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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AFSC-NH State House Watch, April 18
2014 Issue 15

Death Penalty Repeal Still Alive Despite Senate Vote

Hearings on AFSC Priority Issues Next Week - Minimum Wage, In-State Tuition, Housing Discrimination, ASVAB, "Citizens United"

Death Penalty Update

Yesterday State Senators deadlocked, 12 to 12, on the bill repealing New Hampshire's death penalty.  Lacking a majority to pass or kill the bill, they decided unanimously to put it "on the table," from which it can be removed by a majority vote.  That would be the same majority needed to pass the measure.  And that means we are now working on persuading one of the 12 "no" votes to switch to a pro-repeal position.

Debate began with a moving anti-death penalty speech by Senator Bette Lasky and the introduction of an amendment intended to clarify that the repeal bill would be "prospective," i.e. it would not affect Michael Addison's death sentence.  When the amendment was voted down 10-14, the next vote was on passage of the original bill (which is also "prospective").  This received 12 votes in favor and 12 against.  With several interruptions for recesses, Senators proceeded to vote 12-12 on a motion to table, then 12-12 on a motion to kill the bill.  With no majority for passage or defeat, a new motion to table met unanimous approval.   

The vote followed an impressive showing of about 100 repeal supporters, who ringed the State House for an hour before the Senate session began.  For some, the timing of the vote on Holy Thursday was especially meaningful. 

There was also a showing by uniformed police officers, some of whom stood at the front of the Senate Gallery throughout the entire debate to make sure Senators would not forget that the police lobby wants the State to retain the death penalty and execute Michael Addison.  (Check out the photo by Cheryl Senter in today's New York Times, accompanying an article that includes a quote from Arnie.)

Please thank Senators who voted for repeal:  Jeff Woodburn, David Watters, David Pierce, Sam Cataldo, Andrew Hosmer, Bob Odell, Molly Kelly, Peggy Gilmour, Bette Lasky, Sylvia Larsen, Donna Soucy, and Martha Fuller Clark.

Please keep up the communications with Senators who voted to keep the State in the killing business:  Jeannie Forrester, Jeb Bradley, Andy Sanborn, Peter Bragdon, Sharon Carson, David Boutin, John Reagan, Jim Rausch, Lou D'Allesandro, Churck Morse, Russell Prescott, and Nancy Stiles. 

The NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty will be sending out updates. 

"Raise the Wage" Update - Tuesday is "Lobby Day"

The Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 1403, establishing a state minimum hourly wage, on Tuesday, April 22 at 1:15 PM in State House Room 103.  This is the bill to re-establish a state minimum wage, raise it to $8.25 on January 1, raise it further to $9 on January 1, 2016, and then index it for raises in the cost of living.  The bill is backed by a wide range of groups including AFSC, labor unions, advocates for children and poor families, and others who care about economic justice.  It is opposed by several of the state's influential business lobbies, including the Business and Industry Association and the Restaurant and Lodging Association.  

Supporters of a higher minimum wage are organizing a Lobby Day, starting with a gathering before the hearing at noon at 4 Park Street, 3rd floor.  Click here to RSVP with NH Citizens Alliance. 

AFSC and the United Church of Christ NH Economic Justice Mission Team invite members of the faith community to join them at the Lobby Day. Rev. Gail Kinney says, "from multiple faith traditions, we believe that no individual who works full time should be sentenced to a life of poverty.  We invite clergy and lay leaders from all faith traditions to meet on the 3rd Floor of 4 Park Street, Concord at noontime.  Lunch will be provided, and clergy and faith lay leaders who are present will have an opportunity to gather in a designated meeting room for a time of brief meditation and orientation."  Faith leader testimony during the hearing will also be welcome.

In addition, Senator David Boutin will meet with constituents and others on Monday, April 21 at 6:30 PM (please arrive by 6) at the office of the NH AFL-CIO, 161 Londonderry Turnpike, Hooksett. RSVP to Caitlin at (603) 225-2471 or by email.  Senator Boutin represents Bow, Candia, Dunbarton, Hooksett and Wards 1, 2 and 12 in the City of Manchester.
 
Senator Bob Odell will meet with constituents on Thursday, April 24 at 6 PM (please arrive by 5:30) at Tracy Memorial Library, New London. RSVP to Caitlin at (603) 225-2471 or by email.  Senator Odell represents Acworth, Antrim, Bennington, Bradford, Croydon, Deering, Francestown, Goshen, Grantham, Hillsborough, Langdon, Lempster, Marlow, New London, Newbury, Newport, Springfield, Stoddard, Sunapee, Sutton, Unity, Washington, Weare, and Windsor.
 
