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NH State House Watch

NH State House Watch

 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.


January 18, 2019

“One of the difficult lessons we have learned is that you cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure.  Any real change in the status quo depends on continued creative action to sharpen the conscience of the nation and establish a climate in which even the most recalcitrant elements are forced to admit that change is necessary.”

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, March 14, 1965, in the NY Times

Having heard from readers that this newsletter can be a bit on the lengthy side, our New Year’s resolution was to trim it down.  We want you to know we are trying, but there’s so much to tell you about!  Today we begin by reporting on House hearings, move to stories in the news, and then list upcoming House and Senate committee hearings on a wide range of issues: health care, gerrymandering, workers rights, mental health services, taxes, and Pollyanna.  (We are not reporting on the “beaver deceiver” bill so you will have to look that up yourselves.)

Anti-Immigrant Legislation Opposed

We had excellent turnout for yesterday’s hearing on HB 232 , which seeks to ban municipal “sanctuary” policies and compel local police to help the federal government enforce immigration laws.  But because committees typically hear first from sponsors, and because the chair of the Municipal and County Government Committee allowed the prime sponsor to have a representative of a notorious anti-immigrant groupaccompany her to the witness stand and speak at length, the committee didn’t get to hear any objections until well over an hour into the hearing.

When opponents of the bill finally got a chance to testify, the committee heard legal, moral, and practical reasons for this bill to be rejected.  We send a shout-out to members of the Keene Immigrant and Refugee Partnership and Canterbury Citizens for Democracy for speaking, as well as the ACLU, ORIS, and the NH Municipal Association.  Let us know if you want more details.   The committee will not hold an executive session on this bill until at least January 30, so there is still time to let them know your views with a phone call, email or letter. You can find contact information for all committee members here.  

Civil Rights, Civil Liberties, and the Death Penalty

Sabrina Butler, who at the age of 17 was sent to death row in Mississippi for murder when her 9-month old son died of natural causes, spent three days in the state speaking to legislators and others about the importance of HB 455, this year's legislative proposal to repeal the death penalty.  If you didn’t get to meet her, Sabrina’s visit was covered by Cherise Leclerc at WMUR and Matt Golec at the Valley News. Tune in to last week’s podcast of State House Watch Radio to hear Arnie Alpert’s interview with Sabrina. In 'other Arnie' action, Sabrina was also a guest onThe Attitude with Arnie Arnesen.   HB 455 is not yet scheduled for a public hearing, but it’s not too early for you to speak about the importance of repeal with your Representatives and Senator.

As we reported last week, there was a hearing on HB 289, the bill to repeal the provision permitting school districts to authorize the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer. Jeanne Hruska, political director of the ACLU of NH had an op-ed in the Concord Monitor explaining why this old law is unconstitutional. Yesterday’s hearing was covered by Dave Solomon in the Union Leader.

HB 446 provides a procedure for an individual to obtain a new birth certificate based on a change of gender. Dave Solomon covered that one too for the Union Leader.

Wages, Housing, and Family Leave

The battle over paid family and medical leave is heating up even before hearings are held on House or Senate bills dealing with this topic.  Readers may recall that last year’s family and medical leave program, HB 628, passed the House with bipartisan support but died in the Senate after Governor Sununu came out against it, statingamong other reasons that “I cannot support HB 628 until a comprehensive actuarial analysis is conducted.”  With new proposals being crafted in the House and Senate, Governor Sununu and Vermont Governor Phil Scott this week announced their proposal based on inclusion of state workers and a private insurance carrier.

The Campaign for a Family Friendly Economy was not impressed, saying the governors’ approach “would lead to an expensive high risk pool that does little to help families balance their breadwinning responsibilities with caring for loved ones.”

We can't resist pointing out that Governor Sununu released his proposal without a comprehensive actuarial analysis.

Cathy Kuhn, the Director of the New Hampshire Coalition to End Homelessness says there is bipartisan support for investing as much as $20 million into the state’s affordable housing fund. This could make a real impact on our state’s affordable housing problem.  More details are at NHPR.

While we wait for at least four bills on the minimum wage to be introduced at the State House, we are pleased to see that complementary versions of the “Raise the Wage Act” have been introduced in the US House and Senate, increasing the federal minimum wage to $15 by 2024. The House version has 188 co-sponsors, while the Senate bill has 31.  But we are distressed to note that not a single member of our state’s Congressional delegation are among them.  Click here for a great fact sheet from the Economic Policy Institute on “Why America Needs a $15 Minimum Wage,” and use the information when you next see our US Senators or Representatives (perhaps at an MLK event).

Preventing Nuclear War

The State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee heard from backers of 
HR 6, urging the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war, a bill that will be exec’d next week. Dr. David Wright, co-director of the Global Security Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists was in the state, too, to speak with lawmakers and appear on The Attitude.  Resolutions are also being drafted to be put before Town Meetings and City Councils supporting an agenda to take us “back from the brink.”  It is no coincidence that this effort is gearing up as the density of presidential candidate appearances increases.  More on this soon.

Next week in House Committees

The House will next be in session on Thursday, January 31, at 10:00 AM.  Here are the hearings and other meetings coming up.

