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. 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 <SUBSCRIBE>.
We also have a weekly radio show on Mondays from 5 to 6 pm, re-broadcast Tuesdays from 8 to 9 am. You can listen live on WNHN, 94.7 FM in Concord, or over the internet. You can download a podcast of any of our earlier shows.
April 20, 2018
As the House and Senate look toward a May 3 deadline for action on all remaining bills, the pace is quickening on issues including death penalty repeal, Medicaid expansion, family medical Leave, public education, child labor, affordable housing, and transgender equality. Read on for news of upcoming work sessions, executive sessions, and votes. Also chickens.
House to Vote Thursday on Death Penalty Repeal
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 12-6 in favor of SB 593, the bill to repeal the death penalty. The bill will be on the House floor Thursday. The NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty has a link to a video of the committee debate and vote available at their website, where they also have all the tools and information you need to reach out to your legislators. Contact the Coalition if you can join them at the State House on Thursday. Since Governor Sununu has announced his intention to veto the bill, it will be great to get as high a pro-repeal vote as possible.
Freedom New Hampshire held a news conference on Monday prior to a public hearing in Senate Judiciary on HB 1319, the bill to prohibit discrimination based on gender identity. Read more about the press conference at Public News Service and listen to the podcast of last week’s “State House Watch” radio show for more. The next steps will be a possible work session, an executive session and a full Senate vote, but nothing has been scheduled yet. Freedom NH has a handy tool at their website to help you find and contact your legislators, and urge them to pass the bill. Senate Judicary is scheduled to discuss pending bills on Tuesday starting at 9:00 AM, but we don’t know if HB 1319 is on the agenda. In any case, you can find members of the Senate Judiciary Committee here.
MedEx and SB 193 Still in House Finance
The bill to continue the expanded Medicaid program, SB 313, continues to get a workover in the House Finance Committee’s Division III subcommittee, which held a work session today and has more scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. The full committee will “exec” the bill Wednesday, meaning it is likely to reach the House floor on May 2.
Supporters of expanded Medicaid will hold a rally outside the State House at 8 AM on Wednesday morning, May 2, before the House session begins. Use this link to get more information and sign up to attend.
Also headed for an executive session vote on Wednesday is SB 193, the bill to create “education savings accounts.” This translates as establishing the freedom to take taxpayer dollars from our public education system, cleanse them through a third party, and hand them over to private and religious schools. With members of the GOP majority unable to reach agreement, the bill received a recommendation of “interim study” in the Finance subcommittee by a 7-1 vote. That means this proposal is likely to get a similar recommendation from the full committee, and faces a strong headwind going to the House floor. Three cheers for public education advocates who have fought this!
Conversion Therapy Ban Moves Forward
HB 587, the bill to prevent the discredited practice of conversion therapy on minors, was amended and passed by the Senate in a roll call vote of 14-10 yesterday. It now goes back to the House for concurrence or a conference committee.
Adult Education Update
Members of the House Education Committee seemingly had no appetite to approve SB 525, the bill aimed at denying access to adult education programs for those who cannot prove that they are "legal residents." In the end, 12 members voted for the bill to be studied, and 8 members voted for it to be defeated. The bill hasn’t been scheduled for a vote yet, so there is still time to contact your Representatives and tell them why it’s good to support immigrants' access to ESOL classes.
Family Medical Leave Hits Roadblock
HB 628, relative to family and medical leave insurance, is coming out of the Senate Finance Committee with an “interim study” recommendation following a partisan 4-2 vote. The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy, which has advanced the legislation as a bi-partisan project, has assigned blame to Governor Sununu, who it says, “has pulled the rug out from beneath New Hampshire families” by penning a letter opposing the bill. The Campaign will hold a news conference at 9:45 AM on Wednesday, April 25, “to remind Governor Sununu and the full Senate that there are working families across the state who need access to paid leave.”
There is still time to contact your Senator and explain how important this bill is. The Campaign for a Friendly Economy has a tool at its website that you can use.
Roadblock to Affordable Housing
After widespread support from the business community, affordable housing advocates, and policy makers throughout the political spectrum, SB 557 passed the Senate in March by voice vote. The bill, which allows housing developers a faster, more efficient appeals process so that costly litigation and delay costs are not passed on to consumers and tenants, received a recommendation of “interim study” from the House Finance Committee in a vote of 16-10. Housing Action NH is calling on housing advocates to call their Representatives to vote “no” on the IS recommendation and to pass the bill instead. Background on the bill can be found on Housing Action NH's website. We believe this bill is a good step forward to address the acute shortage of affordable housing in NH.
“March On Our Senators”
Students around the country walked out of school today, the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School, to protest the failure at federal, state, and local levels to take action to prevent gun violence. Following a recent NH Senate vote denying the ability of school districts to declare schools as “gun free zones,” the focus of students who rallied this morning at the State House was on their senators. During the rally, groups of students periodically peeled off from the State House plaza to visit Senate offices. With Governor Sununu out of town, students also met with one of his aides.
