State House Watch: May 14, 2023

By Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke

NH State House spring 2023

"You have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat unless the water is safer than the land." —Warsan Shire, "Home"

May 14, 2023

Happy Mother’s Day, State House Watchers. In addition to celebrating our dear ones, it is an occasion to remember Julia Ward Howe and the original Mother’s Day proclamation:

Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or of tears! Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies, our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another country to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs. From the bosom of the devastated earth a voice goes up with our own. It says, ‘Disarm, disarm! The sword is not the balance of justice.’ Blood does not wipe out dishonor nor violence indicate possession.”

The public health emergency ended last week, and with it, the use of Title 42 to expel migrants, including asylum seekers, at the southern border. Read more here and here. Sadly, the Biden administration simply replaced Title 42 with Title 8 and has expanded their efforts to deny and expel those who seek refuge at our borders. Please sign this AFSC petition to tell the Biden Administration to protect people’s right to claim asylum under US and international law.

Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week. We are grateful for the teachers who inspire, encourage, educate, and nurture our children; and we remain committed to honoring their essential labor with fair wages, good policies, well-resourced schools and our trust in their judgment.


SB 272, the so-called parental bill of rights that would require school staff to ‘out’ trans kids to their parents (if asked) and automatically notify parents of students’ participation in LGBTQ+ support groups and clubs. The full House vote will take place on May 18, and the outcome is expected to be by a razor thin margin. Please let your own Representatives know that this dangerous bill must be defeated. Check out this important op-ed by Representatives Cannon, Murray and Roesener, and join 603 Equality and allies at the State House on Thursday morning at 8:30 AM.

SUPPORT SB 263, which would permanently reauthorize the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program, also known as expanded Medicaid. The bill came out of committee without a recommendation and will be voted on in the full House on May 18. Use this action alert to urge your Representatives to reauthorize Medicaid expansion without a sunset.

Last Week at the State House

The House Health and Human Services Committee was evenly split on SB 263, the bill to permanently reauthorize expanded Medicaid, with half of the members in favor and the other half preferring the two-year reauthorization. Read more here. Advocates made the case for the permanent reauthorization ahead of the vote:

As key vote nears, advocates push for permanent Medicaid expansion (Union Leader)
New Hampshire businesses call for Medicaid expansion to be made permanent (WMUR)
Health Care, Business Leaders Urge House to Pass Permanent Medicaid Expansion (InDepthNH)

With the committee outcome of “without recommendation,” the full House will vote on Thursday, beginning with “ought to pass.”

Hopes for marijuana legalization were met with defeat in the NH Senate last week, when members voted, on party lines, to defeat HB 639. Read more here and here. Oddly, Governor Sununu chimed in after the bipartisan bill was defeated to express his support for a differently designed legalization. Read more here.

Also last week, the Senate rejected public notification of immigration checkpoints, posthumous exonerations of unjust convictions, and reduced penalties for driving without a license. They voted to expand income eligibility for school vouchers; and creation of partisan districts for Strafford County’s commissioners (HB 75), thanks to an amendment by Senator Gray to eliminate the current at-large districts. The bill will need to return to the House for consideration. In related news, the NH Supreme Court is currently considering a challenge to last year’s partisan redistricting of the Executive Council districts. Read more here.

We were happy to see that the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee voted unanimously to recommend approval for HB 421, which would require menstrual hygiene products to be provided to prisoners who menstruate in state and county correctional facilities at no cost to all individuals in the custody of the state or the county. The committee amended the House version to include juvenile detention facilities.

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.

Last week in the Senate

The full Senate met in session on Thursday, May 11. Here are outcomes for some of the bills we’re tracking.

