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State House Watch: May 28, 2022


Photo: Cheryl Senter/AFSC

“You should be angry. You must not be bitter. Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. It doesn’t do anything to the object of its displeasure. So use that anger. You write it. You paint it. You dance it. You march it. You vote it. You do everything about it. You talk it. Never stop talking it.” – Maya Angelou

May 28, 2022

Hello State House Watchers,

While we’ve only begun to grieve the terrifying act of violence that tore apart a Black community in Buffalo, NY, this week brought news of another massacre, this time of young children and their teachers by a young man with a legally purchased weapon at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. With anguish and anger, we ask ourselves and each other what is to be done to address the culture and epidemic of violence that is our nation’s ghastly reality. We hope you are caring for your spirit and finding comfort in community. We’ll need strength and healing if we are to find a way forward, which we simply must do, for the sake of our children and for all of us.

2022 State Legislative Session Wraps Up

On May 26, the NH House and Senate met for their final session day. There were some important—and hard won—victories last week which we want to lift up. Read on for details, and then we hope you’ll take time for a relaxing Memorial Day weekend.

This is our last weekly newsletter for the year, but we’ll be back in a few weeks with a full recap of this tumultuous session with our own observations as well as the final report of the many bills we tracked throughout the session. 

Some Reasons to Celebrate!

Yay team! HB 1476 which would have rolled back bail reform, was defeated in the Senate when members agreed to table the measure on a voice vote. Frank Knaack, Policy Director for the ACLU, and a leader in the campaign to defeat the bill (as well as its Senate counterpart, SB 294), explained the importance of this effort: “HB 1476—which would have substantially rolled back our state’s bail reform laws—ran counter to decades of research that show, in the vast majority of cases, that jail is likely the most harmful option during the pretrial stage… While there is no silver bullet to ending harm in our communities, there are multiple approaches to building safer communities that are supported by evidence—from funding substance use treatment and destigmatizing drug use to ensuring housing and a living wage.” More from the NH Bulletin.

We are delighted and relieved by this outcome; more incarceration is not the path forward for safe, healthy communities.

We also rejoice in another victory—this one for the well-being of LGBTQ+ students, teachers and public education. HB 1431, which would have prioritized parental rights over the well-being of children in public schools, was defeated on the House floor when the motion to approve the CoC report failed by a vote of 171-176. The Senate had approved the CoC report along party lines. Advocates for LGBTQ+ rights, child welfare, mental health, civil rights and public education celebrated the outcome, which was the result of intense advocacy in recent weeks. Read more at NH Bulletin.

And more good news—legislators passed HB 103-FN, establishing an adult dental benefit for Medicaid recipients.

Governor Sununu vetoed four bills this week, including HB 1625 which would have repealed the buffer zone around reproductive health clinics. Liz Canada, Advocacy Manager for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund, said in a statement: “When the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, we know extreme anti-abortion protestors will travel to states where abortion remains legal. Reproductive health centers need every available tool in the public safety toolbox, including New Hampshire’s patient safety zone, and we applaud Governor Sununu for vetoing this bill that jeopardized the health, safety, and privacy of Granite Staters seeking reproductive health care.”

The Governor also signed 29 bills into law, including HB 1609 which adds an exception for fatal fetal anomalies to New Hampshire’s 24-week abortion ban signed into law by the governor last year, and removes the ultrasound mandate.

Read more from this session recap from In DepthNH.

Good News for Congressional District Map

The NH Supreme Court appointed Special Master has released his proposal for a “least-change” map for Congressional districts. The proposal moves five towns—Jackson, Albany, and Sandwich of Carroll County; Campton of Grafton County;  and New Hampton of Belknap County—from Congressional District 1 to Congressional District 2, resulting in a population deviation of one person. See the map here. The Court’s action was necessary following the governor’s veto of SB 200, which would have created a gerrymandered map that put both of our current U.S. Representatives into the same district. Read more at In DepthNH.

The NH Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on the Special Master’s proposal on Tuesday May 31. A final ruling is expected next week and official Congressional districts are expected to be finalized by the start of the candidate filing period on June 10.

 

Action Alerts

There is still time to take action to urge Governor Sununu to veto SB 418, the unconstitutional and unnecessary measure that will create provisional ballots in New Hampshire, endanger the ballots of military service members serving abroad and unnecessarily overhaul NH’s voting system. You can call the governor (603-271-2121), email him (governorsununu@nh.gov) and/or tweet at him (@GovChrisSununu). Here’s a toolkit with resources for your own messages. 

