State House Watch: April 22, 2023

By Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke

NH State House April 2023

“The earth is what we all have in common." - Wendell Berry

April 22, 2023

Happy Earth Day, State House Watchers!

We hope you are finding ways today, and every day, to be in nature, to nurture your body and spirit, and to offer your labor to the essential work of caring for our planet and our community. We are grateful for our colleagues at 350NH, the NH Sierra Club, and the Indigenous New Hampshire Collaborative Collective for their climate justice movement leadership in New Hampshire.

Take a moment and read about an important local initiative to help the climate: Community power programs are launching in New Hampshire. How could they help stop climate change?

State Budget News

It's busy season in the Senate Finance Committee, which met four times last week to receive agency presentations (read more here), and will meet three times next week. The Capital Budget Committee is doing its work on HB 25, the separate budget for long-term capital investments for state buildings and other infrastructure. The Ways and Means Committee is working on revenue projections; committee members received a presentation last week from Phil Sletten at the NH Fiscal Policy Institute, which you can read here. The presentation cites multiple dynamics impacting the NH economy, including older adults leaving the workforce, the high cost of childcare, the lack of housing supply, and an increase in corporate profits.

We’re still waiting to learn the date for the Senate’s public hearing on the budget. In the meantime, we encourage you to contact the Committee now to share your own priorities, including investments in public education, affordable housing, environmental protection, access to healthcare, alternatives to incarceration, and more.  

Remember to join the NH Campaign for a People’s Budget for a six-part series of Community Conversations on Monday evenings at 6 PM to 7:30 PM. The series began last Monday, April 17 and will run to May 22. We gather in person at the Arlington Street Community Center in Nashua, and remotely via Zoom. Register here and share the Facebook event with your friends and networks. All are welcome!


SUPPORT HB 89, relative to posthumous exonerations. This bill provides that the general court may grant a posthumous exoneration in a case where, over time, the manifest injustice of the law or policy for which the person was convicted becomes evident. The bill grants a posthumous exoneration of the convictions of Willard Uphaus and Eunice "Goody" Cole. Please sign in to support this bill, which has a public hearing in Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, April 25, at 1 PM in Room 100, SH.

OPPOSE SB 272, the so-called parental bill of rights that would require school staff to ‘out’ LGBTQ+ students. The House Education Committee will consider this bill in executive session on Tuesday, April 25 at 10:30 AM in Room 205-207, LOB. Please contact the committee to urge them to recommend defeat for this harmful bill. Now is also a good time to let your own Representatives know that you want them to defeat this bill.

OPPOSE HB 367-FN-L, relative to eligibility of students in the education freedom account program. This bill, which would increase the household income eligibility for vouchers from 300% to 350% of the federal poverty guideline, has its public hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Tuesday, April 25 at 9 AM in Room 101, LOB. Please sign in to oppose this costly bill.

Immigration News

There was strong turnout in opposition to SB 132, the anti-sanctuary cities bill, at Thursday’s public hearing in the House Municipal and County Government Committee. You can watch the hearing here, starting at 5:07. (Grace’s testimony begins at 6:36.) The NH Immigrant Rights Network submitted testimony, as did many other advocates for immigrant justice. We also forwarded to the committee statements from NH law enforcement and municipal leaders who told the committee that this vague, broad, and reckless proposal would undermine community safety and the ability of local communities to be welcoming places for all people. Here are the letters from law enforcement and municipal officials.

Beyond the Dome

A Rockingham County Superior Court judge has scheduled the first hearings in civil cases related to the decades of sexual and physical abuse at the Sununu Youth Services Center. The trials will begin in April 2024. Among the more than 1,300 cases being brought against the state, some of the victims have opted for settlements which will be paid from a $100 million fund created by the legislature. Read more here.

Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut gave testimony last week in the Contoocook Valley School District and Winchester School District v. State of New Hampshire lawsuit, also known as the ConVal case. At issue in the case is whether the state is adequately funding public education and what comprises an adequate education. Commissioner Edelblut didn’t offer much help, asserting that these determinations are made by the legislature and that his department had done no analysis of the cost to provide an adequate education. Read more here and here, and follow along with NH School Funding Fairness Project. Please sign and share this action alert if you want Senate budget writers to adequately fund public education.

The state, municipalities and counties are utilizing $45 million in funds that have arrived to NH from a number of settlements related to opioid lawsuits. Read more here about some of the allocations made so far, and the process for future distributions. The state is expected to receive $310 million over the next two decades.

Last Week at the State House

Neither the House nor the Senate had voting days last week. The action was in committees.

