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State House Watch: February 26, 2022

“You have to act as if it were possible to radically transform the world. And you have to do it all the time.” ― Angela Davis

Hello State House Watchers,

It has been a solemn week. We mourn that Russian troops have initiated a brutal assault on Ukraine, and that the global elite are mobilizing for war. From AFSC’s statement: “We are deeply concerned about those in the U.S. government and media calling for the U.S. to supply weapons or other military support to the Ukrainian government, as this will only escalate the conflict. The U.S. and Russia have stepped back from diplomacy and ended meetings at the time when diplomacy is most needed. Only diplomacy will bring an end to this conflict and stop the bloodshed, but for decades the U.S. has over-invested in the military and under-invested in diplomacy and international cooperation.” (“The invasion of Ukraine must be stopped—but U.S. military aid is not the answer”) Read more at our blog post here.

With all who seek peace in the world, we urge our leaders to recognize that war is not the answer. “As a Quaker peacebuilding organization, we have seen over our century of work that much can be accomplished when we turn away from violence and toward cooperation. We reject military engagement at any level. Now is the time to uphold human dignity and invest in global cooperation that increases our shared security through nonviolent means.”

Join NH Peace Action and others on Sunday, February 27 at 2 PM in Veterans Park, Manchester: Rally at Veterans Park & March to Senator Shaheen’s office—No War with Russia Over Ukraine!

 

An Exciting Nomination

"For too long our government, our courts haven’t looked like America. I believe it's time that we have a Court that reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation..." With these words, President Biden announced his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. Currently serving on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, “she is one of our nation’s brightest legal minds and will be an exceptional Justice.”  Read more about Judge Jackson here (NHPR) and here (Scotus Blog) and stay tuned for the Senate confirmation hearing in the coming weeks.

 

Invest in Communities, Not Hate

The Build Back Better Act is on hold as negotiations continue regarding what will gain the necessary votes to pass the Senate. We urge Senators Shaheen and Hassan to be champions for immigrant rights and to insist that a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants be included in the final bill. It is past time to deliver on decades of promises of justice and safety for immigrant communities.

Members of Congress are on recess this week and will return to Washington DC on February 28. Before they left town, they passed another short-term funding bill (a ‘Continuing Resolution’) to keep the federal government operating through March 11. As they negotiate the next period of funding, we call on our Members of Congress to cut funding for the Department of Homeland Security, specifically Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Our communities are safer and healthier when we divest from surveillance, incarceration and expulsion and invest in health care, education and affordable housing.

 

Responding to Discrimination

On Thursday, the NH Black Women’s Health Project held a press conference in Manchester to call attention to incidences of discrimination experienced by young people of color participating in a hair grooming event hosted by the Manchester Job Corps Center. Organizations including the Black Women’s Health Project, NAACP and YWCA have attempted to work with one of the Center’s counselors to address the situation and support the students with an alternative event. Despite these attempts and following the alternative event, the counselor’s contract was terminated and there has yet been no public response from Job Corps leadership to address this or other patterns of discrimination experienced by BIPOC in the program. We at AFSC recall HB 359 which would have ensured statutory protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles in the workplace and school. The bill was laid on the table during the House session in January. We hope to see it revived in a future session.

Transgender people are under attack, not only in Texas and Florida, but also in the NH legislature, where two bills target them for discrimination: HB 1651, adding sexual reassignment to the definition of child abuse; and HB 1180, relative to state recognition of biological sex. Thankfully, HB 1651 has been recommended for defeat by the House Child and Family Law Committee. HB 1180 awaits action by the House Health and Human Services Committee.  Please contact the committee to urge them to defeat this harmful bill. 

We are deeply dismayed to read the recent information shared with lawmakers detailing the horrific physical and mental abuse of children held at the Sununu Youth Services Center (also known as the YDC) which is set to close down by March 1, 2023. From the Union Leader: “YDC largely came to be managed by a culture of casual and routine violence against the children housed there. The violence was pervasive and normalized,” according to David Vicinanzo, one of the lawyers representing former residents who are suing the state of New Hampshire.

