Hollis Democrat will be meeting Tuesday, Feb. 27th (next week) at 6:30 at the Lawrence Barn (28 Depot Rd). They will have candidates for state office Melanie Levesque and Tom Falter (both running for State Senate district 12) andTom Harris and Kat McGhee (both running for state rep. district 40).
Last week, the House voted on the following bills:
HCR13 is a detailed, bipartisan resolution condemning “hate crime and any other form of conduct that constitutes racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination based on age, marriage, familial status, sexuality or gender discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus contrary to law in the state of New Hampshire.” The bill specifically cites statistics and incidents against Muslims, Jews, African Americans, transgendered people, and others. The bill specifically calls on law enforcement officials to “expeditiously investigate all credible reports” and “to hold the perpetrators … accountable and bring the perpetrators to justice”. The resolution is sponsored by a broad, bipartisan range of legislators. There was a motion to table the bill, effectively defeating it, that failed 134-191. Three Democrats and one Libertarian joined 130 Republicans (including Rep. Belanger and Lewicke) in support of the effort to table. The motion was opposed by 149 Democrats, 41 Republicans (including Rep. Gargasz), and one Libertarian. The House ultimately passed the resolution 234-69. Rep. Gargaszvoted in favor of the resolution. Rep. Belanger and Lewicke voted against the resolution. Rep. Ammon and Carr had excused absences for the day.
HB114 would reduce the financial incentives that are aimed at achieving 15% renewable energy by 2025 and would lower the goal to just 6% renewable energy. The House passed the bill 167-164. Rep. Belanger, Gargasz and Lewicke voted in favor of the bill. Rep. Ammon and Carr had excused absences for the day.
This week, the House will vote on the following bills:
HB1616 would prevent regional planning commissions such as the Nashua Regional Planning Commission from applying for or accepting grants or services from the federal government without authorization by the state legislature. Rep. Ammon is the primary sponsor of this bill. The House Municipal and County Government Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 13-0. The bill is on the consent calendar.
HB1283 would prohibit police from using sobriety checkpoints. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be passed 12-8.
HB1298 would allow individuals to file criminal charges against government officials under extremely vague circumstances, namely “attempts to use threats, duress, intimidation, or coercion to diminish any inhabitant’s unalienable rights or privileges” whatever that is supposed to mean. Upon receipt of a complaint, a Country Attorney is directed to file “a criminal action” against the official, although the bill does not define what type of criminal action this would be. Furthermore, if the County Attorney does not file said “criminal action”, then the County Attorney would themselves be “guilty of trespass and nonfeasance” and would be removed from office. The bill is sponsored by Rep. Richard Marple(R-Hooksett), Rep. Ed Comeau (R-Brookfield), and Rep. James Spillane (R-Deerfield). The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 14-6.
HB1542 would permit carrying a pistol or a revolver on college and university campuses. The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee recommends that the bill be defeated 15-5. The majority notes that “providing youngsters with arms in a college environment is not in the best interest of the college community. The minority says “the committee knows that the University System of New Hampshire and Community College System of New Hampshire are imposing a gun ban that is not authorized by statute. Even though we feel this bill is not needed, we supported it because we felt that sometimes, unneeded legislation is just what is needed to force officials to back down from illegal policies which are prohibiting law abiding adults from making their own personal protection choices.”
CACR12 is an amendment to the NH Constitution that would make judges elected instead of appointed. The House Judiciary Committee recommends that the Amendment be passed 9-8. Constitutional Amendments must be passed by a 3/5 majority in both the House and Senate. If passed, it would go on the ballot at the next usual November election where it would need 2/3 approval by the voters to be approved.
CACR16 is an amendment to the NH Constitution which would add a right to privacy. The entire amendment states “An individual’s right to live free from governmental interference in private or personal matters is fundamental.” The House Judiciary Committee recommends that the Amendment be passed 15-2. Constitutional Amendments must be passed by a 3/5 majority in both the House and Senate. If passed, it would go on the ballot at the next usual November election where it would need 2/3 approval by the voters to be approved.
HCR11 is a resolution urging the pardon of Jerry DeLemus. DeLemus was sentenced to seven years in prison for traveling to Nevada to support an armed standoff against the federal government. He spent more than a month in an encampment organizing armed patrols and threatening law enforcement officers who were attempting to protect federally owned lands. The House Judiciary Committee recommends that the resolution be passed 9-8.
Last week, the Senate voted on the following bills:
SB554 would raise the minimum wage from $7.50 per hour to $12.00 per hour incrementally by 2023, but would set the minimum to higher levels if the employer does not offer an employer-sponsored health care plan, with the minimum wage rising to $15.00 per hour. The Senate defeated the bill on a party line 10-14. Sen. Avard voted against the bill.
SB362 would require all candidates for President and Vice President to disclose federal tax returns. The Senate defeated the bill on a party line 10-14. Sen. Avard voted against the bill.
SB545 would raise the minimum age to purchase tobacco products from 18 to 21. Rep. Gargasz is a cosponsor. The Senate tabled the bill on a voice vote. It may or may not be brought back at a later date.
This week, the Senate will vote on the following bills:
SB404 would repeal the Interest and Dividends tax over the course of the next five years. This would reduce state income by tens of millions each year and does not propose how to pay for these tax cuts. By 2025, when the repeal would be fully in effect, revenues would be reduced by $100 million per year. Sen. Avard is a sponsor of the bill. The Senate Ways and Means Committee recommends that the bill be passed 3-2.
House Hearings for this coming week:
House Judiciary Committee (LOB room 208)
HB1787 would allow medical professionals and pharmacists to refuse to provide medical services and prescriptions related to contraception, sterilization, and pregnancy termination. Tuesday 10:00am.
Senate Hearings for this coming week:
House Finance Committee (Representatives Hall)
Sen. Avard is a member of this committee.
SB313 would extend Medicaid. This hearing is for the Republican proposal that is just being unveiled. Tuesday 1:30pm.
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:
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:
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:
Nashua Wards 1, 2, 5, Hollis, Brookline, Mason, Greenville, New Ipswich, and Rindge
Hollis, Milford, Mont Vernon, New Boston
Brookline and Mason
Rep. John Lewicke (R) P: (603) 878-2610 Lewicke@yahoo.com
Brookline and Mason
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