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
BREAKING NEWS: As expected, Governor Sununu has vetoed the budget.
June 28, 2019
Yesterday, the House and Senate both voted to approve the budget bills that came out of the Committee of Conference, and also approved a continuing resolution to keep the government in operation after June 30 if the governor vetoes the budget, an act which seems likely. The legislators approved all the other Committee of Conference (CoC) reports as well, putting the finishing touches on regular session business for 2019. Senate President Donna Soucy will join us on State House Watch radio this coming Monday for a session 'wrap up.'
The legislators are on vacation now, and so is State House Watch. We’ll send you our end-of-year summary in July and may show up from time to time after that with updates. This is a good time to remind you that the American Friends Service Committee depends on the generosity of supporters to continue projects like this newsletter. So, if you value State House Watch, consider visiting the DONATE NOW button on our website. (Donations made to AFSC through the NH Program’s web page stay with the NH Program.) After that, we hope you enjoy some fun in the sun.
As approved by the House and Senate along party lines, the budget appropriates $138 million in additional funds for public schools, targeted to districts deemed most in need of assistance, and other funds for cities and towns. It also includes funds for a 25-bed psychiatric hospital to treat those now civilly-committed to the state prison, additional funding for mental health services and child protection, and a hike in Medicaid provider rates. The budget breaks new ground for the state with a $5 million appropriation to the Affordable Housing Fund and $5 million more from the Real Estate Transfer Tax in each of the two years of the budget for affordable housing. Additional funds for homeless services are also included. We could go on with details, but instead refer you to the NH Fiscal Policy Institute’s latest policy brief.
Although legislators dropped the House-backed plan for a new tax on capital gains and the Family and Medical Leave Insurance plan, they retained a proposal to suspend further decreases in business taxes. That’s what’s got the governor signaling his intent to veto the budget.
The state fiscal year ends on June 30, so in order to keep the government open, the House and Senate both passed HJR 3, a continuing resolution that will keep the state running until October 1 or until a new operating budget is signed into law. This means that until there is a new budget, school districts won’t be getting additional funds, towns won’t be getting property tax relief, the new secure psychiatric hospital will be on hold, affordable housing and homeless services won’t be getting additional funds, and rates for mental health and substance abuse providers will not be increased.
Dave Solomon at the Union Leader has some good insights into the negotiation process. We also note that today is Dave’s last day at the Union Leader’s State House desk; we wish him well in retirement.
Raise the Wage!
Speaking to the full House for the third time this year in support of re-establishing and raising the state’s minimum wage, Representative Brian Sullivan, Chair of the House Labor Committee, began with a reference to members of Raise Up NH. “I want to recognize all the folks standing in the hallways, who have been encouraging us to vote in favor of this,” he said. “They’ve been following the minimum wage since before the session began and they are continuing to push, and they will continue to push after we pass this today.”
After the House approved the CoC report on SB 10, members of Raise Up NH trooped into the governor’s office to present him with black pens to encourage him to sign it into law. The coalition is also calling on the governor to spend a week living on minimum wage before making a final decision about a bill he has already threatened to veto. “Studies show that the average minimum wage worker in the state is above 20 years old and not a teenager as critics like to put it. A low-wage worker working full time at $7.25 an hour cannot afford basic needs such as food, rent, heating, etc. Instead, they have to rely on support programs including food stamps and housing assistance when all they want is to be self-sufficient and live in dignity,” according to Raise Up NH. The Minimum Wage Challenge will be the subject of a 10 AM news conference Monday in the LOB lobby.
“I urge lawmakers from both sides of the aisle to walk in the shoes of a low-wage worker who takes home less than $300 a week,” said Rev. John Gregory Davis, Pastor of the Meriden Congregational Church, UCC. Whether the governor accepts the minimum wage challenge or not, Raise Up NH says other political officials and faith leaders have offered to give it a try. Organizations issuing the call have offered legislators who participate an opportunity to meet with local advocates to review housing options and visit the grocery store together, among other things.
While the governor ponders his treatment of SB 10, members of Raise Up NH plan to visit his office on a daily basis to give him another black pen. Contact Viola Katusiime at GSOP if you want to participate.
More from Committees of Conference
Other CoC bills await the governor’s signature or veto, including SB 290, the bill to waive the work requirement that was added to the Granite Advantage Health Care program when the NH version of expanded Medicaid was renewed last year. We expect that HB 564, the bill that would prevent firearms on public school property, will get the red pen treatment from the governor. Garry Rayno and Paula Tracy at InDepthNH.org have more on bills waiting in the queue ("Controversial Bills Await Governor's Decision")
Last week, Governor Sununu signed 21 bills and vetoed 8. While State House Watch is on hiatus, you can keep track of future signings and vetoes at the governor’s official site. The site includes all the veto messages, which give the governor’s rationale for vetoing each bill.