Also, please add your name to this AFSC petition to call on the Biden administration to challenge the court decision maintaining Title 42 and further suspending asylum rights at the U.S. border. We must invest in the supports needed to ensure a fair and humane process for all asylum seekers and migrants regardless of color or country of origin.

 

In This Issue:

 

Last Week in the House and Senate

The House and Senate met on May 26 to vote on the Committee of Conference reports. The reports which were approved by both bodies are headed to the governor for his signature; the reports which failed to pass in one body were defeated for the year.

Bills That Passed and Advanced to the Governor:

SB 302-FN, establishing the personal privacy protection act. The bill prohibits public agencies from disclosing or releasing the names of members, supporters, volunteers, or donors of tax-exempt charitable organizations.

SB 200, apportioning congressional districts. The bill was later vetoed by the Governor.

SB 238, relative to special education services in chartered public schools. This bill requires that an MOU (memorandum of understanding) be established between a charter public school and a school district regarding how the school district proposed to provide special education services and support to students with disabilities at the charter school.

SB 271, relative to the Burgess BioPower facility.

SB 366-FN, requiring an audit of ballots cast in the 2022 primary and general election. The bill provides that the Secretary of State shall conduct, at random locations, audits of the ballot counting machines used in the 2022 primary and general elections.

SB 381-FN-A, establishing an office of the advocate for special education, which shall be an independent agency, administratively attached to the Department of Administrative Services, under the direction of the Advocate for Special Education.

SB 401-FN, making appropriations to the department of transportation for local highway aid and to the body-worn and dashboard camera fund, permitting the department of transportation to operate dash cameras in fleet vehicles, and relative to the duration of unemployment benefits.

SB 420-FN-A-L, establishing an extraordinary need grant for schools and relative to eligibility for the education tax credit. The bill establishes an extraordinary need grant based upon equalized valuation per pupil eligible to receive a free or reduced meal for qualifying schools in addition to regular adequate education grants and relief grants. Amending language developed in the conference requires receiving districts to develop and submit an accountability plan to the department outlining how the district intends to use grant award funds to improve the education achievement and growth of students. The plan must generate data using either the statewide assessment or a locally determined accountability assessment that measures student learning in reading, language arts and/or mathematics at the grade levels funds will be used. The education tax credit amendment to increase the level of eligibility from 300% (or $83,250) to 500% (or $138,750) was removed.

SB 445-FN, relative to the broadband matching grant initiative. The bill requires the Commissioner of the Department of Business and Economic Affairs to report quarterly, beginning July 1, 2022, to the Fiscal Committee of the General Court concerning broadband grants, applications and result and any other federal coronavirus capital funds or any other funds authorized by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

HB 230-FN, relative to child day care monitoring visits and the appeals process for child day care providers. The bill requires the department to accept and investigate complaints from applicants, licensees, or permittees who believe that the department’s actions regarding licensure or permit status, or the findings of a monitoring visit, were retaliatory in nature.

HB 1011-FN, relative to criminal mischief. The bill changes the penalty for defacing or destroying public monuments from a violation to a class A misdemeanor, and allows that those convicted of such criminal mischief could be ordered to pay restitution.

HB 103-FN, establishing a dental benefit under the state Medicaid program.

HB 1106, establishing a commission to study recruiting members of the armed forces and the commission on demographic trends.

HB 1221-FN, relative to the rate of the business profits tax, and relative to payment by the state to political subdivisions of an amount equal to a portion of retirement system contributions of political subdivision employers. The bill reduces the business profits tax from 7.6% to 7.5% for the tax years on or after December 31, 2023, and includes a onetime payment by the state of an amount equal to 7.5% of required political subdivision employer contributions made to the state retirement system for group I teachers and group II members. This payment that equals approximately $28 million will be paid for by the revenue surplus seen in FY 2022.

HB 1256-FN, relative to positions within the department of military affairs and veterans’ services, making an appropriation to the state regenerative manufacturing workforce development fund, and adjusting and making an appropriation relative to the Medicaid reimbursement rates for ambulance services. The final version of the bill raises the Medicaid rates for the first time in 16 years in order to be competitive and maintain workforce EMTs.