A New State Energy “Plan”
Governor Sununu announced his ten-year energy strategy plan this week. In a Union Leader op-ed, he declared that the new strategy “sets the stage for New Hampshire to finally get out of the business of picking winners and losers in the energy market.” The entire plan can be found at his official website, governor.nh.gov. The plan prioritizes nuclear power and natural gas as technologies to reduce carbon emissions, while downplaying the role of renewables. Sigh.
Fowl Weather, Indeed
Finally, we are certain you will be happy to hear that HB 1289, the bill concerned with trespassing domestic fowl, has passed the Senate. If Governor Sununu signs it, you may see the Poultry Police hanging around your coop. We still wonder if there will be exemptions for chickens who produce papers showing that they are NH Reds. And that, we hope, is our last chicken-related commentary of the year.
Last Week in the House
SB 84 Relative to payment of worker’s compensation benefits by direct deposit and authorizing electronic payment of payroll. OTP/A by a voice vote. The bill will now go back to the Senate for concurrence. We hope that Senators will not insist on restoring a provision enabling employers to use payroll cards with workers who prefer to get a paper check.
SB 321 Relative to group host net metering. OTP by voice vote.
SB 367 An act relative to Public Utilities Commission review of group host agreements. OTP by voice vote.
SB 446 Relative to net energy metering limits for customer-generators. This bill increases the electric generating capacity of customer generators who may participate in net energy metering and requires the public utilities commission to determine the rates for crediting the electric generation. This bill was removed from the Consent Calendar and special ordered (at the request of Representative Richard Barry) to the next session. Rep. Barry then made a successful motion to recommit the bill to committee to consider an amendment he has proposed. There will be a public hearing on the new amendment on April 24, followed by a full committee work session.
SB 448 Establishing a commission to study the establishment of a state department of energy. ITL by voice vote.
SB 556 Relative to changes in bail procedures and procedures for annulment of a criminal record. OTP/A by voice vote. This bill has become somewhat controversial, as Dave Solomon reports in the Union Leader.
In concurrence updates, HB 1564, the bill to close the loophole that allowed a sheriff’s deputy’s rape conviction to be overturned by the state supreme court was amended and passed by the Senate. The House concurred, and so the bill now heads to the desk of Governor Sununu, who has said he will sign it. More in the Concord Monitor.
The House concurred with the Senate on HB 1638, declaring April 28, 2018 as “Tabletop Gaming Day.” While there’s a chance that the bill won’t reach the Governor’s desk in time, we think Tabletop Gaming Day may still be in the cards.
Last Week in the Senate
HB 1289 Relative to trespassing domestic fowl. This bill establishes a penalty for owners of trespassing domestic fowl and requires enforcement by local law enforcement. OTP by a voice vote.
HB 1689 Repealing the repeal of the pollution prevention program of the department of environmental services. OTP by voice vote.
HB 1592 Requiring the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services to review standards relative to arsenic contamination in drinking water. OTP/A by voice vote, and referred to Finance.
SB 1315 Prohibiting university system funds from being spent to oppose the formation of unions and collective bargaining units. Voted ITL by a roll call vote of 14-8.
HB 587 Relative to conversion therapy seeking to change a person’s sexual orientation. OTP/A by a roll call vote of 14-10.
HB 1822 Making hormonal contraceptives available directly from pharmacists by means of a standing order. Committee recommends OTP by vote of 4-0. Special ordered to the next session.
HB 1477 Relative to the annulment of arrests or convictions for possession of ¾ of an ounce of marijuana, or less. This establishes a procedure for the annulments of arrests or convictions that took place before the decriminalization law went into effect on September 16, 2017. Tabled, by a voice vote.
HB 1661 Relative to a marriage petition by a party under age. The bill requires the court to find clear and convincing evidence that marriage is in the best interest of a minor. OTP/A by voice vote.
Next Week in the House
The House will be in session on Thursday, April 26, at 10:00 AM
On the Consent Calendar
SB 91 Relative to the title loan default process. Requires a title loan lender to cease accruing and collecting interest on a title loan which is in default for over 60 days. This is a request of the Banking Department. Committee recommends OTP by vote of 17-0.
SB 476 Establishing a committee to study reinstituting the unemployed parent program. The committee heard testimony that persons receiving assistance through this program averaged less than 5 months on assistance, far less time than the 18.5-month average for TANF recipients. Committee recommends OTP by vote of 20-0.
On the Regular Calendar
SB 391 Establishing a sexual assault survivor’s rights commission. The goal of the commission is to develop and disseminate best practices regarding the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors and the preservation of forensic evidence. A year from the passage of the bill, the commission will report findings and recommendations for proposed legislation. The committee recommended OTP/A by a vote of 19-0.