Vetoed bills we were watching include: SB 20, relative to notification requirements for employees, workplace inspections, and the youth employment law; SB 146, relative to eliminating the waiting period before eligibility to receive unemployment benefits; SB 151, establishing an administrative hearing procedure and penalty for an employer who fails to make payment of wages or who fails to secure workers’ compensation coverage; and SB 275, requiring that all of the state’s motor vehicles will be zero emissions vehicles by the year 2039.
Signed bills we were watching include: HB 345, relative to certification of devices for the electronic counting of ballots; SB 29, establishing a commission to study incidents of workplace violence against state employees; SB 297, extending the deadline for arraignments; and SB 314, relative to release of a defendant pending trial.
We also recommend the advanced bill status search on the General Court website as a way to stay informed in our absence. The great thing about the ABS tool is that you can look up legislation from any year going back to 1989. Under House Status or Senate Status you can look up retained bills. Under General Status, categories include: signed by governor, law without signature, pocket veto, vetoed, and veto overridden. Spoiler alert: there are no pocket vetoes. We know that ABS is an odd, and not intuitive looking search function, but we urge you to play around with it – you can’t break it! Once you master the settings, you’ll be able to tweak them to get the information you want. We at SHW have come to rely on it.
Casey McDermott at NHPR did a comprehensive report on attendance at the NH legislature. She found that 2019 was a banner year for attendance. There’s a lot of good historic data, and also a feature where you can look up attendance records for your legislators.
Speaking of Budgets
At a national meeting attended by a New Hampshire delegation, the National Poor People’s Campaign has released its Moral Budget, looking at policies and investments for seven critical areas of the Poor People’s Moral Agenda: 1) democracy and equal protection under the law; 2) domestic tranquility; 3) peace and the common defense; 4) life and health; 5) the planet; 6) our future; and 7) an equitable economy. “In each case, we’ve found that our nation has abundant resources to meet the demands of the poor, and to address the widespread and systemic injustices we face. In contrast, the current realities of voter suppression, low and inconsistent wages, insecure access to health care and other basic needs, wealth inequality, war, and climate change are far costlier than we have been led to believe.”
The Moral Budget calls for cutting military spending by $350 million a year with the savings transferred to programs aimed at reducing poverty. That stands in marked contrast to the latest “Defense” authorization bill, approved last week in the Senate with $750 billion set aside for military programs.
Should you happen to run into a presidential candidate, how about asking something like, “Do you agree with the Poor People’s Campaign that we can substantially cut spending on wars and weapons, and use the savings to reduce poverty and address the climate crisis?”
Final CoC votes in the House and Senate
Where there were roll call votes on the following bills, they generally reflected partisan differences, with Democrats voting for and Republicans against. You can look up roll calls for each bill by following the link. You can also look up the voting records of individual legislators by looking at their own page on the General Court website.
SB 82, relative to school funding and nutrition programs. Students who qualify for reduced price meals are required to pay 30 cents for breakfast. The committee wants to support school districts by relieving them of this cost. The federal government pays three of the 30 cents, and this bill pays the other 27. It was amended to ensure that dedicated funds are in the Department of Education budget. The House and Senate each adopted the CoC report by a voice vote.
SB 235, relative to sexual harassment complaints in the General Court and authorizing an independent human resource professional. This bill enshrines in statute the requirement that the General Court will develop a sexual harassment policy together with procedures for handling harassment complaints. An independent, non-political human resources professional will handle the complaints. The House and Senate each adopted the CoC report by voice vote.
SB 10, relative to the state minimum hourly rate. The bill sets the minimum wage at $10 per hour for 2020 and increases it to $12 per hour in 2022. The House adopted the CoC report in a roll call vote of 207-143. The Senate adopted the CoC report by a roll call vote of 14-10.
SB 290, relative to the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program. This bill provides the Commissioner of DHHS the authority to waive the work requirement or waive suspension from the program, until July 2021 if there is an inability to communicate with members who are not already exempted or in compliance with the work rules. The House voted to adopt the CoC report by a roll call vote of 207-147. The Senate adopted the report by a voice vote.
HB 628, relative to universal changing stations in certain places of public accommodation. The House adopted the CoC report by a roll call vote of 205-136. The Senate adopted the CoC by a roll call vote of 14-10.
HB 1, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2020 and June 30, 2021. The House adopted the CoC report by a roll call vote of 209-144. The Senate adopted it by a roll call of 14-10.
HB 2, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures. The House adopted the CoC report by a roll call vote of 207-145. The Senate adopted the report by a vote of 14-10.
HB 315, relative to the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program and the accuracy and efficiency of voter registration systems. The House adopted the CoC report by a vote of 203-142. The Senate adopted the CoC report by a vote of 14-10.
HB 564, relative to firearms on school property. The conferees amended the bill with language that follows the House position. Firearms will not be allowed on public school property, but people picking up or dropping off students are exempted, as long as their firearms remain in the vehicle. The House adopted the CoC report by a vote of 197 – 146. The Senate adopted the CoC by a vote of 14-10.
