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Steve Winter
State Representative District 3


February  26, 2012
"Stupid Bills "

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).

 

"Just because you can doesn't mean you should." 
Sherrilyn Kenyon, author


I have a certain amount of frustration with the media and even our Republican supporters blaming all Republican House members for some of the ridiculous bills that have shown up in the legislature, mostly in the House of Representatives.

It should not be surprising to my readers that I am as frustrated as you are with the tenor and quality of some of these efforts. We said that we would focus on state spending and the creation of jobs during this biennium and yet we see some bills on a number of far-flung subjects that are obvious distractions.

I hear from some constituents that these bills are unnecessary and they should be stopped so that the legislature does not waste time with them. Unfortunately, that is not possible with the system that has been set up by the General Court, the name we give to our legislature.

I went through this explanation a year or so ago but I would like to review it once again. First of all, most House members do not know about these bills prior to other members filing them. The member who has a bill drafted is not required to get permission to file any bill he or she wants. The member just goes into the Office of Legislative Services and collaborates with an attorney drafter to get assistance in proper drafting. The drafter is not allowed to tell the member that the bill is stupid or inappropriate. The drafter is hired to assist the member by drafting what the member wants.

After drafting, the content of the bill is not public until it is signed by the sponsoring member. It immediately gets an LSR (Legislative Service Request) number and is sent to the Clerk’s office for processing. The Clerk presents the bill to the Speaker who assigns a bill number and decides to which committee the bill will be sent. The House members do not see that numbered bill until it is introduced on the House floor, generally at our first session of the year.

From that point on, all bills go on autopilot. Each bill must go to a committee, the committee must hold at least one public hearing on the bill, and the committee must send it to the floor with a recommendation. In most other states, a bill can be killed in committee. That is not true in New Hampshire. The committee can only recommend action to the full membership.

Most of these "wacko" bills are recommended Inexpedient to Legislate – ITL (Kill) and the full House usually kills the bill. Virtually all of the bills I have considered unworthy of our consideration have been recommended ITL and voted as such on the floor.

It seems a waste but in our very democratic legislative system, all members have the right to file any bill they want as they represent their constituents. It is our job to weed them out and refuse to pass those that go "over the top".

 

Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire 

Telephone:  603-271- 3125 and 271-3319
Email: libertynh@myfairpoint.net

 

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