State House Watch: February 17, 2024

By Maggie Fogarty, Grace Kindeke and Kathleen Wooten

“I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see, I am sure it bends towards justice.” – Reverend Theodore Parker

February 17, 2024

Hello, State House Watchers,

We hope that during another hectic week at the State House you found time to celebrate love - all kinds of love. AFSC staff and friends stood outside of the Hillsborough County Department of Corrections (“Valley Street jail”) in the windy cold on Wednesday afternoon to send messages of compassion and solidarity to those who are confined there. AFSC’s Ophelia Burnett, one of the event organizers, remembered that a good friend would do the same thing for her when she was incarcerated there, and so she knew how much this gesture of care would mean to those on the inside.

Speaking of love, show some love for New Hampshire workers and the right to a union! Join the NH AFL-CIO, faith leaders, and others next week at the State House on Thursday, February 22, starting at 7:30 AM to send a clear message to our legislators that anti-union, anti-worker bills like HB 1377, this year’s so-called “Right to Work” bill, are wrong for New Hampshire! See you there!

Governor Sununu, fresh from his visit to Texas to cheer on Governor Abbott’s brutal anti-immigrant policies, announced this week that he would request $850,000 from the legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee to send NH National Guard troops to the southern border. Immediately, 70+ immigrant rights advocates, peace organizations and clergy spoke out in opposition, decrying the misuse of state funds and the calculated cruelty. Read more here (Boston Globe) and here (InDepthNH): “Billions of taxpayer dollars are already being spent to deter, detain and deport people at the southern border,” commented Grace Kindeke of the American Friends Service Committee. “I have visited the southern border in Texas and in California, and the on-the-ground reality is that people coming here are desperate for help; local communities are woefully underfunded and severely under resourced and yet still find ways to offer humanitarian aid and simple compassion to migrants.”

Unfortunately, the Joint Fiscal Committee voted yesterday along party lines to approve the funding. Read more here.

The governor gave his final State of the State address to a joint session of the state legislature last week. You can read about it here and here, and a review of his seven previous addresses here.


Support Immigrant Communities
HB 1054, which would end the continuous appropriation of $1.4 million to the NH Department of Safety for the Northern Border Alliance. The bill will be voted on in the full House soon. It received a tie vote in House Ways and Means. Please contact your House members and urge them to support this positive bill.

OPPOSE HB 1347, relative to administration of the New Hampshire refugee resettlement program. This bill, which would divert funds intended to support refugee resettlement in New Hampshire, has a public hearing in the House Health and Human Services Committee on Wednesday, February 21 at 9:30 AM in Room 203, LOB. Please contact the committee and sign in to oppose this anti-refugee bill.

OPPOSE SB 504, relative to land in current use. From NHPR: “This bill would permit landowners — including those who live along the state’s northern border with Canada — to post "no trespassing" signs with exceptions for recreational use…[clearing] the way for suspected undocumented migrants to be potentially arrested by local law enforcement — rather than federal border patrol agents — for criminal trespassing.” The bill will be voted on in the full Senate soon. Please contact your Senator and urge them to defeat this anti-immigrant bill.

Stand with Workers
HB 1377-FN, the so called "right to work" bill that would make it more difficult for workers to join or create labor unions. It will be voted on in the full House on Thursday, February 22 and it is expected to be a very close vote. Please contact your House members and urge them to defeat this harmful bill, and join labor leaders and allies in person at the State House on Thursday morning.

SUPPORT HB 1322, relative to the state minimum hourly rate. This bill increases the minimum hourly rate, increases the base rate for tipped employees, and adjusts both rates annually based on the most recent 12-month average of the Consumer Price Index. This bill came out of committee with a tie vote, and will be voted on in the full House on Thursday, February 22. Please contact your House members and urge them to pass this much-needed, long overdue boost for workers.

OPPOSE efforts to move New Hampshire mail sorting and processing from Manchester to Boston. Submit written comments to the USPS here by February 23 and stand with NH postal workers.

Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples
SUPPORT HB 1335, removing Columbus Day as a holiday. This bill has a public hearing in House Executive Departments & Administration, Room 306-308, LOB on Wednesday, February 21 at 2 PM. Please contact the committee, and sign in to support and share testimony.

Protect Voting Rights
Follow this Legislative Toolkit from the NH Campaign For Voting Rights to stay up to date on bills that would impact election this session.

Permanent Ceasefire Now!

We watch with horror as Israeli troops continue the bombardment of the people of Gaza, and the catastrophic conditions worsen day by day, while the US Senate – including Senators Shaheen and Hassan – authorizes billions more in weapons without accountability or conditions.

Here is the latest news from AFSC staff member Serena Awad in Rafah, where terrified refugees brace themselves for an Israeli ground invasion: “There’s no such thing as a safe place for people to go in Gaza. Everyone is confused. If you just walk in the street, you will hear everyone saying, where should we go now? No one has an answer. This is the fifth, seventh, or the tenth time that people have left to move from one place to another.”   

