AFSC’s New Hampshire State House Watch newsletter is published weekly during legislative sessions to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, the death penalty, immigration, and labor rights. AFSC also follows the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more.
The House will be in session on Tuesday, January 9 at 9 AM.
The Senate will return to full session on Thursday, January 18, at 10 AM.
Last Week’s Votes
SB 247, preventing childhood lead poisoning from paint and water, passed the House on a roll call vote of 266-87. The bill was amended in committee and twice from the floor, so it now goes back to the Senate for concurrence, with support from Governor Chris Sununu.
“Childhood lead poisoning is a problem of statewide concern, affecting New Hampshire kids in rural and urban communities alike, and across all demographics, said Tom Irwin, director of the New Hampshire office of the Conservation Law Foundation. “But it’s a problem that disproportionately affects low-income families and some of our most vulnerable populations, and by impeding the ability of children to learn, it’s creating yet another barrier for families trying to break the cycle of poverty. Today, the House took an important step towards better protecting New Hampshire’s children and families.”
HB 372, the latest bill to attempt to redefine “domicile” and “residence,” passed the Senate on a 14-9 party line vote, with the GOP Senators united in favor. Under this bill, anyone who wants to vote in New Hampshire would have to get a state driver license (if they drive) and register their car here (if they own one). The cost would almost certainly be a deterrent, which appears to be the goal of this bill, which could also be called a poll tax. It appears to be geared largely toward reducing voter participation by college students, an objective which has been strongly criticized by Governor Chris Sununu. Because of the Senate amendment, it will have to return to the House for concurrence (or non-concurrence). Our friends at the NH Campaign for Voting Rights urge those who oppose the bill to call Governor Sununu’s office (603-271-2121) and urge him to veto the bill if it gets that far. An article on Slate.com ties the bill to a nationwide effort at voter suppression. Read the article, “New Hampshire Republicans are Closer to Passing their Trump-Inspired Poll Tax” here.
SB 193, establishing education freedom savings accounts for students was voted OTP/A by the House in a roll call vote of 184-162. It has been referred to the Finance Committee. It allows families who take their kids out of public school to claim $3,500 or more in state money and put it in an “education savings account” to spend on private school or home schooling. This includes religious schools. The freedom accounts are a go-between, apparently intended to sidestep the constitutional prohibition on spending tax dollars on religious schools. This measure also gives taxpayer funds, accountability, and oversight to a private organization. The Concord Monitor has a good explanation of the pros and cons. This comment from Chair of the House Education Committee, Rick Ladd, is troubling: “We have an education system in this state where we have many fine public schools, but from top down, from Washington, DC to Concord, the establishment has overregulated this industry, this business…” We say education is not an industry nor is it a business.
As we hoped, HB 544 the bill concerning earned time credits for prisoners participating in educational programs was sent to interim study. Our next hope is that this isn’t just a polite way to kill it, that there really will be study.
Next Week in the House
The House will be in session on Tuesday, January 9, starting at 9:00 AM, with a calendar of bills carried over from last week, including:
HB 592, which weakens RGGI; HB 656, legalizing marijuana; HB 587 and SB 224, banning conversion therapy; and HB 628, the family medical leave insurance bill. HB 438, the bill to eliminate automatic union dues payments for state employees, which came out of the Labor Committee with a unanimous vote for its defeat, was removed from the consent calendar and will get a vote on the House floor.
Coming up this week in House Committees
Wednesday, January 10
Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB
10:00 AM HB 1380 allows for the discharge of firearms within the compact part of a city or town with the written permission of all abutting property owners.
10:20 AM HB 1730 establishes a public safety enhancement revolving fund, to provide a grant program for body cameras worn by police. It would help fund body cameras for local, county, and state police. The fund would be generated by the creation of a four-number vanity plate. The plate would cost $40 and the monies would go to the fund, which would also accept grants and private donations.
10:40 AM HB 1542 This would allow anyone not prohibited by state or federal law to carry a revolver or pistol on the exterior grounds of any university system or community college.
11:00 AM HB 1566 This would prohibit the open carrying of a firearm in certain places where medical services are provided, any place holding a valid liquor license, a polling place during any election, houses of worship, any entertainment venue seating more than 5,000 people, or any public building. Public buildings are defined as any building owned by the state or its subdivisions, including USNH and the community college system.
1:20 PM HB 1820 would require all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. This would be funded by the state.
1:40 PM HB 1511 This bill amends the definition of fetus for the purpose of certain homicide charges, and removes the immunity from criminal charges for acts committed by a woman relative to the fetus. In other words, a woman obtaining an abortion after eight weeks could be charged with murder.
Executive Departments and Administration, Room 306, LOB
2:30 PM HB 1604, renaming Columbus Day as “Indigenous People’s Day.”
Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services, Room 307, LOB
10:30 AM HB 1222 This prohibits an employer from requiring a prospective employee to disclose his or her salary history prior to an offer of employment. The bill makes the case that requiring a salary history is not necessary to negotiate a fair wage, and does, in fact, lead to the perpetuation of a wage gap that disproportionately affects women and people of color.
11:00 AM HB 1246 relative to the minimum hourly wage for tipped employees. This increases the minimum wage for tipped workers from $3.27 to $4.27 in 2019. In 2020, the minimum wage for tipped employees would be the same as the state or federal minimum, whichever is higher. The bill stipulates that tips received by employees shall be in addition to, and not a component of the minimum hourly wage.
Legislative Administration, Room 104, LOB
9:00 AM HB 1301 This bill would establish the legislature as a public employer under the labor relations act, and establishes procedures for collective bargaining by non-partisan employees. Non-partisan employees are defined as employees whose purpose is to serve the institution of the general court. Currently, the right of legislative employees to unionize is not protected by law.
11:30 AM HJR5, a resolution that the NH House and Senate reject hate, bigotry, and violence in all their forms.
Municipal and County Government – Representatives Hall
10:00 AM HB 1749, an act relative to the state’s authority to prohibit or regulate firearms and relative to the selectmen’s authority to manage town property. The bill stipulates that the general court shall have exclusive authority and jurisdiction by statute over the sale, purchase, ownership, use, possession, transportation, licensing, or permitting, taxation or other matters pertaining to firearms sales, firearms components, ammunition, firearms supplies, and knives. In other words – local control ceases to exist when it comes to guns. Municipalities would no longer be free to set their own ordinances regarding firearms, presumably including regulation of target shooting on public land or restrictions on firearms in public schools. The fact that the hearing will be in Representatives Hall suggests someone thinks it will draw a large crowd. We predict that cities and towns aren’t going to like this kind of big gummint overreach. In any case, the committee is not going to give this one much time to ferment; an executive session on the bill is scheduled for 2 PM on the same day, in Rooms 301-303 in the LOB.
Resources, Recreation, and Development, Room 305, LOB
10:00 AM HB 1592, requiring the Commissioner of DES to revise rules relative to arsenic contamination in drinking water.
10:30 AM HB 1797, an act adding a 50 percent charge to all amounts assessed to persons liable for costs of containment, cleanup, and remediation of water, air, and soil pollution.
Thursday, January 11
Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB
10:00 AM HB 1213, removing the exception for married minors from the definition of sexual assault. This would remove the marriage exception from our sexual assault laws.
10:20 AM HB 1218 This bill changes the penalty for a person who pays to engage in sexual contact with another person under the age of 18 who is a victim of human trafficking from a Class B to a Class A felony.
10:40 AM HB 1306 This bill adds sexual assault in a place of public accommodation to the circumstances which constitute aggravated felonious sexual assault. This means places where the user has an expectation of privacy, like a locker room or a bathroom.
11:00 AM HB 1426 This would require persons convicted of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images to register as sex offenders.
1:00 PM HB 1564 This bill amends the circumstances under which aggravated felonious sexual assault may occur when the victim is incarcerated in a correctional facility. Last year, a case of sexual assault against a sheriff’s deputy was dismissed because of loopholes. This bill eliminates the loopholes.
Finance, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 AM HB 613 The bill’s title is: amending the procedures for use of segregated housing for inmates. It was retained in committee, and amended to change the entire bill. The title hasn’t caught up yet. It is now an act requiring state prisons to be accredited, a status they do not how have.
Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs, Room 205, LOB
11:00 AM HB 1822, making hormonal contraceptives available directly from pharmacists by means of a standing order. A similar bill last year had some problems, largely over the issue of insurance coverage. This new incarnation seems to have solved that problem.
Resources, Recreation, and Development, Room 305, LOB
10:45 AM HB 1590, relative to standards for perfluorinated chemicals in surface water. Requires the Commissioner of Environmental Services to initiate rulemaking to adopt quality standards for these toxic chemicals.
11:30 AM HB 1618 requires DES to make rules relative to perfluorinated chemicals in ambient water.
1:15 PM HB 1727 requires public water suppliers to monitor public water supplies for perfluorinated chemicals.
1:45 PM HB 1737 This bill sets the permissible level of methyl tertiary butyl ether (MBTE) in drinking water at 0.5 micrograms per liter.
Friday, January 12
Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB
9:45 AM HB 1793 establishes a single payer health system to provide health care for the citizens of NH.
10:15 AM HB 1516 establishing a commission to examine the feasibility of the New England states entering into a compact for a single payer health care program.
10:45 AM HB 1790, an act establishing a NH health access corporation and health access fund. This is how the bill describes its purpose: Many New Hampshire citizens lack adequate access to health care services and experience diminished health outcomes because they cannot obtain affordable health insurance coverage. The purpose of this chapter is to address this problem by promoting the availability of affordable health insurance for persons who would otherwise be without coverage. Under this market-oriented approach, the New Hampshire health access corporation contracts with health insurers to provide the needed coverage. Eligibility is designed to include persons who can demonstrate that they are uninsured because they are without access to affordable coverage and to exclude persons who have access to other health insurance coverage that is within their means.
