Tag Archives: NH State House Watch

NH State House Watch

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.

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

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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 wnhnfm.org 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