Serena has a message for those of us in the US: “Never stop the pressure for a ceasefire. Don’t stop pressuring your communities, your representatives, or your president. Keep pushing for letting in aid to Gaza because it is so important. Never underestimate what you are doing. Everyone should know that every protest you go to, every donation you make, every word you speak to let people know the truth—that this is an actual genocide that is happening—is saving a life. Just keep doing whatever you can. Please speak up for humanity and call for an end to this genocide.”

So please, keep up those calls, every day:

Sen. Maggie Hassan: Call (202) 224-3324 / (603) 622-2204
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen: Call (202) 224-2841 / 603-647-7500
Rep. Chris Pappas (NH-01): Call (202) 225-5456 / (603) 285-4300
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02): Call (202) 225-5206 / (603) 226-1002
President Biden: (202) 456-1111 and

And let’s continue to inform ourselves and care for our spirits: Join AFSC’s Mike Merryman Lotze for a program on “Israel, Palestine and the Basics of International Law,” hosted by NH Peace Action on Wednesday, February 21 at 7 PM. RSVP here.

We recommend this recording of a February 6 webinar hosted by Massachusetts Peace Action, “The US Military Industrial Complex and the Assault on Gaza.”

All are welcome for “Responding to War and Terror: A Circle of Grief, Gratitude and Practice," at the Community Church of Durham on Saturday afternoon, February 25. More information here.

Immigration News

By a vote of 70-29, the Senate passed a $95.34 billion package that includes military funds for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan and some humanitarian aid to Gaza, the West Bank, Ukraine and other conflict zones. The package does not include a provision to restore funds to the United Nations aid agency, UNRWA. It now heads to the House where it will faces an uphill challenge. From NH Bullletin: “[House] Speaker Mike Johnson hasn’t committed to putting the bill on the floor for debate and votes amid opposition to the military and humanitarian assistance from some in the right flank of his conference…he doesn’t approve of the Senate bill in part because it does not contain any immigration provisions, after Senate Republicans tanked a bipartisan border security deal that was also opposed by Johnson and House GOP leaders.”

This week, President Biden approved an 18-month Deferred Enforced Departure (DED) designation for certain Palestinians who have been continuously present in the US since February 14, 2024 (full text here). Although this is some welcome relief for people who are unable to return to their homeland (in large part because of the US’s continued military and financial support of Israel), it does not go far enough. Sign AFSC’s petition calling for a ceasefire in Gaza and more life-saving aid to Palestine.

Advocates continue to press for a full restoration of the US asylum system, noting the adverse impacts that the Biden administrations’ recent rule changes has had on migrants’ (particularly Black and African migrants) ability to access asylum protections. Human Rights First today has published a factsheet on how current policies drive irregular migration patterns and harm Black asylum seekers and migrants. “The asylum ban and related restrictions deny most African asylum seekers equal access to asylum at ports of entry and punish those who cross between ports of entry to seek safety.” Amplify and share Human Rights First tweet thread on this issue here.

Last Week at the State House

LOB – Legislative Office Building (33 N. State St. Concord)
SH – State House (107 N. Main St. Concord)
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.
“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.
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.
VV – Voice vote. Votes are not counted.
RC – Roll call vote. Each legislator’s vote is recorded and attributed to them.
DV – Division vote. Votes are counted but not attributed to individual legislators.

Last Week in the House
The full House met on February 15. Here are the outcomes on the bills we’re tracking.

On the Consent Calendar


HB 1216,  cross-district bullying and cyberbullying. This bill provides that bullying or cyberbullying may occur across school districts and identifies which district will be responsible for the investigation of such claims. Refer for interim study.  
HB 1402, establishing a procedure for a high school proficiency exam waiver of mandatory school attendance.  This bill allows for a student to take and pass a high school proficiency exam so that the student shall no longer be bound by the mandatory school attendance requirements. Refer for interim study.
HB 1516, relative to enrollment in public schools by children of school district employees. This bill would allow school district employees to enroll their children in the district they are employed, provided that there is adequate staff and classroom space. Refer for interim study
HB 1678, establishing a New Hampshire farm to school local food incentive pilot program. Referred to Finance

HB 1070, relative to procedures during a state of emergency. This bill prohibits state employees from cooperating with the executive branch in suspending civil liberties during a declared state of emergency. ITL
HB 1112, establishing a continuing education requirement regarding human trafficking for individuals licensed by the office of professional licensure and certification. ITL
HB 1324,  relative to green burials and authorizing the natural organic reduction of human remains. This bill establishes scattering gardens and memorial forests as green burial locations, and establishes the regulation under the board of funeral directors and embalmers of natural organic reduction of human remains. Refer for interim study
HB 1679 relative to changing to Atlantic Standard Time. This bill urges Congress to authorize New England states to adopt year-round Atlantic Standard Time, establishes an interstate commission between northern New England states to study the transition to Atlantic Standard Time, and transitions the state to Atlantic Standard time if Maine, Massachusetts, and Vermont also enact laws doing the same. Refer for interim study

HB 1693, relative to use of psychedelics for therapeutic purposes. This bill allows and regulates the use of psychedelics for certain qualifying medical conditions. Refer for interim study

