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.
STATE HOUSE WATCH
September 21, 2018
Last week’s Veto Day session marked the end of major business for the 2018-2019 sessions of the NH House and Senate, also known as the General Court. Now, most of the attention will be focused on the upcoming election, November 6. That makes the next 6 weeks a great time to talk to candidates about issues that matter to you. There’s no season like campaign season to get their attention.
As you probably know, the Senate voted 14 to 10 to overturn Governor Chris Sununu’s veto of SB 593, the bill repealing the death penalty. That was two votes shy of the number needed. We send our appreciation to the 14 Senators who are ready to abandon this barbaric practice and give a special shout-out to Senator Betty Lasky, who is not seeking re-election and whose floor speech on the topic was her final contribution to the legislative process. Death penalty opponents haven't given up: join the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty to find out what's coming up.
At the end of the day, only SB 365, relative to the use of renewable generation to provide fuel diversity, gained the two-thirds majorities in both chambers needed to override a veto. In this case, the vote was 21-3 in the Senate and 226-113 (exactly two-thirds) in the House.
It’s generally quiet now inside the State House and LOB, but there are plenty of scheduled meetings for commissions and study committees. Plus, bills that were sent to Interim Study are being considered by Senate and House committees. We’ve still got our eyes on SB 525, the bill aimed at defunding English classes for immigrant adults, which the House Education Committee will look at again on October 17. Check the House and Senate Calendars or look up bills by name or number for all the details.
Wages, Rent, and Family Leave
With election season underway, the NH Alliance for a Moral Economy held a rally launching the “Raise Up NH” campaign for a higher minimum wage. While members might still be fighting for 15, they realize that even $15 an hour is not really a living wage, not when a median 2-bedroom apartment rents for $1296 a month.
The Raise Up news conference netted a page 2 article in the NH Union Leader the next day and a critical editorial in the same paper the day after that. “Mandating higher hourly wages drives down demand and eliminates entry-level jobs,” they write, repeating an oft-heard claim refuted by a recent study. The Center on Wage and Employment Dynamics at Berkeley studied the impact of higher minimum wages on fast-food workers in six U.S. cities. “When these minimum wage policies were being considered, some predicted that they would lead to significant job losses. We did not find such job losses. We did find that these cities’ minimum wage policies increased the earnings of low-wage workers, just as intended,” said Carl Nadler, co-author of the report.
Raise UP NH will be holding visiblity actions every Friday from now to the election at 8 AM in front of Nashua City Hall.
Speaking of the cost of housing, a new report from the NH Fiscal Policy Institute points out that almost half of all NH renter households are paying in excess of 30% of their income on housing. For poor renters, the income share going to housing is even higher.
At a news conference yesterday, supporters of expanded access to paid family and medical leave benefits outlined a set of principles intended to be used as a guide for candidates and policy makers as they consider how to meet the caregiving and financial security needs of working families in New Hampshire. NH Labor News has the story.
Secure Psychiatric Unit Update
After a couple years of attention to human rights abuses committed in the Secure Psychiatric Unit, the Department of Health and Human Services surprised mental health advocates when they published a Request For Information from firms interested in building a secure psychiatric hospital. “The envisioned facility would consolidate forensic care within one location and provide a comprehensive program for the forensic patients,” according to the RFI.
Another surprise followed: Governor Sununu has endorsed the idea, joining the call to move people with severe mental illness from the prison to what the Union Leader’s Dave Solomon called “a more therapeutic setting.”
“We have to find out what is best, whether it’s building a whole new unit or transferring those who are in the SPU into a better facility,” the governor said. “Whatever it is, the state has to do something. This is one of those issues that has gone on long enough.” Representative Renny Cushing and Wand Duryea of Advocates for Ethical Mental Health Treatment say they are cautiously optimistic, reports Nancy West in InDepthNH.
We’ll be looking for the new facility in the governor’s budget next February, regardless of who occupies the office. And, regardless of where the budget goes, we can also expect Representative Cushing to make sure legislators can’t avoid the issue.
Rise as One – AFSC-NH Fundraiser October 20
Annelise Orleck, author of “We are all fast food workers now,” the global uprising against starvation wages, will be the guest speaker for our annual dinner on Saturday, October 20 at the Concord Unitarian Universalist Church. Find out more and order your ticket on our website. If you use Facebook, please visit our event page and share it with your friends. Let us know if you'll need child care.
The NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees and the Granite State Organizing Project have scheduled several "Immigration 101" presentations.
- Saturday, September 22, 5:30-7:30 PM at Nashua Presbyterian Church
- Sunday, October 7, noon-2 PM at Wesley United Methodist Church in Concord
- Sunday, October 14, 11:30 AM - 1 PM at 504 North Barnstead Road in Center Barnstead.
Contact GSOP at 603-668-8250 to schedule one in your community.
Other Events Coming Up…
Sunday, September 23
Every Sunday is Civil Rights Sunday at Market Square in Portsmouth, from 3 - 4 PM. This week the focus will be on freedom for Etty Tham, an Indonesian immigrant and resident of Portsmouth who has been held in jail for more than 3 months after being detained at the Border Patrol checkpoint on I-93. See more on Facebook and sign the petition to ICE.
Saturday, September 29
The Manchester Branch of NAACP’s Freedom Fund Dinner will be at Brookside Congregational Church in Manchester, featuring a talk by Debbie Irving, author of Waking Up White. Tickets are $50 and $25 for children. You can order tickets online through PayPal or send a check to: NAACP Manchester Branch, PO Box 473, Manchester, NH 03105. Please reserve your ticket by September 20 and be sure to state your preference for a chicken or vegetarian dinner.
Saturday, October 6
NH Peace Action dinner, with Charmaine White Face, an activist from the Oceti Sakowin (Great Sioux Nation) in North America. More information here.
Saturday, October 20
Annelise Orleck, author of “We are all fast food workers now,” the global uprisingagainst starvation wages, will be the guest speaker for our annual dinner on Saturday, October 20 at the Concord Unitarian Universalist Church. Find out more and order your ticket on our website. If you use Facebook, please visit our event page and share it with your friends.
OneActionNH.org is a great way to keep up with lots of other events going on in NH and Maine. Post your events there!
Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty
PS - Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook. Search for “American Friends Service Committee-NH.” 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 every week while the legislature is in session. 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.
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.