State House Watch – Budget Hearings and More from American Friends Service Committee

NH State House Watch, the American Friends Service Committee

State House Watch May 8
2015 Issue 16
The Budget and Beyond

The big news this week was the budget hearing held by the Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday. Representatives Hall, which holds 400 people, was full.  The House Gallery, which holds 200 people, was full.  People were standing in line outside both chambers waiting for people to leave so they could get seats.  Meanwhile, the hearing was being live streamed to more people in the State House cafeteria.

Testimony was almost entirely about the failures of the House-approved budget to meet the needs of the most vulnerable residents of our state. Senators heard dozens of moving statements about services for people with developmental disabilities, mental health care, domestic violence and homeless shelters. They also heard numerous statements about the importance of extending the NH Health Protection Program and the folly of cutting business taxes.

NH Voices of Faith held a “prayer rally” by the State House steps prior to the hearing, and members vigiled in the hallways as the hearing got underway.  Several members testified, too.

Rev. Gail Kinney’s statement included a call to “’just say ‘no’ to any effort to privatize juvenile offender services in the state of New Hampshire.  New Hampshire’s troubled young people should never, ever, ever be turned over to be profit centers for a private corporation.”

“We are the fifth highest state in the country in per capita income,” Rev. John Gregory-Davis pointed out. “We have the resources; we simply choose not to use them,” he said, with a challenge to Senators to make a different choice.

The Finance Committee will meet twice next week – Tuesday at 1 pm and Wednesday at 9 am – to begin writing its budget proposal.  If you were not able to be at the hearing on Tuesday, it is not too late to contact committee members with your views.  You can also join members of NH Voices of Faith in vigils outside State House Room 103, where the committee meets. Contact Maggie to sign up for a shift.

Click here for a Concord Monitor article on the budget hearing with some great photos from the NH Voices of Faith rally.  See the NH Voices of Faith Facebook page for more photos, video links, and news. Rev Eric Jackson

We expect the Finance Committee to approve a new budget proposal during the week of May 25 and for it to come before the full Senate on June 4.  Following approval of a budget, the House and Senate will appoint members to a Committee of Conference to resolve differences by June 18.  Watch this space for more about committees of conference and about budget advocacy.

Some Good News!

On Thursday Governor Hassan signed SB 47 into law, making NH the first state in the nation to prohibit the paying of subminimum wages to persons with disabilities. Read her signing statement here.  Congratulations to everyone who worked on this!

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from victims of violent crimes during a hearing on HB 225, a bill requiring defendants to personally appear in the courtroom during a victim impact statement. Rep. Renny Cushing, the sponsor of the bill, was quoted in the Union Leader saying, “It is important the victim is heard by the judge. It is important the victim is heard by the community, and it is important to be heard by the person who victimized me.” Cushing emphasized that those who have committed offenses against others can only move forward if they hear directly from those whom they have harmed.

Special Election in Rockingham 32

There has been a vacancy in the House since January, when Representative Brian Dobson went to work for Congressman Frank Guinta. The vacancy will be filled with a special election on May 19.  Rockingham District 32 covers the towns of Candia, Deerfield, Northwood, and Nottingham.  We hope you’ll take the time to research the candidates and be sure to vote.

More News from Last Week…

… in the House

SB 135
, relative to lead poisoning in children, was adopted by the House with an amendment that strengthened the bill.  Due to the amendment it will have to return to the Senate for reconsideration.

SB 62, relative to drivers’ licenses for persons without a permanent address, was adopted by the House with an amendment to stipulate that these licenses shall expire in one year and cost $10. Again, due to the amendment it will have to return to the Senate for reconsideration.

SB 105, relative to child-resistant packaging for tobacco products and establishing a committee to study revising the indoor smoking act, was killed by a House roll call vote of 210-143. Live free and/or die!

… in the Senate

HB 304, establishing a committee to study public access to political campaign information, passed on a voice vote. It is now headed to the Governor’s desk.

Next Week in the Senate

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, May 14 starting at 10 AM

Regular  Calendar

HB 219 , relative to the use of EBT cards. This bill originally sought to prevent people receiving benefits via electronic benefit transfer cards (EBT) from using them in businesses that engage in body piercing, branding, or tattooing; also cigar stores and marijuana dispensaries (even though NH has no marijuana dispensaries at this time and that when we do the product will be available by prescription.) The Senate Health and Human Services Committee has added an amendment  banning the use of cash obtained from EBT cards for use in the restricted businesses. The bill now more closely resembles the Senate’s version of this bill, SB 169. The Senate amendment is both demeaning and unenforceable.  The Health & Human Services Committee recommended OTP/A 3-2.  We recommend you call your Senator and suggest that she/he vote this down.  Meanwhile, SB 169 is still in the custody of the House HHS Committee.

HB 681, increasing the marriage license fee. This bill increases the fee from $45 to $50. From this increase, $43 would go to fund the state’s domestic violence program. OTP vote 3-2.

Coming Up in the House

The next House session will be “at the call of the chair,” which is likely to resound throughout the land on June 3. (We love the phrase, “call of the chair.”  It conjures up images of pages with trumpets in the King’s court or Town Criers in the days of the American revolution against the King.)

Coming up in House Committees

Tuesday, May 12

Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB
SB 52, establishing a commission to study the issue of residential tenancies in foreclosed properties.

Executive Departments and Administration, Room 306, LOB
10:00 AM  Full committee work session on retained bills including HB 488, relative to an abusive work environment and the health and safety of public employees; and HB 602, relative to the use of drones.

Coming up in Senate Committees

Tuesday, May 12

Finance, Room 103, SH

1:00 PM  Executive session. We presume this session is about the budget. NH Voices of Faith will conduct a vigil outside the hearing room.

