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State House Watch: May 2, 2022


Photo: Cheryl Senter/AFSC

“Organized labor is the only way to have fair distribution of wealth.” – Dolores Huerta

May 2, 2022

Hello State House Watchers,

We arrive a few days late to your inbox, but in time for another busy week. We hope you enjoyed a glorious weekend, and took a moment to celebrate International Workers' Day on May 1. Please join us today at City Hall in Manchester at 4:30 PM!

We begin by acknowledging the recent passing of some extraordinary New Hampshire colleagues whom we will remember for their wisdom, leadership, spirit, and labor for peace, justice and civil rights:

Rev. Bill Exner, pastor, community-builder and peacemaker; one of the founding members of NH Voices of Faith (originally the Interfaith Voices for a Humane Budget). Read his obituary here, and watch the celebration of life here, with inspiring tributes from Rev.Jason Wells and Bill’s family members.

Barbara French, former state Representative (D-Henniker), retired school nurse and anti-nuclear activist, active in the NH Conference United Church of Christ Economic Justice Mission Group. She was kind, persistent and dedicated to peace. She was almost 96 years old.

Claire Ebel, for 30+ years the executive director of the NH Civil Liberties Union. Brilliant, spirited, persuasive, and a passionate defender of the First Amendment. Roy Duckler captures some of her story here.

Somewhere beyond here, there’s a marvelous gathering of NH peace and justice movement leaders sharing stories of good trouble and lives well-lived.

 

Biden Administration Acts on Clemency and Re-Entry

Last week, President Biden granted clemency to 78 people, including three pardons and 75 commutations. From NHPR, the the White House also announced efforts to “address inequities in the justice system to help those reentering society after incarceration, including expanding hiring for formerly incarcerated people. The Biden administration will allocate $145 million to developing "reentry plans" for incarcerated persons, which would connect them to resources, such as jobs, housing and loans upon being released.” We celebrate these important steps.

And we rejoice that Melissa Lucio has been granted a stay of execution by the Texas Court of Appeals.  Read more from the Innocence Project.

As part of AFSC’s Free Them All campaign calling for the release of people incarcerated in jails, prison and detention centers, AFSC-NH will host “Love from the Walls,” a card-writing event and community potluck to celebrate mothers impacted by incarceration. Join us tomorrow, on Tuesday, May 3, 12 noon to 2 PM the AFSC office (4 Park Street #304, Concord, NH) to share messages of compassion and resilience to and from incarcerated women in NH. Free food and fellowship. All are welcome!

Defend the Right to Asylum

Maggie and Grace had an opinion piece in several New Hampshire newspapers last week (NH is ready for asylum seekers. Why aren’t Hassan and Pappas?), calling upon U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan and Congressman Chris Pappas to withdraw their support for an amendment which would keep Title 42 in place at the U.S. southern border. Despite the lack of evidence that Title 42 protects public health, and despite the devastating toll on innocent people seeking to exercise their rights under U.S. and international law, these lawmakers want Title 42 extended indefinitely. AFSC and our many partners in the various sanctuary congregations, host home networks and accompaniment teams in New Hampshire have a different view: “There is reason to be concerned about lack of capacity to meet the needs at the U.S.-Mexico border…But there’s a simple solution to this problem, and it’s not summarily deporting asylum seekers. Nor is it a bigger border wall, more surveillance, more armed enforcement agents, or more incarceration. What is needed is increased capacity for compassion and care, and adequate resources and policies that can receive people in an orderly and welcoming way.” Please contact Pappas and Hassan this week to urge them to become champions for humane immigration policies.

We also recommend this column by Jonathan Baird, “Instead of spurning immigrants, more should be welcomed,” (Concord Monitor).

Political pundits have noticed the backlash against Hassan’s statements, including the resignation of members of the leadership of the NH Latino Caucus, and an action that AFSC and several partners coordinated last week at the Portsmouth Sheraton.

In related news, we’re watching the U.S. Supreme Court for an upcoming decision on the Trump-initiated Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ Program.

On Friday, the Journal of the American Medical Association published its research on increased traumatic injuries and deaths involving migrants attempting to scale the 30-ft border wall over the past few years. The findings indicate that “The San Diego County Trauma System experienced a five-time increase in high-severity injured immigrants admitted from the three years ending in 2018 to the three years ending in 2021.” Read more from our AFSC colleague Pedro Rios in San Diego: “Border walls lead to injuries and death. It’s a sinister way to enforce immigration laws.”

 

More Recommended Reading

Our AFSC colleague Tori Bateman writes about global military spending this week in Common Dreams: As Global Military Spending Hits Nearly $2 Trillion, These Weapons Are Useless Against Biggest Threats We Face: “The pandemic has taught us a lot about the possibilities for a post-COVID world. People and governments have come together to respond to the common threat, sharing resources, knowledge, and action plans. Climate change, poverty, diseases, and injustice all require the global community to come together in creative ways to care for one another and create a better world. Investment in people—including public health and global cooperation—is infinitely more important than propping up the military-industrial complex. It’s time for the global community to come together in the realization that weapons don’t make us safer. Investment in people—including public health and global cooperation—is infinitely more important than propping up the military-industrial complex.” 

Tune in on May 3 at 7 PM Eastern to hear from a panel of speakers about the importance of demilitarizing our budget. Register here.

