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State House Watch: June 11, 2021

Greetings, State House Watchers!

We begin today's newsletter by acknowledging with sadness that Representative Doug Ley of Jaffrey has died. We send our sincere condolences to his family and many friends, and to his fellow legislators with whom he labored for the well-being of all New Hampshire people. Doug had a special commitment to the rights and well-being of workers in our state, and to ensuring the highest quality public education for our children. May his steadfast leadership and his spirit of kindness and humility inspire our ongoing work in the difficult weeks ahead.

 

The State of Emergency is Ending

Governor Sununu announced this week that he’s ending the COVID-19 state of emergency as of midnight tonight. Paula Tracy has the story for InDepthNH: “The state has been under a state of emergency for more than a year, with declarations renewed more than 25 times, and those declarations have given the governor executive privilege and responsibility for spending federal funds and directing immediate aid to people in need. It’s not all over, however. The state saw three new COVID-19 deaths Thursday but is averaging fewer than one death a day. All other data trends are moving in a positive direction with a majority of all eligible people in the state now vaccinated.” NH Bulletin also covered the story.

Federal relief funds will now be allocated via the traditional processes, involving the legislature, rather than through the governor’s special advisory committee. We urge the governor and all of our elected officials to ensure that Granite Staters have access to a robust public health infrastructure and the necessary economic supports to address the lasting impacts of the pandemic.

 

The Housing Crisis Continues

A short but useful data byte from NHFPI shows that nearly half of the renter households in NH were cost-burdened even before the pandemic, which means that they are paying more than 30% of their household income toward their housing costs. This doesn’t bode well for the wave of evictions we’re likely to see when pandemic renter protections end. It really doesn’t bode well for those who already lack housing. Manchester has been clearing homeless camps since November. This week saw a group of activists block the police from entering the homeless camp known as “The Bucket,” a wooded area off the Douglas Street Extension. We recommend this inside report from Brandon LeMay, Housing Justice Organizer for Rights & Democracy, at Manchester Ink Link:

“Of the approximately 20 residents of the Bucket, we helped about 16 of them move somewhere else in the woods; three of them still have no idea where they’re going, and one of them took a shelter bed with special conditions. If the city’s goal was to move these residents into a shelter, and only five percent of them did so, I’d say the city failed. If the city’s goal was to make the lives harder for 19 residents, I’d say they succeeded.”

This is shocking: “By 9:30 we counted close to a dozen police cruisers, and a SWAT team armed with AR-15 style rifles posted in the woods to flank the camp.”

A SWAT team? Was this kind of firepower necessary to sweep a houseless camp with 20 unarmed residents? We stand in solidarity with the displaced people and applaud the courage of the activists in standing up to the police and opposing the criminalization of poverty.

The Budget

The budget will be the main event at the final House and Senate sessions on June 24. It’s the deadline for each body to vote on all of the Committee of Conference reports. Ethan DeWitt at NH Bulletin provides a good look at the process, and what to expect: “Starting Friday, a special panel known as a ‘committee of conference’ consisting of House and Senate negotiators will meet to discuss HB 1, the $13.5 billion two-year appropriations bill. A similar committee will meet next week to take up HB 2, the accompanying policy bill that contains hot-button items such as a 24-week abortion ban and the ‘divisive concepts’ bill. Most of the negotiators will be Republicans, following…tradition for the parties in power. According to House rules, lawmakers may only participate on committees of conference if they voted for the original bill in their chamber; the point, theoretically, is to come to an agreement on a bill all parties want to pass.”

With all of the harmful proposals gathered into this budget, we feel obligated to raise our voices in opposition. Please mark your calendars for Thursday, June 24 and join AFSC and many partners for a 10 AM rally at the State House, “A Better NH is Possible: United for a People’s Budget.”

LEACT and ‘Divisive Concepts’

The Commission on Law Enforcement, Accountability, Community, and Transparency (LEACT) asked NH Attorney General John Formella to meet with them to discuss the language of the so-called “divisive concepts” bill that has been added to the state budget. The AG refused the invitation.