Tuesday, January 22

Children and Family Law, Room 206, LOB

1:00 Executive session on HB 111, establishing a committee to study the effect the opioid crisis and domestic abuse has on New Hampshire children; and HB 163, relative to the definition of child abuse. 

Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room104, LOB *Note room change

9:00 AM Subcommittee work session on HB 201, increasing penalties for buyers under the law regarding trafficking in persons.

11:00 AM Subcommittee work session on HB 218, relative to the use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer. This bill removes the legal authority for a law enforcement officer to use deadly force in effecting an arrest.

1:00 PM Subcommittee work session on HB 306, prohibiting the destruction of sexual assault evidence collection kits.

Election Law, Room 308, LOB

1:00 PM CACR 9, relative to redistricting. Providing that an independent redistricting commission shall be established to draw boundaries for state and federal offices.

Resources, Recreation and Development, Room 305, LOB

1:30 PM HB 204, establishing a committee to review and update the penalties for contaminating drinking water and groundwater.

Science, Technology and Energy, Room 304, LOB

10:30 AM Brief presentations on renewable energy.

1:30 PM HB 132, relative to net neutrality.

1:45 PM HB 365, relative to net energy metering limits for customer generators.

2:45 PM HB 466, relative to the capacity of electricity customer generators for eligibility for net energy metering.

Ways and Means, Room 202, LOB

10:00 AM Michael Mazerov, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities
11:00 AM Matthew Gardner, Senior Fellow, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy
1:00 PM Kyle Pomerleau, Director of Quantitative Analysis, Tax Foundation

2:00 PM Full committee work sessions on HB 182, establishing a commission to study adaptation of the tax structure of the state to economic and demographic change; and HB 185, relative to contingently reducing the rate of the interest and dividends tax and repealing the tax in five years.

Wednesday, January 23

Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB 

10:00 AM HB 359, relative to warning labels on prescription drugs containing opiates. This would require any prescription drug containing an opiate to come in a bottle with a red cap and a warning label regarding the risks of the drug.

10:30 AM HB 179, establishing a New Hampshire health access corporation.

11:30 AM HB 180, establishing a commission to examine the feasibility of the New England states entering into a compact for a single payer health care program.

1:30 PM HB 277, establishing a commission to study a public option for health insurance. 

2:30 PM HB 233, relative to the group and individual health insurance market.  If passed, HB 233 would protect the essential health benefits and consumer protections included in the Affordable Care Act in state law, in case the ACA was ever federally jeopardized. Some of the protected benefits include the ban on discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, and substance use and mental health parity. Contact Aly McKnight ( and Holly Stevens ( at New Futures if you want more information.

Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB 

10:00 AM HB 486, relative to Department of Corrections procedures concerning the requirement for restoration of voting rights for felons. The bill would require the Commissioner of Corrections to ensure that probation and parole officers receive instruction on the laws regarding the voting rights of those who have attained final discharge of their sentence.

Education, Room 207, LOB 

10:15 AM HB 383, relative to nondiscrimination in public and nonpublic schools. This provides that the state law against discrimination applies to any public or nonpublic school that receives public funds.

Executive Departments and Administration, Room 306, LOB

9:00 AM Subcommittee work session on HB 229, relative to rulemaking requirements of the Department of Corrections.

10:30 AM HB 572, proclaiming the second Saturday in June as Pollyanna of Littleton New Hampshire Recognition Day. Pollyanna is the optimistic title character in the classic 1913 children’s book written by Littleton resident Eleanor H. Porter. A day to celebrate gladness and optimism? We’re all for it.

Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services, Room 304 LOB *note room change

10:00 AM HB 227, relative to the length of time an employer may lease an employee through an employee leasing company. The bill limits the contract for a temp worker to 120 days.

1:30 PM HB 211, relative to inquiries by prospective employers concerning salary history. This bill prohibits an employer from requiring a job applicant to disclose her/his salary history prior to an offer of employment, a factor believed to contribute to pay discrimination.  

2:00 PM Executive Session on HB 255, relative to shift differential pay for employees who work overnight; and HB 223, relative to night work, limiting the number of night work hours a youth may work in a 24-hour period.

State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs, Room 206, LOB

10:00 AM Executive sessions on HCR 2 requesting an investigation into whether opioids, benzodiazepines, and exposure to Agent Orange contribute to suicides by veterans;  HR 6, urging the United States to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war; and HCR 5, requesting the United States Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to reverse the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission.

Ways and Means, Room 202, LOB

10:00 AM HB 623, relative to the rates of the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax. This bill establishes the rates for the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax and repeals the rate reductions that were due to become effective in 2021.

Thursday, January 24

Legislative Administration, Room 303, LOB

10:30 AM HB 441, relative to disclosure of the source of legislative bill proposals and the disclosure of certain information by lobbyists. This would require the identification of a private organization responsible for distributing a model act used by a legislator to propose legislation. It also requires lobbyists to disclose their affiliation when contacting legislators.

Coming up in Senate Committees

After a slow start, the Senate has scheduled hearings. There are no Senate sessions scheduled at this time.

