AFSC’s New Hampshire State House Watch newsletter is published weekly 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. For an email subscription, visit our main page and click on <get our newsletter>.
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State House Watch, May 27
2016 Issue 20
Both the House and the Senate will be in session on Wednesday, June 1, at 10:00 AM, when both bodies intend to complete action on committee of conference reports and attend to any other pending business (e.g. attempts to act on bills which had been tabled) before finishing up the regular 2016 session. Then final gavels will fall and our legislators will sail off into the summer to launch their re-election campaigns or enjoy their retirement. "State House Watch" won't be sailing anywhere, but we will be taking it easy over the summer. (Let us know if you miss us.)
June 1 is also "Emerson’s Chapeau Day," where all female legislators are urged to wear their best and brightest hats to the State House. Representative Susan Emerson reminds us that this is ladies only, as gentlemen do not wear hats indoors.
We are saddened to report that 6-term State Representative Marcia Moody of Newmarket died this week. Representative Moody was inspired by the 2004 Dean campaign to get involved with politics, and so, at the tender age of 69, she ran for the NH legislature. It was too late for her to get on the ballot, so she ran a write-in campaign against the incumbent – and won. Writing in The Nation, John Nichols says, “While she delighted in discourse and befriended Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and Greens, Marcia was a passionate progressive. And she had a sense of right and wrong that made her an ardent foe of big-money in politics, lobbyist abuses, and influence peddling.”
We also note the passing of Nathaniel Brooks, a stalwart trade unionist and peace activist who died on New Year’s Day and was memorialized last Sunday at the Nashua Unitarian Universalist Church. As a commentary as fitting for Memorial Day as it was for the occasion of its delivery, we will broadcast Nathaniel’s 2011 Veterans Day sermon on our radio show Monday.
A reminder: the candidate filing period will be open from June 1-10. Eight sitting Senators have already announced they will not seek re-election.
Committees of Conference
Of the 65 Committees of Conference, 56 resulted in agreements between House and Senate members while 9 failed. Consideration of reports from the 56 successful committees will make up the bulk of the House and Senate agendas on Wednesday. If they are approved, they’ll be heading for the governor’s desk for a veto, signature, or to become law without her signature.
Governor Hassan has vetoed one bill so far, but we are hopeful that she will expand the list (starting with SB 4). At some point, probably in the fall, Senators and Representatitves will be summoned to Concord for votes on veto overrides.
Here are summaries from the CoCs we had our eyes on:
HB 605 - Relative to mandatory minimum sentences. The House agreed to the Senate version, which deals only with habitual offenders, with the added provision that operating after suspension for DWI shall continue to result in a mandatory 7-day house of corrections sentence. This is a huge dilution of impact from the intent of the original bill.
HB 1377 - Relative to the receipt of absentee ballots. The House agreed with the Senate amendment, which allows candidates (or their designees) to purchase a list of voters who have applied for absentee ballots.
HB 1428 - Last week we mocked the cumbersome title of this bill: establishing the clean water state revolving fund non-program fund account in the department of environmental services for the purpose of funding eligible and completed wastewater projects under the state aid grant program, making an appropriation to the police standards and training council, repealing the police standards and training council training fund, making a capital appropriation to the police standards and training council, adding a quorum requirement to the performance audit and oversight committee, relative to liquor commission revenue shortfalls, and relative to the rivers management and protection program. Sharp-eyed State House Watcher John Tuthill alerted us to a non-germane amendment left out of that epic bill title. The language from SB 381, concerning the burning of construction and demolition debris in municipal waste combustors, had been tacked on. This measure exempts the waste combustors from air pollution control regulations, which makes this statement from the CoC report even more remarkable: “added an amendment to the burning of clean construction debris to ensure no air pollution in our state.”
This serves as a real warning about paying attention in non-germane amendment season. SB 381 as a stand-alone measure would have been easier for the governor to veto. It may be impossible for the governor to veto a bill that contains funding for clean water projects and the police standards and training council.
HB 1584 - Relative to body worn cameras for law enforcement officers. This bill originally reduced minimum and increased maximum sentences for felony convictions. Along the way it became a bill regulating a law enforcement agency’s use of body worn cameras. The committee agreed to an amendment that changed the length of time data was required to be stored and added requirements on when and how data would be recorded and the ways this data could be used.
Use of body cameras by police is one of the recommendations from AFSC's Baltimore office following the acquittal of one of the officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray. Read more on the AFSC website.