We bid you a fond adieu for now. We’ll be back in a few weeks with the end of the year wrap up and the survey.
No War with Iran!
Now is the time to remind Congress that we can only achieve true and lasting peace through peaceful means.
Contact Congress today: Urge them to do everything in their power to stop the Trump administration from bringing us closer to war with Iran! Add your name here.
Concord Friends Meeting will hold another vigil in downtown Concord, in front of the State House, next Wednesday, July 3, from 11 AM to 1 PM.
State House Watch Radio
Senator Donna Soucy will join Maggie and Arnie on Monday for a post-session wrap up. kState House Watch radio airs each Monday from 5 to 6 PM on WNHN-LP, with a re-broadcast Tuesday at 8 AM. You'll find us at 94.7 FM in the Concord area or live-streamed at wnhnfm.org on the internet. You can also find recordings of past shows, including last week’s show with Representative Dave Luneau, co-hosted by Paula Tracy of InDepthNH, at this link.
Save the Date for AFSC Annual Dinner! (The date is September 28th.)
Massachusetts State Senator Jo Comerford, formerly AFSC’s program director for western Massachusetts, will be our guest speaker for this year’s dinner, Saturday evening, September 28, at the Concord Unitarian Universalist Church. You can find a link to information about Senator Comerford here, where more details will be posted soon.
More Upcoming Events…
Saturday, June 29
Sign Making Party for the NH Rebellion’s upcoming walk and rally, 1:30 – 3:30 PM at the Wiggin Memorial Library, 10 Bunker Hill Road, Stratham. Facebook Event Page
Sunday, June 30
Monadnock Summer Lyceum, 25 Main Street, Peterborough, at 11 AM. Open Democracy’s Executive Director Olivia Zink will be the moderator for a talk by Constitutional attorney Jeff Clements, who is a founder and current President of American Promise, the national organization leading the cross-partisan campaign for the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. More at Monadnock Lyceum.
Tuesday, July 2
Interfaith Prayer Vigil & Jericho Walk for Immigrant Justice, 9 - 10:30 AM at the Norris Cotton Federal Building, 275 Chestnut Street, Manchester. All are welcome! The vigil will be followed by the monthly meeting of the NH Immigrant Solidarity Network, at 10:30 AM at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 14 Elm Street, Manchester.
Progressive Manchester meeting, 6:30-8 PM at Manchester City Library, 405 Pine Street. Catch up with your neighbors and learn about ongoing campaigns for economic justice, voting rights, healthcare for all, and more. Facebook event
Sunday, July 7
Walk Declaring Independence from Big Money in Politics, starting at 2 PM. The walk will begin at John Paul Jones Memorial Site in Kittery, ME with free ice cream from Ben & Jerry's and a short rally. Confirmed speakers are Ella McGrail and Adam Eichen. For more information, watch the webpage of the NH Rebellion.
Wednesday, July 10
“Rapid Response” Training, in preparation to respond to immigration raids, border patrol checkpoints, and heightened law enforcement, led by Sarah Jane Knoy and Eva Castillo of GSOP, 6-7:30 PM at Concordia Lutheran Church in Concord. Pre-register with Iliana or Sarah Jane at (603) 668-8250 or by email.
Friday, July 12
Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Detention Camps will be taking place around the world. At this time, we are aware of two events scheduled in NH, in coordination with the national mobilization:
Conway, 9 PM at the “four corners” intersection of Rt. 16 and 153, by the Saco River Medical Group. Bring flashlights or lanterns. Facebook Event Page
Hanover, 7-9 PM. Location TBA Facebook Event Page
Saturday, July 13
Medicare For All Forum, 12:30-3:00 PM at the NH Institute of Politics, 100 Saint Anselm Drive, Manchester. Hosted by Rights & Democracy NH, People’s Action, NESRI, Medicare For All NH, Rights & Democracy Education Fund, Progressive Manchester NH, Unitarian Universalist Action New Hampshire, Southern NH DSA, and Greater Nashua Rights & Democracy. Facebook event
Tuesday, July 16
Interfaith Prayer Vigil & Jericho Walk for Immigrant Justice, 9 - 10:30 AM at the Norris Cotton Federal Building, 275 Chestnut Street, Manchester. All are welcome!
Igor Volsky, author of Guns Down: How to defeat the NRA and Build a Safer Future with Fewer Guns, at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, 6-7:30 PM. Facebook Event Page
Saturday, July 27
Third Annual Trans Equality Rally, 11 AM – 2 PM, Victory Park, Manchester. Hosted by ACLU of NH, Rights & Democracy NH and Freedom New Hampshire. Facebook Event Page
Solidarity Walk for Immigrant Justice, Concord to Dover. Sign up and get more information.
Saturday, September 28
AFSC-NH Annual Dinner! Guest speaker will be Massachusetts State Senator Jo Comerford. Details will be posted here.
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.