 

In New Hampshire News

The NH Fiscal Policy Institute published a new blog post explaining the impact of proposed cuts to the business profits tax. (Spoiler alert: The wealthiest business owners stand to benefit the most.) We are concerned by further reductions in much-needed resources as New Hampshire families experience continued economic hardship. Phil Sletten writes, “The New Hampshire Department of Revenue Administration estimated that the proposed reduction in the BPT rate would cost the State a total of approximately $17.5 million in revenue combined during State Fiscal Years 2023, 2024, and 2025, with an ongoing loss of about $8.4 million per year after 2025. With about one in four Granite State adults reporting in March 2022 that paying for usual household expenses continues to be somewhat or very difficult, public resources must be carefully deployed to help ensure an equitable, sustainable, and inclusive economic recovery.” 

We welcome Cassandra Sanchez to her new role as director of the Office of the Child Advocate (read more here), and wish her well as she takes up the urgent and important work to strengthen New Hampshire’s infrastructure for child protection and family well-being. We hope that the governor and the commissioner for the Department of Health and Human Services are more supportive of Sanchez than they reportedly were of outgoing director Moira O’Neill, PhD.  Read more here.

A newly-formed NH Commission on Voter Confidence will meet for the first time this week. From NHPR: “The commission will hold listening sessions across the state in the coming months, gathering input from citizens on how the state could improve transparency in the voting process. Members of the commission will also work to explain New Hampshire’s process for casting and counting votes, a largely decentralized process that involves thousands of local election officials and volunteers.” We see some good folks listed as members, giving us some hope that the commission might address the impact of conspiracy theories and disinformation on voters’ faith in the electoral process.

 

At the State House

We noticed that the NH Senate set a good example last week by allowing two members with health issues to participate remotely during the full session. Read more here. We believe the Speaker of the House should permit this as well. The lawsuit by House members demanding this fair treatment (Cushing v. Packard) is still pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Some bad decisions in the Senate...

The Senate met last week and among their many votes they defeated two attempts at legalization of cannabis (HB 1598 and HB 629). Read more here. AFSC and several partners signed on to a letter expressing support for legalization, primarily due to the disproportionate impact of our current laws on Black and brown communities. From the letter: “New Hampshire’s war on marijuana is enforced with a staggering racial bias. In 2020 Black people were 4.8 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession when compared with white people, despite both groups using marijuana at roughly the same rate. And, this disparity is on the rise, up from 2.6 times more likely to be arrested in 2010a 46 percent increase. The racial bias in enforcement is even more pronounced with the city police departments in Manchester and Concord, where the disparities are 13.9 times and 5.8 times, respectively. The discriminatory enforcement of New Hampshire’s marijuana laws means that Black people are more likely to face the immediate harms of a marijuana arrest and charge, including potential incarceration, as well as the collateral consequences, including the loss of jobs, housing, and child custody.” It’s a disappointing outcome but the work continues.

With a voice vote and an amendment, Senators passed HB 1431, the ‘parental bill of rights.’ The amendment, from Senator Carson, narrows the scope to primarily educational settings by adding the following language: “This chapter does not authorize a parent of a minor child in this state to engage in conduct that is unlawful or to abuse or neglect his or her minor child in violation of general law, as defined in RSA 169-C; or prohibit a court of competent jurisdiction, law enforcement officer, or employees of a government agency that is responsible for child welfare from acting in his or her official capacity.” InDepthNH has the story.

And the Senate passed HB 1476, an anti-bail reform proposal which has been amended from the House version to narrow the scope. While the amendment is a definite improvement, the bill would still do harm to communities of color and would criminalize poverty.

Some good decisions in the Senate...

Good news! Senators defeated HB 1393, which would have enabled municipalies to enact school budget caps. The ITL motion was made by Senator Ward and passed on a voice vote.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee recommended Interim Study for HB 1080, relative to the rights of conscience for medical professionals. If enacted, the proposal would have empowered health care providers, pharmacists and others to refuse to provide reproductive health services. Read more at NH Bulletin. The full Senate will vote on May 5.

And we’re glad to see that the Senate Judiciary Committee has unanimously recommended Interim Study for HB 1266, which would prohibit municipalities from prohibiting cooperation between local police and immigration enforcement agents. The bill is on the consent calendar for May 5.

And in the House...

The House Finance Committee voted OTP/A last week on SB 418, a bill that creates provisional ballots for voters who register at the polls without proof of identification. It heads to the House floor again this week. It’s not too early to let Governor Sununu know that you want him to veto this unconstitutional bill when it arrives to his desk.

On a party-line vote, the House Special Committee on Redistricting approved SB 200, which has been amended to offer a new congressional district map that orients the first Congressional district around the lower half of Interstate 93. Read more at NH Bulletin. Governor Sununu had voiced his objection to this proposal; the full House will vote later this week.

In related news, the City of Dover is challenging HB 50, the recently passed map for NH state representative districts, arguing that its treatment of Dover’s Ward 4 is unconstitutional. Read more at InDepthNH. We anticipate other lawsuits and wonder how all of this will be resolved in time for the 2022 elections.

 

Action Alert for This Week

Oppose SB 294, relative to release of a defendant pending trial. This anti-bail reform proposal is on the House calendar this week. It is presented without recommendation. Please contact your own House members before Wednesday’s session and urge them to defeat this bill.

 

In This Issue:

 

Last Week in the Senate

The Senate met last week; here are some reports of bills we’ve been tracking. 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.
VV – Voice vote. Individual legislators’ votes are not tallied.