Tuesday, January 22

Commerce, Room 100, SH 

2:30 PM SB 18, relative to authorized employee wage deductions. This bill allows a public employee to specify voluntary deductions from wages for any insurance or employee benefit.

2:45 PM SB 19, relative to the privacy of certain information concerning public employees. This bill requires that an employee's home address, personal email address, and home or mobile telephone numbers shall not be disclosed except to an employee organization for the purpose of collective bargaining.

Finance, Room 103, SH

1:30 PM SB 6, relative to child protection staffing and making an appropriation therefor. This bill makes an appropriation to the Department of Health and Human Services to hire additional child protective service workers and supervisors.

Health and Human Services, Room 101, LOB

1:00 PM SB 11, relative to mental health services and making appropriations therefor. This bill authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to use surplus funds for designated receiving facilities and for voluntary inpatient psychiatric admissions. It makes an appropriation of $3,000,000 to DHHS to renovate existing hospital facilities and add more beds; provides rulemaking for involuntary admission requirements; makes an appropriation of $3,000,000 to the Affordable Housing Fund for transitional housing for persons leaving mental health treatment facilities; and requires insurers to reimburse certain facilities for emergency room boarding.

2:00 PM SB 5, making an appropriation relative to Medicaid provider rates for mental health and substance misuse. This bill would make a $3,000,000 appropriation to DHHS to enhance provider rates for mental health and substance misuse inpatient and outpatient services.

Wednesday, January 23

Executive Departments and Administration, Room 101, LOB

10:00 AM SB 29, establishing a commission to study incidents of workplace violence against state employees.

State House Watch Radio

Monday being Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, our weekly radio show will be pre-recorded, including excerpts from Dr. King’s 1957 speech, “Give Us the Ballot,” and words from Arnie on the 20-year campaign for recognition of Dr. King’s holiday in New Hampshire.  “State House Watch” airs from 5 to 6 pm on WNHN-LP at 94.7 FM in the Concord area and  Recordings of previous shows, including last week’s with Sabrina Butler from Witness to Innocence and Molly Grover from Rights and Democracy can be found here.  We’ll be back with a live show on January 28.  

Martin Luther King Days

Senator Maggie Hassan, Representative Chris Pappas, and Manchester’s Mayor Joyce Craig will be among those celebrating Martin Luther King Day on Monday, January 21, when the Martin Luther King Coalition holds its 37th annual Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration at Temple Adath Yeshurun in Manchester. The theme of this year’s celebration is “Our Children, Our Future.”   

The Celebration will include presentation of the 2019 Martin Luther King Award to Dr. Dottie Morris, Associate Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity at Keene State College, whom the Coalition says has become one of the state’s top ‘go to’ people for communities dealing with racism. The Coalition will present the Vanessa Johnson Award to Young Organizers United, a program of the Granite State Organizing Project, in recognition of its work in support of the civil and educational rights of local students. The keynote speaker will be Ron Walker, executive director of the Coalition of Schools Educating Boys of Color, a Boston organization which connects, inspires, supports and strengthens school leaders dedicated to the social, emotional and academic development of boys and young men of color.

Temple Adath Yeshurun is located at 152 Prospect Street in Manchester.  

Other Martin Luther King Day events are taking place in Portsmouth, Hollis, Nashua, Concord, Jaffrey, Tamworth, Dover, and no doubt towns we don’t know about.  Check out the MLK Days Calendar on the AFSC website for details.  If there are events we’ve missed, let us know and we’ll try to add them to the calendar before they take place.  

More Events…

Saturday, January 19

“The Coloring of Law and Punishment,” exploring the history of law and punishment in New Hampshire, disproportionate incarceration rates of racial and ethnic minorities, and the social impact of mass incarceration. Presenters will examine the consequences of incarceration on communities of color, intensifying surveillance and criminalization of poor and Black communities, and what a shift from punitive to restorative justice within our criminal justice system could look like.  2 to 4 PM at the Rudman Center, UNH Law School, Washington Street, Concord.  The event is free and open to the public.  This is an Elinor Williams Hooker Tea Talk, sponsored by the Black Heritage Trail of NH.  More info here

Women’s Marches!  10 AM at the NH State House in Concord, Facebook event .
1 PM at Market Square in Portsmouth, Facebook event

Wednesday, January 23

“Holy Family, Migrant Family” Prayer Service, 6:30 PM at St. Anne-St. Augustin Church, 382 Beech Street in Manchester.  Come and pray for those affected by our nation's immigration policies and hear music in English, Spanish, Arabic and Indonesian! All are welcome to a reception following with coffee and apple pie.

Friday, January 25

“13th,” a documentary providing an in-depth look at the U.S. prison system.  SEA Movie Night.  5 PM Social Hour followed by film at 6 PM.  At the SEA/SEIU office, 207 N. Main Street, Concord. Sponsored by SEA/SEIU Local 1984 and the NH Black Women’s Health Project.  Admission free.  Discussion following film.

Open Democracy is holding screenings of the documentary “Dark Money” in several communities and planning a speaking tour with Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Hedrick Smith.  Check out their events calendar and sign up for updates. 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!