HB 1069, relative to material subject to disclosure following a public meeting under the right-to-know law. This bill provides that preliminary drafts circulated to a quorum or a majority of the public body shall be available for inspection following a public meeting. OTP-A
HB 1651 combining the board of tax and land appeals and the housing appeals board. ITL

HB 1290, protection of employment for members of the general court. This bill provides members of the general court with employment protections during voting sessions. ITL
HB 1666 relative to income reporting requirements for lobbyists.  This bill requires lobbyists to identify clients and income received from lobbying activity.  The bill also authorizes the secretary of state to enforce lobbyist statement requirements. OTP-A

HB 1362 authorizing municipalities to stabilize rent increases in rental housing. This bill authorizes municipalities to enact and enforce rent stabilizing ordinances. ITL

HR24,  reaffirming support for the child labor amendment to the United States Constitution. This resolution affirms support for the child labor amendment to the United States Constitution. OTP
HR 28, urging for the compensation for injuries from PFAS and for the closure and cleaning of sites affected by PFAS. OTP-A

HB 1492-FN, relative to the rate and exemptions of the interest and dividends tax. Rep. Susan Almy for Ways and Means. Refer for interim study

On the Regular Calendar

HB 1212, eligibility for free school meals.  This bill increases the eligibility for free school meals to household incomes up to 350 percent of federal poverty guidelines, and provides funding from the education trust fund for the additional costs.  Referred to Finance
HB 1419, relative to prohibiting obscene or harmful sexual materials in schools. This bill prohibits material that is obscene or harmful to minors in schools and creates a procedure for removal and cause of action. Referred to Finance
HB 1524, relative to authorizing parents of special education children to observe in the classroom setting. OTP  DV 187-185
HB 1652 establishing a local education freedom account program.  This bill allows school districts to adopt a program for local education freedom accounts for a parent of an eligible student to receive a grant from a scholarship organization for qualifying educational expenses at a public school, chartered public school, nonpublic school, or program approved by the department of education. ITL DV 194-179
HB 1677, participation in education freedom accounts based on school or school district proficiency scores.  This bill extends eligibility for the education freedom account program to students who participated in the program in the preceding year, students whose enrollment transfer requests were denied, and to students in school districts which performed at 49 percent or below in statewide assessments. Reconsider ITL MF DV 175-193

HB 1560 unassigned moneys in the education trust fund. This bill requires that any surplus in the education trust fund be transferred to the general fund at the end of each fiscal year. Lay on Table DV 346-14

HB 1363, allowing members of the general court to participate in the department of health and human services employee assistance program. This bill allows members of the general court to participate in the New Hampshire employee assistance program operated by the department of health and human services with the cost paid by the legislative branch. OTP by RC (184-168). Referred to Finance

HCR 11, condemning medically unnecessary restrictions on medication abortion. Reconsider DV 156-187

Last week in the Senate
Senators met in session on Thursday, February 15 to vote on legislation. Here are the outcomes of the bills we’re tracking.

On the Consent Calendar

SB 518, incentivizing landlords to accept housing choice vouchers. This bill establishes a landlord housing incentive program and fund. This bill makes an appropriation to implement the fund. OTP-A

SB 378, performance-based school accountability system task force. This bill creates a task force to develop and review the performance-based accountability system to review whether schools are providing the opportunity for an adequate education. OTP

SB 404, expanding child care professionals' eligibility for the child care scholarship program. This bill establishes eligibility criteria for child care professionals to receive child care scholarships. OTP-A
SB 410, establishing a mental health community and transitional housing fund. This bill establishes a mental health community and transitional housing fund to support community and transitional housing through grants to the community mental health programs. The bill also makes appropriations to the department of health and human services for deposit in the fund and to increase provider rates for community mental health center supported housing. OTP-A
SB 499, reduction of hunger for children, older adults, and people with disabilities. This bill directs the department of education to expand options for free and reduced priced meals to students and directs the department of health and human services to implement a summer EBT program to provide assistance to families with children eligible for free and reduced-price meals over the summer. The bill also directs the department of health and human services to participate in the elderly simplified application project within the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to provide food assistance to eligible older adults and people with disabilities. OTP-A

On the Regular Calendar

CACR 24, reproductive freedom. This constitutional amendment concurrent resolution would amend the constitution to provide that individuals shall have a right to personal reproductive autonomy. ITL (14-9)
SB 322, relative to licenses to carry. This bill requires a license authorizing an individual to carry a loaded pistol or revolver in this state to include the name, title, and signature of the person issuing the license. OTP-A (14-9)
SB 360, extreme risk protection orders. This bill establishes a procedure for issuing extreme risk protection orders to protect against persons who pose an immediate risk of harm to themselves or others. ITL (14-9)
SB 571, requiring a background check prior to any commercial firearm sale. This bill requires commercial firearms sales or transfers in this state to be subject to a criminal background check and provides a criminal penalty for a violation. This bill further provides a process for a commercial sale of a firearm where neither party to the prospective transaction is a licensed firearms dealer. ITL (14-9)
SB 575, legal protection for legal New Hampshire abortion and contraception care. This bill provides various legal protections related to the performance of or support of legal reproductive health care services including: I.A prohibition against extraditing certain individuals for legally protected health care activity; II. Prohibitions against government officials or police agencies from cooperating with any out of state investigation into legally protected health care activity, absent court-issued subpoenas or warrants; III.  Prohibitions on adverse actions or discipline taken by the board of medicine, board of registered nursing, or pharmacy board for certain legally protected health care activity; and IV. A prohibition against health care providers or other New Hampshire entities from sharing confidential communications or information regarding reproductive health care services with out of state agencies or individuals absent a search warrant. ITL (14-9)
SB 577, imposing a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm. This bill establishes a waiting period for the delivery of a firearm, subject to certain exceptions. ITL (14-9)