On the Consent Calendar

ELECTION LAW AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS
HB 1021, prohibiting regulation of religious land use based on the religious nature of the assembly or speech taking place on the land or in the structure. Voted OTP/A. This bill as amended will prohibit zoning regulations from applying to land or structures based on the religious nature of the assembly or speech. Such land or structures may be subject to objective dimensional and other zoning regulations as long as the requirements are applicable regardless of the nature of the use of the property.
HB 1163, relative to over voted ballots. Voted OTP. This bill will require ballots which contain more than the allowable number of votes for an office on the ballot, be returned to the voter to be hand counted by election officials after the polls close.
HB 1272, limiting the authority of town health officers. Voted ITL.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION
HB 275, relative to the declaration of a state of emergency. Voted OTP and referred to Finance. This permits the governor to maintain emergency powers for up to 84 days. This bill also grants the legislature the power to meet and terminate individual emergency orders.

JUDICIARY
HB 1388-FN, relative to the unsolicited disclosure of an intimate image. Voted OTP/A. This bill establishes a criminal penalty for the unsolicited disclosure of an intimate image.
HB 1493, relative to the drug forfeiture fund. Recommended OTP by a vote of 5-0.

WAYS AND MEANS
HB 1598-FN, legalizing the possession and use of cannabis. Voted ITL. This bill would have legalized the possession and use of cannabis for persons 21 years and older, and created a state-run model with the Liquor Commission responsible for regulating and administering the cultivation, manufacture, testing and retail sale of cannabis.

On the Regular Calendar

EDUCATION

HB 1193, relative to chartered public school fees and enrollment policies. Voted ITL.

ELECTION LAW AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS
HB 1203-FN, relative to domicile residency, voter registration, and investigation of voter verification letters. Ruled divisible. Voted OTP/A, 14-10 on sections 1 and 7. Voted OTP/A on rest of the bill by VV.
HB 1393, relative to the adoption of school district budget caps. Voted ITL.

ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
HB 1547-FN, setting maximum contaminant levels for perfluorochemicals in the soil. Voted OTP and referred to Finance.
HB 1599-FN, relative to customer generators who sell renewable energy certificates. Voted OTP/A.
HB 1629-FN, relative to default service for net metering. Voted ITL.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION
HB 1417-FN-L, relative to payment by the state of a portion of retirement system contributions of political subdivision employers. Voted OTP, 22-2 but a subsequent vote to table the bill passed 14-10.
HB 1535-FN, relative to a one-time allowance for certain state retirees. Voted OTP/A and referred to Finance.

FINANCE
HB 214, relative to a public school facility condition assessment and school building aid grants. Special ordered to the next session, May 5.
HB 536-FN, relative to death benefits for public works employees killed in the line of duty, and relative to workers’ compensation offsets for certain retirement system benefits. Special ordered to the next session, May 5.
HB 1421-FN, relative to lead in school drinking water. Voted OTP/A.
HB 1614-FN, requiring the recording and storing of digital video in all state-funded juvenile detention facilities. Voted OTP.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
HB 1099, prohibiting the department of health and human services from requiring vaccine passports for services. Special ordered to the next session, May 5.
HB 1131, relative to facial covering policies for schools. Voted OTP/A, 14-10.
HB 1606, making the state vaccine registry an opt-in program. Special ordered to the next session, May 5.

JUDICIARY
HB 629-FN, relative to the home cultivation of cannabis plants and the possession of certain cannabis-infused products. Voted ITL, 15-9.
HB 1296-FN, relative to the forfeiture of items used in connection with a drug offense. Referred to IS,
HB 1431-FN-L, establishing the parental bill of rights. Voted OTP/A with a floor amendment from Sen. Carson (another amendment from Sen. Kahn failed, 12-12) and referred to Finance.
HB 1476-FN, relative to persons arrested while out on bail. Voted OTP/A, 21-3 and referred to Finance.
HB 1677-FN, relative to the administration and settlement of claims of abuse at the youth development center and making an appropriation therefor. Voted OTP and referred to Finance.

TRANSPORTATION
HB 1636, relative to prohibitions on carrying a loaded firearm on an OHRV or snowmobile. Voted OTP.

 

Coming Up in the House

The full House meets on May 4 starting at 10 AM and May 5 starting at 9 AM. Future sessions are planned for May 12 and 26.

On the Consent Calendar

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW
SB 446-FN-A, (New Title) directing the department of health and human services to develop a plan relative to fostering sustainable childcare opportunities for working families and businesses. Recommended OTP by a vote of 13-1. This bill establishes a childcare workforce fund dedicated to financing recruitment and retention bonuses and benefits for eligible NH childcare employers.

COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SB 373, relative to coverage for certain mental illnesses. Recommended OTP by a vote of 18-0. This bill is an update to the mental health coverage requirements in state law, in order to align NH statutes with the requirements under federal law regarding parity.
SB 385-FN, relative to financial exploitation of vulnerable adults. Recommended OTP by a vote of 18-0. This bill will allow banks and credit unions to place a hold on disbursement of funds from an account for 15 days, if they suspect financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY
SB 393-FN, relative to the use of restraints on pregnant women in the custody of a state or county correctional facility. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0. This bill establishes a consistent set of policies across the state and clearly details situations where restraints are allowed or not allowed and the type of restraints that can be used. It has the full support of the Department of Corrections, the ACLU, and the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation.

EDUCATION
SB 236, establishing a committee to study New Hampshire teacher shortages and recruitment incentives. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 19-0.
SB 238, relative to special education services in chartered public schools. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 19-0. This bill, as amended, requires that a sending public school and the receiving chartered public school enter into a memorandum of understanding (MOU), to ensure compliance with state and federal law for providing special education services.
SB 386, relative to the determination of state adequate education grants and chartered public school tuition amounts. Recommended OTP by a vote of 19-0. This bill makes technical changes to the determination of tuition amounts paid to chartered public schools and to the determination of adequate education grants to municipalities.
SB 410, (New Title) relative to public comment periods at school district meetings and meetings of the state board of education. Recommended OTP by a vote of 18-0. This bill codifies the expectation that school boards shall clearly establish public comment periods at every public session and also requires public comment periods at meetings of the State Board of Education.

