A service of the American Friends Service Committee, we publish it here for your easy review. You can also access this through the AFSC website and also by requesting to receive this summary by email at the AFSC website.
2017, Issue 2
In this issue:
Chris Sununu, our new governor, was officially sworn in yesterday and took the place of Maggie Hassan on the state’s web-site as well as in the corner office of the State House. The website includes his bio, but not his inaugural speech, which he delivered without a prepared text.
Lacking that, we recommend this recap from our friends at NH Labor News.
In his campaign and again in the inaugural speech, Sununu was clear that enacting “right-to-work” legislation would be one of his top priorities. For now, suffice it to say, “right to work” is fundamentally about weakening the power of organized labor by obstructing the human rights of workers to organize and bargain collectively. In so doing, it obstructs the ability of all workers to earn decent wages. For that matter, it also obstructs the rights of employers to bargain with their workers as they see fit.
We can’t decide if “right to work for less” or “work without rights” is a better name for the legislation in question. Let us know which you prefer, but the key point for now is that the first item on the Senate Calendar for the coming week is a hearing Tuesday at 1 pm on SB 11, the first “right to work” bill. See below for details, and we hope to see you at the State House then.
A recent story about the first baby of the year born in Concord revealed that the baby’s father was fired from his job because he went to the hospital with his wife when she went into labor. That this is happening at a time when our new governor and legislative leaders says they support a “right to work” is an almost cosmic coincidence. The IBEW, a union representing electrical workers, has offered the newly unemployed new father the opportunity to apply for a paid apprenticeship.
This story underscores the need for workers in our state to have more of job protections and opportunities provided through the kind of collective bargaining agreements that will be illegal if “right to work” becomes law.
Some 40 members of NH Voices of Faith were in the hallways before the inauguration carrying signs bearing messages such as, “Attacks on Workers’ Rights are Wrong” and “Protect Voting Rights for All; We Shall Not Be Moved.”
Gun Rights and Voting Rights
Also high on the political agenda is the so-called “constitutional carry” provision, which would repeal the current licensing requirement for carrying a concealed handgun. That will also come up next week. We are more than disturbed that the ability to carry weapons without registration is being lifted up as a fundamental right at the same time the ability of citizens to register to vote is facing increasing restrictions.
Debates Over House Rules
The House met for its first session Wednesday and cast two interesting votes rejecting rule changes proposed by the Speaker. The very first vote of the session was on whether or not to institute a dress code via a rule stating, “When the House is in session, all persons in the House chamber shall be dressed in proper business attire.” The orientation manual for legislators (which apparently does not constitute “rules”) already states, “It is expected that all members will wear suitable attire. Men are expected to wear suit jackets and ties and women are expected to wear business attire.” In any case, the new dress code language was voted down, in a roll call vote of 151-213, thus eliminating the need for a vice-principal to enforce it and send offenders home.
On a more serious note, a proposal from the Speaker and his leadership team to eliminate the Child and Family Law Committee was voted down, 192-172. In recent sessions, the committee has often been a venue for contentious grievances over personal custody disputes, which prompted the push to abolish it and disperse its responsibilities to other committees. But the Division of Children, Youth, and Families is under serious scrutiny following the deaths of two toddlers who were killed by their mothers while under DCYF supervision, and an independent review of the agency has recommended many changes, including hiring more than two dozen social workers. With that on the minds of House members, the majority dissented from the proposal to eliminate the Child and Family Law Committee. This week’s House Calendar names the new members of the committee, which will presumably have a lot to say about how the state will overcome the short-comings identified in the report. We wish them well, and hope for a state budget that provides adequate funding.
Also of note was a proposed amendment to House Rule 100, which would mean that lobbyists would not be able to testify before House committees until after constituents finished their testimony. This change was soundly defeated, in a roll call vote of 121-242. Leadership on both sides were opposed.