SB 476-FN, making a capital appropriation to the department of corrections toward the replacement of the New Hampshire state prison for men. This bill makes a bonded appropriation of $40 million for architectural, engineering, programming, and design and construction documents for the New Hampshire state prison for men. OTP (23-0)

SB 330, allowing the ability to work from home to count toward unemployment benefits eligibility. This bill repeals disqualification for unemployment benefits for those not available for work outside the home. OTP by VV

SB 339, repealing the graduation requirement regarding Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) applications. This bill removes requirements that students file a free application for federal student aid form (FAFSA) or a waiver for such form prior to graduation, and removes all references to the FAFSA. OTP-A by VV

SB 527, relative to student housing. This bill includes student housing in municipal workforce housing regulations. OTP-A by VV

SB 303, use of renewable energy funds by the department of energy. This bill adds battery storage projects to uses of the renewable energy fund, deletes a required renewable generation incentive program, and authorizes a political subdivision incentive, rebate, or grant program using the fund.  The bill also modifies the reporting date by the department of energy concerning the renewable energy fund. This bill is a request of the department of energy. OTP-A by VV

SB 248, relative to bail for a defendant. This bill amends the statute governing bail and pre-trial release to include provisions for pre-trial detention for commission of certain offenses that would create a presumption that the defendant is a danger to the public. OTP by VV
HB 596, prohibiting the use of racial profiling in law enforcement activities and in sentencing. OTP-A by VV

Next week in the House
The House will meet on Thursday, February 22 at 9 AM, which is the deadline to act on House bills going to a second committee. There will be no session day during the week of February 26, when most schools are on vacation. 

On the Consent Calendar

HB 1667-FN, relative to establishing a department for children, youth, and families. To do the work of separating out DCYF from DHHS would require a considerable amount of money and would be better spent in further strengthening the staff at DCYF. ITL

HB1207, relative to single-use disposable plastic foodware accessories. This bill prohibits certain food service facilities from having self serve/self-service disposable plastic foodware accessory dispensers, and from providing or offering disposable plastic foodware accessories to any customer, except upon request of that customer. Refer for Interim Study.
HB1406, relative to gender-based pricing of goods and services. This bill prohibits price discrimination based upon to whom goods or services are marketed and establishes a mechanism for enforcement. ITL
HB1636, This bill creates a New Hampshire container deposit, refund, recycle and reuse system.  It establishes a producer responsibility organization (PRO) to implement a beverage container recycling redemption refund program to issue redemption refunds to consumers for beverage containers.  It contains labeling requirements, establishes performance targets for the PRO, contains reporting requirements, requires the PRO to establish an Operations Advisory Committee and an Equity and Access Advisory Committee and contains provisions concerning reimbursement, enforcement, administration and other provisions. Refer for Interim Study.

HB 1337, relative to the return of weapons and ammunition upon expiration of protective orders. This bill changes the burden to the plaintiff to file a request for a hearing prior to the expiration of a protective order or else any and all firearms, ammunition, or specified deadly weapons will be returned to the defendant.  This bill further removes the prohibition that law enforcement agencies shall not release firearms, ammunition, or specified deadly weapons without a court order, and removes the authorization for law enforcement agencies to charge the defendant a fee for the storage of the firearms, ammunition, and specified deadly weapons.  This bill further removes the subsection providing law enforcement agencies release from liability for damage or deterioration to the firearms, ammunition, or specified deadly weapons stored. ITL
HB 1428, relative to inmate illness or emergency. This bill requires any correctional facility housing an inmate to be responsible for the transport to and security over an inmate that needs to be taken to a medical facility.  Refer for interim study
HB 1462,  This bill establishes reporting requirements for hate-based crimes. Refer for interim study
HB 1566, relative to the review of police investigations.  This bill provides a method for local or county governmental bodies to request an independent investigation by the state police of a local police department investigation. Refer for interim study

HB 1153, relative to mandatory and elective public school curricula. This bill requires mandatory "anti-communist" curricula and establishes elective curricula for public schools. ITL

HB 1294, relative to prohibiting the state of New Hampshire from enforcing the regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency. This bill states that the federal Environmental Protection Agency has no constitutional validity in this state, and requires that the New Hampshire department of environmental services provide for all environmental protection in this state. OTP/A

HB 1454, relative to benefits for New Hampshire child care employees. This bill allows licensed child care providers to opt into the state health insurance plan. ITL

HB 1597, relative to the maximum weekly unemployment benefit amount. This bill modifies the formula to calculate unemployment benefits. Refer for interim study
HB1668, relative to establishing a 4-day work week. This bill mandates a regular work week of 32 hours in 4 8-hour days. ITL

