Report from Concord by Rep. Marjorie Porter of Hillsborough — February 23, 2017

There was great jubilation at the State House on Wednesday as Governor Sununu signed his first bill into law. This bill was very very important—so important that it had to be fast tracked through our ordinarily rather slow process. It was a Senate bill, and usually the House does not take up Senate bills until after crossover day in late March, but this bill found its way to the governor’s desk in less than five weeks!

You might remember last term, when then Governor Hassan called us back into special session so we could take steps to combat the ever-worsening opioid crisis the state was facing.  There was emergency legislation proposed then, but the Republican leadership did not see the need to fast-track them. It took months to get some of those very important bills through to the governor’s desk.

But not this time. No sir-ee. This bill was much too important. We need it right now!

So, will this new law help reduce the number of overdose deaths? Increase school funding? Reduce your property taxes? Bring new businesses to the state? Establish more beds at the state hospital so those in mental health crises aren’t stuck in emergency rooms for days waiting for a bed to open up? Reduce our electric energy costs? Fix those red-listed bridges?

Well, no. Not exactly.

This new, very very important law repeals the need to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Was the public clamoring for this law? Well, again, not exactly. In fact, 73% of likely NH voters, when polled, support keeping the old law permit law in place. And 51% of likely voters said they were less likely to vote for a candidate who supported its repeal.

There was quite a party atmosphere in the governor’s office for the signing of this bill. Photos show Rep Burt (R, Goffstown) standing next to the governor with a huge grin on his face. He has worked hard for years to get this bill passed, and he is very proud of himself. So proud, in fact, that he announced after the signing he is seriously considering a run for congress against next year.

He might not have seen those poll numbers I quoted above.

Now that the law says anyone who can legally possess a firearm can carry it concealed without needing a permit, you might be a little bit concerned about the fate of HB 201. This bill closed what’s known as the “gun show loophole” for background checks when buying a gun. Currently, background checks are required when purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer, but they are not required for online purchases or when purchasing from a private seller. This is one of the ways people who we all agree should not own a weapon—the criminally violent, the severely mentally ill, domestic abusers—are able to get them. That pesky poll of likely NH voters shows 80% support requiring background checks for all gun purchases.

But the House voted 221-151 to kill it. According to those who spoke against the bill on the floor, the world as we know it would come to an end if it passed.

The way I read things now, if you can’t pass a background check to purchase a gun from a dealer, you can still legally buy one online or from a private seller.  And if you legally own it in, you can legally carry it concealed. But we shouldn’t be worried, because all those good guys with guns will protect us from all those bad guys with guns. If you can tell them apart.

I don’t begrudge the Governor his little celebration.  He took a big hit on one of his other top priority bills last week when the House defeated the so-called right to work bill, 200-177. This bill has come before the NH legislature 30 times in 38 years, and it’s always seen defeat. It’s pretty clear it is unpopular, so I was surprised to see him make it a top priority. However, so-called right to work IS one of the priorities of Americans for Prosperity, the out-of-state super PAC, and many of my Republican colleagues have pledged to do as AFP tells them.

Thirty-two Republicans voted with the rest of us to defeat this bill. In fact, only Republicans spoke against the bill on the floor before the vote. As a result, both AFP and the NHGOP are angry, and are vowing to actively work against the re-election of any Republican who voted the “wrong way.”

I feel a little bad for my colleagues from across the aisle. It seems their party keeps them on a very tight leash. In her first term, Governor Hassan also took a risk by making the passage of a casino bill a top priority, even though it had failed to pass the House many times. She lobbied hard to convince us to pass it, but it failed again. I voted against it, which I am sure did not make her happy. But my own party did not threaten to defeat me in the next election because of my vote.

When difficult or controversial bills come before us in the House, Democratic leadership steps back from taking a stand, and we are told to vote our conscience and our district. Casino bills, gun bills, and abortion bills often fall into this category.

To those thirty-two Republicans, their vote was not the “wrong way.” They voted their conscience. They voted what they thought was right.

I think they must be very brave.

Marjorie Porter
Representative, Hillsborough District 1
64 School Street, Hillsborough, NH 03244

Meeting of NH Upper Valley Democrats, March 7

ALERT! Due to the Lebanon School Board and City Council candidate forum at 7:00 p.m. in the council chambers, we will be starting earlier than first announced.

