We learned that sometimes it is wise to start out the day with a fresh start and a clearing of the air. That is what Speaker Packard did with a short and heartfelt “personal privilege” speech beginning Day 2 at the Bedford Sportsplex. He spoke about the unfortunate events which happened at the end of yesterday’s session when frustration, anger, and fatigue hit the chamber.
He spoke about how this is not how it should be and that we should work together for the people of our state. He spoke about being able to disagree without being disagreeable. Those words, and more, were good honest sentiments and ended with a handshake between Speaker Packard and Minority Leader Cushing. It was a much-needed moment that lent an air of solemnity to the morning.
It was also nice that after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance that we all sang the Star-Spangled Banner together, which unfortunately had been omitted yesterday.
We learned that the first order of business was the special ordered bill HB586, which dealt with planning boards, financial incentives for developers, and workforce housing. That bill ended up being Tabled in a slim vote of 175-172. Rep. Griffin noted that there were many problems with that bill and it needed some work.
Later in the day there was an attempt to remove it from the Table, but Rep. Griffin reminded us that no work had been done on that bill during the day, so taking it off the Table still left us with a problematic bill. The vote to take it off the Table failed 164-175. I think it should stay on the Table – and maybe we should stick a fork in it as well. This bill favors land developers, seeks to promote workforce housing where it might not be wanted, and local zoning boards are not in favor of it.
We learned that after seeing people pulled out of their vehicles and beaten in cities where rioting took place, the NH House decided to pass HB197 (206-144). This bill expands the right for people to use deadly force to protect themselves and their families against unlawful force during the commission of a felony while inside their vehicle. Another bill having to do with deadly force, HB81, was tabled since it was discovered that it contained some issues with wording.
We learned that the Democrat caucus wanted to prohibit the use of rubber bullets and tear gas by law enforcement (HB564). They claimed that those deterrents were “deadly” and should not be used. In fact, the Democrat Representative debating this bill, in favor of Ought To Pass, said that in these “peaceful protests” over the summer that rubber bullets and tear gas should not have been used on “uncooperative people.” In case you did not know, that is the new term for “rioters.” That bill was disposed of, 225-126.
We learned that even though the Democrat caucus keeps saying how they support education, you would not know it by their NO votes on the 7 education bills that we tackled today. One on transparency regarding adequacy funding (HB110) passed 190-152.
There was another regarding annual school assessment testing which gives timely parental notification of said testing (HB194). That bill passed 193-152.
Then, the bill that actually finally defines what an adequate education means (HB242) was passed 198-149. That bill, by defining what is contained in an adequate education, now creates a pathway to decide funding policies.
The House also passed Rep. Moffett’s Civic Competency bill (HB320) which requires high school students to pass a citizenship exam in order to graduate. That one passed 208-141.
Then we passed (201-146) the school nurse certification requirement bill (HB349) which allows schools to decide for themselves what criteria to use in order to hire a school nurse. That was the bill that Rep. Tanner took much heat about during the hearings after she criticized nurses that didn’t have a Bachelor’s Degree. Tanner stated, “I don’t know about you, but when I’m in the hospital and a nurse walks in the room I don’t want just some ‘Jeannie Smith off the sidewalk’ that’s maybe taken two years at a community college with basic education and I have something that’s very technical.”
During the House debate, Rep. Mullen also told us how important it is to have certifications…. because “certifications lead to salary and benefits”. So there we have the real truth behind all of these required certifications. Now we don’t have to pretend that it’s for anything else.
Next we passed HB513 (190-150) which grants degree-granting authority to Signum University, an innovative online learning institution.
And finally, speaking about innovation: the Democrat caucus is ALWAYS talking about what can be done to make public schools better. This bill (HB609) was totally about doing that, but they voted against it (192-156)! The bill allows for schools to be exempt from certain rules and regulations if the education innovation plan they come up with needs some rules to be suspended. So here you have it: 7 chances to improve public education and the Democrat caucus voted against every single one of them. They continue to protect the status quo.
We learned that our legislature will spend 40 minutes seeking to speed things up by debating a motion to limit debate time. How’s that for irony? Several motions later, nothing had changed since the motion to limit debate was voted down 156-193.
We learned that parliamentary procedure can be exhausting. We were just about to begin Election Law bills and might have even taken up the SB43 Windham bill at that time. Instead, we ended the day with an hour and a half “motion extravaganza” replete with all sorts of parliamentary procedure maneuvering.
We debated an issue regarding remonstrances. Those are expressions of protest, complaint, or reproof by a member of the public (our constituents) which is sent to the legislature. They are supposed to be addressed by the Speaker, ultimately to be assigned to a committee and dealt with. Rep. Howard brought up the fact that 2 remonstrances, both outstanding for 2 years, have not been addressed, and he offered 2 separate motions to have them heard by a committee.
Of course it would have been settled right then had his motions been supported, but alas, the Democrat caucus had a huge problem with it. The notice of the remonstrances were made in the House Calendar #5, but apparently, no one in their caucus took the time to inquire with the Clerk’s office about them.
Rep. Weber and others claimed they could not vote on the motion to send them to the committee since they did not know what they were all about. So they motioned to Table both.
Then there was a few motions regarding having the whole of the remonstrances printed in the next House Calendar until it was discovered they totaled 65 pages long (It’s actually 40). Then we spent a while arguing through motions of printing a link to them in the House Calendar or putting them on the General Court website.
Then there was another motion to limit debate on this topic and one about printing the entire remarks and debate on this whole issue in the House Calendar. All failed. Of course, through it all, we had roll call votes, points of order, parliamentary inquiries, and motions to amend motions. It was confusing, time-consuming, and in the end, everything was Tabled; even the motions to have the remonstrances heard by a committee.
So we still have 2 remonstrances outstanding and needing to be acted upon by House leadership. Hopefully, they will be acted upon soon. Maybe the House should create a Remonstrance Committee to deal with them. Thursday evening the House Clerk emailed the links to the remonstrances to House members, so now they can read them.
Finally, we learned to look on the bright side. Everyone in the NH House got some good practice on parliamentary procedure, both on what to do and what not to do! Unfortunately, we left about 17 bills undone, so there will be more House Session time coming up. Stay tuned!