 

Loosening COVID-19 Protocols

Last week, Governor Sununu announced new public health guidance in response to favorable COVID data regarding cases, hospitalizations and deaths. The new guidance includes an order that all public schools end their mask mandates immediately, something that many school districts were in the process of doing but which will now be implemented on a shorter timeline.

In related news, the Speaker of the House announced that House members will return to Representatives Hall for the remaining session days, including March 10 and, tentatively, March 16, 17 and 31. The decision to return the 400-member body to a more confined space is “shortsighted and dangerous,” according to Minority Leader Renny Cushing. “House Democrats continue to believe that remote access to House sessions is an essential, cost-effective way to navigate the current pandemic.  Packing people into Representatives Hall like sardines with no mask or vaccination requirement or other prevention strategies is a disaster in the making,” Cushing said. InDepthNH has more here. To date, there has been no decision in the federal lawsuit filed last year by House Democrats who need an option for remote participation.

 

Governor Vetoes HB 319

Governor Sununu has vetoed HB 319, a bill which would require students in the University and Community College System of New Hampshire to pass the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services civics naturalization test. He explained that the passage of a similar bill last year, which requires that high school students pass this same test, is sufficient and the bill is not necessary.

 

In This Issue

  • Last Week in the House and Senate
  • How the Senate Voted
  • Coming Up in House Committees
  • State House Watch on the Radio
  • Recordings
  • Upcoming Events



Last Week in the House and Senate

SB 203, which would raise New Hampshire’s minimum wage to $15/hour by 2024, was referred for Interim Study in the full Senate. The prime sponsor, Senator Donna Soucy, issued a statement following the vote: “It is both disappointing and frustrating that my Republican colleagues have once again rejected any attempt to even modestly increase the minimum wage for New Hampshire’s lowest earners. New Hampshire’s minimum wage ranges from $5 to $7 less per hour than every other New England state, leaving us unable to compete with our neighboring states. In fact, we are one of just 15 states across the country with the lowest minimum wage. Currently, New Hampshire doesn’t even set a minimum wage, and instead allows Washington, DC to set it at $7.25 an hour. I find it particularly disheartening that just last year, my colleagues on the other side of the aisle enthusiastically phased out the Interest & Dividends tax—49% of which was paid by the top 2.4% wealthiest Granite Staters. I don’t know how they can justify providing financial relief to the wealthiest among us but can’t pass a modest increase in the minimum wage that stands to financially stabilize those living at the poverty level.” 

Garry Rayno has more here.

We are pleased to note that HB 1015, requiring school districts to adopt a policy allowing exceptions to school course material when a parent or legal guardian determines that the material is objectionable, was recommended for defeat last week in the House Education Committee. The recommendation will be taken up in the full House when they meet on March 10.

Sadly, two efforts to repeal the Banned Concepts Act—SB 304 and SB 298—were defeated in the full Senate on Thursday. We recommend Dan and Sindiso Weeks’ op-ed for your weekend reading: “Commissioner Edelblut, please don’t whitewash history at our children’s expense.” And also this one: “The dark money behind the push for vouchers, ‘divisive concepts’ legislation.”

We’re glad to see that HB 1124, a bill that would require all NH businesses to use the flawed federal E-Verify system which discriminates against immigrant workers, was voted ITL in the House Labor Committee last week. We hope the full House accepts this recommendation for defeat when they meet on March 10.

Other immigration-related bills will be considered in executive session next week. Three bills that would expand driver license access for immigrants - HB 1093, HB 1463 and HB 1666 - will be voted on in the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday, March 1 at 10 AM. Please take a moment to contact the committee to urge them to approve these common-sense proposals.

And HB 1266, an anti-immigrant bill that would require all government officials to cooperate with federal immigration agents, will be considered in executive session on Wednesday at 10 AM.  Please urge the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee to recommend defeat of this dangerous proposal.

Please mark your calendars for Tuesday, March 8 at 2 PM when HB 579 has its public hearing in Senate Judiciary. This bill, which requires that the public be notified in advance of immigration checkpoints, has already passed the full House. We heartily support it!