HB 1421-FN, relative to lead in school drinking water. The bill requires public and private schools and licensed childcare facilities to install water bottle filling stations or test and remediate all water outlets at the facility. Analysis and costs for testing for lead in water are made available through federal grant funds/DES. Water from other outlets available to children including classroom and bathroom sinks and water outlets used for food preparation shall be tested and remediated if necessary. The sum of $7.76 million for the biennium ending June 30, 2023, is appropriated to match with the Supplemental Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Clean Water State Revolving Fund authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

HB 1466, relative to the off-label use of prescription drugs and relative to pharmacy prescriptions. Adds a requirement for a form documenting informed consent for the unusual or controversial off-label use of medicine that addresses the burdens, risks and expected benefits of all options, including forgoing treatment. A separate form in the medical record can be transmitted to the filling pharmacist.

HB 1487, relative to the procedure for withdrawal from the vaccine registry. Includes a requirement that patients withdrawing from the registry sign a form which includes information and consequences of withdrawing from the registry. The form can either be signed by any health care provider or have the signature of the patient or the patient’s parent or guardian notarized.

HB 1503-FN, adopting the Uniform Commercial Code relative to controllable electronic records, relative to exempting the developer, seller, or facilitator of the exchange of an open blockchain token from certain securities laws and establishing state procurement policies intended to promote the use of American materials. The amendment changes the steel fabrication to “strong consideration shall be given for iron or steel fabricated in the United States. If the competitive bidding process results in all qualifying factors being equal, the contract shall be awarded to the contractor offering steel fabricated in the United States. In instances where qualifying factors are equal, absent of low price, and using domesticated structural steel, the state may reserve the option to purchase steel fabricated in the United States.”

HB 1547-FN, relative to perfluorinated chemical remediation in soil and procedures for certain hazardous waste generators.

HB 1567-FN, relative to consequences resulting from election official misconduct. The Senate receded from its position in adopting an amendment on the bill. The bill now provides agreed-upon direction as to how the political subdivision could contest the assessment of penalties and the process to appeal any finding of negligence by the attorney general.

HB 1627-FN-A, establishing an education freedom account program administrator in the department of education and making an appropriation therefor. The amended bill establishes a new department position, Education Freedom Accounts Administrator. The classified employee shall coordinate and provide technical assistance to guide students, parents, and the scholarships organizations responsible for dispensing the education freedom accounts (EFAs). The position shall further implement policies and procedures as the department related to the education freedom account program, and serve as a resource for administrators, educators, families, scholarship organizations, and policymakers across the state.

HB 1661-FN-L, relative to regional career technical education agreements, an appropriation for preliminary work for a new legislative parking garage, and various health and human services supports, establishing an extraordinary need grant for schools, training and procedures for zoning and planning boards, and financial investments and incentives for affordable housing development. The sum of $9,350,000 for fiscal year ending June 30, 2022 is appropriated for the purpose of preliminary design, engineering, and site work for a new legislative parking garage on the site of the department of justice building. The bill supports a wide variety of health and human service needs, including providing some fee revenue for a special fund for opioid treatment programs. The bill also includes some language regarding workforce housing, providing for land use boards to receive training, requiring land use board to provide their reasoning in writing for denying a permit, and providing that if a municipality allows an increased density, reduced lot size, expedited approval, or other dimensional or procedural incentive under land use planning or regulatory zoning powers, for the development of housing for older persons, it may allow the same incentive for the development of workforce housing.

HB 2022, relative to the 10-year transportation plan.

Governor Signs 29 Bills

The governor signed 29 more bills which had passed the House and Senate in recent weeks:

SB 279, An act establishing a study committee on harm reduction and overdose prevention programs.
SB 223, An act relative to requirements for recovery houses.
SB 348, An act relative to political expenditures and contributions.
SB 356, An act relative to medical benefits payments by state retirees.
SB 380, An act relative to solid waste rules and landfill containment tests.
SB 391, An act relative to the operation of a state forensic psychiatric hospital.
SB 460, An act relative to salaries for employee positions approved by the joint committee on employee classification.
HB 576, An act relative to victims compensation fund eligibility.
HB 1003, An act prohibiting health care providers from refusing to provide care or services based on patient vaccination status.
HB 1010, An act requiring municipal voter history to be made accessible in the statewide centralized voter registration database.
HB 1035, An act relative to exemptions from school vaccine mandates.
HB 1037, An act relative to the governor's duties during a state of emergency.
HB 1045, An act relative to the composition of the ethics oversight advisory committee.
HB 1052, An act relative to the number of rounds of ammunition allowed for hunting regardless of firearm capacity.
HB 1069, An act relative to the election of villages district commissioners.
HB 1157, An act relative to electronic ballot counting devices.
HB 1206, An act relative to the source of funding for appointment of counsel or other services for indigent persons.
HB 1235, An act relative to compensation paid to a crime victim.
HB 1239, An act relative to habitual offender hearings.
HB 1457, An act relative to chain of custody of ballot boxes after an election.
HB 1488, An act expanding the prohibition against discrimination based on an individual's election not to participate in the state vaccine registry.
HB 1527, An act relative to vote returns.
HB 1530, An act establishing curricular transfer pathways between the community college system of NH and the university system of NH.
HB 1577, An act relative to exemptions from prosecution for victims of human trafficking.
HB 1608, An act relative to withdrawal from the state immunization registry.
HB 1622, An act relative to notice that a health care provider is no longer accepting new patients and relative to mental health parity.
HB 1659, An act relative to criminal history background checks for certain health care workers. HB 1673, An act relative to certain provisions of the fetal life protection act requiring an ultrasound examination.

