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.
September 27, 2019
Greetings State House Watchers! At long last, we have a state budget!
The deadline for House members to file bills for the 2020 session has come and gone. Check out the 2020 LSRs, but remember, what you will see is only a title. The substance of the LSRs will become available when they get through Legislative Services and are given official bill numbers. What we have to look forward to in 2020 includes gun bills, including a ban on assault weapons, bills prohibiting prison privatization, and others dealing with energy, water, climate, plastic, marijuana, voting, affordable housing, and perambulation. The year will start with reports and votes on bills that were retained in the House or re-referred in the Senate.
November 14 is the last day for the various House committees to report on retained bills. They’ll be voted on at the beginning of the 2020 session.
For Senators, the filing period for new LSRs begins on October 16 and ends October 30. December 19 is the deadline for reporting on re-referred bills.
Our state government has been funded by a continuing resolution (CR) since Governor Sununu vetoed the FY 2020 budget at the end of June. Days before the CR was due to expire and after intense negotiations, the legislature passed a compromise budget that the governor signed. With most of the partisan rancor temporarily dispersed, the governor and the Democratic leaders of the House and Senate all declared victory.
The new budget bill is The House passed the bill by a roll call vote of 327-25. The Senate passed it by a voice vote.
The new budget trailer bill is HB 4. The House passed the bill by a roll call vote of 316-40. The Senate passed it by a roll call vote of 23-1.
What little dissent that was expressed was focused mostly on the fact that the budget contains funds for family planning.
The Affordable Housing Fund will get an infusion of $5 million, as well as an additional $5 million a year from the real estate transfer tax.
A big increase in funds for homeless services. Housing Action called it “the first major increase in NH for homeless services in over 20 years,” with $2 million for eviction prevention, $1 million for case management, $1 million for rapid re-housing, and $400,000 for homeless youth outreach.
Establishment of a new Housing Appeals Board.
$3 million for the new lead remediation fund.
Medicaid Reimbursement rates will be increased by 3.1 percent in January 2020, and a further 3.1 percent increase in January of 2021.
There are big increases in education funding. This includes up to $62.5 million in new aid to local governments for public education.
Municipalities with high property taxes will finally see funds coming their way. Stabilization grants will be restored to their full, original levels in 2020.
The new budget includes the construction of a 25-bed secure psychiatric unit on the grounds of New Hampshire Hospital, but the appropriation for this project was cut nearly in half, going from $17.5 million to $8.75 million. Representative Renny Cushing, who has championed transferring people with severe mental illness from the prison to a more therapeutic setting, says the smaller amount is still enough to start the process. The approved budget trailer bill still contains the language, “The state shall not enter into a contract with a private or for-profit prison company for the construction or operation of the secure psychiatric facility unit.”
$25 million was left for later to be cut from the Department of Health and Human Services budget, with the specification that funds can’t be cut from developmental services, county programs, or Medicaid rates.
Funding that was in the original budget for starting up a paid family and medical leave program was removed.
The Business Profits Tax (BPT) and the Business Enterprise Tax (BET) rates are set at 7.7 percent and 0.6 percent respectively. If the revenues for FY20 are below the amount projected in the budget by 6 percent or more, rates would return to 7.9 percent and 0.67 percent.
NH Fiscal Policy Institute has a comprehensive update on what is in the new budget, as well as what is not.Paula Tracy at InDepthNH.org gives a good summary of what was agreed to in the new budget, and what motivated those who opposed it.
“State House Watch Radio”
Our radio show is on hiatus, but if you like the music we typically include, you can hear a great show every Monday from 5 to 6 PM and Tuesday from 8 to 9 AM on WNHN-LP, 94.7 FM or on the . In a typical program, you might hear Mavis Staples, Ry Cooder, Woody Guthrie, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Charlie King, the Chieftains, and Mississippi John Hurt.
Upcoming events October 25-26
13th annual Black New England Conference: BLACK INK: African American News from Slave Songs to Social Media, at Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester NH. Schedule and sign-up detailshere
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 wnhnfm.org 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.