From the NH Bulletin: “[Attorney General] Formella said an emergency meeting of the commission on the issue would not be appropriate. ‘While it is true that the Governor’s Advisory Council on Diversity and Inclusion met to discuss this language, and ultimately took a position on it, that group has a broader mission than the LEACT Commission, which is focused on enhancing transparency, accountability, and community relations in law enforcement,’ Formella wrote. Formella added that it would not be appropriate for the Department of Justice to take a position on the bill, since it has already provided legal advice to Republican senators on the latest draft of the bill, and since it would have to defend the law in court should it be signed by Sununu.”

Courage over Censorship

If you share our belief that this harmful proposal has no place in a state budget or anywhere in NH law, join AFSC and other partner organizations this Saturday, June 12 at 4 PM in front of the State House for Courage Over Censorship: A March & Meditation on the Consequences of HB 544. Participants are encouraged to bring a book that changed their perspective on systemic racism/inequity that might be considered "divisive" under the new law and treat the event as a giant book swap.

Other events are planned for earlier in the day as well, at 12 noon in Portsmouth and at 1 pm in Dover as part of the Zinn Education Project’s national day of action, June 12: Educators Pledge to Teach the Truth.

The Laurie List

The House passed the amended version of the Laurie List bill, HB 471, requiring police disciplinary hearings to be open to the public unless certain confidential information may be revealed. The bill also authorizes the Department of Justice to maintain a list of law enforcement officers with credibility or excessive force issues. More at InDepthNH.

Public Art for Immigrant Justice in Dover

The Familias Separadas art unveiling is this Sunday, June 13 at the Dover Friends Meeting. Read all about it in the Foster's Daily Democrat and join us if you are available!  This national project focuses on the stories of immigrants living in the United States and how they have been impacted by detention and deportation. Grace Kindeke, who served as the teaching artist for the project, explains its importance: "The stories of Black immigrants are often hidden in the larger narrative of migration and the US immigration system. Doing this project has enabled us to broaden the conversation about systemic racism in our immigration policies and enforcement, and the need for humane policies that will protect Black, brown and indigenous people seeking safety in the U.S.”

Join us at 1 PM for a car caravan at the Strafford County jail (meet at the Strafford County Courthouse, 259 County Farm Road, Dover), followed by the art unveiling, speakers, food and fellowship at 2 PM at the Dover Friends Meeting, 141 Central Avenue, Dover. More information can be found on the Facebook event. If you can’t join us in person, you can watch the livestream on Facebook.

Last week in the House and Senate

Both the House and Senate met in full session on Thursday and voted on all remaining bills that had been amended by the other body. Members voted to concur, non-concur, or non-concur and ask for a Committee of Conference (CoC). A vote to concur with the amendment means that the bill will now be headed to the governor’s desk. A vote of non-concur means the bill is dead. A vote of non-concur with a request for a CoC means that legislators hope to work out a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill. 

Here’s the report:

Members Concurred

HB 69 Relative to the authority of schools to display the national and state mottos. This bill prohibits the state of NH or any political subdivision from restricting a school from displaying the national or state motto. The Senate amended the bill to add the state motto. It’s worth noting that there were no previous restrictions in place.

HB 77 Requiring town and city clerks to provide daily notification to the secretary of state of any filings for elected office and relative to the matching broadband initiative.

HB 195 Adding display of a firearm as an exception to reckless conduct. In other states, this would be called “brandishing.”

HB 220 Relative to medical freedom in immunizations and establishing a committee to examine the policy of medical intervention including immunizations.

HB 223 Relative to political party access to a list of absentee ballot requests. The Senate amended the bill to add a $2000 fee per election for subscribing to this list.

HB 236 Creating a statute of limitation on civil actions relative to damage caused by perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances.