HB 1114, This bill extends for 5 years the commission to investigate and analyze the environmental and public health impacts relating to releases of perfluorinated chemicals in the air, soil, and groundwater in Merrimack, Bedford, Londonderry, and Litchfield. OTP/A

HB 1644, This bill requires the department of energy to initiate a proceeding and conduct an investigation of the benefits and key considerations regarding support for clean or non-carbon emitting power generation, and report to the legislature in one year.  OTP/A

HB 1485, This bill establishes a committee to study the totality of circumstances surrounding the COVID-19 epidemic. Refer for interim study
HR 22, This resolution urges Congress to remove the exception from the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution:  "except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted." OTP

CACR 18, the tax exempt status of churches. This constitutional amendment concurrent resolution adds an amendment specifying that churches, religious organizations, and houses of worship are subject to state and local taxes. ITL
HB 1422, This bill reduces the rates of the business profits tax, business enterprise tax, and meals and rooms tax.  It also reduces and subsequently repeals the communications services tax. Refer for interim study

On the Regular Calendar

HB 1573, relative to oversight of and criteria for residential placement of children. This bill revises criteria for the out-of-home placement of children and increases oversight and certification criteria for out-of-state residential treatment programs.  The bill also expands the definition of abuse or neglect under RSA 169-C to include a child in certain residential placements. OTP/A

HB 1633, relative to the legalization and regulation of cannabis and making appropriations therefor. This bill establishes procedures for the legalization, regulation, and taxation of cannabis; the licensing and regulation of cannabis establishments; and makes appropriations therefor. OTP/A
HB 1649, relative to prohibiting certain products with intentionally added PFAS. This bill restricts the use of per and polyfluoroalkyl substances in certain consumer products sold in New Hampshire. OTP/A

HB 1339, relative to department of safety firearm background checks. This bill requires the department of safety to be responsible for conducting the required firearm background checks for federal firearm licensees through NICS for all firearm transfers. OTP/A

HB 1128, relative to the definition of a scholarship organization for purposes of the education tax credit. This bill provides that, for purposes of the education tax credit, a qualifying scholarship organization shall be incorporated in this state. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
HB 1288, This bill establishes certain due process rights for students, student organizations, and faculty members facing disciplinary actions by state institutions of higher learning. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
HB 1517,  relative to the statewide education property tax and excess revenue from games of chance. This bill annually reduces the state education property tax by the amount of revenue paid to the state through games of chance in excess of the estimated amount paid in the 2023 fiscal year. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
HB 1583, relative to the per pupil cost of an opportunity for an adequate education. This bill increases the base annual cost of providing an opportunity for an adequate education.
HB 1656,  relative to exemptions from the rabies vaccine.  This bill removes the requirement that dogs exempt from the rabies vaccine be muzzled.
HB 1675,  This bill adjusts the amounts of grants for adequate education by reducing the amount calculated for pupils who test below proficiency levels on the statewide proficiency exam in the previous year. ITL (16-4)
HB 1686, This bill requires that all of the proceeds of the statewide education property tax be spent by municipalities on the funding of a constitutionally adequate education or be remitted to the state for deposit in the education trust fund. This bill also prohibits the department of revenue administration from setting negative local or county tax rates.

HB 1426,  This bill establishes an advisory commission on redistricting. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION

HB 1466, This bill authorizes disaster relief aid for municipalities that suffer certain damage in natural disasters. OTP/A (20-0)
HB 1647,  relative to the calculation of group II retirement benefits in the retirement system. This bill modifies the group II members retirement annuity multipliers for the New Hampshire retirement system.  The bill makes an appropriation to the retirement system therefor. OTP/A (20-0

HB 1178, This bill requires an employer to pay an employee for unused earned time. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
HB 1322, This bill increases the minimum hourly rate, increases the base rate for tipped employees, and adjusts both rates annually based on the most recent 12-month average of the Consumer Price Index. This bill increases the minimum hourly rate, increases the base rate for tipped employees, and adjusts both rates annually based on the most recent 12-month average of the Consumer Price Index. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
HB 1377,  relative to granting workers free choice to join or refrain from joining labor unions. This bill prohibits collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
HB 1522, This bill updates the weekly benefit amount for total unemployment and maximum total amount of benefits payable during any benefit year. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION

HB 1465, relative to studies of nuclear energy technologies. This bill requires the department of energy to coordinate the continuing studies by various state agencies on the uses and development of nuclear energy, including advanced nuclear reactors. OTP/A (17-3)
HB 1472, relative to rebates of energy efficiency funds for electric vehicles. This bill dedicates $3,000,000 from proceeds from the energy efficiency fund to be used by the department of energy to develop a pilot program for a "cash on the hood" program for point-of-sale electric vehicle rebates to buyers. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION

HB 1611, This bill establishes a child care workforce fund. OTP/A (8-0)

Next Week in House Committees
You can watch the House hearings here You can sign in for House bills here. And you can contact House committees here.

Tuesday, February 20

10:30 AM Executive session on CACR 17, relating to the rights of parents. Providing that parents shall have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their minor children; CACR 25, relating to the rights of children and parents. Providing that parents and children have the right to control their health, education, and welfare.