ELECTION LAW
SB 364, relative to the use of electronic poll books. Recommended OTP by a vote of 20-0. The bill extends the required time to update information for the mark up of a backup checklist when using electronic poll books.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION
SB 226-FN, establishing a recruitment and retention program for state employment. Recommended OTP by a vote of 19-0. This bill gives the Division of Personnel the authority to use incentives such as hiring bonuses and employee referral fees to recruit new hires. This program sunsets on June 31, 2023.
SB 357-FN, relative to mental health training for first responders. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 19-0. This bill reestablishes the PTSD Commission for another two years. The bill requires that mental health training be included for new recruits, plus annual refresher training, in both the police and fire academies. 

HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS
SB 288, (New Title) establishing a committee to study the listing of immunizations for children. Recommended OTO by a vote of 20-0.
SB 390, relative to telemedicine and telehealth. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0.
SB 419-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study the delivery of public health services in New Hampshire through regional public health networks. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES
SB 296, relative to complaint procedures in cases before the commission for human rights. Recommended for IS by a vote of 20-1.
SB 301-FN-LOCAL, relative to the procedure for violations under the right to know law. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-1. The amendment completely replaces the bill with the text of HB 481 which the House recently passed. HB 481 establishes the Right-To-Know Office of the Ombudsman in the NH Secretary of State’s Office.
SB 399-FN, (New Title) relative to certain provisions of the fetal life protection act requiring an ultrasound examination. Recommended OTP by a vote of 21-0. This bill clarifies that the ultrasound requirement of the Fetal Life Protection Act is applicable only when there is good reason to believe the fetus may be 24 weeks gestation or more. It is identical to HB 1673 as amended and passed by the House.

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT
SB 249, prohibiting planning and zoning ordinances that prohibit short-term rentals. Recommended for IS by a vote of 17-2.
SB 273-A, relative to broadband infrastructure funding. Recommended OTP by a vote of 19-0. NH is anticipating receiving over $120 million to expand infrastructure broadband within the state. This bill will allow towns to start broadband infrastructure projects sooner rather than having to wait until the next town meeting.

RESOURCES, RECREATION AND DEVELOPMENT
SB 452-FN, relative to lead in drinking water in schools and licensed child care facilities. Recommended ITL by a vote of 20-1. This bill covers the same subject matter as HB 1421 as amended by the Senate and the committee determined that this bill was not needed.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENERGY
SB 261-FN, relative to net metering participation. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 19-2. This bill changes the payment interval for net metering credits from yearly to quarterly.
SB 262, relative to customer generators of electric energy. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0.
SB 264, (New Title) relative to certain references to the department of energy and transferring authority over the low-income electricity assistance program to the department of energy. Recommended for IS by a vote of 21-0.
SB 268-FN, relative to the approval of power purchase agreements for offshore wind energy resources from the Gulf of Maine. Recommended OTP by a vote of 21-0. This bill creates the necessary framework for NH to claim an interest beyond the three miles out from our coast and up to 200 miles. By asserting an interest in this area, the state would have a say in any offshore wind projects.
SB 270, (New Title) establishing a low-moderate income community solar program. Recommended OTP by a vote of 21-0. This bill, as amended, requires electric distribution utilities to generate a list of low to moderate income customers potentially eligible to receive the benefits from a community solar project.
SB 321, relative to the purchase of output of limited electrical energy producers in intrastate commerce and including qualifying storage systems. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 22-0. This bill allows for pilot projects by utilities for limited electrical energy producers.
SB 395, relative to the broadband matching grant initiative. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0. This bill is enabling legislation to allow cellular service providers to work with municipalities to expand service to areas that are presently unserved or under served.
SB 440-FN, (New Title) relative to the office of offshore wind industry development. Recommended OTP by a vote of 18-0. This bill directs the Office of Offshore Wind Industry Development to advise on the development of clean energy resources in the Gulf of Maine and the purchase of power by NH public utilities from these resources.

TRANSPORTATION
SB 308, relative to driver licenses for certain visa holders. Recommended for IS by a vote of 18-0. This bill would allow H-2A visa workers to drive in New Hampshire using their out of country license or an international driving permit.
SB 449, relative to the retention of social security numbers by the division of motor vehicles. Recommended ITL by a vote of 18-0.

WAYS AND MEANS
SB 379-FN, (New Title) establishing the solid waste management fund and grant program. Recommended OTP by a vote of 16-0. This bill establishes a state solid waste management fund to be administered by the Department of Environmental Services, and authorizes the department to solicit federal funds that meet the fund’s purposes.

On the Regular calendar

CHILDREN AND FAMILY LAW
SB 144-FN, relative to child care scholarships. Recommended ITL by a vote of 8-7. This bill establishes a 3-month child-care scholarship pilot program to provide enrollment-based reimbursement to childcare providers using federal funds.
SB 326-FN, (New Title) relative to developing a plan to create the office of early childhood. Recommended ITL by a vote of 9-5. This bill develops a plan for the Office of Early Childhood with a view to developing a more comprehensive best practice plan for NH children.
SB 431-FN, relative to child support in cases with equal or approximately equal parenting schedules. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 8-7.

COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SB 210, relative to the sale of manufactured housing parks. Recommended OTP by a vote of 16-2. This bill clarifies the notification required of the current owners of manufactured housing parks before a park is sold. It requires the NH Community Loan Fund, or any organization assisting a tenants’ association, to provide details of the sale proposal, including mortgage terms, rent to the homeowner, and any other costs or fees. This will help the residents, who may benefit from buying the park as an association, become better informed about the terms and conditions of the sale.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY
SB 294-FN, relative to the release of a defendant pending trial. Committee makes no recommendation. This bill designates roughly a dozen serious crimes where someone cannot be bailed out by a bail commissioner, and instead must go before a judge, imposing delays. The bill is costly to municipalities and likely unconstitutional. The bill would keep people, presumed innocent, in jail, regardless of their individual circumstances.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION
SB 450, relative to the prescription drug affordability board. Recommended for IS by a vote of 10-9.

FINANCE
SB 275, relative to the opioid abatement trust fund. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0. This bill provides that disbursement from the opioid abatement trust fund shall be based on the most recent decennial census, revises the membership and duties of the opioid abatement advisory commission and adds other organizations to the list of those that can receive grants from the trust.
SB 366-FN, requiring an audit of ballots cast in the 2022 primary and general election. Recommended OTP by a vote of 12-9.
SB 371-FN-A, making an appropriation to the lead paint hazard remediation fund. Recommended OTP by a vote of 19-1. This bill makes a $3 million appropriation to the lead paint hazard remediation fund administered by the Housing Finance Authority. The fund is used to provide interest free loans to the owners of rental units for lead paint remediation.
SB 376-FN, (New Title) relative to creating a board to review police incidents involving citizens affected by mental health issues. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0. The purpose of the board is to analyze all mental health aspects in law enforcement interacting with distressed individuals and the use of deadly force. This bill also appropriates $1.1 million to support crisis intervention training (CIT) of law enforcement officers.
SB 381-FN-A, establishing an office of the advocate for special education. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 15-6. This bill establishes the office of the advocate for special education who will be appointed by the Governor and approved by the Executive Council. The office will serve as a resource for disability-related information and referral regarding state and federal laws regarding special education, track metrics of the types of disagreements or complaints among other duties to serve the special education population.
SB 394-FN, (New Title) relative to the definition of a child with a disability under special education laws and establishing a commission to study special education eligibility. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-1. This bill will change the definition of a “child with a disability” to include students through the school year in which they turn 21 until their 22nd birthday.
SB 407-FN, relative to expanding Medicaid to include certain postpartum health care services and making an appropriation therefor. Recommended OTP by a vote of 20-0. This bill takes advantage of the American Rescue Plan Act provision allowing NH to extend Medicaid postpartum coverage for up to 12 months after birth to a narrow segment of women who currently only receive 60 days of coverage. The program sunsets when the federal program ends.
SB 412-FN-A, making an appropriation to the department of health and human services for nursing home reimbursement rates. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0. This bill corrects an inadvertent error made in the budget when the legislature decided to increase nursing home rates by 5 percent as of July 1, 2021. The appropriation placed in the budget was insufficient to support the increase of 5 percent.
SB 416-FN, relative to behavioral health assessment and treatment for children in out-of-home placements. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0. This bill requires a functional behavior assessment and a behavior intervention plan, if clinically indicated, for children in need of residential treatment due to problem behaviors.
SB 417-FN, establishing an electric school bus pilot program. Committee made no recommendation, with some members in favor and some opposed to the bill.
SB 418-FN, relative to verification of voter affidavits. Recommended OTP by a vote of 12-9. The bill applies to those registering on election day without proof of identity. It creates provisional ballots and verification requirements that mean marking ballots in a way that identifies the voter and delays the counting of those ballots. The bill is likely unconstitutional.
SB 420-FN-A-LOCAL, (New Title) establishing an extraordinary need grant for schools and relative to additional adequate education grant amounts for pupils receiving special education services. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 14-6. This bill provides an extraordinary need grant for school systems with equalized evaluation under $6 million. Each child who receives free and reduced lunch that are in these school systems will receive additional dollars at a cost of $14.5 million.
SB 422-FN, establishing an adult dental benefit under the state Medicaid program. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 16-3. This is similar to HB 103 that passed in the House, but this version includes three changes agreed to with the Senate. Prosthodontics are limited to removable. Co-pays aren’t required for preventive services, and an unrelated overpayment error is resolved using certain settlement funds.
SB 430-FN-A, relative to health and human services. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-0. This is a multi-part bill that came from the Health and Human Services committee which removed a number of parts requiring more work.
SB 438-FN-LOCAL, (New Title) establishing state procurement policies intended to promote the use of American materials. Recommended OTP by a vote of 18-3. This bill requires the use of American-made steel products in all public works projects where the state administers the contract and the contract involves at least $1 million in state dollars.
SB 444-FN, relative to childhood adverse experiences treatment and prevention. Recommended OTP by a vote of 18-2. This bill provides for the appropriation of $100,000 for the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to implement a five-year plan to build NH’s workforce capacity to provide Child Parent Psychotherapy, an intervention model for children from birth to age six, who have experienced traumatic events. $1 million is also appropriated for DHHS to support family resource centers. The funding for both is anticipated to come from American Rescue Plan funds.
SB 445-FN, (New Title) relative to the broadband matching grant initiative. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 19-1. This bill appropriates $122.1 million of federal capital projects funds under the American Rescue Plan Act, to the Department of Business and Economic Affairs. Any broadband provider, political subdivision or communications district who apply for a broadband matching grant shall be eligible for up to 75% of the total cost of the project.
SB 458-FN, relative to the Sununu youth services center and operation of a replacement secure facility. Recommended OTP by a vote of 13-7. The bill includes a state operated 6-bed facility for youth who have committed serious violent crimes. It is anticipated that other youth needing residential care are provided that care in community-based programs. Funds for the design and construction of a new secure youth development facility are anticipated to come from discretionary funds appropriated in the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. Cost of operating the facility will be included in the next state budget.
SB 459-FN, relative to a health care facility workplace violence prevention program. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 18-2.

