|State House Watch May 8
2015 Issue 16The 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.
“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.
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 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!
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
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
Coming up in House Committees
Tuesday, May 12
Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB
Executive Departments and Administration, Room 306, LOB
Coming up in Senate Committees
Tuesday, May 12
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
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.
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.
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.
When Opportunity Stops Knocking – New Hampshire’s Kids and the American Dream
Tuesday May 12 – Keene, Lancaster, Portsmouth
Friday, May 22 – Saturday, May 23
“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