 

How the Senate Voted

The Senate met in full session on February 24. Here are some of the results. But first, a key:

OTP – “Ought to Pass,” the recommendation for approving a bill or an amendment.
OTP/A – Ought to Pass with Amendment.
ITL – “Inexpedient to Legislate,” the recommendation for defeating a bill or an amendment. “ITL” can also be used as a verb.
IS – Referred for interim study.
RC – Roll call vote. Each legislator’s vote is recorded and attributed to them.

On the Consent Calendar

JUDICIARY
SB 300-FN, relative to the state commission for human rights. IS

On the Regular Calendar

COMMERCE
SB 203, relative to the state minimum hourly rate. Would gradually raise the state minimum wage, up to $15 in 2024. Voted to IS by a vote of 13-10.

EDUCATION
SB 410, relative to school district transparency. Voted OTP/A. This bill requires public comment periods at school board meetings.

ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
SB 259, relative to the definition of “municipal host” for purposes of limited electrical energy producers. Voted OTP/A.
SB 269-FN, relative to the New Hampshire weatherization program. Voted OTP/A.
SB 370-FN, allowing the university system and community college system to be municipal host electric customer generators. Voted IS.

FINANCE
SB 261-FN, relative to net metering participation. OTP/A by voice vote.
SB 268-FN, relative to the approval of power purchase agreements for offshore wind energy resources from the Gulf of Maine. OTP by voice vote.
SB 366-FN, requiring an audit of ballots cast in the 2022 primary and general election. OTP/A by voice vote.
SB 407-FN, relative to expanding Medicaid to include certain postpartum health care services and making an appropriation therefor. Voted OTP/A.
SB 422-FN, establishing an adult dental benefit under the state Medicaid program. Voted OTP/A by a vote of 23-0.
SB 440-FN, relative to the office of offshore wind industry development. OTP/A by voice vote.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
SB 419-FN, relative to public health networks. Voted OTP/A This would set up a commission to study regional public health networks for NH. 

JUDICIARY
SB 298, repealing the law relative to certain discrimination in public workplaces and education. Voted ITL by a vote of 13-10. This would repeal the banned concepts bill.
SB 304, relative to discrimination in public workplaces and education. Voted ITL. This bill would repeal the option to seek civil damages against educators over banned concepts.
SB 322, relative to remote meetings under the right-to-know law. Tabled.

The Senate is taking next week off, so there aren’t any committee hearings or meetings scheduled.

 

Coming Up in the House Committees

Monday, February 28

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301-303, LOB
9:00 AM Executive Session on HB 1238, relative to zoning powers and the supply of workforce housing; HB 1259, relative to the election and resignation of members of school boards and elected budget committees; HB 1272, limiting the authority of town health officers; HB 1307, modifying the authority and duties of the housing appeals board; and other bills.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENERGY, Room 306-308, LOB
10:00 AM Executive Session on HB 1250, requiring the public utilities commission to consider climate change in making rate-setting decisions; and other bills.

Tuesday, March 1

ENVIRONMENT AND AGRICULTURE
10:30 AM Subcommittee Work Session on HB 1454-FN, relative to permits for the siting of new landfills.
11:00 AM Full Committee Work Session on HB 1454-FN, relative to permits for the siting of new landfills.

FINANCE - DIVISION III, Room 210-211, LOB
1:00 PM Division Work Session on HB 103-FN, establishing a dental benefit under the state Medicaid program.
2:00 PM Division III Work Session joint with Division I on HB 1677-FN, relative to the administration and settlement of claims of abuse at the youth development center and making an appropriation therefor.