SB 593 Relative to the penalty for capital murder. The bill to repeal the death penalty comes out of committee with a recommendation of OTP by a vote of 12-6.
CACR 22 Relating to rights for crime victims. Providing that crime victims shall be afforded constitutional rights. This bill is also known as Marsy’s law. It comes out of committee (a joining of the Criminal Justice and Judiciary Committees) with a recommendation of ITL by a vote of 24-11.
SB 309 Relative to standards for perfluorochemicals in drinking water, ambient groundwater, and surface water. The committee added a last minute amendment and recommends OTP/A by a vote of 26-0.
SB 557 Establishing a board of housing development appeals. IS by a vote of 16-10.
SB 318 Relative to posting and notification requirements for employers, establishing criteria for workplace inspections, and amending certain provisions of the youth employment law. The bill was amended in committee to make it more palatable, which is to say to make it less bad than it was. The focus of the bill is enabling and deregulating youth employment. It has an OTP/A recommendation by a vote of 11-9, with the minority favoring Interim Study. We note that the sponsors of the committee amendment are both restaurant owners.
SB 540 Relative to the operation of keno games in unincorporated places. This bill initially was intended to delete the requirement that revenue distributed to districts entitled to kindergarten grants be prorated if revenue raised through keno was insufficient to fully fund the grants. It was amended twice in the Senate, once to define average daily membership in attendance for kindergarten student funding, and once to specify how keno would get approved in unincorporated areas. In the House it was amended to eliminate all references to kindergarten funding. After it passed the House once, the Ways and Means Committee added another amendment to permit keno in cigar bars. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 12-2.
Next Week in the Senate
The Senate will be in session on Thursday, April 26, at 10:00 AM
HB 141 Relative to electric renewable energy classes. This bill was first introduced in 2017. The House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee worked on it for a year, amended it, and passed it. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recommends IS by a vote of 4-0.
HB 317 Prohibiting the public utilities commission from increasing the system benefits charge without legislative approval. This bill is also a carryover from 2017. The NH Sustainable Energy Association opposes this bill.
HB 485 Relative to standards for emerging contaminants in drinking water. Committee recommends OTP/A by vote of 5-0.
HB 1101 Regulating groundwater pollution caused by polluting emissions in the air. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1766 Relative to remediating the Coakley Landfill in Greenland. The original bill would have required the Department of Environmental Services to order the parties responsible for dumping hazardous waste in the Coakley Landfill to undertake certain remedial actions. The Senate has amended the bill, and given it a new title: Requiring the department of environmental services to report to the general court regarding bedrock testing and perfluorochemical contamination in the Seacoast area and at other landfills and hazardous waste sites. The original bill was concerned with taking substantive action. The newly amended bill wants the Department of Environmental Services to write a report. One might say the original intent of the bill has been polluted. Committee recommends OTP/A by vote of 5-0.
HB 628 Relative to a family and medical leave insurance program. This bill passed the full House three times. The Senate committee is recommending IS by a vote of 4-2.
HB 1565 Relative to requiring the secure psychiatric unit to be accredited as a psychiatric hospital and making an appropriation therefor. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1329 Relative to eyewitness identification procedures. This bill requires law enforcement agencies to adopt a written policy regarding eyewitness identification procedures. Committee recommends OTP by vote of 4-0.
HB 1686 Relative to applications for and the use of education tax credits. The education tax credit allows businesses to use credit against taxes due and payable under the interest and dividends tax credit. This bill would amend that statute to allow individuals, as well, to get an education tax credit under the interest and dividends tax. Jason Moon at NHPR unravels the jiggery pokery this bill would enable. He spoke with Phil Sletten at NHFPI about the possibility of double dipping:
He told me that profit might not be the right word but, yes, the way the bill is currently written it would be possible for some people to reduce their tax liability by more than they donate. He walked me through an example to demonstrate where an individual donates $10,000 to a scholarship organization. So, on their state taxes they could take the 85% off for the education tax credit program. Then on their federal tax return, if they’re at the top income rate they could take up to 37% off for the charitable giving deduction. In the end, they could reduce their tax liability by a little over $12,000, even though they only donated $10,000.
So, not only is money being siphoned away from public schools, it’s also creating a tax dodge. The committee recommends OTP by a vote of 3-1.
Coming up in House Committees
Monday April 23, 2018
Finance, Division III, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 AM Division work session on SB 313, reforming New Hampshire’s Medicaid and Premium Assistance Program, establishing the granite workforce pilot project, and relative to certain liquor funds (the Medicaid expansion bill).
Tuesday, April 24
Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 303, LOB
10:00 Subcommittee work session on SB 383, establishing a commission to recommend policies that will enhance access to affordable health care for all New Hampshire residents. This bill’s original title and intent was “establishing a commission to assess benefits and costs of a ‘health care for all’ program in New Hampshire.”
