Today HB 1264, the reciprocity bill that anti-2nd Amendment Democrats morphed into a ‘gun control’ commission bill was tabled in the New Hampshire House by a vote of 186 – 150. What this means is the bill can still be brought up again for a vote but it will have to be by next week as it is the last chance for bills during this session. Since Democrats are insistent on keeping their out-of-state gun control lobbyists happy, odds are this bill will be back on next week’s calendar, if not on the floor once again in the morning.
The biggest question of the day surrounding this bill was way Democrats completely gutted the original bill and turned it into something completely unrelated other than one sentence at the bottom of the amendment. This is referred to as ‘germaneness’. This is legislative speak for “"in close relationship, appropriate, relative or pertinent to." According to the National Conference of State Legislatures:
Germaneness means the relevance or appropriateness of amendments or motions to the item under discussion. What does this mean? How does one decide what is germane?
There is no single test for determining when a proposed amendment or motion is germane. When called upon to make a ruling on germaneness, the presiding officer or parliamentarian should:
1. Look to the state constitution, chamber rules, other chamber precedents and adopted parliamentary manual for requirements on germaneness.
2. Develop a personal checklist of test ideas.
3. Use good judgment to make a fair determination.
It seems the committee neither looked to the state constitution or the rules. They clearly didn’t use good judgement in making a fair determination of germaneness. The committee (majority Democrats) voted this ungermane amendment move forward and the Democrat chair ruled it was germane. These are simply shenanigans being played by the majority party in the House at the cost of residents. In New Hampshire there are also specific rules:
A committee of conference may neither change the title of any bill submitted to it nor add amendments that are not germane to the subject matter of the bill as originally submitted to it. For the purpose of this rule, a non-germane amendment is any subject matter not contained in either the House or Senate version of the bill.
Amending bills; non-germane amendments; majority reports considered first.
(a) No amendment shall be made until the second reading of a bill. All amendments to bills shall be prepared by the Office of Legislative Services, with the name of the member and the district represented by the member or the name of the policy committee proposing the amendment.
(b) No amendment shall be added to any bill, resolution, joint resolution or concurrent resolution which is not germane to the subject matter of the legislative document as referred to the Committee, unless the language of the amendment has already been passed by the House in the current session or the amendment has been the subject of a duly noticed public hearing advertised in the House Calendar or, if scheduled after the calendar deadline, posted in the Clerk's Office and outside the committee room at least 24 hours prior to the meeting. Copies of the amendment shall be available at the Sergeant-at-Arms office at least 24 hours prior to the scheduled hearing.
The opponents of the morphed bill were up in arms today during the floor vote. Representative Vaillaincourt spoke several times about how the Committee broke the rules; the first being the germaneness of the amendment. As written yesterday, the bill was originally about reciprocity and had absolutely nothing to do with gun violence studies or gun crime. Democrats in the committee decided to completely change the bill with their amendment which is not germane according to New Hampshire rules. The hearings afterwards are also at issue. Legislators are supposed to be following the rules of the House. They are not only required to do this but they owe it to their constituents.
Rumor has it this bill may be brought to the floor for a vote again in the morning. These gun control representatives just won’t quit. They will continue to push for more gun control in a state that has some of the lowest gun crime in the country; doesn’t have a gun violence issue and will do nothing to stop criminals from committing crimes with guns. It’s egregious that Democrats are wasting so much time on useless legislation that Granite Staters don’t want rather than working to create a better business environment that will create jobs and a better economy. Those are the actual issues of concern to New Hampshire residents.