AFSC’s New Hampshire State House Watch newsletter is published weekly during legislative sessions (and occasionally at other times of the year) to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, 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.
State House Watch
June 26, 2021
Greetings, State House Watchers.
The House and Senate have adjourned for the year, and this will be our last newsletter for the session except for our end-of-session review which will be ready to send in a few weeks.
With only a few bright spots, it was a demoralizing session during which many harmful legislative proposals were approved, not the least of which is the ghastly state budget which was signed by Governor Sununu yesterday. With sincere gratitude for all of our representatives and senators who labored to bring common sense to the deliberations, and for the many thousands of New Hampshire constituents who showed up to make their voices heard on nearly a thousand bills, we move into a brief period of rest as well as reorganization and renewal of our creativity and passion for justice and equity in our state.
We’ll keep an eye on many of the bills that were retained in House committees and re-referred to Senate committees over the past six months. The relevant committees will need to take some sort of action on these bills before the reporting deadlines – November 18 in the House, and December 16 in the Senate. Seasoned State House Watchers know that these bills will come up for a vote when the new session begins in January 2022. We’ll also be watching as the titles of new bills (LSRs) are posted on the General Court website in the Fall.
NH Deserves a Better Budget!
The House and Senate met in full session on Thursday, June 24 to take action on all 39 of the Committee of Conference (CoC) reports. While they met, hundreds of people gathered at the State House for a rally hosted by the Grassroots Campaign for a People’s Budget, to show opposition to the budget bills, HB 1 and HB 2. One by one, a diverse group of leaders spoke with passion and clarity about the most extreme aspects of the proposed budget, including school vouchers which will defund public education, censorship regarding efforts to teach about institutional oppression, erosion of reproductive rights, tax cuts for the wealthiest Granite Staters and cuts to essential programs and services. In contrast to the Republican budget, organizers demanded a budget that invests in NH communities’ health, education, recovery, opportunity and freedom. Media coverage of the rally included InDepthNH, the Concord Monitor, Public News Service and the Union Leader:
Grace Kindeke, program coordinator for the American Friends Service Committee in New Hampshire, pointed out the crowd was intergenerational, from older folks who had been part of the Civil Rights movement to a younger generation called to action after the deaths of Michael Brown, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. ‘In New Hampshire, we dare to imagine a budget that works for our communities,’ Kindeke said. ‘We dare to imagine a Granite State that is truly welcoming, truly inclusive, truly equitable, that truly starts to really fulfill the promise of the multi-cultural democracy that maybe our founding fathers didn’t intend, but that’s what they’re getting.’”
The NH Bulletin reported on the budget debates in the House and Senate, including some important floor speeches from House members objecting to key provisions in HB 2: “In a speech drawing from her experience as a refugee from Afghanistan, Concord Democratic Rep. Safiya Wazir said the language, which would allow lawsuits against school districts and professional licensing consequences for teachers, was reminiscent of what she had fled under Taliban rule. ‘I bring a special perspective to this issue, having been born in a country where basic freedoms were denied. In this place, an open exchange of ideas (was) not always possible,’ Wazir said. This legislation takes us backward, making us like the . . . countries that suffer from human rights crises. We call ourselves the greatest country, and we should allow discussion and the fullness of all learning opportunities.’”
Following the rally, a large group entered the State House in song to demand that Governor Sununu meet with protestors and veto the budget. The governor refused to meet with protestors and five people were arrested when the building closed at 5pm. Arnie Alpert covered the story for InDepthNH: “ ‘I am here in Concord today to stand against this immoral budget and ask Governor Sununu to do the same,’ said Dana Hackett. ‘The dangerous rhetoric that this budget will push into law is unprecedented. If we don’t stand now, then when? The systems of oppression that work in our state will be fueled further by the passage of this budget.’”
Sadly, the budget bills passed both bodies along party lines, and Governor Sununu rushed to sign them on Friday. It will take a lot of strategic work and people power to undo the harms that will be caused by this budget.
While our elected officials attempt to censor honest discussions about institutional racism, sexism and other forms of oppression in New Hampshire, we must continue to promote awareness and action in response to these difficult truths, including the fact that Black children are disproportionately impacted by the foster care and juvenile justice systems, as was reported this week in the Concord Monitor: “Black children make up 17.9% of those committed [or incarcerated], but only 2.7% of all kids age 10 to 17 in the state. Similarly, Hispanic kids represent 23.9% of those committed, but only 6.4% of the appropriate age group. White minors, meanwhile, are only 50.7% of those committed, far less than the 87% of the population they represent.”