Next Meeting of the NH Upper Valley Democrats

Date: March 7, 2017
Time: 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Kilton Public Library Community Room, West Lebanon

Guest speaker: Sue Ford

NHDP Grassroots Chair
Fmr. House Democratic Floor Leader

Sue Ford, Grassroots Coordinator for the NHDP, will review the process of how NH is organizing for the 2018 elections.

Sue will then speak to how each of our break-out groups move forward; what are best practices; the what, when, and how of advocating for each group; the roles within a group.  Sue will help set the stage as we develop our own Upper Valley action plans.

In the brief business meeting, we will be approving the Bylaws and taking nominations for Co-Chairs, Treasurer and Secretary from the floor, as well as for members of the Executive Board. Anyone willing to serve on the Upper Valley Democrats executive board and/or as an officer please give your name to George Sykes at George.Sykes@comcast.net.

AGENDA

  • 5:00-5:15 –  Pot Luck provided (sign up through Doodle link above);
  • 5:15-5:30 –  Short business meeting (approval of By-Laws, nomination and election of officers, nomination and election of members to the executive board);
  • 5:30-6.15 –  Presentation by Sue Ford;
  • 6:15-6:30 –  Break-out group reports and huddles.

Break-Out Groups: You may sign up during the evening. Groups will sit together and meet briefly.

  • Affordable housing and homeless issues;
  • Local networking and citizen outreach;
  • Voting rights and legislation;
  • The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid funding;
  • Recognizing and countering fake news;
  • Education;
  • Environment;
  • Visualization (Big Picture)

The meeting will be a pot-luck event. We ask individuals with last names from A–G to bring a main dish; names from H–P, salad or fruit; names from Q–Z, a dessert—each dish serving four to six people.  We suggest easy-to-eat options as there are no tables. Kitchen facilities adjoining the community room, however, will be available.

Please complete this Doodle response poll to confirm you are coming and to indicate what dish you will bring:

http://doodle.com/poll/x97x8yadnfwrb25c

Our next steps will be to influence the legislation and executive actions being taken at both the national and state levels. Click on the following links for the Upper Valley Dems’ Call to Action sites:

Upper Valley- Action Together UV
https://www.facebook.com/groups/uvYoungLiberals/
https://www.facebook.com/unitedvalleyinterfaith
CREDO Action
https://thesixtyfive.org/home
https://5calls.org/
NH News
Citizens Academy
 INDIVISIBLE, A PRACTICAL GUIDE FOR RESISTING THE TRUMP AGENDA

Open Forum Discussion on Trump Executive Order -Hanover, Monday, February 6, 2017

Security and Freedom in the 21st Century:  The Trump Executive Order on Immigration and Refugees.

An Open Forum Discussion Featuring:

Daniel Benjamin 
Norman E. McCulloch Jr. Director of the John Sloan Dickey Center
for International Understanding

and

Marcia Calloway
Associate Director and Advisor to International Undergraduate Students

Monday, February 6, at 7:00 pm
The Roth Center for Jewish Life
5 Occom Ridge

Sponsored by Dartmouth College Hillel, The William Jewitt Tucker Center, Upper Valley Jewish Community,
The John Sloan Dickey Center for International Understanding

January 23, 5.30, Action-Planning Meeting, Upper Valley Democrats

Upper Valley Democrats Action-Planning Meeting

 Monday, January 23, 5:30‒8:00 p.m.

AVA Gallery, 11 Bank Street, Lebanon, New Hampshire

This meeting is for Upper Valley Democrats and Independents.

Guest speaker is Steve Marchandthe former mayor of Portsmouth and candidate for governor
in the 2016 New Hampshire Democratic primary.

Agenda

  • 5:30-6:00 – Food and refreshments provided (dessert items of cookies/bars gladly accepted)
  • 6:00-6:15 – Welcome, overview of the meeting’s purpose, and short business meeting
  • 6:15-6:45 – Talk by Steve Marchand
  • 6:45-7:30 – Breakout sessions to develop action steps
  • 7:30-7:45 – Reports back from breakout groups
  • Based upon the responses received from the Doodle poll sent out last week, (thank you for participating)
    our five breakout sections will be:

            • Affordable housing and homeless issues
            • Local networking and citizen outreach
            • Voting rights and legislation
            • The Affordable Care Act and Medicaid funding
            • Recognizing and countering fake news

If you have not already done so, please RSVP to:

 uvdems@uppervalleydemocrats.com