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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State House Watch August 7
2015 Issue 27
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We fully expected State House Watch to leave you alone for the summer. But with the ongoing budget stalemate, we thought we’d drop by for a short visit.
Since Governor Hassan vetoed the budget and agreed with legislators on terms for a “continuing resolution” to keep the state in operation, public negotiations over the budget have stalled. As we reported in our last issue, the governor has issued a "compromise" proposal with her own set of business tax cuts, balanced by hikes in fees and tobacco taxes. Speaker Jasper and Senate President Morse have signalled their interest in speaking to human services advocates, but it's not clear if they are speaking to the governor.
The July 29 meeting of the Legislative Fiscal Committee (see below) did not take up the budget impasse or discuss the governor's proposal. That has not meant a suspension of political squabbling.
"Work Group" on Sununu Center to Meet August 17
In a statement announcing a series of three special “work group” meetings to examine “some important issues that may be impacted due to the Governor’s veto of the budget,” Senator Jeanne Forrester, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, called the vetoed budget “balanced, conservative, and compassionate” and called the veto “misguided.”
The first work group meeting was last Wednesday and focused on the impact of budget uncertainty on the ability of the Department of Revenue Administration to set local property tax rates for next year. We heard the session was uneventful.
The second work group will take place on Monday, August 17, and will look at issues related to the Sununu Youth Center, the state’s juvenile lock-up. We have been raising the alarm about budget language which calls for the facility’s services, or perhaps the facility itself, to be outsourced to private companies. Sen. Forrester says the purpose of the session is to “begin working on the program’s ‘transformation’ plan,” which may or may not include the privatization scheme. We are still trying to find out when and where this committee will meet; we’ll post it on the NH Voices of Faith Facebook page when we find out.
The third work session, on August 24, will deal with HHS issues.
Legislative Fiscal Committee
The Legislative Fiscal Committee was greeted by an excellent turnout from members of NH Voices of Faith, who prayed and sang in the corridors prior to the meeting’s start. Members of the State House press corps sent out several “tweets” noting the use of the song, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” with updated lyrics dealing with business tax cuts, state employee pay raises, and the importance of the NH Health Protection Program. Members of the State Employees Association, the NH Public Health Association, and other groups that filled the hallways made the usually sleepy Fiscal Committee meeting livelier than usual.
The next meeting of the Fiscal Committee is Wednesday, August 26, at 10 am.
Meetings on "Retained Bills"
Some of the House committees have meetings scheduled to work on bills that were “retained.”
Division II of the Finance Committee will meet on Tuesday, August 11 on two education funding bills: HB 562-FN-L, repealing the limitation on the total education grant distributed to a municipality in a fiscal year and reducing the stabilization grants to certain municipalities; SB 227, relative to calculating the cost of an adequate education. The meeting starts at 10 am in LOB Room 209.
The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will meet at 10 am on Thursday, August 20, to consider several bills, including HB 512, prohibiting confiscation of firearms, ammunition, or firearms accessories during a state of emergency; HB 583-FN, requiring state law enforcement officers to wear a camera when interacting with the public and making an appropriation therefor; HB 617-FN-A, requiring state police to wear a camera when interacting with the public; HB 240, prohibiting law enforcement agencies from using a drone to collect evidence; HB 605-FN, repealing mandatory minimum sentences; and HB 582-FN, repealing the license requirement for carrying a concealed pistol or revolver. The committee meetings in LOB Room 204.
With Governor Hassan and the Senate and House majorities now all calling for cuts in business taxes, we call your attention to the NH Fiscal Policy Institute's identifiationof "troubling long term trends" in state revenue. Check out their latest analysis, "New Hampshire’s Revenue Problem Persists; Business Tax Rate Reductions Would Impede Full Recovery."
Other News You Can Use
AFSC is sponsoring a Week of Action August 10 to 15 against the Immigrant Detention Quota, a federal budget provision which requires Immigration and Customs Enforcement to maintain 34,000 “beds” for incarcerated immigrants. Sixty percent of the detained immigrants are held in for-profit prisons, owned by corporations that actively lobby for policies that fill their facilities as well as their coffers. For background and links you can use to write your members of Congress click here.
The detention quota is a prime example of what happens when politicians are “governing under the influence,” and it’s one of the issues we’ve discussed with presidential candidates over the past few months. With all the Republicans in Cleveland for the debate yesterday, we had a bit of a lull in candidate visits. But they’re coming back now. Jeb! Bush is in the state today, Hillary Clinton will be here Monday and Tuesday, and on her heels will be Rand Paul, Carly Fiorina, Jim Webb, John Kasich, and Lincoln Chafee. With the anniversary of Michael Brown’s killing coming up this weekend, this is a good week to shine a spotlight on the militarization of our police forces. Go to the GUI website to find out where the candidates will be. When you are at a candidate event, get your hand up to ask a question or stick your hand out for a shake. Be ready with your question or comment, and find out what the candidates have to say. Don’t forget to let us know what you find out.
The Concord Monitor marked the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima by running a profile of Arnie’s decades of anti-nuclear activism. Read it here. And while we’re on the subject of nuclear war and GUI, check out Arnie’s latest article, “Who Profits from Nuclear Weapons?”
We will be celebrating our 40th anniversary with a special dinner on October 24. Click here for information and to be among the first to let us know you’re coming.
The “We Are One” festival will be Saturday, August 15 in Manchester, at Veterans Park from 11 am to 8 pm. It’s the annual celebration of African, Caribbean, and Latino culture. This year’s theme is “We Are Better Together.” Visit us at the GUI tent (and contact Eric if you want to help staff it).
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With best wishes,
Arnie and Maggie