Citizenship for All!
Last Tuesday, June 22, AFSC and many partners in the NH Immigrant Solidarity Network gathered in Manchester for an interfaith vigil and march in solidarity with all who continue to face the threat of detention and deportation, and to demand a pathway to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants. Participants walked from the Norris Cotton Federal Building – which houses the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency – to the offices of Congressman Chris Pappas, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Senator Maggie Hassan to urge our Members of Congress to be champions for immigrant justice and to ensure that the broadest possible pathway to citizenship be included in the next budget reconciliation bill.
From the Interfaith Immigration Council - “As people of faith, we believe in the inherent dignity of every human being, worthy of justice and inclusion. We believe that our federal government must legislate in ways that promote full human flourishing, as creating a path to citizenship would do. The next step is for the Senate to take bold action. The people of New Hampshire are calling on Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen to ensure that a path to citizenship for our immigrant family members, neighbors, and friends becomes law this year.”
Chauvin is Sentenced for Murder of George Floyd
Officer Derek Chauvin was sentenced yesterday to 22 ½ years in prison for the murder of George Floyd. Mr. Floyd’s family expressed dismay that the sentence was not longer, but also appreciation for what they described as partial accountability (New York Times video).
Al Jazeera reported on reactions to the verdict, including that of Ben Feist of the ACLU of Minnesota: “’…For the first time in state history, a white officer will face prison time for murdering a Black man.’ Feist noted the ‘systems that led to Mr. Floyd’s murder by police are still intact, and police are still on track to kill 1,000 people this year. We must re-examine our entire system of public safety and public health and root out the racism that pervades law enforcement.’ Feist went on to recommend that police be removed ‘from low-level enforcement and divert money toward community-based services such as crisis-response teams,’ echoing calls from sections of the Defund the Police movement.”
Protecting Voters, Ending Voter Suppression
On Friday, the US Department of Justice announced that they would sue the state of Georgia for the voter suppression bills that Georgia Governor Brian Kemp recently signed into law in response to the record voter turnout during the November elections.
NHPR has the story: “[Attorney General] Garland said the lawsuit is the first of ‘many steps’ the department is taking to protect the right to vote for all eligible voters. He said the Civil Rights Division will continue to examine voting laws that other states have passed. ‘We will not hesitate to act,’ Garland said. The Justice Department announced this month it would vigorously defend voting rights. Garland said that the department will double the number of voter enfranchisement lawyers and focus attention on litigation related to voting rights.”
We commend Senators Hassan and Shaheen for co-sponsoring the For the People Act which would expand and protect voting rights and reduce corporate influence and corruption in our political system. We encourage our readers to attend the For the People rally on Sunday, June 27 at 3 PM in Market Square, Portsmouth to join with others organizing to protect our democracy.
Eviction Moratorium Extended
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced that the eviction moratorium will be extended for a final time, to the end of July, to enable the federal government to implement other supports to prevent evictions and foreclosures. From NPR: “Despite the moratorium, thousands of renters have still faced the threat of eviction because of loopholes in the law. Many are the lowest income tenants and disproportionately people of color. A new study by the Eviction Lab at Princeton University has found that communities with the lowest vaccination rates tend to have the highest eviction filings, raising additional health concerns. ‘Allowing the moratorium to expire before vaccination rates increase in marginalized communities could lead to increased spread of, and deaths from, COVID-19,’ a group of more than 40 House lawmakers wrote in a letter this week to President Biden and CDC Director Rochelle Walensky, urging them to extend the moratorium.”
Rev. Bertha Perkins, Presente!
We say ‘farewell’ to a beloved community leader and pastor, the Rev. Dr. Bertha Perkins, who passed away last week. She touched many lives during her 30+ years leading the New Fellowship Baptist Church in Nashua; she was recognized for her wisdom and grace with the Martin Luther King award in 1995.
Great job opening!
ACLU NH is seeking a Policy Director. If you or anyone you know might be interested, please apply!
Last Week in the House and Senate
Representatives and Senators approved all but one of the 39 Committee of Conference (CoC) reports during their final session days on June 24. Here’s a report on the bills we’ve been tracking:
HB 1 Making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2022 and June 30, 2023. Approved by a vote of 208-172 in the House, and a vote of 14-10 in the Senate.
HB 2 Relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures. Also called the ‘budget trailer bill,’ HB 2 typically contains policy changes required to enact the revenue and spending described in HB 1. Approved by a vote of 198 -181 in the House, and a vote of 14-10 in the Senate.