HB 1660, relative to appraisals of residential property, a residential owner option in a partial taking, and relocation, temporary housing, and legal expenses in eminent domain proceedings for gas pipelines; relative to intervention by the site evaluation committee in such proceedings; and relative to expenditures from the energy efficiency fund. This bill was aimed at adding protections for property owners in the event of taking by eminent domain, which was largely brought on because of the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline. Kinder Morgan’s proposal was formally withdrawn last week but other pipelines are still a possibility. The amendment tacked on about RGGI was removed by the conferees, who agreed to the Senate wording on eminent domain provisions.
SB 4 - Relative to eligibility to vote and relative to the availability of voter information. After the CoC, this bill mandates a 10-day residency requirement for voters, which the conferees describe as “reasonable.” We believe it is not only unreasonable but also unconstitutional. We hope that Governor Hassan has plenty of ink in her pen to veto this attempt at voter suppression should the bill reach her desk.
SB 155 - Establishing the Financial Resources Mortgage (FRM) victim’s contribution recovery fund. State Representative Ed Butler was our guest last week on SHW Radio and brought this bill to our attention. Numerous bills have been filed since 2010 seeking to establish a fund for the folks who were fleeced in the FRM Ponzi scheme. This year an agreement was reached to create a special fund that would be administered by the Charitable Trust Division of the AG’s office. The funds would come from private donations and gifts. In other words, a fund containing no funds would be established.
SB 342, this year’s Planet Fitness bill, is moving toward approval.
SB 466 - Relative to the detention of youthful offenders at the youth development center. Conferees voted to restore $1 million cut from the Sununu Center in last year’s budget and scrapped a proposal to create a new committee to look into treatment of juvenile offenders.
SB 471 - Relative to parking for persons with disabilities. The House had amended this bill to include a new requirement for van-only spaces. Concerns about expense (to businesses) caused the conferees to remove that requirement. But they still agree NH should be one of the few (or perhaps the only) state in the nation to charge a fee ($5) for a handicapped placard.
SB 485, establishing a state grant program to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in addressing the opioid crisis and making an appropriation therefor, relative to the health care premium contribution for retired state employees who are eligible for Medicare Parts A and B due to age or disability, relative to funding of retiree health benefits, and making an appropriation to the department of administrative services. The House version, which appropriates an additional $360,000 over the biennium to help pay for state retiree health plan costs, was adopted. The funds will come from unspent funds in the judicial branch budget. There was clarification that the Fiscal Committee will oversee retiree health plans, but must have public meetings before making any changes to the plans.
The union representing most state workers says, “The retiree health insurance bills are the best example of how important this coming election will be. Members should be thinking of this every time they meet a candidate for the legislature, and be sure to ask them what they’ll do the uphold the promises made to retirees decades ago.” Rich Gulla, union president, will be our guest on the SHW radio show June 6, when we will look back on the legislative year.
SB 498 - Relative to penalties for possession of certain controlled drugs (marijuana and hashish). The conferees agreed to the Senate version of the bill. Language was added to reduce fines from $500 to $350 for a first offense. Courts will be allowed to treat the first offense of possession of ¼ ounce as a violation. Subsequent offenses would be treated as misdemeanors.
SB 533 was the big bill dealing with the opioid crisis. We are pleased that it comes out of the CoC with $2 million for supportive housing still in place. Another change redirects $500,000 from the Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention to direct grants to organizations providing peer recovery support services, a pilot program that will be administered by DHHS, which will also track the cost effectiveness.
These are the Committees of Conference Reports that did not report out an agreement, meaning these bills are dead for the year.
HB 1661 - Relative to conversion therapy seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation. The conferees were unable to come to agreement despite what appeared to be little significant conflict between the 2 versions of this sensible legislation. We are distressed.
SB 527, transferring funds from the general fund to the police standards and training council training fund, making an appropriation to the police standards and training council, making an appropriation to the department of safety for the purchase of state police cruisers, and permitting employers to pay wages to employees weekly or biweekly. As we reported last week, the bill to fund the police standards and training council and appropriate funds for some state police cruisers had the non-germane amendment tacked on to permit employers to pay workers bi-weekly. The original language of this bill was added to HB 1428, which passed. That means police still get their cruisers and the worker-unfriendly proposal goes away (for now).