HEALTH, HUMAN SERVICES AND ELDERLY AFFAIRS
SB 404-FN, establishing a supplemental nutrition assistance program. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 17-4. Up to 60% of eligible older adults and 1/3 of eligible children are not enrolled the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). This bill authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to develop a state outreach plan. The outreach plan is revenue neutral due to federal funding and the local economic activity the funds generate.

JUDICIARY
SB 216, establishing a commission to study the landlord and tenant mediation program in circuit courts. Recommended ITL by a vote of 11-9. This bill would establish a commission to study the landlord and tenant mediation program that’s had success in circuit courts and could contribute to a reduction in homelessness.
SB 217, relative to eviction notices. Recommended ITL by a vote of 11-10. This bill would double from 30 to 60 days the time for notice of eviction when an owner plans to remove the apartment from the housing market due to minor or substantial renovation, condominium conversion, or the sale of a property, giving tenants more time to find a new home.
SB 222, permitting licensing boards to conduct remote meetings. Recommended ITL by a vote of 11-10. This bill seeks to allow boards, commissions, and councils administered by the Office of Professional Licensure and Certification to hold remote meetings with notice and some means for the public to observe and participate.
SB 344, (New Title) relative to the electronic participation requirements of meetings open to the public under the right to know law. Recommended ITL by a vote of 11-10. This bill would allow bodies (except the General Court) to hold meetings with only a fourth of the body present at a physical location. Each remote member would have to be on video and electronic public access would be noticed and provided. If such electronic access were interrupted, the meeting would be adjourned.
SB 392, (New Title) establishing a commission to study insanity and restoration of competency. Recommended ITL by a vote of 14-7.

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES
SB 209, relative to electronic wage payments. Recommended for IS by a vote of 14-7.
SB 345, relative to youth employment. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 11-10. The bill would repeal references to and limitations on night work by teens, opening them potentially to later hours and longer days without regard for school start times.

MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT 
(Note the non-germane amendments added to these two affordable housing bills, derailing their intent.)
SB 329, establishing a commission to study barriers to housing development in New Hampshire, including workforce and middle-income housing. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 10-8. The amendment adds language from HB 1194 relative to the procedure for overriding a local tax cap. “In tacking on a further examination of municipal budget processes, already discussed and passed in this House, to a simple bill to establish a commission to study the insuperable barriers most people are encountering with respect to their basic human right to shelter and housing, the majority of the committee subverted the purpose and intent of this bill and threatened to yet again delay any rational discussion of why so many of our citizens find themselves without a place to call home,” the minority of the committee states.
SB 400-FN, relative to training and procedures for zoning and planning boards and relative to financial investments and incentives for affordable housing development. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 10-8. The bill as amended limits the authority of town health officers and adopts school district budget caps. The minority supported the original bill but opposes this bill as amended. The bill was intended to provide a set of tools allowing local jurisdictions to increase the supply of workforce housing by streamlining application processes, providing training for volunteer planning and zoning boards, and requiring that workforce housing be afforded the same incentives as housing for the elderly. “We are deeply regretful that a bill which had a great deal of public support and which was intended to address our housing crisis, something that we know is an enormous problem for the citizens and businesses of New Hampshire, has been so amended as to render it insupportable,” the minority of the committee states.

RESOURCES, RECREATION AND DEVELOPMENT
SB 258-FN-LOCAL, relative to the graves of African Americans alive during the period of American enslavement. Recommended for IS by a vote of 13-8.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENERGY
SB 259, relative to the definition of “municipal host” for purposes of limited electrical energy producers. Recommended for IS by a vote of 14-7.
SB 269-FN, (New Title) establishing a commission to study energy saving weatherization programs. Recommended for IS by a vote of 12-9.
SB 271, relative to the Burgess BioPower facility. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 20-2. This bill seeks to address issues concerning the woodburning electricity generation plant in Berlin.
SB 448-FN, (New Title) relative to energy reduction by state agencies. Recommended ITL by a vote of 12-10. The bill would require that all state vehicle purchases and leases be “zero emission” by 2025 if “feasible, practicable, and cost-effective.”

SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON REDISTRICTING
SB 200, relative to the election of district commissioners in Haverhill. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 8-7. The amendment to this bill is the vehicle for a new Congressional map proposed by Republicans, shoving the two current U.S. House members into the same district. The new district would run along the I-93 corridor creating a fist-shaped first District in the southern center of the state. More on this from NHPR here.

TRANSPORTATION
SB 447-FN, establishing the electric vehicle and infrastructure fund. Committee made no recommendation. The bill establishes an electric vehicle and infrastructure fund within the NH Department of Transportation to enhance NH efforts in applying for additional funds to develop electric vehicle infrastructure.

WAYS AND MEANS
SB 435-FN, relative to the net operating loss carryover under the business profits tax. Recommended OTP by a vote of 21-1.

 

Coming Up in the Senate

The Senate will meet in session on May 5, starting at 10 AM. You can watch the livestream here.

