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NH State House Watch

NH State House Watch

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>. 

Click here for back issues.

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 show
 

State House Watch February 12
2016 Issue 6

The legislature is taking the week of February 22-26 off, and so are we. Everyone gets a break from the State House.

The big news is that HB 1696, the bill to extend and modify the NH Health Protection Plan (aka expanded Medicaid) is still alive, despite numerous amendments aimed at killing it.  While we celebrate that the re-authorization is moving forward, we have serious concerns about the impact of at least one amendment that was approved during a hectic session on Wednesday.  We will share analysis with you as soon as it is available.

The bill now heads to the Finance Committee where it will have a hearing on February 17, then back to the full House.

The House electronic roll call voting system has been experiencing some difficulties in recent weeks. During the lengthy deliberations over HB 1696, the House Clerk announced that contrary to what he was seeing on Twitter, the malfunctioning was not intentional.

Quick Jargon Review

ITL - Inexpedient to Legislate, i.e. should be defeated. 
OTP - Ought to Pass
OTP/A - Ought to Pass as Amended

Updates

HB 1668, establishing a registry for persons convicted of heroin related offenses and requiring registration of heroin offenders was voted ITL on a voice vote.

HB 1149, requiring a royalty on the price of natural gas conveyed by pipeline intended for use in a foreign country, was voted  ITL on a voice vote.

HB 1584, relative to the discharge of a person committed for non-payment of a fine, was voted OTP/A and referred to the Ways and Means Committee.

HB 1675, relative to the legalization and taxation of marijuana. As we predicted last week, this was a non-starter. It was voted ITL by a voice vote.

HB 1564, establishing an independent redistricting commission, was defeated in a roll call vote of 210-151.

HB 1674, requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods, was voted ITL by a roll call vote of 239-122.

HB 1557, relative to alcohol and drug treatment programs. This is the bill that was amended far beyond the scope of its original intent into being a tool for evaluating the effectiveness of all state programs. It was tabled by a division vote of 232 – 124.

HB 1416 This would have allowed the Department of Safety to set reasonable fees for criminal background checks. The gun crowd decided this was anti-gun legislation, and fought hard against it. It was defeated in a voice vote.

HB 1622, relative to radioactive waste and establishing a nuclear waste storage fee. This was voted ITL by a roll call vote of 181-138. NH will remain a potential nuclear waste storage site.

HB 1368, requiring firearms owners to have liability insurance, was voted ITL by a roll call vote of 134-168.

HB 1616, relative to drivers licenses and identification cards that are compliant with the federal Real ID law. The federal Real ID law didn’t go away, and those persons who don’t have compliant ID by 2018 won’t be allowed to board airplanes. As we reported last week, the Transportation Committee came up with a good solution, creating a Real ID compliant license that drivers can choose to procure, or they can opt out and retain a regular license that will be marked “non compliant for federal purposes.”  

This was a contentious bill. NH has been refusing to comply with Real ID for over a decade. But the compromise arrangement was appealing to many, and the bill passed on a roll call vote of 254 – 67.  Now it goes to the Ways and Means Committee.

Coming up in the House

Stoke up the woodstove and snuggle up with a warm beverage and a blankie. We’ve got guns, domiciles, finks and bungee jumping! 

The House will not be in session again until Wednesday, March 9 at 9 AM. They will also be in session on March 10.

Here are details for hearings, work sessions, and executive sessions on bills we are tracking: 

Tuesday, February 16

Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB

9:30 AM HB 1632, establishing a criminal penalty for providing a firearm to a person prohibited from possessing a firearm.

10:30 AM HB 1645, relative to carrying a pistol or revolver without a license. This bill amends the statute relating to carrying a pistol or a revolver concealed in a vehicle. It changes the wording to state that no one shall carry a loaded pistol or revolver concealed on his or her person or concealed in any vehicle without a license except for in their own dwelling, house, or place of business. (No mention of domicile.) 

Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs, Room 205, LOB

2:15 PM Executive session on HB 1542, requiring drug testing of public assistance recipients. The individual applying for TANF benefits would be required to pay for the test, and be reimbursed after passing the test, when they begin receiving benefits. The cost of the test is not specified in the bill. Current Medicaid recipients would be required to pay $17 for a drug screening fee. Eligible applicants would be required to pay the full cost of the fee. There is no mention of reimbursement for these fees.

This is another way of stigmatizing low income individuals, and forcing them to jump through more hoops, hoops that they must pay for. Studies from around the country show that the national drug use rate is 9.4%. TANF recipients test positive for drugs at a substantially lower rate than the general population – about 1%. The stereotype of the “drug abusing welfare recipient” isn’t born out by the facts.

Legislative Administration, Room 307, LOB

10:00 AM  HB 1126, limiting the authority of delegates to Article V conventions. Article V conventions can be convened to propose amendments to the US Constitution.  But there's never been one in the history of the republic, so no one knows how one would be run if it were to take place.  See below. 

10:30 AM  HB 1669, establishing a state procedure for conventions to ratify proposed amendments to the US Constitution.