 

State House Watch on the Radio

Join us for our final State House Watch radio show of the season on Monday, May 30, for a roundtable discussion with Louise Spencer of Kent Street Coalition and Sarah Robinson and Zandra Rice Hawkins of Granite State Progress. 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 hosted by Rich Gulla of the State Employees Union in conversation with state Senator Donna Soucy.

 

Upcoming Events and Programs

New Hampshire Special Committee on Voter Confidence – The committee will hold two more public listening sessions, in Portsmouth, and Laconia: June 7 in Portsmouth (location to be determined); and July 12 at Laconia Public Library at 1 PM. To stay informed of the committee’s work, bookmark this page at the NH Secretary of State website.

Continuing Revolution 2022: Experiments in Spiritually Grounded Abolition – June 3-7: On-campus and Zoom. Continuing Revolution is a space of collective exploration and learning for spiritually curious young adults who are striving to live in ways that reflect their values. We welcome those who are seeking to examine the connections between their spiritual, political, and interpersonal lives. Young adult Friends and seekers (ages 18-35) will gather both online and at Pendle Hill to build community with others exploring abolition. Together we will experiment with seeds of alternative systems as we strive to live in integrity with our core values.

Saturday, May 28

Liberation Forum: Growing the Union Movement – 2 PM to 4 PM. Hosted by Party for Socialism and Liberation – Southern NH. Join the Southern New Hampshire branch of the PSL for a discussion of the history of union struggles and recent successes in the labor movement in our area with a speaker from the newly formed MIT Graduate Students Union. We ask that everyone wear a mask and test prior to attending if possible. We will have extra masks on hand.

For those who cannot make it in person, we will have a zoom in option. Please register here.

Thirst for Freedom: From NH’s Slave Trade to its Civil Rights Movement – 2 PM to 3:30 PM. 222 Court Street, Portsmouth. Hosted by Black Heritage Trail of NH. Colonial Portsmouth newspapers testify to the local slave trade, runaways, abolitionists, and anti-abolitionist activities, followed by conflicting opinions of the Civil War. In the 20th century, the legacy of that early history was reflected in news about de facto segregation in housing and public places. This guided walking tour includes many of those historic landmarks from the early nineteenth through the twentieth centuries.

Sunday, May 29

Race Class Academy: A Guided Discussion Series (4 Parts) – 1 PM to 3 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. Race-Class Academy is a 12-video introduction to how we can beat dog whistle politics by building cross-racial and cross-class solidarity. This workshop series is open to anyone who wants to better understand the importance of using race-class messaging as a strategy to overcome efforts to divide us, change the narrative and win the changes that benefit us all. With so much at stake for our communities, this is a highly recommended series for all leaders, organizers and people considering running for office! We ask that participants commit to all four workshop sessions.

Meet Jack Stains, a “Black Jack” in Old Portsmouth: A Living History Tour – 2 PM to 3:30 PM. 222 Court Street, Portsmouth. Hosted by Black Heritage Trail of NH. Seafaring was one of the most significant occupations among both enslaved and free Black men between 1740 and 1865. Black seamen sailed on whalers, warships, and privateers. Some were enslaved and forced to work at sea, but by 1800 most seamen were free to seek adventure and economic opportunity aboard ship. On this tour, you will meet Jack Staines, husband to Ona Judge Staines, who had escaped enslavement by the President and Martha Washington, and experience Portsmouth through the life of one of its Black seamen.