There are no House or Senate voting sessions scheduled at this time. There are many new legislators taking office this session, so next week most committees are having orientation sessions.
Coming up in Senate Committees
Tuesday, January 19
Judiciary, Room 100, SH
9:00 AM SB 12, an act repealing the licensing requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver. This bill is back, and has been mentioned as a priority by Governor Sununu. The Senate is starting the new year off with a bang.
Commerce, Representatives Hall
1:00 PM SB 11, prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union. This is the first of 2017’s “Right to Work for Less” (or “Work without Rights”) bills. In addition to Governor Sununu, the proposal has backing from Americans for Prosperity, the American Legislative Exchange Council, and other anti-worker lobbying groups. The concept originated with white supremacists in the 1930s as a way to prevent black and white workers from uniting. States were given authority to implement “right to work” by the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act in 1947. AFSC-NH has consistently opposed this going back to 1979. We’ll have more to say on this soon.
Pro-worker groups, including NH Voices of Faith, will gather in the hallway outside Representatives Hall from noon to 1 pm.
Coming up in House Committees
Tuesday, January 10
Election Law, Room 308, LOB
11:50 AM HB 218, relative to activities at polling places. This bill would prohibit the distribution of campaign materials and electioneering inside the polling place.
12:10 PM HB 253, relative to campaign materials at the polling place. This one eliminates the prohibition on wearing campaign materials intended to influence voters at the polling place.
House Finance and Ways and Means Joint Hearing with Senate Finance and Ways and Means in Rooms 210-211
10:00 AM The first in a series of economic and fiscal briefings on the way to creating the next state budget. These hearings will be held twice a week for at least the next few weeks. Information about the presentations can be found in the House Calendar.
Legislative Administration, Room 104, LOB
9:20 AM HB 110, requiring members of the press covering the legislature to wear name tags when in the House or the LOB. The bill states, “each member of the press corps covering the proceedings of the general court shall wear on his or her outer garment a clearly visible name tag when working in the state house or the legislative office building. The name tag shall consist of the person’s first and last name and the name of the person’s organization.” Arnie and Maggie are already required to wear lobbyist badges when they are at the State House. As the publishers of State House Watch and co-hosts of “State House Watch Radio,” would they be required to wear a media badge as well? SHW researcher Susan Bruce also writes a newspaper column, has a blog, and is the co-host of “The Attitude” on WNHN-FM. Would she be required to wear 4 media badges, or one big badge with a list? We don’t know. But Arnie remembers that the last time a bill of this nature was proposed, members of the State House press corps said that if it were to pass they would comply by wearing their name tags on their posteriors.
10:30 AM HCR 2, a resolution supporting efforts to ensure that students from NH have access to debt-free higher education at public colleges and universities.
11:00 AM HB 95, establishing a committee to study the feasibility of transferring authority over the university system of NH’s budget to the legislature. Can you say “micro-management?”
Wednesday, January 11
Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB
1:15 PM HB 279. This bill makes changes to the indoor smoking act. Under this bill, smoking would not be prohibited in public conveyances that are privately owned (we think that means taxis), restaurants, grocery stores, and cocktail lounges. Smoking would be prohibited in privately owned residences where the owner has declared smoking prohibited. This leaves us wordless – and potentially breathless.
Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB
2:30 PM HB 282 This changes prison work release provisions to add the pursuit of higher education as a potential condition for early release. Citizens for Criminal Justice Reform, which backs this bill, points out that “The bill gives the Commissioner of Corrections authority to approve this work or school release for a prisoner, even if he or she cannot afford a lawyer.”
Thursday, January 12
Education, Room 207, LOB
1:00 PM HB 155, which increases funding for pupils attending all-day kindergarten.
The Return of “State House Watch Radio”
Our first radio show of the new year will be Monday, January 9, on WNHN-FM from 5 to 6 pm. Our guest will be Andru Volinksy, who was sworn in yesterday as a member of the Executive Council. You can catch us live at 94.7 FM in the Concord area or live-streamed at www.wnhnfm.org. The show will be re-broadcast at 8 AM on Tuesday. Podcasts will also be available shortly after the show, thanks to Fred Portnoy, our producer.