HB 25 Making appropriations for capital improvements. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
HB 108 Relative to minutes and decisions in nonpublic sessions; an exemption for items falling within the attorney-client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine under the right-to-know law; and remote access to public meetings under the right-to-know law. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
HB 180 Increasing the penalty for buyers under the law regarding trafficking in persons. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
HB 235 Addressing impacts to other water users from new sources of water for community water systems and relative to PFAS fund and programs. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
HB 242 Relative to the content of an adequate education. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
HB 271 Relative to standards for per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water and ambient groundwater. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
HB 278 Relative to the use of unused district facilities by chartered public schools. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
HB 315 Relative to the aggregation of electric customers and municipal host customer generators serving political subdivisions. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
HB 326 Requiring town and city clerks to make electronic lists of persons who have applied for absentee ballots available to candidates upon request. Approved by a division vote of 208 – 166 in the House and a voice vote in the Senate.
HB 334 Relative to prohibitions on carrying a loaded firearm on an OHRV or snowmobile and relative to the procedure for conducting firearm background checks. Approved by a vote of 212-159 in the House and a voice vote in the Senate.
HB 542 Relative to the protection of religious liberty. The bill would allow churches to stay open during a state of emergency, as an essential service. Approved by a vote of 205-158 in the House and a vote of 14-10 in the Senate.
HB 610 Requiring certain licensing and reporting functions be conducted through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry, relative to background investigations of trust officers, to certain filing fees, assessments and interest rates and to the transmission of consumer complaints by the banking department, requiring employers to provide certain workplace accommodations for employees, establishing the New Hampshire housing and conservation planning program, and relative to the collaborative care model service delivery method. Approved by a voice vote in the House and a vote of 23-1 in the Senate.
SB 31 Relative to voter checklists and modifying the absentee ballot affidavit. Approved by a vote of 203 - 170 in the House and a voice vote in the Senate.
SB 40 Relative to informed consent to search a motor vehicle and amending the statutory requirements for a search warrant. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
SB 91 Adopting omnibus legislation on renewable energy and utilities. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
SB 103 Relative to nexus provisions for certain disaster related or emergency related work performed in the state and prohibiting the siting of a landfill near a state park. Approved by a voice vote in the House and, after a few attempts, a vote of 14-10 in the Senate.
SB 134 Adopting omnibus legislation relative to civil actions and criminal liability. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
SB 146 Adopting omnibus legislation relative to the environment. Approved by voice votes in the House and Senate.
SB 154 Prohibiting the state from enforcing any federal statute, regulation, or Presidential Executive Order that restricts the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Defeated by a House vote of 354-19 to table the bill. Garry Rayno has the story for InDepthNH.
State House Watch radio on WNHN 94.7 FM
Tune in on Monday for State House Watch radio’s final program for the 2021 legislative session! Maggie and Grace interview our fellow co-hosts, Jennifer Dube of 350 New Hampshire and Emmett Soldati. We also talk with House Minority Leader Representative Renny Cushing about his impressions of this very challenging session. “State House Watch” radio airs Mondays at 5 PM and rebroadcasts Tuesdays at 8 AM at WNHN-LP, 94.7 FM in Concord and at www.wnhnfm.org. Recordings of past shows are here. Starting in July, our State House Watch radio program will be a music show, comprised of the vast library of songs we utilize for our programs during the legislative period. Enjoy! We’ll be back in January 2022!
Our sincerest thanks to Fred Portnoy, our producer, for pulling the show together each week, and making it as smooth as possible. Fred, we couldn’t do it without you!
Sunday, June 27
For the People – 3 PM. Market Square, Portsmouth. Hosted by Occupy New Hampshire. Our Democracy should work for all the people and achieve all of we the people's progressive priorities. Join us to kick off the For the People Campaign that will go from the 28th thru July 10th.
Monday, June 28
Strange Fruit, the Inside Story – 7:30 PM to 8:30 PM (online).Hosted by the World Fellowship Center. Register here. Robert Meeropol, the son of Abel Meeropol, who wrote the words and music to the anti-lynching anthem, Strange Fruit, discusses the songs’ origin, history and current impact.
Tuesday, June 29
Defund Hate Community Call – 3 PM. Co-hosted by AFSC. Right now, Congress is figuring out how to fund the government, determining how much money different agencies, including ICE and CBP will get for next year. Join the Defund Hate Coalition to get campaign updates and learn about opportunities for engagement.