EDUCATION, Room 205-207, LOB
9:15 AM Executive session on HB 1014, relative to the registration of high school students to vote. This bill requires school districts and private high schools to develop programs to inform high school students about registering to vote. HB 1162, relative to teaching discrimination in public schools and discrimination in public workplaces. This bill provides that no education law of this state shall be construed to bar any school employee from teaching the historical or current experiences of any group that is protected from discrimination.  The bill also repeals provisions of the law relating to the right to freedom from discrimination in public workplaces and education. HB 1671, relative to the complaint process for teaching discrimination and allowing educators and school officials a right of action for damages and costs for false accusations.  This bill provides that complaints for teaching discrimination first be made to the local school board and are appealed to the state board of education.  The bill also allows educators or other school employees falsely accused of teaching discrimination to initiate a civil action for legal or equitable relief. HB 1356, relative to the use of children's names and pronouns by public school employees. This bill prohibits public school employees and contractors from using students' preferred names and pronouns, absent permission from the parents or guardians. HB 1287, relative to the definition of the term "evidence-based" within public education. This bill defines "evidence-based" as applied to pedagogical methods and requires the department of education and all local school districts to conform with such definition in all communications. HB 1512, limiting education freedom account funding to budgeted amounts. This bill limits the amounts of funds appropriated from the education trust fund to the education freedom account program to budgeted sums.  HB1108,  relative to establishing a committee to study the role of colleges and universities in contributing to the student loan crisis. This bill establishes a committee to study the role of colleges and universities in contributing to the student loan crisis. HB1305,  relative to freedom of speech and association at public institutions of higher education. This bill establishes procedures governing freedom of speech and association at public institutions of higher education.

ELECTION LAW, Room 306-308, LOB
9:00 AM CACR 19. This constitutional amendment concurrent resolution establishes an independent redistricting commission to draw the boundaries for state and federal elections.
10:15 AM HB 1264-FN, relative to the definition of accessible voting systems. relative to the definition of accessible voting systems. This bill directs cities and towns to enable access to voting for individuals with disabilities during elections.
11:00 AM HB 1384, relative to noncompliance by a town or ward moderator and clerk. This bill defines and prohibits noncompliance by a town or ward moderator or clerk with respect to elections.
1:00 PM HB 1557, requiring the secretary of state to enter into a membership agreement with the Electronic Registration Information Center. This bill requires the secretary of state to enter into a membership agreement with the Electronic Registration Information Center. 
1:25 PM HB 1569, relative to eliminating voter identification exceptions. This bill removes any exceptions for proving voter identification.  This bill also removes the voter affidavits as proof of identification and repeals the procedures for affidavit ballots.

Wednesday, February 21

9:30 AM Executive session on HB 1539,  relative to annulling, resentencing, or discontinuing prosecution of certain cannabis offenses. This bill allows for additional annulments, resentencings, or discontinuations of prosecutions for certain cannabis offenses. HB 1270, relative to protective custody statutes. This bill amends the procedures that peace officers are to follow when they encounter someone who is both intoxicated and incapacitated by either alcohol or drugs.

1:00 PM HB 1252, relative to establishing a committee to study the needs of Native Americans in New Hampshire.
1:30 PM HB 1474, relative to the commission on Native American affairs.
2:00 PM HB 1335, removing Columbus Day as a holiday.

9:30 AM HB 1347, relative to administration of the New Hampshire refugee resettlement program.

JUDICIARY, Room 206-208, LOB
9:00 AM HB 1664-FN, relative to legal remedies for individuals who receive medical detransitioning.
10:00 AM HB 1672, relative to tenants in section 8 public housing.

2:30 PM HB 1053, relative to permissible residential units in a commercial zone.

Friday, February 23

9:30 AM Executive Session on HB 1012-FN, exempting from criminal penalty certain parenting decisions intended to encourage a child’s independence and freedom; HB 1039-FN, relative to alternative sentencing for primary caregivers

Next week in the Senate
The Senate will meet in session on Wednesday, February 21 starting at 1 PM. You can watch it here. Here are the bills we’re tracking.

On the Regular Calendar

SB 342 This bill establishes a new school district building aid funding program using state funds allocated to each district and makes an appropriation therefor. OTP/A (3-1)

SB 489, relative to election audits. This bill requires the secretary of state to conduct audits of a certain percentage of ballot counting devices to be used at state primary and general elections.  OTP/A (3-0)
SB 490, This bill changes the verification of the checklist from every 10 years to every 2 years. OTP/A (2-1)
SB 491, This bill authorizes municipalities to enter into voluntary agreements with owners of private roads. OTP/A (3-0)
SB 530, This bill makes provisions for the reporting of receipts and expenditures filed by political committees of candidates and candidates. OTP/A (3-0)

SB 552, relative to lapse of funds from the education trust fund. This bill requires that amounts which exceed $175 million in the education trust fund at the close of a fiscal year shall be transferred to a dedicated fund to be expended on teacher shortage and teacher retention programs.  It also creates a legislative advisory group to provide advice and consent for the use of such funds. Refer for interim study (5-2)

Next Week in Senate Committees
You can watch the Senate hearings here. You can sign in for Senate bills here. And you can contact Senate committees.