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT, Room 301-303, LOB
9:00 AM Executive Session on HB 1342, relative to municipal charter provisions for tax caps; HB 1393, relative to the adoption of school district budget caps; HB 1617, relative to housing projects of the community development finance authority and establishing a committee to prevent state subsidies for housing development that is not income-sensitive; and other bills.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENERGY, Room 306-308, LOB
10:00 AM Executive Session on HB 1546-FN, limiting air emissions of perfluorochemicals; HB 1596-FN, relative to net energy metering limits for individual and business customers; HB 1599-FN, relative to customer generators who sell renewable energy certificates; HB 1611, relative to rules of the site evaluation committee; HB 1629-FN, relative to default service for net-metering; HB 1635-FN, relative to the purchase of output of limited electrical energy producers and including qualifying storage system; HB 1645-FN, requiring notification to renewable energy customer-generators of issues related to renewable energy credits; HB 1258, relative to the implementation of the department of energy; and other bills.

TRANSPORTATION, Room 201-203, LOB
9:00 AM Full Committee Work Session on HB 1447, prohibiting state agencies from using face recognition technology; and other bills.
10:00 AM Executive Session on HB 1463, relative to drivers’ licenses issued in accordance with the Real ID Act of 2005; HB 1666-FN, relative to the application process for driver’s licenses and the privacy of motor vehicle records; HB 1093, relative to the licensure of nonresident aliens temporarily residing in New Hampshire; and other bills.

Wednesday, March 2

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 202-204, LOB
10:00 AM Executive Session on HB 1072, establishing a criminal penalty for denying an elected school district official access to any school district facilities, documents, or events; HB 1127, relative to posthumous exonerations and annulments; HB 1215-FN, relative to the definition of “residual amount” in the controlled drug act; HB 1266, relative to restrictions on enforcement of federal immigration laws; HB 1335-FN, relative to the parole board and the procedure for medical parole of prisoners; HB 1348-FN, relative to the legalization of a certain amount of cannabis; HB 1476-FN, relative to persons arrested while out on bail; HB 1539, relative to the removal of certain information from the New Hampshire state police website.  (See ACLU-NH talking points on HB 1476 here.)

COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS, Room 302-304, LOB
1:15 PM Executive Session on HB 1582-FN, repealing the granite state paid family leave plan; and other bills.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202-204, LOB
1:00 PM HB 1598-FN, legalizing the possession and use of cannabis. See the ACLU-NH fact sheet here.

Friday, March 4

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 202-204, LOB
9:00 AM. Subcommittee Work Session on HB 1335-FN, relative to the parole board and the procedure for medical parole of prisoners.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 210-211, LOB
9:00 AM Joint Economic Briefing. The committee will hear from various experts on conditions impacting the state and national economies.

 

State House Watch on the Radio

State House Watch radio is taking a day off next week because of the lighter schedule at the legislature. Tune in during our regular program time for some great music and a re-broadcast of our friend Arnie Arnesen’s race class programs on The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen. Our show airs on Mondays at 5 PM and is rebroadcast on Tuesdays at 8 AM. You can listen at 94.7 FM, WNHN in Concord, and online, and find podcasts of our past shows here, including last week’s where we talked with Frank Knaack from the ACLU about legislative priorities related to public safety, including bail reform, cannabis legalization, an anti-shackling bill for incarcerated pregnant people and more.

 

Recording

AFSC Livestream: Advocating for a Community-Centered Budget – The U.S. government continues to operate under last year's budget while they negotiate this year's spending levels, and President Biden is about to release his proposal for 2023 spending. These bills include massive amounts of money for immigration detention, war, and incarceration—often while underfunding things like healthcare, housing, and education. AFSC’s Office of Public Policy and Advocacy team underscore the need to divest from militarism and invest in our communities instead.

 

Upcoming Events & Programs

Building Community Alternatives to Police Response – Every other Saturday, March 12 to June 18, from 1 PM to 3 PM ET. Hosted by AFSC. Join our new Study into Action Group. In this eight-week virtual participatory workshop, we will develop an understanding of current community-based responses to emergencies in communities across the country; do an assessment of the assets and needs for emergency response in our own community; receive concrete training in de-escalation and mental health crisis response; and develop a plan to take concrete action toward building community alternatives to police response. IMPORTANT: Please sign up for this workshop series with a partner from your community (i.e., your school, neighborhood, workplace, congregation, family, etc.). This will help you to bring the knowledge gained in this workshop into concrete action!