You can also sign the online "Raise the Wage" petition.

Abbreviations and Vocabulary 

LOB - Legislative Office Building

SH - State House

OTP - Ought to Pass

OTP/A - Ought to Pass with Amendment

ITL - Inexpedient to Legislate (i.e. should be defeated)  "ITL" can be used as a verb, too, as in "the Senator tried to ITL the bill but the committee voted instead to send it to interim study."   

Consent Calendar - For all bills on the Consent Calendar committee recommendations are approved without debate.  However, any member can have any bill removed from the Consent Calendar and placed on the Regular Calendar.

Last Week in the House

SB 390, prohibiting discrimination against employees who are victims of domestic violence and establishing a committee to study the protection of employees from domestic violence, passed on a roll call vote of 186-153.  It has been sent to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee for further study.  One Representative argued that employers should be able to be fire workers if they’re victims of domestic violence because they make the workplace unsafe for everyone else.

Last Week in the Senate

In addition to the death penalty, the Senate voted on a number of other bills.

HB 562, the bill to curtail the interest amount on title loans, was sent by the Senate to interim study, which at this point in the year means the bill is dead.  Members of the United Valley Interfaith Project and Granite State Organizing Project, who had lobbied hard for passage of this anti-usury measure, made a good showing in the corridor outside the Senate before the vote. 

The Senate Commerce Committee had voted to recommend that HB 1405, a bill prohibiting employers from using credit history in employment decisions, be sent to interim study. The full Senate decided instead to table it after the interim study recommendation was taken off the consent calendar.  But meanwhile, over in the House, a similar Senate Bill, SB 295, was amended to contain the exact same text as HB 1405. You following so far?  The difference:  The Senate version included the following provision:  "Any employer who reasonably believes that the lack of access to an employee's credit history at the time of hiring may adversely impact the employer's business, the welfare of other employees, or the welfare of other individuals associated with the employer or the employer’s business shall be exempt."  In other words, the Senate would prohibit employers from using credit history in employment decisions unless they want to do so.  This issue will go back and forth for awhile longer.  

HB 350 - The bill preventing discrimination against the unemployed was ITL’d by the Senate on a voice vote.

HB 1404 - The House approved this bill to clarify issues around the use of payroll cards in order to better protect workers. As we predicted last week, the Senate sent the bill to interim study.

HB 1195, the bill to create a committee to study the impact of the property tax on New Hampshire residents, businesses, municipalities, and the economy was killed by the Senate on a voice vote. 

HB 1411 - This measure would have restored some of the funds cut from the DHHS budget last year from the budget surplus. The Senate voted to kill the bill on a voice vote.  Some Senators argued that with a Court having just ruled the Medicaid Enhancement Tax to be unconstitutional, this is no time to be reallocating the state's reserves.  

HB 1125 - The bill to repeal the crime of adultery passed on a voice vote.

Next Week in Senate Committees

Tuesday, April 22

Health, Education, and Human Services, Room 103, LOB

10:00 AM - HB 1321, relative to reporting of Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery scores.  This bill, backed by NH Peace Action and NH Veterans for Peace, would stipulate that parents must give their approval before test scores are sent to military recruiters.  

10:30 AM - HB 474, establishes requirements for in-state tuition status for students in the University System of New Hampshire.  This bill, which enables students who make their homes in New Hampshire and went to New Hampshire high schools to qualify for lower in-state tuition rates regardless of their immigration status, is a priority for AFSC, the NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, and the United Church of Christ Immigration Working Group.   

Finance, Room 103, State House

1:15 PM - HB 1403, establishing a state minimum hourly wage.  

Judiciary, Room 100, SH

10:30 AM - HB 1409, expanding the law against discrimination to prohibit housing discrimination against recipients of rental assistance and victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.  AFSC strongly supports this bill and is working with NH Legal Assistance, Housing Action NH, and the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence to win its passage.

Thursday, April 24

Rules, Enrolled Bills and Internal Affairs, Room 100, SH

1:00 PM - HB 1444, recognizing the month  of April as Genocide Awareness Month.

1:35 PM - HB 1279, relative to compliance with the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Next Week in House Committees

Tuesday, April 22   

Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB

1:00 PM - Executive Session on SB 306, establishing a commission to study NH mortgage foreclosure law, new federal regulations, and fair foreclosure practices.