Tuesday, February 20

9:15 AM SB 538-L, relative to zoning procedures concerning residential housing. The previous hearing on SB 538 was recessed on February 13.
1:00 PM SB 591-FN-A, modifying definitions, claims procedures, and funding relating to the youth development center settlement fund and claims administration.

Wednesday, February 21

9:15 AM SB 408, establishing a committee to study the effects of the housing crisis on the disability community.

Thursday, February 22


Upcoming Events & Actions

Are you, or do you know, a social justice minded young person, aged 18-22, who wants to learn about community organizing with AFSC? Consider applying for AFSC’s 3rd annual Emerging Leaders for Liberation cohort! Applications will be accepted until March 1, 2024. You can read here about the recently concluded 2nd cohort, which included New Hampshire community leader Bol Nakdimo!

Every Wednesday
Solemn Vigils for Ceasefire now! Humanitarian access to Gaza! No tax dollars for war crimes! – Join us from 2 PM to 3 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action, AFSC & interfaith partners.

February 21: Senator Jeanne Shaheen – across from the Dover District Office, 2 Washington Street, Dover, NH
February 28: Congressman Chris Pappas – Dover District Office, 660 Central Avenue, Dover, NH

Every Thursday
Meeting for Worship with Attention to Peace in Palestine & Israel - 5:30 PM. Hosted by AFSC.
Solemn Vigils for Ceasefire Now – 12 noon at City Hall Plaza, in front of the State House, Concord

Every Friday
AFSC Action Hour for a Ceasefire 12 noon. Hosted by AFSC. Join AFSC staff every Friday at 12 p.m. ET / 9 a.m. PT to hear updates from Gaza. Then, take action with us as we contact our elected officials and call for an immediate cease-fire and humanitarian access to Gaza. Our elected officials need to keep hearing from us.

Tuesday, February 20
GSOP Faith Leader Caucus Meeting & Training – 11 AM to 3 PM. Hosted by Granite State Organizing Project. Nashua Unitarian Universalist - 58 Lowell Street, Nashua. Our time together will include a training in relationship building by Rev. Jonathon Hopkins and a deep dive into Power with Joe Fleming, Faith in Action Leadership Strategies. Lunch is included as is time for fellowship, reflection and planning for our LOVE 2024 Conversations with NH Gubernatorial candidates.

Wednesday, February 21
Remaking the Economy: Building Regional Solidarity Economies - 2 PM to 3:30 PM. Hosted by NPQ. How do we build regional economies rooted in community ownership? In this webinar we take a deep look at movement growth and ongoing challenges— with participants from New Orleans, Los Angeles, Oakland (CA), Buffalo and Washington DC sharing their perspectives.

Israel, Palestine & the Basics of International Law - 7 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action & AFSC. In the current crisis in Israel and Palestine many terms and processes regarding International Law are regularly raised but not always well defined. In this talk you will get some basic definitions, concepts and procedures explained so that you can understand and speak more confidently with legislators, friends and media.

Milk with Dignity Mass Call-in Action -6 PM to 7 PM. Hosted by Migrant Justice. Join us for this volunteer training on Tuesday 2/20 6-7pm and sign up to contact supporters and help drive calls to Hannaford Supermarkets on Wednesday 2/21 to urge the grocery chain to join the Milk with Dignity Program and improve the conditions in Hannaford’s supply chain.

Saturday, February 24
Black History Month Quaker Zoom Event: The Bayard Rustin Legacy Forum - 1 PM to 3 PM. Hosted by the Black Quaker Project.  virtual symposium sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee, hosted by Dr. Harold D. Weaver Jr., and moderated by Palestinian-American Quaker scholar-activist Dr. Sa’ed Atshan. They will be joined by Haverford College Africana and Religious Studies scholar, Dr. Terrence Wiley, and Friends Council on National Legislation administrator, Laura Brownlee, for a series of presentations on the remarkable legacy of Friend Rustin, followed by an audience Q & A. Our distinguished panel will engage with the 2023 biopic Rustin, which we recommend viewing prior to this one-time event.

“Who We Are” Film Screening & Community Conversation – 2 PM. Hosted by Nashua NAACP. Nashua Public Library. Join us for a powerful film about racism in America followed by facilitated discussion about anti-Black racism and white supremacy.

MHT Connect + Conquer Community Meetup - 2 PM. Hosted by 603 Forward. Stark Brewing Company, Manchester. Whether you live in Manchester and are eager to stay informed about the ongoing zoning reform process, are just beginning to wade into the affordable housing and zoning world, or are just looking to meet folks in your community — this is the place for you! Learn more and dive into important conversations about affordable housing, zoning reforms, and explore their impact on your neighborhood and community.

Monday, February 26
Peace & Justice Conversations: Iran & The Mid-East Turmoil - 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by NH Peace Action. The current Israeli attacks on the Palestinians have already spilled over into neighboring countries. The U.S. has now bombed Yemen. The stark possibility that Iran will be pulled into this war is looming larger and larger. Over forty years of U.S.-Iran tensions may soon reach their breaking point, along with other political realities in the region. Jamal Abdi will join us to help us understand the history and implications of the current crisis.