Announcements and Events
Saturday, January 7, 2017
PORTSMOUTH – “Keeping it Peaceful,” an introduction to nonviolent protest with Arnie Alpert, 10 AM to noon, at South Church, Portsmouth. This workshop is being organized for participants in the January 21 women’s march, but others are welcome to attend. Please register here so we can estimate how many people will be there.
Sunday, January 8
PORTSMOUTH – Civil Rights Sundays, a weekly protest in Market Square, Portsmouth, hosted by Occupy NH Seacoast, focused on opposition to the nomination of Senator Jeff Sessions to be U.S. Attorney General. From 3-4 PM. Info on Facebook.
Tuesday, January 10
NASHUA – “Electing a President: Popular Vote or Electoral College?,” a talk hosted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Nashua, Nashua Public Library, 2 Court St., Nashua, 7 PM. Info on Facebook.
Thursday, January 12
CONCORD – “Know Your Rights as a Worker,” a free, interactive workshop sponsored by AFSC, 6 to 8 PM at NH Catholic Charities, 176 Loudon Road, Concord. More info on Facebook.
CONCORD – “Learning from History: the Nashville Sit-In Campaign,” a workshop with Joanne Sheehan of the War Resisters League, 6:45 to 9 PM at the Concord UU Church, 274 Pleasant Street, Concord NH. Sponsored by the Building a Culture of Peace Forum. Free and open to the public, with donations accepted. More info on the web, on Facebook, or by calling LR Berger at (603) 496-1056.
Friday, January 13
CONCORD – “Investing in New Hampshire’s Future: Strategies to Maintain a Strong Workforce and a Vibrant Economy,” the NH Fiscal Policy Institute’s 4th annual budget and policy conference, 8:30 AM to 4 PM at the Grappone Conference Center in Concord. See more here.
Monday, January 16, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
MANCHESTER– Martin Luther King Day Community Celebration, St. George Greek Orthodox Community Center, 650 Hanover Street, Manchester, 2 to 5 PM. Robert Azzi will be the guest speaker. Eva Castillo will receive the 2017 Martin Luther King Award. Info on Facebook or at www.mlknh.org.
MLK Day events will also take place in Exeter, Hollis, Hanover, and elsewhere. Watch this space for updates.
Friday, January 20
CONCORD–“Vigil of Hope and Concern” at the time Donald Trump takes the oath of office. Meet in front of State House 11:30 to 11:45 AM, silent vigil noon to 12:15 PM, followed by gathering and facilitated discussion at 4 Park Street. Sponsored by AFSC, UCC Justice and Witness Ministries, Pace e Bene/Campaign Nonviolence, NH Peace Action, and the Equality Center.
Saturday, January 21
CONCORD–NH Women’s Day of Action and Unity. “We will unite at the New Hampshire State House in Concord in solidarity with the Women’s March on Washington and in support of our rights, our safety, our health, our families, and our environment. Together, we will send a message to elected officials in New Hampshire and Washington, D.C. that we will stand together to protect the progress we’ve made. We won’t go back!” 10 AM to 3 PM. More info here.
With very best wishes,
Maggie and Arnie
PS – Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook. Search for “American Friends Service Committee-NH” to “like” us. After all, we are your Friends.
AFSC’s New Hampshire “State House Watch” newsletter is published to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, the death penalty, immigration, and labor rights. We also follow the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more.
The AFSC is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about peace, social justice, humanitarian service, and nonviolent change. Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty direct the New Hampshire Program, publish the newsletter, and co-host the “State House Watch” radio show on WNHN-FM. Susan Bruce is a State House Watch researcher and writer. Fred Portnoy produces the radio show.
“State House Watch” is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.
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