Wednesday, June 1

GSOP Tenant Clinic (for NH Residents) – 2 PM to 4 PM. 1045 Elm Street, Suite 201, Manchester. Hosted by Granite State Organizing Project. We’ll be answering questions about eviction diversion, renters’ rights to emergency rental assistance and living conditions. All NH renters are welcome to reach out for all of their tenancy concerns and questions.

Saturday, June 4

Port of Entry: Boys and Girls for Sale – 2 PM to 3:30 PM. 222 Court Street, Portsmouth. Hosted by Black Heritage Trail of NH. Local newspapers carried merchants’ ads for ships returning to the port of Portsmouth laden with cargo from trade ports on the West Coast of Africa, the West Indies, and the middle Atlantic coastal cities of Colonial America. Visit local wharves and auction sites related to the Atlantic Slave Trade, where a captive could be exchanged for “cash or good lumber” to serve in the master’s house or work on the docks or aboard a ship. See how slavery in the North compared to the South.

Wear Orange: Unite Against Gun Violence Vigil – 7:30 PM. Prescott Park, Portsmouth. Hosted by Moms Demand Action NH. Join us as we honor survivors of gun violence and demand action to end gun violence.

Sunday, June 5

The Lies We Were Taught: The Black Family – 2 PM to 3:30 PM. 222 Court Street, Portsmouth. Hosted by Black Heritage Trail of NH. At the turn of the 19th century, Black abolitionists are changing public attitudes about slavery and challenging racial bias in the courts. In Portsmouth, never enslaved and newly freed Black adults share households with still enslaved children and elders. It is a time of possibilities, hope, and tension. True stories about these families will describe how a community of African refugees were claiming their place as Americans.

Monday, June 6

Understanding and Preventing Cyberbullying – 10:30 AM to 12 PM. Hosted by NH Women’s Foundation. We all want to help girls navigate social norms and peer relationships; however, social media has added a new layer of complexity to growing up. Microaggressions, frenemies, and mean humor slip in and out of girls' social media feeds so fast that addressing them can feel like chasing smoke. Join us and Media Power Youth for a discussion of cyberbullying and other challenges that girls encounter in digital communities and learn strategies for supporting youth through these experiences.

Tuesday, June 7

GoTruth Presents: Vaccine Safety & Effectiveness Panel – 4 PM. Hostd by New Futures & Go Truth NH. Please join us for an in-depth and informative panel discussion around vaccine safety and effectiveness and the current state of COVID-19 in New Hampshire. We are partnering with our friends at GoTruth NH, a new public education and grassroots effort to promote truthful information around community health and wellness. If you haven't already, please check out the newly launched GoTruth NH website.

Thursday, June 9

Women in the New Hampshire Judiciary – 5 PM. Hosted by NH Women’s Foundation. Women and people of color are underrepresented as judges in NH state courts. Join us for a presentation and panel discussion of the data, existing efforts in the field, and next steps! The New Hampshire Women's Foundation recently released a Gender Matters report on Women in the NH Judiciary. This report highlights the lack of women and people of color serving on New Hampshire state courts. Only 38% of judges in NH state courts are women and only one judge is a woman of color—the only person of color.

Film discussion: The Boys Who Said No! – 7 PM. 2022 marks the 40th Anniversary of NH Peace Action! We will be doing a series of events throughout the year to mark the occasion. This is the first of those events. Drawing on original interviews with more than thirty male and female nonviolent activists and historians, The Boys Who Said No! is the first documentary film to profile the young men and women who actively opposed the military draft in order to end the Vietnam War. The film shows how their personal and collective acts of nonviolent resistance, risking arrest and imprisonment for up to 5 years, were a critical part of the antiwar movement, intensifying opposition to the war and eventually forcing an end to both conscription and the war. Please use the link you will receive after registration to view the film ahead of time, then join us for a discussion with Dr. Michael Ferber, a draft resister, one of "the Boston Five" and a long time NHPA board member who is interviewed in the film, and Emma Shapiro-Weiss, Co-Executive Director of 350NH, who was arrested last year for her resistance to the Bow Coal plant, for a discussion of the centrality of nonviolent direct action in struggles then and now. You can watch the trailer here. The link to the film will be emailed to you around June 7. It will be live on June 8 and will stay active for 72 hours for you to watch the film at your convenience and then join us for the panel and discussion on June 9. There is a suggested donation of $10 to $50 to cover the costs of the film and to help fund NH Peace Action's nonviolence work for another 40 years! Full details and tickets here.

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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