We learned that the 37 bills that we spent time voting on today would have been all done on Feb 20th if we didn’t waste 4 hours on that day, at the Speaker’s discretion, reprimanding 8 legislators for not attending Sexual Harassment Training. Now we are behind in our schedule and we will have 350, or more, bills to take up within two very long days next week in order to meet legislative deadlines. Of course, the reprimanding action was “so crucial and urgent” that apparently we can wait until April to do the other 6 legislators who also did not attend sexual harassment training. Perhaps the next time House Rules are decided upon we can have the House Democrats attend Time Management Training. To add insult to injury we’ll be losing an hour this weekend with the time change.
We learned that the House Majority Party Democrats decided it was “SMART” to spend $2.4 million of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) funding to implement an automobile voter registration system (SB7), so that when you register your car you can also register to vote. This is the so-called “SMART Act” (Secure Modern Accurate Registration Act) and it is a “motor voter” bill. All this despite the fact that we are already a same day voter registration state. The DMV is not thrilled at taking on the task of doing voter registrations. The DMV doesn’t want to do the training or produce materials for this program and the Secretary of State will need extra staff to deal with that and more. Money for that will, at some point, most likely come from the General Fund. Sounds like a “STUPID” idea (Spending Taxes Under the Pretense of Improving Decision-making).
We learned that the House Majority Democrats tabled a “reproductive medical decision” bill (CACR14). It was ITL’d (killed) in the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 18-2. The House Majority Democrats didn’t have the heart to actually abort this unwanted bill. This bill would have inserted “reproductive rights” into our State Constitution. Overall, the Judiciary Committee felt that the provisions of the bill were contradictory, confusing and open to unintended consequences. How fitting that, in the end, House Democrats are perfectly willing to leave this abortion bill on the Table to die.
We learned that the House Majority Democrats also Tabled the Helmut Law bill (HB1621-FN) even though hundreds of people came out and filled Reps Hall in opposition to the bill. Instead of following the Transportation Committee’s recommendation to ITL (kill) the bill, they just couldn’t bring themselves to concur. Seems to me they need to have their heads examined.
We learned that after members of their party turned down $46 million in education funding grants, some House Democrats whined that we needed to put a sales tax on electronic devices in order to raise money for education. Of course being an election year only 11 Democrats voted for this sales tax bill (HB1492-FN-A-Local). 320 House members voted wisely against it. Additionally, 7 House Democrats voted for a tax on ski area tickets (HB1652-FN-A) while 323 House members again voted wisely against it. Thank goodness both of those taxes got axed.
We learned that not all taxes were rejected by the House Majority Democrats. They chose to adopt a tax increase, from 8% to 40%, (HB1699-FN-A) on electronic cigarettes just 63 days after voting for an initial vape tax. This will of course hurt vape shops and may cause many vape customers to buy supplies over the Internet. People use vaping products to wean themselves off of smoking tobacco. For them and others, their costs will go up. No doubt, vape stores will see their profits go up in smoke.
We learned that Rep Verville asked the Speaker to clarify Rule 63. It states, “With the exception of devices for the hearing impaired, no member shall operate audible electronic transmitting and/or receiving devices nor shall any member operate a video camera or a camera utilizing flash bulbs on the floor of the House, while the House is in session.” The Speaker basically said that it is NOT OK for House members to have their phones audible, especially when receiving phone calls, but it IS OK for House members to use their electronic devices while in House session. They are allowed to look up roll call votes, research information, and “communicate with their constituents” via social media and text, while in House session. So you can do whatever you want on your phone/device as long as it is muted. I would imagine most did not get his explanation since they were scrolling Facebook, Tweeting, or playing Candy Crush Saga.
Finally, we learned the meaning of the word perambulation. The House ITL’ed (killed) a bill (HB1441) that would have removed the 7 year requirement for Town Selectboards to walk their town lines in search of boundary issues. The feeling was that it was a NH tradition that was to be kept intact. As a result, they should hang onto their hiking boots.
Wednesday and Thursday (3/11 and 3/12) next week will be a doozy as we tackle the mountain of 350+ bills before us. Both days will begin at 9:00 am and are guaranteed to go very late.