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 September 18
2015 Issue 28
Members of the NH House and Senate returned to Concord for the day on Wednesday, September 16. The previously scheduled special session to conduct votes on overrides of 10 gubernatorial vetoes took on additional importance when Governor Hassan, Senate President Morse, and Speaker of the House Jasper announced the previous day that they had reached agreement on a compromise budget.
When the dust settled after a raucous day – at least in the House – legislators had approved a state budget and sustained Governor Hassan’s vetoes of the eight non-budget bills.
State House attention will now shift to the 2016 session and to bills which were retained in House committees or re-referred to Senate committees. Meetings of new study committees are also scheduled. See below for highlights.
Attention will also shift to the 2016 election. Watch for an announcement from Governor Hassan about her political ambitions.
To recap, Governor Hassan vetoed the budget at the end of June for three major reasons: it did not include funds for a negotiated pay raise for state employees; it did not reauthorize or fund the extension of the NH Health Protection Program; and it cut business taxes without balancing the cuts with other revenue. The Governor did agree with legislators on a continuing resolution that kept state operations going based on funding levels in the budget for the previous fiscal year that ended June 30. During the summer, Governor Hassan offered a compromise that included business tax cuts paid for with revenue increases from other sources, but this was initially rejected by House and Senate leaders.
The agreement which formed the basis for Wednesday’s vote approved funds for the pay raise. It also cut the Business Enterprise Tax and the Business Profits Tax in two steps, but with a threshold level of revenue that must be reached before the second step would go into effect.
The process agreed upon by the deal-makers called for the pay raise and the tax cut to be incorporated into a new bill, SB 9, and for the budget which Governor Hassan had vetoed back in June to be approved. Because it was introduced after the regular session deadline, the consideration of SB 9 required a two-thirds vote to “suspend the rules.” Likewise, the approval of the budget – HB 1 and HB 2 – would require a two-thirds majority to override the governor’s veto.
On the Senate side, the procedural votes--the vote on SB 9, and the votes of HB 1 and HB 2-- were unanimous.
The House votes were rather more contentious, with the faction led by former Speaker Bill O’Brien aiming to block the budget proposal. There were also votes on three amendments aiming to tack the substance of three vetoed bills (voter suppression, guns and Planet Fitness) onto the budget, plus another one challenging funds for a new Merrimack County courthouse. All four amendments were defeated by large margins. Finally, SB 9 was adopted 291 to 73. (Three Democrats joined 70 Republicans in voting “no.”)
HB 1, the budget itself, was approved by a 321 – 25 vote overriding the governor’s veto, with three Democrats joining 22 Republicans in opposition. HB 2, the budget “trailer bill,” was approved 326 – 21, with two Democrats joining 19 Republicans in opposition.
As much as we are pleased with the enactment of a budget and the appropriation of funds for a well-deserved state employee pay raise, we are concerned about the impact of business tax cuts on a state that never seems to have adequate funds for needed services. Jeff McLynch of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute commented, "It should be clear from the past nine months of budget deliberations that New Hampshire already lacks sufficient resources to meet its needs. Reducing revenue still further will only make it harder to maintain our roads, educate our children, and provide health, safety, and other public services essential to a strong economy and shared prosperity for all in the Granite State.”
We also want to signal our distress that re-authorization of the NH Health Protection Program was not included in the budget deal. While we are glad to know Senate leadership has made a commitment to take this up after the new year begins, we think the stress this puts on recipients and providers of health care is uncalled for.
Finally, we want to thank the members of NH Voices of Faith for another day of strong witness in the State House halls.
There were eight other bills, four each from the House and Senate, which had been vetoed and were subjects of override votes. A two-thirds vote in both chambers would have been required for the veto to be overridden. With Democratic allies of Governor Hassan holding more than one-third of the seats in both chambers, her vetoes were all sustained on essentially partisan votes.