On the Consent Calendar

EDUCATION
HB 1135, requiring a performance audit of the department of education, education freedom account program. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1244-L, relative to parental consent to medical and dental treatments of children in schools. Recommended OTP by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1367, relative to civics instruction in schools. Recommended OTP by a vote of 5-0. This bill modifies the provisions enacted in 2021 that made a civics competency assessment a high school graduation requirement by requiring students to pass this assessment, with a grade of 70 percent or higher, on the 128-question civics naturalization examination developed by the 2020 U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services.
HB 1639, relative to the youth risk behavior survey in schools. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 5-0. This bill would require that the youth risk behavior survey be ‘opt in,’ rather than ‘opt out.’
HB 1663, relative to requirements for home education students. Recommended OTP by a vote of 5-0. The bill clarifies provisions for home education programs concerning notifications required for students moving to a new school district, educational evaluations, and termination of home education.

ELECTION LAW AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS
HB 144, relative to absentee ballot request forms. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 5-0. This bill as amended modifies the absentee ballot request forms and the absentee ballot envelopes. Furthermore, language has been added to make clear that an “illness or other medical condition” is allowable for receipt of an absentee ballot.
HB 1194, relative to the procedure for overriding a local tax cap. Recommended ITL by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1307, modifying the authority and duties of the housing appeals board. Recommended ITL by a vote of 5-0. This bill would modify the authority and duties of the Housing Appeals Board by reducing the scope of its jurisdiction.

ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
HB 478, relative to treatment of PFAS contaminants in the drinking water of the Merrimack Village Water District. Recommended for IS by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1258, relative to the implementation of the department of energy. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 5-0. The Department and the Public Utilities Commission requested this legislation. The bill transfers several of the duties of Public Utilities Commission to the Department of Energy.

JUDICIARY
HB 254, relative to the placement of minors in secure settings. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 5-0. This bill addresses the criteria for secure detention pending adjudication and the circumstances in which a minor may be committed to the Department of Health and Human Services for the remainder of his or her minority.
HB 1266, relative to restrictions on enforcement of federal immigration laws. Recommended for IS by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1382, relative to the presumption of shared parenting in the determination of parental rights and responsibilities. Recommended ITL by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1416, relative to consent for mental health treatment in parenting cases with shared decision-making responsibility. Recommended for IS by a vote of 5-0.

On the Regular Calendar

COMMERCE
HB 1165, repealing the Granite State paid family leave plan. Recommended for IS by a vote of 4-1.

EDUCATION
HB 1195, relative to public comment periods at school board or school administrative unit public meetings. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.

ENERGY AND NATURAL RESOURCES
HB 1049, establishing a committee to study landfill siting criteria and methods for reducing pressure on landfill capacity. Recommended ITL by a vote of 3-2.
HB 1148, relative to prohibiting government entities subordinate to the state from restricting the types of fuel sources that may be used for energy. Recommended OPT/A by a vote of 4-1.
HB 1185, relative to treatment of water contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals. Recommended ITL by a vote of 4-0.
HB 1454-FN, relative to permits for the siting of new landfills. Recommended ITL by a vote of 3-1.

FINANCE
HB 103-FN, establishing a dental benefit under the state Medicaid program. Recommended OTP by a vote of 6-0.
HB 214, relative to a public school facility condition assessment and school building aid grants. Recommended IS by a vote of 4-3.
HB 481-FN-A, establishing the office of the right-to-know ombudsman and making an appropriation therefor. Recommended OTP by a vote of 6-0.
HB 1221-FN, relative to the rate of the business profits tax, and relative to payment by the state to municipalities of an amount equal to a portion of retirement system contributions of political subdivision employers. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 6-0.
HB 1263, relative to prescribed studies on health, physical education, wellness, and personal finance literacy in schools. Recommended OTP by a vote of 4-2.
HB 1513-FN, relative to the definition of a child with a disability for purposes of special education. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 6-0.
HB 1526-FN, relative to income eligibility for in and out medical assistance. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.
HB 1604-FN, including state medical facilities in the statute providing medical freedom in immunizations. Recommended OTP by a vote of 6-0.
HB 1624-FN-A, relative to students with disabilities participating in co-curricular activities and making an appropriation therefor. Recommended OTP by a vote of 6-0.
HB 1627-FN-A, establishing an education freedom account program administrator in the department of education and making an appropriation therefor. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 6-0.

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
HB 1080, relative to the rights of conscience for medical professionals. Recommended for IS by a vote of 4-1.
HB 1099, prohibiting the department of health and human services from requiring vaccine passports for services. Recommended OTP by a vote of 3-2.
HB 1210, relative to exemptions from vaccine mandates. Recommended for IS by a vote of 4-1.
HB 1455, relative to state enforcement of federal vaccination mandates. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 3-2.
HB 1606, making the state vaccine registry an opt-in program. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 4-1.

JUDICIARY
HB 238, prohibiting provocations based on a victim’s actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation from being used as a defense in manslaughter cases. Recommended for IS by a vote of 3-2.
HB 1101, relative to a forfeiture of personal property. Recommended for IS by a vote of 4-1.
HB 1178, prohibiting the state from enforcing any federal statute, regulation, or Presidential Executive Order that restricts or regulates the right of the people to keep and bear arms. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 3-2.
HB 1280, prohibiting a parent’s refusal to vaccinate a child pursuant to an order of the state or federal government to be used as a basis for terminating parental rights. Recommended OTP/A by a vote of 3-2.
HB 1625, repealing the prohibition on entering or remaining on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health care facility. Recommended OTP by a vote of 3-2.