The House Education Committee heard more than seven hours of testimony on SB 272, a bill that would harm students by requiring teachers to report their pronoun use and their participation in clubs and groups which support LGBTQ+ students. Read more here. You can watch last week’s public hearing here.

Among those testifying was Sam D’Agostino, a transgender non-binary person from Nashua: “Since the beginning of my high school experience and coming out as transgender I have had to defend my right to be safe and respected as a student for myself, my friends, and my peers across the state. Five years later I am here to help protect the youth of my community who are somehow stuck in the same position.” Read more here.

Ariel Hayes, co-director of the Youth Success Project, and former caseworker with Waypoint’s Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, explained that the bill, if enacted, would increase the already high risk of homelessness experienced by LGBTQ+ young people. She added that 64% of queer youth experience stigma or discrimination within the family.

We recommend this commentary by Nancy Martland: The Truth About SB 272, the ‘Parents Bill of Rights’. “If transgender kids choose not to inform their parents of their gender identity, there is a reason. Parents who cannot accept a child’s identity can reject them, abuse them, harm them physically and emotionally. Forcing school personnel to betray the trust of these kids by outing them to their parents is cruel and infringes on the privacy of the minor child. For vulnerable youngsters, the presence in their lives of a trusted non-family adult can make a monumental difference. SB 272 removes trusted teachers, coaches, and counselors from this role at a time when our kids need them the most. We all want the best for our kids. There is so much love and hope invested in them. Sadly, some parents reject their kids if they do not conform to their expectations. SB 272 puts such kids at risk.

April 20 was a busy day in Senate Judiciary, as committee members held public hearings on multiple cannabis bills, including HB 639, relative to the legalization and regulation of cannabis. Read about it here and here. The bill passed the House two weeks ago by a substantial margin, with supporters emphasizing the revenue potential and the decreased impacts of criminalization. Opponents of the bill lift up concerns about health impacts and public safety. We await with interest the committee’s vote and the Senate’s decision.

We were pleased to watch the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee vote to retain SB 252, one of the several bills this year that would increase the likelihood of pretrial detention for people accused of certain crimes, regardless of whether the individual poses a threat to public safety or a risk of flight.

LOB – Legislative Office Building (33 N. State St. Concord)
SH – State House (107 N. Main St. Concord)
TABLED – Laid on the table. A vote to put the bill ‘on the table’ means that no further action will be taken until the bill comes off the table. A 2/3 vote may be required to remove the bill from the table. After Crossover, tabled bills cannot be acted on for the remainder of the legislative year.
OTP – “Ought to Pass,” the recommendation for approving a bill or an amendment

OTP/A – Ought to Pass with Amendment
ITL – “Inexpedient to Legislate,” the recommendation for defeating a bill or an amendment.
ITL can also be used as a verb.
RE-REFER – When a Senate committee wishes to hold onto a bill for further consideration. The recommendation to re-refer must be approved in the full Senate. The committee will have until the end of the calendar year to meet about the bill and make a recommendation for further action.
RETAIN – When a House committee wishes to hold onto a bill for further consideration. The committee makes this decision for themselves; approval in the full House is not needed. The committee has until the end of the calendar year to make a recommendation for further action.
RC – Roll call vote. Each legislator’s vote is recorded and attributed to them.
VV – Voice vote. Occurs when the speaker listens for whether yay or nay is louder (no votes are counted).
DV – Division vote. Votes are counted but names aren't recorded.
WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION - This indicates that the committee vote was a tie for both ITL and OTP.  During the House session, these bills will be considered first as Ought to Pass.

Coming up in the House

There are no full House sessions expected to be scheduled for April. Legislators have been directed to hold open their Thursdays in the month of May for one or more session days. Thursday, May 4 will likely be the next session day.

Coming Up in House Committees

Monday, April 24

Special Committee on Housing, Room 104, LOB
10 AM Presentation from City of Manchester planning department.
11 AM Presentation from Chair of the Public Policy Commercial Investment Committee, Commercial Investment Board of Realtors.
1 PM Presentation from NH Building Officials Association. 1:45 PM Presentation from Newmarket Town Planner.
2:15 PM Presentation from Manchester Housing Alliance and Granite State Organizing Project.
3 PM Committee Work Session following presentations.

Tuesday, April 25

EDUCATION, Room 205-207, LOB
10 AM SB 218-FN-A, establishing an early educator professional development grant.
10:30 AM Executive Session on SB 266, relative to the statewide education improvement and assessment program; SB 218-FN-A, establishing an early educator professional development grant; SB 272-FN, establishing a parents’ bill of rights in education.