HB 263 Relative to campaign finance reform and increasing the threshold for reporting by political committees. More money can be donated, with fewer reporting requirements. This is the opposite of reform.

HB 283 Proclaiming April 11, 2022 as Wentworth Cheswill Day.

HB 285 Relative to verification of voter checklists. Requires the Secretary of State to establish and maintain a statewide centralized voter registration database. Any perceived irregularities will be forwarded to town clerks and supervisors of the checklist for investigation.

HB 320 Requiring a civics competency assessment as a high school graduation requirement. Requires high school students to attain a grade of 70 percent or better on the Civics Naturalization Examination developed by the US Citizen and Immigration Service.

HB 373 Relative to state participation in low carbon fuel standards programs. The House version forbid the Department of Environmental Services from participating in any discussions of any state, regional, or national low carbon fuel standards programs. The Senate amended the bill to require the approval of the legislature and the Executive Council before joining, implementing, or participating in any low carbon fuel standards programs.

HB 413 Establishing a solid waste working group on solid waste reduction management planning, relative to compost, and establishing a statewide solid waste disposal reduction goal.

HB 448 Establishing a committee to study and compare federal Occupational Safety and Health Act standards with the safety and health standards the New Hampshire Department of Labor uses for public sector employees.

HB 471 Relative to police disciplinary hearings and authorizing the Department of Justice to maintain an exculpatory evidence schedule.

HB 523 Requiring a person who registers to vote without any identification to have his or her photo taken before his or her registration to vote is complete. This applies to any person registering to vote on election day. The state will be purchasing cameras and film for all 330 polling locations.

Members Non-Concurred

HB 391 Establishing a commission to review and make recommendations on campaign finance laws. The House non-concurred with the Senate amendment.

SB 78 Relative to continually appropriating the renewable energy fund to the public utilities commission, and relative to clarifying certain electric renewable energy classifications. The Senate requested a COC. The House refused to accede to the Senate request.

SB 83  Adopting omnibus legislation relative to elections. The Senate requested a CoC. The House refused to accede to the Senate request.

SB 95 Establishing a committee to review authorizing governing bodies of municipalities to hold virtual meetings and to study access to meetings under RSA 91-A. The Senate requested a CoC. The House refused to accede to the Senate request.

Members Non-Concurred and Requested a Committee of Conference (CoC)

House Bills with CoC

HB 1 Making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2022 and June 30, 2023. The Committee of Conference met on June 11, at 11 AM, in Rooms 210-211 at the LOB.

HB 2 Relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures. The CoC will be meeting on June 14, at 11:00 AM, in Rooms 210-211 at the LOB.

HB 25 Making appropriations for capital improvements. The CoC met on June 11 at 9:30 AM in Rooms 201-203 at the LOB.

HB 108 Relative to minutes and decisions in nonpublic sessions; an exemption for items falling within the attorney-client privilege or the attorney work product doctrine under the right-to-know law; and remote access to public meetings under the right-to-know law. The CoC will be meeting on June 14, at 3:30 PM, in rooms 206-208 at the LOB. 

HB 180 Increasing the penalty for buyers under the law regarding trafficking in persons. The House bill increased the penalty for a person who pays to engage in sexual contact with a person under the age of 18 who is a victim of human trafficking. The Senate amended it to stipulate that the victim be under the age of 16. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

HB 235 Addressing impacts to other water users from new sources of water for community water systems and relative to PFAS fund and programs. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

HB 242 Relative to the content of an adequate education. CoC meets on June 16, at 9:00 AM in Rooms 206-208 at the LOB.

HB 271 Relative to standards for per and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in drinking water and ambient groundwater. The Committee of Conference meeting has not yet been scheduled.

HB 278 Relative to the use of unused district facilities by chartered public schools. This bill would require a school district to develop a plan for the future use of an unused facility. It would require the school district to offer an unused facility to a charter school for purchase or lease and require the charter school be given the first right of refusal. The CoC will be meeting June 16, at 10:00 AM in Rooms 206-208 at the LOB.