11:00 HB 1163 This bill establishes prohibitions on advocacy by and future employment of members of the general court, procedures for identification of sources of model legislation, identification of lobbyists in communication, requirements for political advertising, what constitutes a political committee, and notice on a ballot of a candidate’s voluntary limiting of campaign contributions.

Science, Technology, and Energy, Room 304

10:00 AM  Full committee work session on HB 1116 and HB 1275, bills to increase the cap on net metering for solar power. Also HB 1483, relative to community renewable energy projects. Note that all three bills will be exec’d on Wednesday the 17th, at 10 AM.

Ways and Means, Room 202, LOB

1:00 PM  The third and final hearing on HB 1101, prohibiting charges to NH residents for the construction of high pressure gas pipelines. The full committee work session on this bill is scheduled to begin at 2:00 PM. Executive sessions on pending legislation may be held at any time during the day, so it is possible that this bill could be exec’d at some unscheduled point during the day.

Wednesday, February 17

Criminal Justice and Public Safety , Room 204, LOB

9:00 AM HB 1153, prohibiting a city or town from adopting residency restrictions on sex offenders, HB 1343, prohibiting the retroactive application of the sex offender registry, and HB 1318, relative to sex offender registration.

Finance, Rooms 210-211, LOB

10:00 AM  HB 1696, an act requesting a modification of the NH Health Protection Program.  Join NH Voices of Faith for a vigil outside the hearing room, starting at 9 AM.

Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs, Room 205, LOB

11:00 AM HB 1690 eliminates the “sunset” provision of the NHHPP, which is due to expire in December 2016. This would simply extend the program.

2:15 PM Executive session includes HB 1629, the bill to prohibit any member of a foreign terrorist organization from receiving public assistance benefits, medical benefits or food stamps. It also contains a “fink” provision, whereby anyone who provides evidence that a recipient is a member of a terrorist organization will get a reward. That reward may equal up to 4 months of the amount of benefits the individual was receiving. It doesn’t require a crystal ball to see how many fruitless investigations this will create.

Thursday, February 18

Commerce and Consumer Affairs, Room 302, LOB

1:15 PM Subcommittee work session includes HB 1617, a bill that would prohibit the NH Housing Finance Authority from funding a project unless a market study supports the need for a housing project in the proposed location. Not only are market studies a regular feature of NHHFA's process, but NH has a well documented housing shortage.  This bill is pure NIMBY. No domiciles in my back yard!

Education, Room 207, LOB

9:30 AM  Executive session on a number of bills, including HB 1379, amending the requirement to use English in schools. This bill continues the current requirement that public schools use only the English language for instruction of students. It exempts private schools from this restriction.

Election Law, Room 308, LOB

9:30 AM Executive session on a number of bills, including HB 1530, a bill authorizing voting by mail, HB 1532, permitting state or county prisoners to vote by absentee ballot, and HB 1313.  This last one changes the voter registration form, “expands” the definition of domicile by "narrowing" the rights of citizens, e.g. through a 10-day residency requirement. This is part of the ongoing attempt to fight the nonexistent problem of voter fraud. Also, HB 1356, which modifies the general statutory definition of “resident or inhabitant.” As a special bonus, it also uses the term “domicile.”  And CACR 17, a proposed amendment to the state constitution to ensure that a person must be a resident to establish a domicile for the purpose of voting.

Ways and Means, Room 202, LOB

1:30 PM  HB 1584 This bill updates the credit for time served in county jail in lieu of paying a fine from $50 per day to $125.

Friday, February 19

Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB

2:00 PM  HB 1474 This requires the commissioner of the Department of Safety to make an annual report relative to firearm related deaths and injuries.

3:00 PM HB 1552, extending the death penalty to acts of terrorism and civil rights offenses.

Reminder: the legislature will be on a break from February 22 to 26.  Here are a few things to watch for House committees in the week following the break.

Tuesday, March 1

Finance, Rooms 210-211, LOB

10:00 AM  Work session on HB 1696, the bill to extend and modify the NH Health Protection Program.

Thursday, March 3

Finance, Rooms 210-211, LOB

1:00 PM  Another work session on HB 1696.

Coming up in the Senate

The Senate will be in session on February 18 at 10 am.

On the Calendar

SB 486, which would require the Secretary of State to assist cities and towns in conducting local elections, and establishes a municipal grant program to fund innovative election procedures and voter registration expansion. A good idea, going nowhere. The committee voted ITL 3-1.

SB 551 This is the annual bill to create a single casino, which would be located at Rockingham Park. It comes out of committee with a recommendation of OTP on a vote of 3-2. One casino means a monopoly, and the constitutionality and wisdom of that will be questioned if it reaches the House.