These vetoed bills were:
HB 332, relative to school district policy regarding objectionable course material, sustained 226 – 148.
HB 449, relative to the duration of child support, sustained 229 – 151.
HB 550, relative to administration of the tobacco tax and relative to the sale or exchange of an interest in a business organization under the business profits tax (the Planet Fitness tax giveaway), sustained 230 – 147.
HB 603, relative to student exemption from the statewide assessment, sustained 211 – 141.
SB 101, an act prohibiting the state from requiring implementation of Common Core standards, sustained 13 – 11, with Senator Stiles joining the Democrats.
SB 116, repealing the license requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver, sustained 14 – 10.
SB 169, relative to the use of electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards, sustained 14 – 10.
SB 179, relative to eligibility to vote and relative to availability of voter information, sustained 13 -11, with Senator Little joining the Democrats.
Today is the deadline for House members to propose legislation for the 2016 session. The window for Senators to propose bills is October 13 to November 3.
Coming Up at the State House
Monday, September 21, 2015
Continuing Resolution Work Group: Sununu Youth Services Center Transformation Plan, 1:00 p.m. Room 100, SH Work Session
Interbranch Criminal and Juvenile Justice Council, 1:30 p.m. Room 204, LOB, Regular Meeting
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Committee to Study Public Access to Political Campaign Information (SB 92), 9:30 a.m. Room 100, SH, Regular Meeting
House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee
10:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on retained HB 605-FN, repealing mandatory minimum sentences, Room 206, LOB
10:00 a.m. Subcommittee work session on retained bills HB 240, prohibiting law enforcement agencies from using a drone to collect evidence; HB 602-FN, relative to the use of drones, Room 306, LOB
2:00 p.m. Subcommittee work session on retained bills HB 617-FN-A, requiring state police to wear a camera when interacting with the public; HB 583-FN, requiring state law enforcement officers to wear a camera when interacting with the public and making an appropriation therefor, with Executive Departments and Administration Committee, Room 306, LOB
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
Committee to Study Public Access to Political Campaign Information (SB 92), 9:30 a.m. Room 100, SH Regular Meeting
Committee to Study the Classifications of Military Vehicles and Equipment that may be Purchased by the State and its Political Subdivisions (HB 407, Chapter 232:1, Laws of 2015) 10:00 a.m. Room 301, LOB Organizational Meeting
Legislative Service Requests (proposals for new bills)
As noted above, today is the deadline for House members to submit the titles of bills they intend to introduce in 2016. At the time we are writing this, there are 279 LSRs posted on the General Court’s website. Check this site next week for a complete list.
At this time all we know are the bills' titles. Here are some that caught our attention, with the name of the sponsor:
“relative to earned time credits for prisoners participating in rehabilitative programming, “ Rep. David Welch
“reducing business taxes, repealing the education tax, and establishing an income tax,” Rep. Paul Henle
“extending the New Hampshire health protection program,” Rep. Thomas Sherman
“relative to charges imposed upon New Hampshire residents for the construction of natural gas pipelines,” Rep. James McConnell
“relative to sanctuary cities,” Rep. John Potucek
“extending the penalty of death to acts of terrorism and civil rights offenses,” Rep. Jack Flanagan
“relative to inquiries by employers into the criminal history of applicants for employment,” Rep. Frank Heffron
“relative to conversion therapy seeking to change a person's sexual orientation,” Rep. Eric Schleien
“relative to disqualifying members of certain groups from receiving public assistance,” Rep. Kenneth Weyler
“relative to minimum and maximum sentences for felony convictions,” Rep. Robert Cushing
“requiring drug testing of public assistance recipients,” Rep. Don Leeman
“implementing a bottle deposit program,” Rep. Travis Bennett
Survey on Family Friendly Workplaces
Terie Norelli, President & CEO of the NH Women’s Foundation wants to hear from you: “What you think makes a family friendly workplace, how important that is to you, and what your experience has been here in our state. If you live or work in New Hampshire, please take this survey. It will take less than ten minutes, and the feedback will be very important to us.”