10:15 AM SB 159-FN-L, establishing a committee to study unlimited service area permits for landfills and out of state waste coming into New Hampshire.
12:30 PM SB 62, relative to landowner liability under RSA 147-B, the hazardous waste cleanup fund.
12:45 PM SB 61, relative to surface water setbacks for landfills.

Wednesday, April 26

10:45 AM SB 108-FN, relative to participation of the New Hampshire public defender program in the state employee health insurance plan.
11:30 AM SB 105-FN, relative to information collected by the division of vital records administration as part of the live birth worksheet. This bill removes the criminal penalty for information requested on the mother's birth worksheet that is not required for the birth certificate; provides that only de-identified information shall be submitted on the facility worksheet for a live birth; and repeals the requirement that the birth worksheet be retained permanently.
2 PM Executive Session on SB 203, relative to the composition and jurisdiction of the manufactured housing board

9:30 AM Executive Session on SB 238-FN, relative to the use of telemedicine to treat mental health conditions; SB 239-FN, relative to the use of harm reduction services to treat alcohol and other substance misuse; SB 263-FN, extendincg the New Hampshire granite advantage health care program and reestablishing the commission to evaluate the effectiveness and future of the New Hampshire granite advantage health care program.

Coming Up in the Senate

No full Senate session this week. All committee hearings will be livestreamed on the NH Senate’s YouTube channel.

Coming Up in Senate Committees

Monday, April 24

FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Agency Budget Presentations
1:30 PM DHHS: Office of the Commissioner
2:15 PM DHHS: Division of Public Health Services
3:15 PM DHHS: Division of Economic Stability
4 PM DHHS: Division of Medicaid Services

Tuesday, April 25

9 AM HB 367-FN-L, relative to eligibility of students in the education freedom account program.
9:15 AM HB 446, relative to participation in the education freedom accounts program by students with disabilities.
9:30 AM HB 464-FN, relative to eligible students in the education freedom account program.

9 AM Election Research Project - Dartmouth College Students

9:15 AM HB 534-FN-A, relative to water assistance for natural disasters.

FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Agency Budget Presentations
1 PM DHHS: Division for Behavioral Health
1:45 PM Glencliff Home
2 PM New Hampshire Hospital
2:15 PM Hampstead Hospital
2:30 PM DHHS: Division of Long Term Supports and Services
3:30 PM DHHS: Division for Children, Youth and Families

1 PM HB 89, relative to posthumous exonerations.
1:15 PM HB 156, relative to misconduct by a law enforcement officer.
1:30 PM HB 491, relative to prohibiting the use of the prone restraint for minors.
2 PM HB 308, relative to a quorum for meetings open to the public to include remote presence.

Wednesday, April 26

FINANCE, Room 103, SH
2 PM Deliberative Session on HB 1-A, making appropriations for the expenses of certain departments of the state for fiscal years ending June 30, 2024 and June 30, 2025; HB 2-FN-A-L, relative to state fees, funds, revenues, and expenditures.

Thursday, April 27

Agency Presentations
9 AM Legislative Budget Assistant
9:45 AM New Hampshire State Treasurer
10:30 AM Department of Information Technology
11 AM Department of Administrative Services
11:30 AM Fish & Game Department
11:45 AM Liquor Commission
1 PM Department of Energy
1:15 PM Department of Natural and Cultural Resources
1:30 PM Department of Health and Human Services
2:30 PM Department of Corrections
2:45 PM University System of New Hampshire

1 PM HB 504-FN, relative to the adult parole board and making an appropriation therefor.
1:15 PM HB 46-FN, establishing a committee to study replacement of bail commissioners with court magistrates.
1:30 PM HB 379-FN, requiring notice be provided to tenants during residential eviction proceedings regarding legal counsel.

Thursday, May 4

1 PM HB 25-A, making appropriations for capital improvements.

Upcoming Events

NH People's Budget Community Conversations  - Mondays, April 17 to May 22 - 6 PM to 7:30 PM. Via Zoom and at Arlington Street Community Center, 36 Arlington St. Nashua. Hosted by the NH Coalition for a People’s Budget. The People's Budget coalition is planning a series of six Community Conversations. Join us online and in person to learn more about the NH state budget and come together as a community to share our stories of how key components of the budget impact us. Learn more about the NH People’s Budget and how our voices can build a new vision for and impact how state resources can be allocated to better serve our communities!

The Refugee Leadership Development Program provides monthly workshops to refugee and immigrant organizers across the United States. Led by refugees for refugees, this training series is an opportunity to learn more about advocacy tactics being used to advance pro-refugee / pro-immigrant policy on the state and national level, story-telling and narrative shifting, and connecting with resources and local networks to build more welcoming and inclusive communities. Participants who attend a minimum of 3 workshops will receive a Certificate of Participation by We Are All America. Similarly, those who attend every training will be gifted a Certificate of Completion, where the alum of our program will be invited to co-facilitate or propose future workshops.