Judiciary, Room 100, SH

9:50 AM   HB 309, permitting landlords to remove tenant’s property in certain circumstances.

10:05 AM  HB 315, relative to termination of tenancy.  This bill provides additional grounds for termination of tenancy within 7 days. This includes having a person staying at the premises for more than 14 consecutive days, or 30 days in a 12-month period. This would mean that a family could be given a 7 day eviction notice because grandparents came to visit one weekend a month for a year. Other grounds include having pets in violation of the lease or failing to pay utility bills. We oppose this legislation because under current statute landlords already have the ability to initiate 7-day evictions. We fear this bill would give unscrupulous landlords too much power and would also increase the risk of homelessness.

Wednesday, May 13

Finance, Room 103, SH
9:00 AM  Executive session. Once again, we presume this is related to the budget.  NH Voices of Faith plans to conduct a vigil outside the hearing room.

We note that many committees in the Senate calendar are scheduled to meet for executive committee sessions on “pending legislation.”  We prefer the House’s approach, in which committees disclose which bills they are going to consider.

Events Coming Up 

Saturday, May 9

Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive, conducted by US Postal Service Letter Carriers.  To donate, just place a box or bag with your cans and non-perishable items next to your mailbox, before your letter carrier delivers mail on May 9th. The drive is the largest one-day food drive in the nation. Last year, more than 70 million pounds of food were collected, making this the eleventh consecutive year that collections reached over the 70-million-pound mark. Since the drive began in 1993, nearly 1.4 billion pounds have been collected.

Sunday, May 10

Mothers Day Peace Vigil from noon to 1 PM in Market Square, Portsmouth. Participants are invited to bring appropriate signs calling for peace, appropriate poetry to read, and to join in reading Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation for Peace, which introduced Mother’s Day in 1870. Her words were a passionate demand for disarmament and peace after the Civil War. Find more information or sign up on Facebook.

Tuesday, May 12

NHCA Community Conversation on NH Budget, Franklin Public Library, 5:30 to 7:30 pm.  NH Citizens Alliance has been holding public discussions with Jeff McLynch of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute as a resource person to help us understand the state budget debate.  Sign up here.

Thursday, May 14

Rally to Save Our Postal Service – National Day of Action, 4:30 to 6 PM, Manchester Post Office, at 955 Goffs Falls Road.  
The U.S. Postal Service is under attack by forces in Congress and on Wall Street who have this vision: cut service, privatize operations, and convert living-wage, union jobs into low-wage, non-union jobs – then dismantle the Postal Service so they can turn over the profitable pieces to their cronies in private industry.  You can find more information and sign up here.

May 12 and 13

When Opportunity Stops Knocking  – New Hampshire’s Kids and the American Dream
Join a statewide conversation to share ideas with neighbors, hear the latest research, and inform the presidential primary campaigns about the increasing barriers our state’s children face in achieving their dreams.  NH Listens, a project of the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH, is hosting 12 local conversations around the state. Find more information and registration here.

Tuesday May 12 – Keene, Lancaster, Portsmouth
Wednesday May 13 – Concord, West Lebanon, Rochester

Friday, May 22 – Saturday, May 23

Ancestral Reburial
– The Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail invites you to honor the dead who were found buried beneath a Portsmouth street as they are reinterred in sacred ground.  Friday night, beginning at 7:00 pm, with an overnight vigil at the New Hope Baptist Church, 263 Peverly Hill Road, ending with a sunrise service at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning.  A motorcade will transfer the caskets to the State Street entrance of the African Burying Ground Memorial Park on Chestnut Street. At 8:30 AM there will be an unveiling of commissioned artwork, and at 9:00 am the reburial ceremonies will begin. Wearing white or traditional African attire is encouraged. More information is here and on Facebook.

Friday, May 22

“Who Am I Going To Be: African Youth Building Lives in NH,” a documentary by Lynn Clowes, will be shown at 7:00 pm at the Concord Quaker Meeting Meetinghouse in Canterbury. Lynn Clowes will be on hand to lead a discussion and answer questions about the constellation of challenges that African youth face as they build new lives in NH. Click here for directions.

Next week on “State House Watch/White House Watch” Radio

Next week’s show will focus on the state budget, with excerpts from the budget hearing and commentary from Arnie and Maggie.  You can hear us live on Monday from 5 to 6 pm and re-broadcast on Tuesday from 8 to 9 am at 94.7 FM in the Concord area and at anywhere you can get an internet signal.  You can also download podcasts of past shows, including last week’s with Keith Kuenning of Child and Family Services and a recording of AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka describing the labor federation’s plans to make wages a central issue in the 2016 presidential campaign.

 Governing Under the Influence

Last week Hillary Clinton voiced criticism of a policy that requires the government to lock up immigrants in for-profit prsions.  If you think that sounds a lot like something we’ve been discussing, you’ll be interested to know that Clinton first heard about the issue from students at a Quaker high school in Iowa who “bird dogged” her last October.  Last week we had productive encounters with Governors John Kasich and Chris Christie.  You can find out what happened at our GUI web site, and also find out where you can meet Chris Christie, Carly Fiorina, Rick Perry, and Ben Carson, all of whom will be campaigning in New Hampshire next week.

-Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty

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.  Click here for back issues.

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 helps with research and writing.

“State House Watch” is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.

Your donations make our work possible.  Click the “DONATE NOW” button on our web page to send a secure donation to support the work of the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program.  Thanks!

American Friends Service Committee
4 Park Street
Concord, NH 03301

2 thoughts on “State House Watch – Budget Hearings and More from American Friends Service Committee

  1. Dick Stuart says:

    Nick! Do you get these?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: