AFSC’s New Hampshire State House Watch newsletter is published weekly 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. For an email subscription, visit our main page and click on <get our newsletter>. 

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We also have a weekly radio show on Mondays from 5 to 6 pm, re-broadcast Tuesdays from 8 to 9 am.  You can listen live on WNHN, 94.7 FM in Concord, or over the internet. You can download a podcast of any of our earlier shows

State House Watch January 30

2015 Issue 4

We hope you have finished shoveling after all of the recent snow. Even the Snowpocalypse did not deter our doughty legislators. There was a lot of committee work done last week.  Next week there are more hearings on issues including voting rights, body cameras for police, in-state tuition for immigrant students, tax policy, the state's atomic energy policy and more.  Hearings on three minimum wage bills are scheduled for February 10. Read on!

Last week House committees held hearings on several bills of note: 

CACR 1, to require that an increase in any existing tax or license fee or the creation of a new tax or license fee be approved by three-fifths of both chambers of the legislature, was considered by the House Ways and Means Committee.  Jeff McLynch of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute testified in opposition:

“The proposed supermajority requirement would unduly constrain the flexibility New Hampshire needs to respond to changing economic circumstances or to shifting public preferences and would likely lead to more frequent legislative stalemates, higher borrowing costs, and a greater reliance upon temporary solutions to future budgetary shortfalls. New Hampshire has one of the lowest levels of taxation in the nation even in the absence of such a requirement. Consequently, instituting a supermajority requirement seems, at best, unnecessary and, at worst, harmful to the state’s long-term fiscal condition.”  You can read all of Jeff’s testimony here.

HB 267, to require the use of E-verify by all public employers, their contractors and their subcontractors, came before the House Labor Committee.  The Union Leader noted that the bill appeared to have little support and quoted Arnie as one of the bill's opponents.

HB 219, adding location restrictions to EBT cards, was considered by the House HHS Committee.  In her written testimony, Maggie opposed the bill as "an insult to the dignity of poor and vulnerable people in New Hampshire.”  The bill, she explained, “contributes to a discriminatory, dehumanizing and harmful narrative that people on public assistance cannot be trusted to utilize these benefits to meet their and their family’s urgent needs.  The readiness to impose these location restrictions on EBT card use arise from a few anecdotes that reinforce caricatures which are rampant in our society.” 

HB 269, which would allow a landlord to collect first and last month's rent in addition to a security deposit, came before the Judiciary Committee. Current NH law allows landlords to charge first month’s rent and a security deposit.  Advocates against the bill greatly outnumbered the bill’s supporters.  Read more in the Concord Monitor. Housing Action NH (HANH) is on top of this, so to stay informed, please sign up for their newsletter at their website.  

House and Senate committees both took up bills calling for a Constitutional Amendment to overturn Citizens United.  The House bill, HB 371, is already scheduled for consideration in "executive session" on Wednesday, February 4.   See below for information on a Lobby Day being organized by People for the American Way.  

The House will be in Session on Wednesday, February 4 starting at 10 am, but there is little on its agenda.  The Senate has no full sessions in its calendar.

Vocabulary Lesson- The "Executive Session" - Every bill that gets introduced is assigned to a committee, which holds a public hearing on the bill.  After the committee has taken public testimony and heard from the bill's sponsors, it schedules an "executive session" for its members to debate the bill and make a recommendation to the full House or Senate.  Generally, the recommendations are either "ought to pass" (OTP), "inexpedient to legislate" (ITL), or "ought to pass with amendment (OTPA).  Although these meetings are open to the public to observe, generally it is only members of the committee who are able to voice their opinions.   House committees generally announce when they will hold executive sessions on particular bills.  Senate committees tend to hold executive sessions on pending legislation when they can squeeze them into their busy calendars without announcing beforehand which bills they will take up.  The word "exec" is used as a verb to mean "hold an executive session," as in "The Legislative Administration Committee will exec on the Citizens United bill on Wednesday afternoon."  
 
Monday, February 2 in House Committees

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202, LOB
10:30 a.m. HB 634, relative to applying the interest and dividends tax to trusts, increasing exemptions, and extending the tax to capital gains; and relative to homeowners property tax relief.
1:00 p.m. HB 623, providing property tax relief for taxpayers for the property tax year beginning April 1, 2016. This bill would lower the rate of state education property tax for one year, and make up the funds with monies from the tobacco settlement.
2:00 p.m. HB 569, including certain nonprofit charitable enterprises under the business enterprise tax and reducing the rate of the tax. This would include nonprofits that generate a million dollars a year in contributions and grants, and seems likely to be at odds with IRS policy.

Tuesday, February 3 in House Committees

COMMERCE AND CONSUMER AFFAIRS, Room 302, LOB
11:00 am, SB 686, establishing a single payer health care system and making an appropriation therefor.

CRIMINAL JUSTICE AND PUBLIC SAFETY, Room 204, LOB
10:00 a.m. HB 583, requiring state law enforcement officers to wear a camera when interacting with the public and making an appropriation therefor.
10:30 a.m. HB 617, requiring state police to wear a camera when interacting with the public.

EDUCATION, Room 207, LOB
1:45 p.m. HB 675, relative to eligibility for in-state tuition rates at the university system of New Hampshire and the community college system of New Hampshire.  This has been an AFSC priority for several years. 

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
10:00 a.m. CACR 11, requiring that all voters would be allowed to vote absentee, making life easier for many NH workers. We approve.
10:50 a.m. HB 393, including the distributing of model acts to elected officials as lobbying and requiring disclosure of compensation or reimbursement received by elected officials from such lobbyists for attendance at an event.  This bill is aimed squarely at the American Legislative Exchange Council, ALEC.

JUDICIARY, Room 208, LOB
2:30 p.m. HB 461, prohibiting the use or application of foreign laws in the state court.  This bill has its origins as a bill to prohibit application of Sharia Law, a matter that appeared in the Republican Party platform.  

Tuesday, February 3 in Senate Committees

FINANCE, 3 pm, Room 103, SH
SB 5, relative to transfers into the revenue stabilization reserve account.  This bill would require a 2/3 majority vote of both House and Senate in order to transfer surpluses into the rainy day fund.

JUDICIARY, 9:30 am, Room 100, SH 
SB 53, repealing the interagency coordinating council for women offenders and expanding the membership and duties of the interbranch criminal and juvenile justice council. Included in the revamped council would be a seat on the council designated for a woman who was formerly an inmate.

Wednesday, February 4, in House Committees

LEGISLATIVE ADMINISTRATION, Room 104, LOB
Executive Session on HB 371, relative to assessing the consequences of the Citizens United decision, starting at approximately 2:00 p.m. 

Wednesday, February 4 in Senate Committees

PUBLIC AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS, Room 102, LOB
9:00 a.m. SB 146, relative to accessory housing units. This bill acknowledges the need for more housing, and establishes requirements for local regulation of accessory housing units.
10:15 a.m. SB 175, relative to the regulation of blighted property. The bill authorizes municipalities to enact ordinances that address blighted properties.

Thursday, February 5 in House Committees

ELECTION LAW, Room 308, LOB
9:45 a.m. HB 659, allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot.
10:30 a.m. HB 627, which would repeal same day voter registration in NH.

EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND ADMINISTRATION, Room 306, LOB
11:00 a.m. HB 448, establishing February 6 as Ronald Reagan Day.  The bill begins with a "finding" that "President Ronald Wilson Reagan, a man of humble background, worked throughout his life advancing freedom and serving the public good."  It goes on from there.

SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY AND ENERGY, Room 304, LOB
10:45 a.m. Full committee work session on HB 209, repealing New Hampshire’s atomic energy policy.
Executive sessions on HB 234, deleting electric renewable energy classes from the electric renewable portfolio standards at 2:00 pm and HB 543, repealing the electric renewable energy portfolio at 2:30 pm.

Thursday, February 5 in Senate Committees

COMMERCE, 100 SH
2:00 p.m. SB 156, prohibiting discrimination against employees who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

Tuesday, February 10 in House Committees

LABOR, INDUSTRIAL AND REHABILITATIVE SERVICES, in Representatives Hall
1:00 p.m.  HB 392, relative to the minimum hourly wage. This bill establishes a state minimum  wage of $8.25 to be adjusted by the cost of living index.
HB 163 establishes a state minimum wage of $16 per hour.
HB 370 enables counties and municipalities to establish minimum wage rates. 
There's at least one more minimum wage bill, HB 684, still to be scheduled.  This one would raise the wage to $9.10, $11.40, and $14.25 in three annual steps. 

Next week on "State House Watch" radio

Gilles Bissonette, Staff Attorney with the NH Civil Liberties Union (NHCLU) will join Maggie and Arnie for the first half hour to discuss NHCLU legislative priorities for this session.  The second half hour is "White House Watch," covering the road to the White House.  Our guest will be Dean Spiliotes, a political scientist behind the NHPoliticalCapital.com website. Our show airs on Monday from 5 to 6 pm and re-broadcasts on Tuesdays from 8 to 9 am.  You can listen live at 94.7 FM in the Concord area and wnhnfm.org anywhere you can get an internet signal.  You can also download podcasts of past shows.

Upcoming events....

Friday, January 30 to Sunday, February 1 - "Palestinian/Israeli Films Series" presented by the Peace and Social Concerns Committee of Hanover Friends Meeting.  "5 Broken Cameras," 7 pm on Friday, January 30.  "The Gatekeepers"  at 4 pm and "Roadmap to Apartheid" at 7 pm on Saturday, January 31.  "Salt of the Sea" at 7 pm on Sunday, February 1.  All films shown at Hanover Friends Meeting, 43 Lebanon Street, Hanover NH 03855.  Call (603) 709-7144(603) 709-7144 or send an email for more info. 

Saturday, January 31 - Kingian Nonviolence Conflict Resolution Workshop at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 pm.  Free one-day workshop will be facilitated by certified nonviolence trainers and international practitioners from The Center for Nonviolence & Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island. It will introduce participants to the principles and practices of conflict reconciliation and methods for nonviolent social change inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  This interactive workshop will include multimedia presentations and handouts. Go here to register.  Questions can be directed to Yemi Mahoney at 603-656-6028 or omahoney@anselm.edu.

Wednesday, February 4 - Lobby Day for HB 371 / SB 136.  Join People For the American Way, Public Citizen, and Open Democracy supporters and allies to build support for the bills calling for a constitutional amendment that would negate Citizens United. Meet at 8:30 am in State House, Hall of Flags (1st floor)
; 8:45am - meet with members of House before caucus at Representatives Hall; 10am - activist training at 4 Park Street, Suite 302; 11:30am--2 pm - Meet with key representatives and senators and attend executive session.  RSVP to Lindsay Jakows, People for the American Way. 

Check out AFSC’s Governing Under the Influence webpage!  It’s got info about upcoming visits of presidential candidates, reports from our “bird dogs” on their encounters with the candidates, and blog posts that shed light on the corporate influencers that drive up military spending and put more people behind bars.

-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.  Addy Simwerayi 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 NOW” button on our web page to send a secure donation to support the work of the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program.  Thanks!