State House Watch Radio - Monday at 5 pm
Don't miss our annual Memorial Day show, featuring a sermon from Nathaniel Brooks, a WW2 veteran and member of Veterans for Peace. We'll also feature excerpts from a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. and songs by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the Neville Brothers, Iris DeMent, John Gorka, Billy Bragg, Malvina Reynolds, and Bob Marley. The radio version of "State House Watch" airs live every Monday from 5 to 6 PM on WNHN-FM at 94.7 FM in greater Concord and streams live at www.wnhnfm.org everywhere. The show re-broadcasts and re-streams Tuesdays from 8 to 9 AM. You can also listen to podcasts of old shows, including last week's with Representatives Ed Butler and Jackie Cilley.
We're expecting our final regular show of the season to be Monday, June 6, featuring a look-back at the 2016 legislative season with Representative Steve Shurtleff, the House Democratic Leader, and Rich Gulla, president of the NH State Employees Association.
Thanks to everyone who responeded to our mailed and e-mailed fund appeals last month! If you haven't donated yet, it's never too late to support AFSC. Just go to the DONATE NOW button on our website! Donations are secure and tax deductible. You can still make a contribution the old-fashioned way, too, with a check made out to AFSC-NH and mailed to: AFSC, 4 Park Stree, Suite 209, Concord NH 03301. It's a great way to show your appreciation for "State House Watch."
AFSC is looking for a new co-tenant. Since the departure of our GUI project staff at the end of March, we have a room available in our suite at 4 Park Street. Rent is $350 a month for a great location with excellent neighbors. Contact Arnie if you are interested.
Events Coming Up
Saturday, May 28
JerriAnne Boggis, Director of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail, will lead a special walking tour to tell the story of Ona Marie Judge, who escaped slavery in the household of President George Washington and sought refuge in Portsmouth. The program will finish with a living history performance. Meet at the Liberty Flagpole in Prescott Park at 2 pm. $20 per person supports the Black Heritage Trail. Please call (603) 380-1231 to reserve your space or 436-8433 for more information.
May 28 to 30
World Fellowship Work Weekend – Clean rooms, carry mattresses, weed gardens, and plant rafts back in Whitton Pond to help World Fellowship get ready for its 75th anniversary season. Check out their program and make your summer reservation. (Arnie and Maggie will be presenting on July 2.)
Wednesday, June 1
Ilumina la Noche - a "take back the night" march, honoring the Latina community and all survivors of all communities, at the Manchester YWCA, 72 Concord Street, 6-8 pm. Register here.
Thursday, June 2
National Gun Violence Awareness Day Rally at Nashua City Hall Plaza (229 Main St. Nashua). Wear orange and RSVP here. Sponsored by Everytown For Gun Safety.
Saturday, June 4
Shelly Stratton will report on her doctoral research on the displacement and resettlement of Rwandan and Congolese refugees. South Congregational Church, 27 Pleasant Street in Concord, from 2 to 4 pm. For more info, send Shelly an email or call her at (603) 969-6985.
The Granite State Organizing Project’s annual “Micah Dinner” will take place at Holy Cross Manor in Manchester at 6 pm.
Thursday, June 9
An Evening with the Compassionate Listening Project in Israel and Palestine, with presenters Joel Berman and Helen Fitzgerald, at the Concord UU Church (274 Pleasant St.) from 7-9 PM. Co-sponsored by Temple Beth Jacob, Pace e Bene Nonviolence Society NE, NH AFSC, NH Peace Action, and Concord UU Church.
Compassionate listening practices are grounded in the conviction that hearing each other's stories without judgment reveals unhealed wounds and opens the possibility of mutual compassion, understanding and, in time, restorative justice.
Saturday, June 25
“Standing on the Brink” is the theme of the 2016 NH Progressive Summit, to be held this year at SNHU in Manchester.
August 9 - 14
The 2016 World Social Forum will take place in Montreal, which as Ronald Reagan would say, is only 3 hours from the New Hampshire border. The goal of the WSF 2016 is to gather tens of thousands of people from groups in civil society, organizations and social movements who want to build a sustainable and inclusive world, where every person and every people has its place and can make its voice heard. Specific themes include: Economic, Social and Solidarity Alternatives, Culture of Peace and Struggle for Justice and Demilitarization, Decolonization and Self-Determination, Migration, Refugees and Citizenship Without Borders, and Fight against the Dictatorship of Finance.
- 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. Click here for back issues.
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 a State House Watch researcher and writer. Fred Portnoy produces the radio show.
"State House Watch" is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.
Your donations make our work possible. Click the “DONATE NOW” button on our web page to send a secure donation to support the work of the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program. Thanks!