Click here to take the survey. Thanks.
“What a Difference 40 Years Can Make,” October 24 - The AFSC’s NH Program turns 40 years old this fall! Join us to celebrate on Saturday, October 24 in Concord. The event will feature a catered dinner and a program with stories from friends including Rep. Renny Cushing, Valerie Cunningham, Sister Madonna Moran, Honoré Murenzi, Molly Messenger, John Gforerer, Rev. Sandra Pontoh, and more. Click here for information and to sign up.
Rise Again, October 10 ---A singalong concert featuring several renowned folk musicians will be held at the Concord Community Music School on Saturday, October 10, 2015 to celebrate the release of Rise Again, a new songbook by the creators of the widely known and loved songbook, Rise Up Singing. The concert will feature Annie Patterson and Peter Blood, the creators of Rise Up Singing and Rise Again, teaching and leading songs out of their new book. They will be joined by Charlie King, Bill Harley, and Magpie, all of whom have songs in this new collection. The concert, beginning at 7 pm, will benefit the American Friends Service Committee’s New Hampshire Program and is organized with support from Concord Friends Meeting. Suggested donation for tickets is $20 for adults and $10 for those under 18. Click here for information and tickets.
Governing under the Influence Update – The AFSC project to get candidates talking about the excessive power of corporations that profit from militarism and prisons has sparked dozens of conversations with candidates in New Hampshire and Iowa. Find out what they’ve been talking about, where the candidates will be next, and how you can get involved by visiting the GUI website.
ACLU Bill of Rights Dinner - Arnie Alpert will receive a “Bill of Rights Award” from the NH ACLU at their annual fundraiser, Sunday, October 4, in Manchester. Click here for more information and to buy tickets.
"Metamorphosis Two: The Corporation Strikes Back," a musical-historical-comedy written by Arnie Alpert will get its Concord debut performance on Tuesday, October 13 at the Concord Unitarian Universalist Church at 6:30 pm. Sponsored by the Culture of Peace and Nonviolence Forum, this production asks the all-important question, "if corporations are people, can they sing?"
Saturday, September 19 – NAACP 5K Unity Walk for Justice, 10AM - 1:30PM, Manchester City Hall. Join the Manchester NAACP and other concerned organizations and individuals as we walk in solidarity with community members across the nation who support responsible policing and citizens across the nation in response to police misconduct and institutionalized racist practices.
September 24 - "Shatter the Silence: 2015 conference on workplace violence," 8:30 am to 4 pm at IBEW Local 490, 48 Airport Rd., Concord NH. Sponsored by NH COSH. Info 603-232-4406.
September 26 - Benefit concert and potluck to benefit Delfeayo Marsalis Uptown Music Theatre in New Orleans at the Henniker Congregational Church. Potluck 5 pm, Concert 7 pm. Tickets $10 adults, $5 student. Sponsored by Henniker Peace Community. Call Barbara French at (603) 428-3366 for information.
September 27 and 28 - America Votes will hold a 2-day skills training workshop at Pembroke Academy to help emerging leaders develop skills in developing campaigns, creating powerful messages, working with volunteers and more. For information, contact Paula Hodges, America Votes, NH State Director, email@example.com , (603) 361-2685 (cell) (603) 225-1932 (office).
October 9 - New American Africans "Family Fun Night" at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, 180 Loudon Rd, Concord. $10 donation suggested. Info on Facebook.
October 17- Israel/Palestine: Shadows of the Past- Visions of the Future, 8:45 am - 4:00 pm, with Dr. Alice Rothchild, Skip Shiel, Nancy Murray, and Revs. John and Faye Buttrick. Sponsored by the Palestine Education Network, at Rivier University, 420 South Main Street, Nashua, NH. Free and open to the public with optional $8.95 lunch.
With best wishes,
Arnie and Maggie