Black Quaker Lives Matter Film Festival – February 12 to April 9. Hosted by The Black Quaker Project. Join us for this first-of-its-kind film festival that endeavors to educate all about the importance of Quakers of Color who for too long have remained within the margins of the Society of Friends and the wider world. From February 12, 2022, during Black History Month, until Paul Robeson’s birthday on April 9, 2022 we will screen a film centered on a Quaker of Color with an introduction from a guest expert and a follow up discussion facilitated by BQP Director Dr. Harold D. (Hal) Weaver. Screenings will take place every other Saturday on Zoom at 1 PM ET. 

“How to Move Our Money: Practicing Reparations in a Year of Release" – Please hold the date for Sundays March 6 through April 10 at 5 PM to 6 PM ET. This nonsectarian course is designed for those who accept the basic ethical premise of reparations, and who seek practical guidance for connecting this ethical premise to their own financial privileges. To sign up, send an email to Regina: waysofpeace.org@gmail.com and she will put you on the list. Group size limited to 24 people.

Saturday, February 26

Liberation Forum: The Black Panther Party and the Fight Against Fascism – 6 PM. Hosted by Party for Socialism and Liberation, Southern NH. Join PSL-SNH for February’s liberation forum! We will take a deep dive to define fascism as well as the strategies and tactics necessary to not only fight back but to win. We will spend time clarifying the core features of fascism as a historic process, its ties to capitalism and the history of the struggle against it. The anti-fascist struggle in the U.S. is necessarily Black and Indigenous led. The Black Panther Party, The American Indian Movement and their praxis shows us that Black and Indigenous history in the U.S. is also the history of the anti-fascist struggle.

Sunday, February 27

Rally & March: No War with Russia over Ukraine! – 2 PM to 3:30 PM. Veterans Park, Manchester. Hosted by PSL-Southern New Hampshire & NH Peace Action. Join us for a rally against U.S. ​escalation of the Ukraine crisis into a potential war with Russia. Meet this Sunday at Veterans Park, Manchester for a rally at 2 PM followed by a march to Senator Jeanne Shaheen’s office at 1108 Elm Street. The Biden administration, Pentagon and NATO allies are conducting a dangerous and reckless campaign against Russia—one that has the potential to turn into a catastrophe for the people of the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the world. We must demand that the U.S. take a step back from the brink, end NATO’s eastward expansion, and stop their continual pattern of non-democratic meddling in Ukraine and across the entire world with utterly devastating circumstances. NO NEW U.S. WAR!

The Lingual Divide: ¿Y Tu Abuela Donde Esta? – 2 PM to 3:30 PM. Hosted by Black Heritage Trail of NH at Portsmouth Public Library, Levenson Room. Traditionally, Black and Brown American populations have seen themselves in a natural alliance in a country historically dominated by whites—an alliance of mostly poorer, darker-skinned minorities whose struggles are similar. However, in recent times the Black/Brown coalition has grown more and more strained with the influx of immigrants into neighborhoods that were, in many cases, previously dominated by Blacks. Many Blacks resent what is seen as Hispanics leapfrogging them up the socioeconomic ladder and point to the strong skin-color prejudices and colorism that divides the two communities. “¿Y Tu Abuela Donde Esta?” (Where is Your Grandmother?) by the Puerto Rican poet Fortunato Vizcarrondo explores this tension within the Black/Brown community. This panel will explore the issues of colorism, for people within this vast group of ethnicities that although joined together by a common language and culture, experience racism within their own group.

Beyond Roe: A Reproductive Justice Primer – 4 PM. Hosted by Granite State Progress and the Reproductive Freedom Fund of NH. As the 49th and potentially final anniversary of Roe v. Wade passes, Granite State Progress and the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire are presenting a collaborative teach-in about the future of abortion justice and how to talk about reproductive rights in a post-Roe America. This is part of a larger series that will continue until June.