Coming up in Senate Committees

Tuesday, February 16

Commerce, Room 100, SH

1:00 PM  SB 407, which requires temporary staffing agencies to provide workers with certain information. The list includes phone numbers for the temp agency, the rate of wages to be paid, an accurate description of worksite hazards, a statement of the temp worker’s right to workers compensation, whether meals are provided, the cost of transportation to the work site, and more. The company must provide a clear written summary of the company’s employer policy on addressing employment discrimination and workplace safety complaints, with specific instructions about reporting procedures for temporary workers who believe they have been exposed to health and safety violations or discriminatory actions by the temporary staffing company or at an assigned work site.

The bill also provides some protections for temporary workers. They must be paid at or above the minimum wage, be provided with any safety equipment required for the job; they must be given an itemized statement with their paycheck, with amount of wages, hours worked, any deductions. There’s more.  It sounds good to us.  The information and protections are the kinds of basic regulations we hope would be already in place.

1:15 PM SB 502 This bill requires the insurance commissioner to investigate insurance carriers for any conduct that might violate the provisions of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Act of 2008, as amended.

Finance, Room 103, SH

2:00 PM SB 513 authorizes DHHS to establish a psychiatric residential treatment facility at the Sununu Youth Services Center.

Health and Human Services, Room 101, LOB

1:30 PM  SB 535, establishing a grant program for high schools for heroin and opiate prevention. The one year grant program would be administered jointly by the TIGER program at Plymouth State and Communities for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth. A school where 40% or more of the students attending daily are eligible for the federal free lunch or reduced price meal would get a full grant for the program, Other schools would be eligible for a 50% grant.

Judiciary, Room 100, SH

9:00 AM  SB 517 increases the amount deducted from a fine for each day of a person’s incarceration. The amount is increased from $50 to $150.

Wednesday, February 17

Public and Municipal Affairs, Room 102, LOB

10:00 AM  SB 410, relative to an optional ban on plastic bags. This bill would allow towns to adopt bylaws to prohibit the distribution of plastic shopping bags.

Thursday, February 18

Health and Human Services, Room 100, SH

2:00 PM  SB 529 This bill would direct the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a photo ID requirement for participants in the food stamp program. The fiscal note estimates that in 2017, this would cost the state about $1.5 million, which includes the one-time start up costs. After that, the cost would be approximately $855,000 a year. We are dismayed to see yet another attempt by our legislators to demean low-income people in our state. Surely this is money that could be spent doing something positive for NH residents.

3:40 PM  SB 531, extending the New Hampshire Health Protection Act.  This bill repeals the sunset provision currently in place for the NHHPP.

Other News

Bungee Jumpers Take Note:  The Department of Public Safety will hold a public hearing on the re-adoption of bungee jumping rules, on February 29, in the first floor conference room #112, at 33 Hazen Drive, Concord. Written comments are accepted until March 7.

Revolving Door Alert:  Governor Maggie Hassan announced she will nominate Jerry Little to be the next state Banking Commissioner.  He is currently a State Senator.  Prior to that he was President of the NH Bankers Association, the trade group for the banks.   

Next week on "State House Watch/White House Watch" Radio

We'll be joined by John DeJoie, Legislative Field Staff for the NH AFL-CIO, to discuss worker issues in the legislature this year.  The show airs on Monday from 5 to 6 pm and re-broadcasts on Tuesday from 8 to 9 am.  You can listen live at 94.7 FM in the Concord area and on wnhnfm.org anywhere you can get an internet signal.  You can also download podcasts of past shows, including last week's with Kevin Rutledge, Hector Salamanca Arroyo, and Lilyanne Daigle discussing their successes "bird dogging" presidential candidates about immigration, nuclear weapons, and governing under the influence. 

Governing Under the Influence Update

The GUI project had a big finish in the days leading up to the NH Primary.  Dozens of bird dogs asked candidates questions about nuclear weapons, the revolving door, campaign finance, and other issues.  Volunteers handed out hundreds of flyers at campaign events and displayed banners seen by thousands of people.  Check out this great article, "These Quakers Are Asking Tougher Questions than Many in the Press," published on Primary Day by Lee Fang in The Intercept.  

Events Coming Up

February 13, 15 and 16:  "We are Concord" community conversations, hosted by a broad range of community partners including the City of Concord, the school district, the Chamber of Commerce, New American Africans, AFSC, and the Bhutanese Community of NH.  These events are free and open to the public.  Child care and interpretation (including ASL) will be available as needed.   Find more information here, and register here.

February 16 - "Reparationists are the New Abolitionists," a presentation and conversation with Woullard and Brenda Lett, hosted by the Building a Culture of Peace Forum, 7 pm to 9 pm at the UU Church, 274 Pleasant Street, Concord.  (Snow date is March 8.) For more information, contact LR Berger.

February 19 - "Then & Now, 1965 vs 2016: Have Things Changed?" Community Forum hosted by the Manchester NAACP, Springfield College, 500 N. Commercial Street, Manchester, 6 pm to 8 pm. (Snowdate is February 26.)

February 19 - NH Fiscal Policy Institute 3rd annual policy conference, entitled "Making Ends Meet: Enhancing Economic Security, Fostering Shared Prosperity."  You can find more information and register here

    -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 is a State House Watch researcher and writer.

"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!