Save the date: Juneteenth Celebration 2023 - Reading the Bones: Celebrating the African Diaspora  – Hosted by the Black Heritage Trail NH. this weeklong Juneteenth celebration to honor these early African settlers and their descendants for their extraordinary contributions to the growth of this region. We honor the African traders who interacted with the Indigenous tribal nations long before European settlers landed on these shores. We honor the Africans who survived the Middle Passage and the successive generations of the African diaspora who continue to contribute to the development, wealth, and well-being of New England. The celebration includes a tour, a panel discussion, a Reggae festival, a gospel choir concert, African drumming, and more!

Monday, April 24

NH People's Budget Community Conversations  - 6 PM to 7:30 PM. Zoom and Arlington Street Community Center, 36 Arlington St. Nashua. Hosted by the NH Coalition for a People’s Budget. The People's Budget coalition is planning a series of six Community Conversations. Join us online and in person to learn more about the NH state budget and come together as a community to share our stories of how key components of the budget impact us. Learn more about the NH People’s Budget and how our voices can build a new vision for and impact how state resources can be allocated to better serve our communities!

Tuesday, April 25

Press Conference to End Utility Rate Hikes - 11 AM. Legislative Office Building, 33 N State St. Concord. Hosted by 350 NH. Emergency energy assistance funding runs out April 30th and hundreds of Granite Staters are still struggling to pay the high price of energy. NH lawmakers made these funds available last September, and included funding for over 50,000 households that didn't qualify for aid under the previous assistance rules. Despite the record number of applications, only 1.5% of this funding was given out by the end of March. At the same time, Eversource made $1.4 billion in profits in 2022. Then they doubled pay for their CEO. Join us for this press conference to launch our campaign to end rate hikes and shut offs.

Introduction to Deep Canvassing: The Proven Method to Change Hearts and Minds - 6 PM to 7:30 PM. Hosted by People’s Action. Are you an organizer, community leader, or activist looking to engage with your community around deeply polarizing issues? Are you an individual hoping to understand how to have compassionate, non-judgmental conversations across lines of difference? Or, are you someone who’s heard about this thing called “deep canvassing” and you’re curious to learn more? This information session will cover the core components of deep canvassing and help you decide if our two-day, six-hour “Deep Canvass 101 Skills Training” is for you.

Wednesday, April 26

NH Consumer Advocate Don Kreis on NH Energy Rates - 7 PM. Co-sponsored by the Plainfield and Cornish Democratic Committee. Join a discussion with Consumer Advocate Don Kreis and contractor Ethan Cole, a NH Saves Partner and Efficiency Excellence Network Member.

Thursday, April 27

Keene State College’s Open Mic Night - 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM. Night Owl Cafe at Keene State College. Hosted by Keene State’s Women and Gender Studies Department and the Cultural Center. Join us for an Open Mic Night. Students will share and the poetic stylings of Jazlynn Mota will be featured!

Saturday, April 29

Unitarian Universalist Action of New Hampshire Annual Gathering: Equity and Justice in a Changing Climate – 8:30 AM to 2:30 PM. 274 Pleasant St Concord. Hosted by Universalist Church of Concord. Join fellow Unitarian Universalist from around the state as we gather for our annual meeting, morning keynote and panel open to all. The day will include morning worship, a plenary discussion, congregation showcase, keynote speaker, fellowship, food, and more.

ABLE NH Soaring to the Stars 2023 - 6 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by ABLE NH. This will be a casual, friendly, and inclusive event celebrating ABLE NH's members, friends, and successes while we welcome our new Executive Director! There will be activities for guests of all ages and abilities. The program includes a collaborative cyanotype art project, access to all Discovery Center exhibits, a planetarium show, an art installation by artist Amber Nicole (thanks to a partnership with Kimball Jenkins School of Art), themed mocktails, and of course food!

 Sunday, April 30

International Workers Day Rally - 3 PM. Veterans Park in downtown Manchester. Hosted by Party for Socialism & Liberation, AFSC & Partners. We will be celebrating the legacy of May Day and amplifying the demands of workers across the state for fair wages, healthcare, and other necessities, as well as highlighting the connections between the labor movement and all other movements for justice. This family-friendly event is a chance to connect and build solidarity with other NH workers. We will have a rally, music, a food truck and more! Many struggles, one fight - workers of the world unite!