Monday, February 28

Peace & Justice Conversations – This Current Moment: U.S. Nuclear Weapon Policy and Back from the Brink – 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action. Please join NH Peace Action for a discussion about the danger this current moment presents with regard to nuclear weapons, and the ways in which Back from the Brink serves as a vehicle for effective grassroots organizing to eliminate the threat that they pose, with Michael Klare and Denise Duffield.

Change for Concord Meeting – 6:30 PM. Hosted by Change for Concord. Join us in planning an art event for the end of March! Activity to follow. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link on Monday.

Seacoast Outright Volunteer Facilitator Training – 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Hosted by Seacoast Outright. We are looking for support for our Tuesday Game Nights (currently held on Zoom) and Friday Support Group (held at Portsmouth's South Church). The next two-part facilitator training will be held via Zoom on Monday, February 28 and Monday, March 7. Sign up for the training here. Contact Roula at roula@seacoastoutright.org with any questions!

Swimming Upstream, Indigenous Environmental Justice for Our Waterways – 7 PM. Hosted by Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People, Indigenous NH, Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, Community Church of Durham, UCC. Join this event for the premiere of a new short film, Swimming Upstream Indigenous Environmental Justice for Our Waterways, as well as a live Q&A with the creative team. The film takes an in-depth look at the history of the Great Bay, and its many tributaries while exploring how current inhabitants can steward the land for the future. The live Q&A panel will include Denise Pouliot, Sag8moskwa, and Paul Pouliot, Sag8mo, of the Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People, Rev. Zachary Harmon of St Christopher's Episcopal Church, and filmmaker Catherine Stewart. The event will run roughly 60 minutes, with a brief intermission between the film screening and the panel.

Tuesday, March 1

Tuesdays Phonebanks for Justice! – 5 PM to 7:30 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy NH. Join us for our weekly phone banks! Every Tuesday, we're making calls to move our supporters to action, build a stronger progressive movement in New Hampshire, and put pressure on our elected officials to advance the policies our people and planet need. We are organizing for change across many critical issues, including climate, racial, healthcare, housing and economic justice. Jump in and join us to make calls on the issues that matter most to you, for as long as you can! RSVP for one or more sessions - we'll be meeting on Zoom to create the connection that we all need in these times of social distancing.

Wednesday, March 2

GSOP Tenant Clinic (for NH Residents) – 2 PM to 4 PM. 1045 Elm Street, Suite 201 in Manchester. Hosted by Granite State Organizing Project. For Tenants with questions about renters’ rights, emergency rental assistance and living conditions.

Deep Canvassing in New Hampshire! – 5 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. Come learn how to deep canvass and change hearts and minds on immigration rights and climate justice, right here in New Hampshire! Deep canvassing is a highly skilled form of communication through which canvassers form personal connections with people by straying away from conversations about facts and opinions. Instead, we work on having meaningful conversations by sharing personal stories.

H.E.A.L. Together NH Monthly Gathering – 6 PM to 7:30 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. Through H.E.A.L. Together New Hampshire (Honest Education Action & Leadership), we are working to help local communities organize toward a vision of honest, accurate and fully-funded public education, and a just, multi-racial democracy. Amid targeted attacks on public education by an elite that seeks to divide us, we are fighting to change the narrative and deepen commitments to truth and equity in our schools, so that our students can have the education they deserve. These monthly calls are an opportunity to come together to build concrete skills that will support this organizing, share and learn from each other's experiences on the ground organizing for change in our local schools, and to discuss our broader collective goals and strategies on statewide campaigns related to education justice.

Thursday, March 3

Community Forum: COVID-19 Vaccine 101 – 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy NH. It has been an overwhelming and difficult two years, and as we begin the long process of recovery, it is important to ensure that everyone in our communities has the resources and information they need to stay healthy. Do you still have questions about the COVID-19 vaccine? We've got answers! Join the Rights & Democracy Institute and the Rise Coalition for a look at what the COVID-19 vaccine means for New Hampshire families, and an opportunity to have your concerns addressed. We will be joined by Dr. Somava Saha, a global public health practitioner for over 20 years who has dedicated her career to improving health, wellbeing and equity through the development of thriving people, organizations and communities.