11:15 AM HB 1241 establishes a commission to assess the benefits and costs of a health care for all program for NH.
Coming up in Senate Comittees
Tuesday, January 9
Education, Room 103, LOB
9:10 AM SB 358, reorganizing the Department of Education. This bill appears to be intended to give greater authority to the controversial Commissioner of Education.
Finance, Room 103, SH
1:40 PM SB 331, prohibiting Medicaid from paying for sex reassignment drug or hormone therapy for surgery. The sponsors refer to it as “cosmetic surgery.” We object to the bill and the sponsors’ dismissive tone.
Judiciary, Room 100, SH
9:20 AM SB 391 This bill codifies the rights of sexual assault survivors and establishes a sexual assault survivors commission. The commission would (among other things) improve best practices and protocols regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of evidence, and collect feedback from law enforcement, county attorneys, health care facilities, and forensic laboratory directors.
Thursday, January 11
Executive Departments and Administration, Room 101, LOB
1:00 PM SB 371, establishing the Meldrim Thomson, Jr. Memorial Commission, sponsored by 12 Republican Senators. We note that two GOP Senators (Morse and Innis) do not have their names on it. We further note that the late governor already has an office park named for him. Arnie adds his personal reflection that it was as a “guest” of the then-governor that he first visited Concord in 1977, when he and a couple hundred others spent two weeks incarcerated at the Concord Armory after the Seabrook occupation. The Seabrook nuclear power plant was often referred to as Governor Thomson’s “crown jewel.”
Farewell, Jennifer Frizzell
We must report that long-time Executive Director of Planned Parenthood, Jennifer Frizzell is leaving the organization on January 12, 2018. We are sad to see her leave, but so very grateful for her dedication and commitment to NH over the years.
State House Watch Radio Returns!
We will be back on the airwaves and the internet Monday, when “State House Watch” returns to WNHN-LP. From now through the end of the legislative session, the show will be on every Monday from 5 to 6 PM, with a rebroadcast every Tuesday at 8 AM. You can find us at 94.7 FM in the Concord area and at wnhnfm.org. Our first guest will be Executive Councilor Andru Volinksy. (He was our first guest last year. Coincidence?) WNHN may be a low power station, but it has a high power line-up of programs, many of which are locally produced. “See you” there.
Monday, January 15 is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
Martin Luther King Day events are taking place in Manchester, Hollis, Portsmouth, Epping, Nashua, Dover, Hanover, and maybe elsewhere, and not just on the day of the actual holiday. Look for a calendar on our website, and let Arnie know if anything is missing.
We call special attention to the 36th annual MLK Day Community Celebration, Monday, Janaury 15, from 2 to 5 PM at St. George Greek Orthodox Cathedral/Community Center in Manchester. The Rev. Mariama White-Hammond will be the guest speaker. The MLK Award will go to Jackie and Russell Weatherspoon and the Vanessa Johnson Award to Gabby Greaves. More details are at mlknh.org.
Also on our website, you can find a fact sheet on the 20-year campaign for passage of a New Hampshire holiday named for Dr. King.
More Events Coming Up…
Tuesday, January 9
Advocacy Training with New Futures. A free training to learn advocacy skills for this legislative session, 8:00 AM – 3:00 PM at the New Futures Conference Room, 10 Ferry Street, Suite 307A, Concord. Breakfast and lunch are included, as well as a tour of the State House. More information and registration are here.
Thursday, January 11
Canterbury Citizens for Democracy, Bow Democrats, Loudon Democrats, and the Kent Street Coalition will sponsor a “4 Town Legislative Preview” at Bow Library, 6:30 to 8:30 PM. Speakers include State Senators Feltes and Cavanaugh, State Representatives Shurtleff, Wallner, H. Moffett, Myler, Luneau, and Walz, plus Arnie Alpert and Sue Ford.
Monday, January 22
Legislative Breakfast on Medicaid Expansion at Frisbie Memorial Hospital Conference Center in Rochester, for residents of the Rochester area to meet with local lawmakers. More details in next week’s newsletter.
OneAction.org is a great way to keep up with lots of other events going on in NH and Maine. Post your events there!
With very best wishes,
Maggie and Arnie
PS – Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook. Search for “American Friends Service Committee-NH” to “like” us. After all, we are your Friends.
AFSC’s New Hampshire “State House Watch” newsletter is published to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, the death penalty, immigration, and labor rights. We also follow the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more.
The AFSC is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about peace, social justice, humanitarian service, and nonviolent change. Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty direct the New Hampshire Program, publish the newsletter, and co-host the “State House Watch” radio show on WNHN-FM. Susan Bruce is State House Watch researcher and writer. Fred Portnoy produces the radio show. Judy Elliott is emergency back-up proofreader.
“State House Watch” is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.
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