HB 291 Relative to the analysis of requests for absentee ballot information by the attorney general. This bill would require the Attorney General to analyze absentee ballot information requests for evidence of misuse. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

HB 296 Establishing the crime of an unsolicited disclosure of an intimate image. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

HB 315 Relative to the aggregation of electric customers and municipal host customer generators serving political subdivisions. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

HB 326 Requiring town and city clerks to make electronic lists of persons who have applied for absentee ballots available to candidates upon request. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

HB 334 Relative to prohibitions on carrying a loaded firearm on an OHRV or snowmobile and relative to the procedure for conducting firearm background checks. The Senate added the amendment about conducting firearm background checks. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

HB 485 Relative to informed consent to search a motor vehicle and amending the statutory requirements for a search warrant; relative to prohibiting certain uses of laser pointing devices, and relative to various civil actions and criminal liability. The Senate amended the bill to add the parts about the laser pointers and civil actions and criminal liability. The CoC has not yet been scheduled.

HB 542 Relative to the protection of religious liberty. The bill would allow churches to stay open during a state of emergency, as an essential service. The Senate amended the bill to remove the questionable aspects that would allow for discrimination on religious grounds. The CoC will be meeting on June 14, at 2:30 PM in Rooms 206-208 at the LOB.

HB 610 Requiring certain licensing and reporting functions be conducted through the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System and Registry, relative to background investigations of trust officers, to certain filing fees, assessments and interest rates and to the transmission of consumer complaints by the banking department, requiring employers to provide certain workplace accommodations for employees, establishing the New Hampshire housing and conservation planning program, and relative to the collaborative care model service delivery method. This began as a banking bill; the workplace accommodations, NH housing and conservation program, and collaborative care service model delivery were added in Senate amendments. The CoC will be meeting June 16 at 10:00 AM in Rooms 306-308 at the LOB.

Senate bills with CoC

SB 31 Relative to voter checklists and modifying the absentee ballot affidavit. The House amendment re-modified the absentee ballot envelope. The CoC has not yet been scheduled.

SB 40 Relative to informed consent to search a motor vehicle and amending the statutory requirements for a search warrant. The House amendment stipulates that the operator of a motor vehicle cannot be further detained for solely refusing to consent to a search. The CoC has not yet been scheduled.

SB 91 Adopting omnibus legislation on renewable energy and utilities. The CoC will be meeting on June 14 at 8:30 AM, in Room 103 at the SH.

SB 103 Relative to nexus provisions for certain disaster related or emergency related work performed in the state and prohibiting the siting of a landfill near a state park. The House added the non-germane amendment prohibiting the siting of a landfill near a state park. The CoC is meeting June 14, at 9:30 AM, in Room 103 at the SH.  

SB 134 Adopting omnibus legislation relative to civil actions and criminal liability. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

SB 146 Adopting omnibus legislation relative to the environment. The CoC meeting has not yet been scheduled.

SB 154 Prohibiting the state from enforcing any federal statute, regulation, or Presidential Executive Order that restricts the right of the people to keep and bear arms. The CoC will be meeting on June 16, at 8:15 in the Senate Chamber at the SH.

Committees of Conference Begin Their Work

The full list of Committees of Conference and their members can be found here.

With the end of the state of emergency, the State House and the Legislative Office Building will be open to the public again soon, beginning on June 14. Those who wish to observe the CoC process in action can go to the committee rooms and watch in person; there will be remote options as well.  The schedule and the links to the remote meetings can be found in the House Digital Calendar and the Senate Digital Calendar.

The members of a CoC can be changed at any time. If a legislator is regarded as a stumbling block they may be rotated out and someone different added in. CoC reports must be signed no later than Thursday, June 17 and will be voted on during the June 24 sessions.  Read more about CoC procedures in the June 11 House Calendar, on page 2. 