On the Consent Calendar


HB 275-L, relative to schools approved for a school tuition program by a school board. OTP/A by VV.
HB 364-FN, relative to transportation for students attending career and technical education centers. This bill authorizes the Department of Education to reimburse transportation costs for Career and Technical Education students and at-risk students attending alternative educational programs. OTP by VV.
HB 492-FN, requiring the department of education to provide the house and senate standing committees responsible for education with copies of the laws and rules relative to education. OTP/A by VV.
HB 530-L, relative to withdrawal from a cooperative school district. OTP by VV.
HB 572-FN, relative to eligibility for free school meals. Re-referred to Committee by VV.

HB 154, relative to the adoption of public health ordinances by municipalities. Re-referred to Committee by VV.
HB 195, relative to the definition of political advocacy organization. OTP by VV.
HB 244, relative to the printing of the election day checklist. OTP/A by VV.

HB 228, relative to repealing the commission on demographic trends. ITL by VV.
HB 238, relative to the role of quality control and the developmental disability service system. As amended, this bill will allow the developmental quality control council to provide feedback to DHHS on the quality of services provided to the developmentally disabled community in New Hampshire in a systematic way, and provide for DHHS feedback on a quarterly basis. As amended, the bill also creates dialogue between the department and the council on issues of concern. OTP/A by VV.

HB 342-FN, relative to lead testing in children. OTP by VV.

HB 46-FN, establishing a committee to study replacement of bail commissioners with court magistrates. This bill would establish a committee to study the use of court magistrates throughout the state court system to supplement or replace the current bail commissioner positions. The committee will be tasked with examining the benefits and problems with the current bail commissioner system, the potential structure of a court magistrate system, and the replacement and supplementation of bail commissioners with court magistrates. OTP by VV. Referred to Finance.
HB 107-FN, relative to employment restrictions for registered sex offenders. Re-referred to Committee by VV.
HB 266, relative to notice and public access requirements for hybrid and virtual agency public comment hearings for rulemaking. OTP by VV.
HB 308, relative to a quorum for meetings open to the public to include remote presence. This bill would allow for certain state boards to vote to allow one or more members to participate in a meeting remotely when physical attendance at the meeting site is not reasonably practicable. The Committee Amendment would allow members of the public to participate remotely in remotely held state board meetings. This bill will allow for remote participation only if one-third of a state board is physically present at the meeting location. Remote participation is needed so these boards can achieve quorum and vote on key items. OTP/A by VV.
HB 491, relative to prohibiting the use of the prone restraint for minors. OTP by VV.

On the Regular Calendar

HB 42-FN, relative to the operation of certain homeowners’ associations. OTP by VV.
HB 261, authorizing residential tenants to terminate their lease in instances of domestic violence or following a disabling illness or accident. Re-referred to Committee by VV.

HB 129-FN-L, relative to menstrual hygiene products in schools. ITL by VV.

HB 534-FN-A, relative to water assistance for natural disasters. OTP by VV, referred to Finance.

HB 377-FN, relative to screening and intervention in public schools and public charter schools for dyslexia and related disorders, and establishing an addition to adequate education grants for certain pupils screened for dyslexia and related disorders. OTP by VV.

HB 31-FN, repealing the prohibition on the possession or sale of blackjacks, slung shots, and metallic knuckles. Tabled by VV.
HB 89, relative to posthumous exonerations. ITL by RC, 14-10.
HB 97-FN, establishing an additional penalty for a violation of privacy. OTP/A by VV.
HB 135-FN, prohibiting no-knock warrants. Re-referred to Committee by VV.
HB 156, relative to misconduct by a law enforcement officer. ITL by RC, 14-10.
HB 201-FN, relative to changing the penalties for driving without a license. ITL by RC, 14-10.
HB 588-FN, relative to the criteria for applying for parole. ITL by RC, 15-9.
HB 624-FN, relative to federal immigration checkpoints. ITL by RC, 14-10.

HB 440-FN, relative to the uses of education trust fund. OTP/A by RC, 14-10. Referred to Finance.

Coming Up in the House

The next House session will be on Thursday, May 18. Sessions are tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 25 and Thursdays in the month of June including June 8, 15 and 29.