Election Law, Room 308, LOB
Finance, Division II, Room 209, LOB
1:00 PM SB 575 Relative to electric vehicle charging stations.
Finance, Division III, Rooms 210-211
11:00 AM Division work session on SB 313, reforming New Hampshire’s Medicaid and Premium Assistance Program, establishing the granite workforce pilot project, and relative to certain liquor funds. This is the last work session on this bill.
Science, Technology, and Energy, Room 304, LOB
11:00 AM Public hearing on a last minute amendment to SB 446, relative to net energy metering limits for customer-generators. The NH Sustainable Energy Association supports this bill.
Wednesday, April 25
Finance, Rooms 210 – 211, LOB
10:00 AM Executive session on SB 193, establishing education freedom accounts for students; SB 313, reforming New Hampshire’s Medicaid and Premium Assistance Program, establishing the granite workforce pilot project, and relative to certain liquor funds; and SB 575, relative to electric vehicle charging stations.
Coming up in Senate Committees
Tuesday, April 24
Energy and Natural Resources, Room 103, SH
9:15 AM HB 1515 Relative to an exemption from the combustion ban on construction and demolition debris. This bill exempts bio-oil and bio-synthetic gas from the ban on combustion of the wood component of construction and demolition debris.
9:30 AM HB 1233 Preempting local regulation of seeds and fertilizer. This bill takes control in regulating which seeds and fertilizers may be used away from towns, and gives it to the state. NOFA has talking points on why this is a bad idea, and contact information for the Senators on the committee.
State House Watch Radio
As we get ready to hit the <send> button, we are hoping to confirm a speaker on energy policy and a representative of the Poor People's Campaign as guests for our show Monday.
“State House Watch” can be heard Monday from 5:00 to 6:00 PM on WNHN-LP, 94.7 FM in the Concord area and live-streamed at wnhnfm.org. The show repeats at 8:00 AM Tuesday. You can find podcasts of past shows, including last week’s with Beth Mattingly of the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH and Basav Sen from the Institute for Policy Studies, here.
Events Coming Up
Sunday, April 22
Earth Day Rally for Renewables, 1:00 – 3:00 PM at the State House, 107 N. Main St, Concord. Hosted by 350 New Hampshire and NH Sierra Club. Facebook Event Page
Every Sunday is Civil Rights Sunday in Portsmouth, 3:00 to 4:00 PM at Market Square.
Monday, April 23
ACLU NH webinar on repealing the death penalty in NH, with ACLU-NH staff and Representative Renny Cushing. 6:00 PM Register here.
Tuesday, April 24
Workers Memorial Dinner, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM, with NH COSH at 161 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett. This annual event honors NH workers killed on the job each year. For more information and tickets: Facebook Event Page
Thursday, April 26
Workers Memorial Vigil, Noon to 1:00 PM at the State House, 107 N. Main St, Concord, sponsored by NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (NH COSH). Facebook Event Page
Friday, April 27 - 29
Weekend Training on Nonviolence led by the Fellowship of Reconciliation, 6:00 PM Friday to 12:00 PM Sunday at the Green Acre Conference and Retreat Center, 61 Greenacre Drive, Eliot, ME. Registration is $120 per person, which includes meals and accommodations (linens included). Scholarship assistance is available. Contact Dr. Melinda Salazar for information and rates for day participants.
Saturday, April 28
“Just Visiting: A Forum Concerning County Jail Incarceration in NH.” Speakers will discuss who goes to jail in NH, why, what happens there, what helps people, who can visit, how to volunteer, and more. Speakers include Maggie Fogarty about issues related to immigrant detention. 12:30 PM – 3:00 PM at Ordway Hall, St. Paul’s Church, Concord. Co-sponsors are the NH Council of Churches, the Reconciliation Commission and the Prison Concerns Committee of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire.
Sunday, April 29
34th annual Interfaith Peace Celebration with Eva Castillo speaking on “Immigration in New Hampshire” and readings from various faith traditions, 3 PM at the Henniker Congregational Church, followed by a potluck meal. Call Barbara French at (603) 428-3366 for more information.
Tuesday, May 1 (International Workers Day)
Interfaith Prayer Vigil for Immigrant Justice at the Norris Cotton Federal Building, 8:30 to 10:00 AM, 275 Chestnut Street, Manchester.
Saturday, May 5
Black Heritage Trail NH Spring Symposium, with a full day of events, beginning with a workshop and panel discussion about the Underground Railroad: Myth, Reality, and Mapping, at St. John’s Church, 101 Chapel Street, Portsmouth. The BHTNH website has the full schedule, plus information about speakers and how to register.
OneActionNH.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.
"State House Watch" is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.
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