Phone Bank For The People – 6PM to 8PM. Hosted by 603 Forward, Open Democracy, and NH Campaign for Voting Rights in partnership with End Citizens United and Let America Vote to host Phone Banks For the People on Tuesday evenings. The For the People Act (H.R.1/S.1) will rein in corporate interests, end partisan gerrymandering, ban dark money, and protect our freedom to vote. President Biden has asked for the bill to come to his desk quickly, it's on the verge of becoming law, and we need your help to make it happen. Join us as we call Granite Staters and patch them through to our Senators to thank them for supporting the For the People Act. Shifts will begin with a quick training session, and all you'll need is your computer and some headphones.
Wednesday, June 30
A Conversation with LGBTQ+ Advocates on Health Equity in New Hampshire – 4 PM to 7 PM. Hosted by New Futures. As Pride Month comes to a close, join New Futures for A Conversation with LGBTQ+ Advocates on Health Equity in New Hampshire. We will virtually be hearing from five local activists on their lived experiences, advocacy efforts, and what we can do year-round to support LGBTQ+ health in the Granite State.
Wednesday Phonebanks for Justice! – 5 PM to 7:15 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. Come join Rights & Democracy NH for our weekly Wednesday phone banks! We'll be calling supporters throughout the state to engage people across many issues aligned with our New Hampshire Renews work, including climate, housing/ homelessness, healthcare justice/ the opioid crisis, and workers' rights. Jump in and join us for as long as you can! We'll be on Zoom to create the camaraderie that we all so desperately need due to social distancing!
Deep Canvassing Training – 6 PM. Hosted by NH Youth Movement. Join us for a training on Deep Canvassing! Deep Canvassing is a groundbreaking outreach method that is all about having honest and empathetic conversations with our community members who are conflicted on issues like defunding the police and reinvesting in communities. Deep Canvassing was used to help pass marriage equality in California and protect Trans rights in Massachusetts and we are going to use it to transform New Hampshire! Join us to learn about deep canvassing and plug into our work to have thousands of conversations across the state about how we can make our communities more resilient and safe. Don't worry if you haven't done deep canvassing before, this training is for you!
Thursday, July 8
NH Women & The Economy Forum – 11 AM. Co-hosted by One Fair Wage, High Road Restaurants, Women's March, Ultraviolet, Moral Economy Table, Moms Rising, Patriotic Millionaires, Voices for Progress. Join us for a public forum for New Hampshire allies with elected officials on the 'shecession' facing New Hampshire working women, the care economy, the tipped service industry - and the impact of these issues on the state's ability to fully reopen and recover.
Saturday, July 10
2021 Seacoast Walk – 2 PM. Connect Church, 200 Chase Dr. Portsmouth. Co-Hosted by League of Women Voters-NH and NH Voters Restoring Democracy. Celebrating 50 Years of Youth Voting.
Monday, July 19
Peace & Justice Conversations: The Power of Stories: Immigrants' Journeys to Find Home – 7 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action. Since 2012, photographer Becky Field has photographed the lives of immigrants and refugees in New Hampshire. Her project, "Different Roots, Common Dreams," shows that while we have different cultural roots, we have the same dreams for a good life. Becky will talk about her recent work, showing her photographs and sharing stories from several NH immigrants. In 2018 "Antony" (not his real name) fled persecution and war in his country in Africa, crossed into the United States at the southern border, and asked for asylum. Although seeking asylum is legal by US and international immigration law, Antony was shackled and jailed for two years in several detention centers. He expresses these difficult experiences through his poetry and art. When COVID-19 struck in the centers, he was released to the care of a community group in 2020. He is now staying in a NH home, still shackled with an ankle monitor. Recently, Becky and Antony have partnered to document his life in detention using her photographs and his writing and art. Antony will share his story about leaving his country and living in detention.
Wednesday, August 4
Seacoast ABLE NH Summer Picnic – 5 PM to 6:30 PM. Henry Law Park, Dover. Hosted by ABLENH. Join ABLE NH's Seacoast Chapter for a picnic in the park! This is a great opportunity to meet Seacoast disability advocates, learn about ABLE NH, and reflect on the last year's work.
With best wishes,
Maggie Fogarty, Grace Kindeke and the beloved Susan Bruce
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. Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke staff the New Hampshire Program which publishes this newsletter. Susan Bruce was our State House Watch researcher and writer for 7+ years until she passed away in mid-June 2021.
‘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. Thank you!