Saturday, March 5

Punishment is not Accountability: Quakers exploring police, prison abolition, and futures of justice – 3 PM to 5 PM. Hosted by Beacon Hill Friends House. Join us on Saturday March 5, March 19 and April 2 for a three-part workshop series. In this series, participants will explore the spiritual dimensions of police and prison abolition, the carceral system, and healing-focused visions of justice. Through three workshops, an online community, and opportunities to interact in between sessions, participants will be given space to connect to abolitionist frameworks and movements, with a goal of collectively generating movement and next steps together in this work.

Sunday, March 6

Conflicted by Race: Family Structures & Racial Identities – 2 PM to 3:30 PM. Levenson Room, Portsmouth Public Library. Hosted by the Black Heritage Trail of NH. According to the 2020 Census, the fastest-growing group in the United States is the multiracial community, and nationwide studies show that 44% of adoptions in America are transracial. Coming from households reflecting more than one race or ethnicity, these individuals face a variety of stresses that demonstrate how far we are as a nation from embracing multi-culturalism. This panel will address the issues facing transracial adoptees and mixed-race Americans and explore how their circumstances help us to understand the social construction of race and what it is like to discover, cope with, and overcome barriers to developing a strong sense of one’s self and one’s cultural identity/identities.

Monday, March 7

Seacoast Outright Volunteer Facilitator Training – 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Hosted by Seacoast Outright. We are looking for support for our Tuesday Game Nights (currently held on Zoom) and Friday Support Group (held at Portsmouth's South Church). Sign up for the training here. Contact Roula at roula@seacoastoutright.org with any questions!

Manchester Housing Alliance Meeting – 6 PM to 7 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. This Meeting we will be discussing the upcoming Code-Palooza being put on by the city on March 7 and 8. This will be a great opportunity to give public input on how the city will be shaped in the coming years.

Love Knows No Borders – 7:30 PM to 9 PM. Hosted by Pendle Hill and AFSC. The U.S. southern border region is one of the most diverse, economically vibrant, and safest areas of the country, home to about 15 million people. Yet the border region is commonly portrayed as a place that is out of control and lawless. AFSC’s Pedro Rios will explore how his lifelong work and time with the American Friends Service Committee is dedicated to upholding the dignity of border residents and migrants who cross through the region, as well as the ways this work challenges the troublesome border narrative used to create detrimental public policy. He will highlight how problematic immigration enforcement practices have harmed both border residents and migrants, address common misconceptions about the border region, and underscore the importance of nonviolent direct action in amplifying voices from the region. Finally, Pedro will share personal stories that have guided his journey as a human rights defender and how these are connected to his commitment to a vision where the power of love overcomes borders.

Thursday, March 10

Women's Work: The Legacy of Women in America's Oldest Bird Conservation Organization – 5:30 PM. Hosted by Harris Center for Conservation Education. In 1896, 25 years before women had the right to vote in the United States, Minna Hall and Harriet Hemenway organized to end the wholesale slaughter of birds for feathers used in the fashion trade, founding the Massachusetts Audubon Society for the Protection of Birds in the process. Hall and Hemenway not only saved millions of birds, they also launched the world into a whole new conservation ethic. Join Joan Walsh, Gerard Bertrand Chair of Natural History and Field Ornithology at Mass Audubon, for a special Women's History Month talk on the enduring legacy of women in America's oldest bird conservation organization—from the founding mothers to modern-day scientists, activists, and educators. For more information, contact Brett Amy Thelen.

Sunday, March 13

Shades of Black: Connected by Color, Culture & Community – 2 PM to 3:30 PM. Levenson Room, Portsmouth Public Library. Hosted by the Black Heritage Trail of NH. Black folk in predominantly white environments have often found it “exhausting” to continually describe for others the negative impact of racism on them. They have also felt it a burden to serve in the position of “teacher” representing the wider Black community, instead of being viewed as individuals with their own unique stories and needs. For this panel, Black Americans from diverse backgrounds will share their stories on what it means to live in and love their own skin.