Coming Up in the House and Senate

On Thursday, June 24, the House will be in session at the NH Sportsplex facility in Bedford, and the Senate will be in session at the State House. Legislators will be acting on all Committee of Conference (CoC) reports.

State House Watch radio on WNHN 94.7 FM

Tune in on Monday for State House Watch radio!  Maggie and Grace interview Dawn McKinney at NH Legal Assistance, Brandon Lemay from Rights and Democracy and Matt Lawrence from NH Mutual Aid and Relief. “State House Watch” radio airs Mondays at 5 PM and rebroadcasts Tuesdays at 8 AM at WNHN-LP, 94.7 FM in Concord and at www.wnhnfm.org. Recordings of past shows, including last week’s program hosted by 350 New Hampshire, are here.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, June 12

BIPOC Affinity Caucus – 10 AM to 11:30 AM. Hosted by Rights and Democracy. We invite you to join us for a monthly community gathering of BIPOC within Rights & Democracy Institute. We enjoyed our time together last month and we are making a commitment to meet in solidarity each month. The virtual gathering will once again be facilitated by us but we hope to discuss ways in which we can each contribute to our future meetings. This space is open to anyone who self-identifies as BIPOC.

We Can Stand the Truth – 1 PM. Henry Law Park, Dover. Hosted by Project Dream. Join Seacoast youth leaders and educators as we stand against the HB 544 bill, designed to stop our conversations on injustice. We are standing up for our rights to learn and understand systematic racism and sexism. Silencing us will not fix the problem, but rather, allowing the discussion of divisive concepts will enable our goal of social justice.

Manchester March for Palestine – 1 PM. Veterans Park, Manchester. Hosted by Party for Socialism and Liberation - Southern NH and New Hampshire United for Palestine. Join us as we march downtown Manchester again in solidarity with the Palestinian people. Meet at Veterans Park. From there, we will march down Elm Street and back. All are welcome. Bring your posters, Palestinian flags, keffiyehs, and cultural dress. The goal is to keep the momentum going. Let's continue organizing and spreading awareness and showing up for Palestine. For information regarding accessibility needs, please email: SoutherNH@pslweb.org.

Courage Not Censorship: A March & Meditation on the Consequences of HB 544 & Divisive Concepts – 4 PM to 5:30 PM. State House (107 N Main St), Concord. Co-hosted by AFSC. While the House and Senate are meeting to negotiate a budget compromise, we want them to hear clearly from the people of New Hampshire: HB 544 and its amended version have no place in our budget, in our laws, or in our hearts. Everyone is encouraged to bring a book that has changed their perspective on systemic racism/inequity that might be considered "divisive" under the new law and treat the event as a giant book swap. Attendees will be welcomed to place their book on the capitol steps and at the end of the event, anyone who brings a book can pick a new one! We will then have speakers and songs as well as actions people can take that day to raise their voices.

Sunday, June 13

Familias Separadas Project Unveiling & Community Event – 1 PM to 4 PM. Caravan @ Strafford County Jail, Dover. Art unveiling and live performance @ Dover Friends Meetinghouse, Dover. Co-hosted by AFSC. We are excited to unveil the public artworks highlighting the stories of community members who have participated in the Familias Separadas project! The national project focuses on the stories of immigrant families living in the United States and how they have been impacted by detention and deportations. Since January 2020, lead artist Michelle Angela Ortiz and her Creative Team (playwright Paul Flores and local artist Grace Kindeke) have worked closely with participants from the undocumented immigrant community in New Hampshire. All are welcome!

Tuesday, June 15

Defund Protest – 6:30 PM. City Hall, Manchester. Hosted by NH Youth Movement: Southern NH/Greater Manchester. Join us Tuesday outside Manchester City Hall during the budget vote to show our Mayor and Aldermen we want to defund the police.