Judiciary, Room 208, LOB

10:30 AM  SB 319, relative to access to reproductive health care facilities. Establishes a buffer zone between sidewalk “counselors” and patients trying to enter the facility.

1:30 PM - Executive session includes:  CACR 17, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. This proposed Constitutional Amendment has lost some supporters because it fails to address the protection of transgendered persons.  Also,  SB 244, establishing a procedure for the annulment of a mental health record to make it easier for people with mental health records to acquire firearms; and  SB 394, stipulating that gender neutral terms will be used in all NH marriage statutes.

Ways and Means, Room 202, LOB

10:30 AM - Continued Executive Session on SB 366, Senator Lou D’Allesandro’s 2-casino bill. Given that a one casino bill failed in the House, will two prove to be better than one? Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 24

State Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Room 201, LOB

1:00 PM - SB 307, establishing a committee to review Citizens United amendments to the US Constitution. Watch for an amendment that would put the General Court on record in favor of such an amendment, not merely expressing its intent to study the options.  

Next Week in the Senate

The Senate will be in Session on Thursday, April 24, starting at 10 AM.

Consent Calendar

HB 1620, relative to the use of drones, was recommended for interim study on a vote of 5-0.

HB 1336, relative to the landlord’s agent requirement, is a measure we have followed closely.  The Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee recommended ITL by 5-0, because Senators prefer a similar bill, SB 347, which they have already passed.  The Senate version enables muncipalities to impose a $100 fine for non-compliance, while the House version enables $500 fines.  Representative Pat Long, who sponsored the House version, is willing to go along with the weaker Senate bill.  SB 347 is on the House's Consent Calendar for next week.

Next Week in the House

The House will be in session on Wednesday, April 23 starting at 10 AM.  Its agenda includes SB 207, relative to paycheck equity. This bill prohibits employers from requiring that workers refrain from discussing and disclosing the amount of their wages. It also stipulates that an employer cannot retaliate (discharge or formally discipline) a worker for making those sorts of disclosures.  It comes out of committee with recommendation of OTP on a vote of 11-8. The minority feels that equal pay is already addressed in other statutes, and that employers should have the right to censor worker’s discussion of pay in the name of “a harmonious work environment." 

State House Watch Radio

Guests will include Elissa Margolin from Housing Action NH and Elliott Berry of NH Legal Assistance.  They'll be talking with Maggie and Arnie about housing discrimination and related issues.  You can listen live on Monday from 5 to 6 pm on WNHN, 94.7 FM in Concord, or over the internet. The show now re-broadcasts Tuesday from 8 to 9 am. You can download a podcast of any of our earlier shows, including last week's show with Rep. Candace Bouchard and Barbara Keshen. 

Announcements

The first-in-the-nation campaign is underway, though candidates are all still "testing the waters."  Last Saturday Arnie and Addy Simwerayi, an AFSC intern, attended two presidential campaign events in Manchester.  You can read about the "Freedom Summit" and a Town Hall Meeting with Senator Bernie Sanders on Arnie's blog.  

Monday, April 21 - "Bidder 70," a film about Tim DeChristopher, who attended a Utah BLM Oil and Gas lease auction in 2008. Registering as bidder #70, he “bought” leases on land parcels that encompassed thousands of acres. He had no money. This act of civil disobedience caused him to spend some time in jail but protected the land from being exploited. 6:45 PM, Temple Beth Jacob, 67 Broadway, in Concord.  See our web calendar for more.

Tuesday, April 22 - Earth Day Climate Change Rally sponsored by 350NH, 4 - 6 PM, State House Plaza, Concord.  Sign up on Facebook. Click here for Earth Day events around the world.  

Thursday, April 24 - Join postal workers from 4-6 pm for a peaceful demonstration near the Concord Staples on Fort Eddy Road (across from LL Bean at exit 14 off of 93 N).  Take a stand against the privatization and destruction of the Postal Service before it's too late.  For more information call Janice at 513-8176 or Dana at 669-2414.  Sign up on Facebook.

Thursday, May 1 - May Day rally for immigrants rights, Nashua City Hall, 5 pm.  Sponsored by AFSC, NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, and more.

September 27 - John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and co-author of Dollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America, will headline AFSC's annual fundraising dinner.  Mark your calendar and stay tuned for details.

-Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty

PS - 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 staff the New Hampshire Program, publish the newsletter, and co-host the “State House Watch” radio show on WNHN-FM.  Susan Bruce helps with research.  Fred Portnoy produces the radio show.    

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!