Monday, May 1

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Historical Marker Dedication – 12 noon to 1 PM, Court and Montgomery Streets, Concord. Born in Concord, New Hampshire in 1890, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was a nationally known labor leader, civil libertarian, and feminist organizer in the early 20th century. Join us May 1 for dedication of an official New Hampshire Roadside Historical Marker near the site of her birth. The program will include brief comments from several speakers, music, and unveiling of the marker. Please arrive early enough to find parking. Rain or shine.

International Workers Day & May Day Rally – 4 PM to 5:30 PM. At City Plaza, under the arch on Main Street, in front of the State House, 107 N. Main St. Concord. Join us to celebrate May Day and the workers who are the foundation of our communities. We will uplift the contributions of immigrant workers, rally in support of our state workers, and rise together against the tide of xenophobia and exclusion that undermine the strength of our diverse, welcoming and beloved community. All are welcome! We will have music, speakers, and food.

Spirituality of Peacemaking: The Way of Abundance - 7 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action. Join us for a conversation with Dr. Edith Rasell, an economist and pastor, who has closely examined the Old and New Testaments to identify biblical instructions about economic justice. She found that the bible teaches that Jesus/God is concerned about how people fare economically. The Bible teaches that everyone is worthy of the resources necessary for abundant life, material life as well as spiritual. If we look closely at the extensive biblical instructions about the economy, we see they are amazingly relevant to our society today. We can identify four characteristics of a just economy. Using these criteria we can explore broad changes in public policy that could move the U.S. substantially closer to a just economy of universal thriving.

Thursday, May 4

Inclusivity Networking Event  - 5 PM to 6:30 PM. 48 Bridge St. Nashua. Hosted by SBDC. Enjoy an evening of networking, music and cultural food provided by local businesses.

Think Twice Before Calling the Police - 8 PM to 9:30 PM. Hosted by AFSC. Many people have an understanding that police violence targets certain communities and want to avoid calling the police but don’t know what to do in case of an emergency.  Join us for a 4-part series that will leave you with concrete skills and strategies to avoid calling law enforcement unless it is absolutely necessary. Register for all 4 sessions in this webinar series: May 4, 11, 18, and 25, and attend as many as you can. Recordings of all sessions will be available on our website.

Thursday, May 23

NH Renews Grassroots Lobby Training - 6 PM to 7:30 PM. Hosted by NH Renews Coalition. In preparation for our 2023 Climate & Energy Lobby Days we are offering a virtual grassroots lobby training. During the training, we'll offer support with developing and delivering a powerful testimony, and guidance on speaking to legislators about the climate and energy issues that matter most to you. After the training, you’ll have what you need to join us on one or both of our Lobby Days on 5/25 and 5/30, where we will target legislative committees that focus on the climate and energy policies that impact us all. We strongly encourage anyone planning to attend Lobby Day to join this training. You are welcome to join this training even if you cannot come to Lobby Day.

Thursday, May 25 & Tuesday, May 30

NH Renews Climate & Energy Lobby Days – 9 AM to 5 PM. Hosted by NH Renews Coalition. Join the NH Renews coalition as we make our voices heard and show our collective power! We will target legislative committees that have influence on bills that impact our utility costs, the energy sources we rely on, and how we cut carbon emissions while ensuring that everyone benefits. Together, we will speak about the climate and energy issues that matter most to us, and urge our elected leaders to take bold action for a future in which we can all thrive. No prior experience is needed, just your willingness to speak up for the changes that will impact you and New Hampshire's working families. The coalition will set up the meetings with legislative committees and offer support in preparing for Lobby Day, including a training.

Job Opportunities

City Year New Hampshire is recruiting young adults to serve as tutors and mentors in Manchester schools! Student Success Coaches provide students with critical support and receive incredible benefits themselves. Application deadline is May 5. Apply here or nominate someone.

Marine and Community Conservation Remote Externship - Summer 2023 Remote Externship, part time (10 hours/week, $500 stipend). Jointly hosted by The Nature Conservancy and National Geographic Society. Seeking young people ages 18-25 from around the globe with an interest in learning about approaches to conservation, particularly as it relates to marine conservation and community engagement.  Applications are due by May 1, 2023, and the fall cohort will begin on May 29, 2023.

Be well,

Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke 

AFSC’s New Hampshire "State House Watch" newsletter is published to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord which relate to racial, social, and economic justice. Bookmark: to read current and past newsletters. 

The AFSC is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about peace, social justice, humanitarian service, and nonviolent change. Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke staff the New Hampshire Program which publishes this newsletter. You can support our work by donating to the NH Program online or by sending a check payable to: AFSC-NH, 4 Park Street #304, Concord NH 03301. Thank you!