Wednesday, June 16

The Power of Economic Activism – 7 PM. Hosted by AFSC. Mass incarceration, war and occupation, border security, police militarization, and mass surveillance are systems of state violence and oppression. But for many large corporations, they’re simply profitable markets with almost endless growth opportunities. Today, AFSC’s Economic Activism program investigates the ways in which corporations get deeply entangled in policing and mass surveillance, border walls and mass incarceration, war, and occupation. We offer strategic research for action and unique tools for corporate engagement and investment screening, tailored to the needs of activists and investors seeking change.

Thursday, June 17

Juneteenth 2021 - Finding Our Roots: Researching Black History & Genealogy – 10 AM to 2:30 PM. Hosted by Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. Embarking for the first time, or relatively new to researching African American History and Genealogy? This workshop, divided into four one-hour sessions, will provide you with the opportunity to develop research techniques and learn about available resources.

Saturday, June 19

Juneteenth 2021 - Art of The Story: Exploring How DNA Powers a Changing Narrative - 10 AM to 11:30 AM. Hosted by Black Heritage Trail of NH. In this age of genetic reckoning, fueled by the extraordinary growth of DNA testing, many Americans are unearthing lost families’ stories and connections that are reshaping the mythic American narrative. This panel discussion will also explore the role the new science is playing in presenting a more complete story of our country, the dangers inherent in the new science, and the power of the story to aid in individual and collective healing. The past is still with us—inside of us.

Juneteenth Celebration 2021 – 11 AM to 2 PM. Nashua Public Library. Hosted by Black Lives Matter Nashua. Join us for a Juneteenth Celebration in Nashua! This event will be in-person and socially distanced. Masks and face coverings are strongly encouraged. If you are a community member interested in volunteering at this event, please email us at info@blmnashua.com.

Queen City Pride - 12 PM to 6 PM. Arms Park, Manchester. The Queen City Pride Festival is an annual celebration of the LGBTQ+ community in the Granite State!

Juneteenth 2021 -Dance of The Ancestors: Ritual, Chants, Drumming & Movement – 3 PM. Hosted by Black Heritage Trail of New Hampshire. For many West African cultures, ancestor veneration often takes the form of a masquerade. When the masquerade appears, a portal between the seen and unseen world opens, allowing the spirits of the ancestors to descend to the earthly realm. During the masquerade dance, blessing, guidance, and healing for the living are dispensed to individuals and the community as a whole. For this closing event, live streaming from the Portsmouth African Burying Ground, Chief Wándé Abímbọ́lá, a Yoruba Babalowo and the Àwísẹ Awo Àgbàyé (Voice of Ifa in the World), Chief Oscar Mokeme from the Nmuo Society, and members from Akwaaba Ensemble will honor the ancestors through rituals, chants, African drumming and dance.

Saturday, June 26

Wake + Create with Granite State Progress – 10 AM. Hosted by Granite State Progress. Join Granite State Progress and fellow activists on Saturday mornings for lively conversation and creative ideas on how to hold politicians' feet to the fire and engage our community around issues of immediate state and local concern. Working together, we create digital and popular education tools to help people understand what is happening at the NH State House and the policies, personalities, and decisions affecting our health and our environment.

Active Bystander Training for Advocates – 11 AM to 12:30 PM. NH Council on Developmental Disabilities. Sometimes people are quick to express anger and more likely to be angry at people "not like them." This interactive training will give you tools and insights to use when responding effectively when witnessing this behavior.

Sunday, June 27

For the People – 3 PM. Market Square, Portsmouth. Hosted by Occupy New Hampshire. Our Democracy should work for all the people and achieve all of we the people's progressive priorities. Join us to kick off the For the People Campaign that will go from the 28th thru July 10th.

With best wishes, 

Maggie Fogarty, Grace Kindeke and Susan Bruce 

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. Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke staff the New Hampshire Program which publishes this newsletter.  Susan Bruce is our State House Watch researcher and 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. Donate now to support the work of the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program. Thank you!

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