Tuesday, February 27
Understanding our Immigration Process - 7 PM. Hosted by AFSC. In this session we'll look at what pathways exist for migrants to enter the U.S. lawfully under current laws, and discuss the challenges that arise for those in different situations. We will walk through the process and have a time for conversation about our vision for a process that would ensure that all migrants are treated with dignity and respect regardless of circumstance.

Thursday, February 29
Local Solutions Webinar Series: YIMBYism: A Different Approach to Development - 12 PM. Hosted by ODP. This presentation will focus on how two different communities worked to not only change their zoning ordinances, but also their approaches to development, focusing more on working with applicants to help them fit their proposals to their respective zoning ordinance.

February to March
Finding Your Place in the Climate Justice Movement – Hosted by 350 NH. We're calling this a training series but really what we want is to bring all of our community members together so we can make a greater impact on the climate justice issues we face. All are welcome to join us for one or all of the Zoom calls and the in-person sessions:


Feb 24 at 10 AM - Climate Action Planning (Zoom)

Mar 5 at 6:30 PM - Climate and Militarism (Zoom)

Mar 23 at 10 AM - Finding Your Story in the Climate Movement (In person, Concord, TBA)

February to April 
Elinor Williams Hooker Tea Talks 2024: A New Deal for a Great Society - Hosted by the Black Heritage Trail NH in Portsmouth, Keene, Nashua. Registration is open for the 2024 annual Elinor William Hooker Tea Talks. This year's program will explore how two federal programs geared toward building a more just society -- Franklin D. Roosevelt's "New Deal" and Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" -- played out in New Hampshire. We will ask what impact these programs had on our state and what happens now when changing demographics meet programs designed during the New Deal and Great Society. February talks will be held in Portsmouth, the March talk in Keene, and the April talk in Nashua. 

Feb 18 - A Question of Access and Quality: Health Care in NH 
Feb 25 - Close to the Edge: Policing and Criminal Justice in NH 
Mar 10 - Equity and Adequacy: Public Education in NH 
Apr 21 - Envisioning the Future

Sunday, March 3
Remembering Selma in NH: Past, Present & Future – 2:30 PM. Hosted by Open Democracy, AFSC NH & partners. NEP House of Praise, 245 Maple St. Manchester. Join us to learn more about our history, and ways you can support current efforts to sustain and expand the gains of the Civil Rights era and ensure that voting remains inclusive and accessible to all NH citizens. We will gather at 100 Granite St, Manchester, have a short introduction and prayer by Pastor Renee Rouse and march across the Granite Street Bridge and back.  We'll then proceed with a car rally to the Valley St. jail and from there we will head to NEP House of Praise to enjoy lunch and hear stories from members of our community who will share their reflections on the past, present and future impacts of the march in Selma and the fight to preserve every citizen’s right to vote.

Monday, March 4
Manchester Housing Alliance Meeting - 7 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. Once Monthly, we meet to discuss local housing policies to make sure that Manchester is a place everybody can afford to live. Join to find out how to get involved at the local level to push Manchester elected officials to take action on the Housing crisis

Friday, March 8 
Parent/Caregiver Support Group – 7 PM to 8:30 PM. Hosted by Seacoast Outright. Part of supporting LGBTQ+ youth is making sure their own familial networks have the support and information they need! The Parent Support Group is an opportunity for caregivers of LGBTQ+ youth to connect in an empathetic and casual setting. Email Christine at to sign up and for more information about these hybrid meetings.

Sunday, March 10
An Evening with NH Secretary of State Scanlan - 7 PM to 8:30 PM. Hosted by Hillsborough County Democratic Committee. Join us for a discussion with Secretary Scanlan about campaign finance, election law and processes ahead of the 2024 elections. If you would like to submit a question ahead of time, please email it to

Monday, March 14
NH Healthcare Survey- Kick-Off Event - 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. Hosted by Rights & Democracy. Join us and other healthcare advocates across the state for an exciting Kick-Off Event for the New Hampshire Healthcare Survey.We'll have a short presentation about the status of healthcare in NH and why we are facilitating this survey and we'll also walk you through the survey folks can fill out the survey, share it with friends, and join us for outreach phone calls and sharing the survey link with friends and families.

Tuesday, March 19
Introduction to Deep Canvassing: The Proven Method to Change Hearts & Minds - 6 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? Join The Deep Canvass Institute to learn more about deep canvassing; what it is, how it’s used and why it works.

State House 101 - 7 PM. Hosted by 603 Forward. Have you ever considered running for stat office? We'll take you through what to expect as a potential State Representative and why this role is so important. We'll also feature a panel of young elected leaders to talk about their experience serving as a State Representative.

With best wishes,
Maggie Fogarty, Grace Kindeke and Kathleen Wooten

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, education, civil liberties, and labor rights. We also follow the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more. Subscribe today to receive State House Watch news every week!

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.
Read our 2023 highlights here. Kathleen Wooten is AFSC’s State House Watch researcher and database manager.

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