 

Coming Up in Senate Committees

Tuesday, May 3

FINANCE,
Room 103, SH
2:00 PM Executive Session

 

State House Watch on the Radio

Join us for State House Watch radio on Monday, May 2 hosted by AFSC. We will be talking with Keith Kuenning of Waypoint NH about the child welfare bills making their way throught the legislature this year. The program 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. You can find podcasts of our past shows here, including last week’s show with  Zandra Rice Hawkins and Sarah Robinson from Granite State Progress.

 

Upcoming Events and Programs

Monday, May 2

May Day New Hampshire – 4:30 PM. Manchester City Hall. Hosted by NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, Raise Up NH, NH Faith & Labor, AFSC and many other partners. In addition to supporting immigrants and workers overall, we want to bring attention to the current resolution led by RaiseUpNH for a $15/hour minimum wage for municipal workers in the City of Manchester.

Planning and Zoning Meetings 101 – 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. Are you wondering how you can be part of making change at the local level for housing equity and justice? One key part of this is understanding how municipal planning and zoning decisions impact affordable housing access, and how we can leverage our collective power to change outcomes. Join Manchester Housing Alliance Leadership Committee member Jane Haigh for a virtual session, to learn what the Planning Board and Zoning Board do, why they are important, and how we can have an impact on the decisions they make!

Tuesday, May 3

Love From The Walls: A Free Them All Mother's Day Event – 12 PM to 2 PM. 4 Park Street #304, Concord. Hosted by AFSC. Love transcends walls, bars and cages. Join us to write messages of care and resilience to and from incarcerated women in NH. We will have a potluck lunch so please bring a dish to share and join us for food and fellowship. All are welcome!

SASS Training: Self-Managed Abortion Safe & Supported – 5:30 PM. Hosted by Progress Florida and Granite State Progress. This will be an opportunity for abortion and reproductive rights advocates to learn how to effectively and legally spread information about self-managed abortion with pills. With laws guaranteeing the right to abortion under attack, we need to claim the power to determine our own reproductive destinies. People are already using abortion pills on their own to end their pregnancies. The pills are safe and effective, but accurate information and support is needed.

Demilitarizing the Budget: Important even in times of war – 7 PM. Hosted by AFSC. As the war in Ukraine adds to the many violent conflicts around the world, governments are responding by increasing military budgets, sending weapons to allies, and calling for escalatory measures against other nations. In 2020, the world spent almost $2 trillion on militaries, and if we don't join together, this number will only get worse. In this webinar, you'll learn why the United States' obscene spending on weapons and war isn't actually keeping us safe, how the budget and appropriations process works, and how you can get involved in the call to move money out of militarism and into our communities.

Wednesday, May 4

Land, Climate Change, & Food Sovereignty In Gaza – 12 PM. Hosted by AFSC & Adalah Justice Project. Organizing around agriculture and self-sufficiency are often depoliticized and in the Gaza context in particular are less understood and relegated to the charity food security scene. Join us for a conversation with Palestinian food sovereignty and climate activists Mohammad Abujayyab and Asmaa Abu Mezied to discuss their work to reverse these trends and build resistance through food sovereignty, self-sovereignty, and labor in the context of Israel's occupation and blockade of Gaza.

Thursday, May 5

Beyond the Land Acknowledgment: Native Voices, Institutions, & Scholars in Conversation – 12 PM to 1 PM. Hosted by Harvard Art Museums. This lecture aims to create space for open dialogue about the intersection of American art and Native expertise and presence. The program honors the Massachusett, Wampanoag, and Nipmuc peoples by gathering diverse minds to discuss actions the discipline of art history and the Harvard Art Museums can take to amplify Native voices historically displaced and dismissed from the discourse of art and design in the Americas.

Saturday, May 7

Building the Public Schools Our Communities Deserve: A Workshop for Organizing in Equity & Beyond – 9 AM to 11 AM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. Amid the attacks on teaching truth, an ongoing pandemic, and a daily barrage of misinformation, it is critical to ensure all youth in our public schools have what they need to flourish. Whether you are a parent, educator, or community leader, if you are interested in organizing for equity, inclusion, and safety in our public schools, this upcoming workshop is for you!

Monday, May 9

Peace & Justice Conversations: The Forgiveness Project – 7 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action. The Forgiveness Project (The F-WORD Exhibition) is a thought-provoking collection of arresting images and personal narratives, exploring forgiveness in the face of atrocity. Drawing together voices from South Africa, America, Israel, Palestine, Northern Ireland and England, the exhibition examines forgiveness as a healing process, a path out of victimhood and, ultimately, a journey of hope.

Tuesday, May 10

Decolonizing Our Landscapes with Indigenous Knowledge – Past, Present, and Future – 9:30 AM. Hosted by Cowasuck Band of the Pennacook Abenaki People. Join us to explore how the Indigenous Peoples of N’dakinna stewarded the region’s natural resource base in sustainable ways by following seasonal rhythms and developing extensive reciprocal networks. We will examine how settler colonialism’s extractive approach to the natural environment transformed such longstanding relationships and devastated healthy ecosystems and how these legacies continue to shape today’s social and ecological systems. Finally, we will consider how attendees can develop a decolonizing approach in their environmental research and activism to help build more just and sustainable futures.

Thursday May 12

Protect Public Education at State Board of Education – 9 AM. 1 Coe Drive, Durham, NH. Hosted by Granite State Progress. The NH State Board of Education has reinstated public comment periods for their meetings. This is the perfect opportunity to let the board, and DOE Commissioner Frank Edelblut, know how we feel about the commissioner's efforts to undermine and dismantle public education. This meeting is taking place in Durham, NH.

Save the dates! Juneteenth Celebration 2022 hosted by the Black Heritage Trail of NH.

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
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