Wednesday’s vote in the New Hampshire state house was historic. According to the Marijuana Policy Project, it was the first time ever that any state legislative body has voted to legalize the plant! It’s an indicator of how much public opinion has changed on this issue – politicians can’t ignore it anymore. Many politicians in NH are listening and many have changed their minds on this issue. It’s not over, however, the bill now goes back to committee for further tweaking, then will be voted on again by the house, then if it passes again, the NH senate, and finally will reach the hypocritical governor Maggie Hassan.
Hassan has pledged to veto the bill, but the pressure is now on and will only be turning up. In fact, you can help by signing this petition at change.org to tell Hassan to step aside and let this pass. Hassan’s office staff acknowledged the large number of contacts they’ve been getting by people who want to see cannabis legal and issued a pathetic statement affirming her intent to veto, for the children of course. Nevermind that Hassan actively pushes the official state vodka – something that actually *can* harm children and adults.
The house discussion and vote was somewhat confusing to newcomers observing the goings-on, but thankfully liberty-loving state rep Mike Sylvia explains the process for us as well as his critical role. This is an excellent introduction to the workings of the state house:
Here is the quick primer on how it works:
A bill is introduced and assigned to a committee (easy so far). The committee has public hearings where interested parties testify and the committee gets a full education on the topic of the bill. The committee may amend the bill if they choose to. Ultimately the committee will vote on the bill, their vote will be a recommendation to the full house when the bill is voted upon on the floor in session.
If they believe the bill should pass, they will recommend the bill Ought To Pass (OTP). If they believe the bill should die, they will recommend the bill is Inexpedient To Legislate (ITL). There are a few other options that are not necessary in this case.
When the bill comes to the full house with its recommendation, the question that will be asked of the house is “Do you support the committee recommendation?” (sounds simple, right?).
HB 492 came to the floor with an ITL recommendation, so the question is “Do you want to kill this bill which would legalize flowers?” After a little debate on the bill, one member Rep Kappler made a motion to table the bill. A motion to table is a way to ‘sorta’ kill a bill, or at least turn it into a zombie (it can be used as the source of more maneuvering). On the vote to table Rep. JR Hoell (a good guy) made a sacrificial vote (needs explanation, I’ll circle back) to YES table (kill-ish) the bill.
The vote to table failed in a big way 200+/100ish, this was a good sign and showed promise for passage. Debated continued and we came to the First vote to kill the bill.
Now, getting back to the sacrificial vote; remember when you’re in the minority you have more work to do. If ITL wins the majority of the vote the bill is almost dead. Yup, almost.
If you vote on the winning side of a question, you may ask for reconsideration of the vote; ask the house for a do-over. If the house says yes to the question of the reconsideration then we can go back to the original vote to try again. In this case, I made the sacrificial vote to kill legalization (YES to ITL). I had expected the committee recommendation to be overturned (no on ITL) by a good measure but I was wrong. The ITL was upheld by two votes. Had I voted NO (not kill the bill) on the question it would have been a tie. In the event of a tie, the speaker then casts the final vote. I don’t know what the stats are but I would guess the speaker goes along with the committee chair, which in this case would have killed the bill.
Having voted with the prevailing side, kill the bill, I then made the motion to reconsider, which passed, and we went on to vote again on the ITL recommendation, which failed to kill the bill.
At this point, if you’re not lost yet, hang on ’cause we’re not done.
Just because it has not been killed does not mean the bill passed. The bill now needs a motion of OTP and/or an amendment may be made, and then we can go on to vote for the OTP motion. (FK editor: those things both happened, with the final OTP vote being 170 to 162.)
Oh, wait, we’re not done (you didn’t think this would be easy?). Now that the bill has passed this portion of trial by fire, it will go to a second committee, Ways and Means, who will work out details about taxing and regulating.
And Ways and Means will send it back to the full house where we can go at it again. And then to the Senate. And then to the Governor.
Note, if it weren’t for liberty-oriented state reps like Mike Sylvia, this would not have made it. The Free State Project was the key to this success as were all the other great NH natives who love liberty. There is no liberty movement this successful worldwide – we’re winning and we’ve only barely just begun. Stay tuned here to Free Keene for the latest on this issue moving forward.