Monday, March 14

Peace & Justice Conversations: Mobilizing Youth for Peace with Friends Forever – 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action and Friends Forever International. Friends Forever International works with communities around the globe to build the leadership abilities of their youth from diverse backgrounds to tackle local and global issues. Our speaker will be Úna from County Armagh in Northern Ireland.  She first joined Friends Forever in 2017 and has stayed involved, feeling honored to help empower and encourage young people from all over the world. 

Tuesday, March 22

Beyond Roe: Black Abortion & Maternal Health Experiences – 7 PM to 8:30 PM. Hosted by the Reproductive Freedom Fund of NH and BLM Seacoast. A panel discussion and Q+A with BIPOC leaders working around reproductive and maternal health—register here.  As the 49th and potentially final anniversary of Roe v. Wade passes, Granite State Progress and the Reproductive Freedom Fund of New Hampshire are presenting a collaborative teach-in about the future of abortion justice and how to talk about reproductive rights in a post-Roe America. This is part of a larger series that will continue until June.

Monday, March 28

Peace & Justice Conversations: Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis – 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action and the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL). Come learn more about the situation in Yemen and how you can join in the lobbying campaign. With critical support from the United States, the Saudi-led coalition’s war and blockade in Yemen have helped create the worst humanitarian crisis in the world, pushing over 16 million people to the brink of famine. On February 4, 2021, President Biden announced that the United States would end its support for the coalition’s offensive operations in Yemen, but important aspects of U.S. complicity remain. Our speaker will be Hassan El-Tayyab is FCNL’s legislative director for Middle East policy. His passion for foreign affairs is rooted in his desire to make life better for people in the Middle East, including his extended family in Jordan, and for peace and stability worldwide.

Tuesday, April 5

Native Americans in NH – 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by Exeter TV & Exeter Historical Society. Exeter Town Hall, 9 Front Street, Exeter. Every town and watershed in New Hampshire has ancient and continuing Native American history. From the recent, late 20th century explosion of local Native population in New Hampshire back to the era of early settlement and the colonial wars, John and Donna Moody explore the history of New Hampshire's Abenaki and Penacook peoples with a focus on your local community. This program is generously sponsored by the New Hampshire Humanities and co-hosted by Exeter TV and is free and open to the public. Please note that the in-person presentation will be held in Town Hall, 9 Front Street, Exeter, New Hampshire. If you would like to watch the program virtually, you may tune into Channel 98 on your TV or watch it through our Facebook page. 

Friday, April 11

Peace & Justice Conversations: 350NH Climate Justice Activists Report – 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action. Militarism and climate disruption are deeply linked. In January, Marcy Winograd helped us more clearly see those connections. NH Peace Action has supported 350NH since its inception and welcomes Jen and Wren, Climate Justice Organizers with 350 New Hampshire, for a conversation about their goals for a more just, sustainable world. They will speak about their coalitional work to stop the burning of coal, the systems of power that suppress our agency, their vision of a better future, and the work that seeks to connect these things.

Monday, April 14

Open Democracy Book Club: How Democracies Die – 7 PM to 8:30 PM. Hosted by Open Democracy. Since the days of ancient Athens, democracies have arisen and disappeared, often suffering violent deaths.  In How Democracies Die, Harvard professors Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblat teach us that democracy no longer ends in a shower of bullets but with the slow, steady weakening of critical institutions and the erosion of long-standing political norms. The culprits are not wild-eyed revolutionaries or foreign adversaries, they are us, or at least a sub-set of us. They give us clear examples of how some democracies have died in the last century and invite us to consider what lessons these fates offer for our own country. This is the way democracy ends, not with bang but a whimper.

With best wishes,

Maggie Fogarty, Grace Kindeke and Anne Saunders

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, education, civil liberties, 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. Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke staff the New Hampshire Program which publishes this newsletter.  Anne Saunders is AFSC’s State House Watch researcher and co-writer.

“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. Thank you!

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