On the Consent Calendar

SB 58, relative to arrests without a warrant while in the care of a medical professional on the premises of a residential care or health care facility. As amended, this bill creates a narrow addition to the warrantless arrest statute that would allow police to arrest a person who interferes with medically necessary services through threats or actual violence and poses a risk to continue to interfere unless they are arrested. NAMI-NH, the New Hampshire Disability Rights Center, and the New Hampshire Hospital Association all supported the changes. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 20-0.

SB 238-FN, relative to the use of telemedicine to treat mental health conditions. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 19-0.

SB 129-FN, relative to the payment of costs for indigent persons involved in mediation services. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 20-0.
SB 250, relative to remote participation in government meetings. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of 20-0.

SB 54-FN, relative to purchased power agreements for electric distribution utilities. This enabling bill permits NH utilities to issue requests for proposals (RFPs) to enter into multi-year agreements to purchase energy from new or incremental generation sources proposed after September 1, 2023. These purchase power agreements (PPAs) can be up to 20 years in duration and could mitigate the volatility in electricity prices that has plagued state residents and businesses in the past year. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 18-0.

SB 189-FN, relative to the definition of gross business profits in determining taxable business profits. This bill, as amended, decouples the NH business tax interest deduction from Internal Revenue Code (IRC) section 163(j).Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 19-0.

On the Regular Calendar

SB 128-FN, relative to payment for legal services for persons involuntarily admitted for mental health services. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 17-3.

SB 164-FN-LOCAL, (New Title) relative to consideration of biodiversity in the land and community heritage investment program. Biodiversity should be considered along with natural, cultural, and historic resources, and in tandem with protections for unique resources such as water and individual endangered species. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of 16-4.

SB 272-FN, establishing a parents’ bill of rights in education. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION

SB 32-FN, relative to the opioid abatement trust fund. This bill sets the amount of money needed in the opioid abatement trust fund balance to solicit applications. The bill also revises the duties of the opioid abatement advisory commission. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 16-3.
SB 85-FN-A, relative to emergency behavioral health services and behavioral health crisis programs. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of 10-9.
SB 239-FN, (New Title) relative to the use of harm reduction services to treat alcohol and other substance misuse. This bill includes harm reduction services in all aspects of the existing drug and alcohol abuse prevention programs under RSA 12-J. In addition, it codifies into statute the existing Doorways program which provides integrated drug and alcohol misuse information, referral, and treatment services. It also amends the syringe service programs under RSA 318-B:43 with a specific list of eligible activities with respect to the syringe service program, and defines the terms “drug checking” and “drug checking equipment” so that drug content can be verified to reduce the harm of ingestion of unintended substances such as fentanyl. There are three parts to the amendment. First, the amendment defines the terms “harm reduction” and “misuse” to align state law with the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) definition for ease of obtaining federal grants and funding. Second, the amendment changes the continuing medical education requirements for physician and surgeon licensees required to register with the Controlled Drug Prescription Health and Safety Program to include three credit hours of approved online continuing education or to pass an online exam in the area of pain management or addiction disorders. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
SB 263-FN, extending 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. This bill would permanently reauthorize Granite Advantage, New Hampshire’s current expansion program, when it expires at the end of the year. WITHOUT RECOMMENDATION
SB127-FN, relative to certain programs administered by the department of health and human services. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 15-5.

Coming Up in House Committees

Monday, May 15

10 AM Presentation by Anagnost Realty Development.
11 AM Presentation by NH Community Loan Fund.
1 PM Presentation by NH Commission for Human Rights.
2 PM Presentation by NH Office of Housing and Urban Development.

Tuesday, May 16

10 AM Executive Session on SB 187-FN, relative to driver’s licenses for certain visa holders.

Wednesday, May 17

9 AM Executive Session on SB 11, relative to African American burial grounds.

10:15 AM Executive Session on SB 94, relative to residential child care licensing of child care institutions and agencies; SB 170-FN, relative to small group child day care centers; SB 221, establishing a study committee to examine day care access and affordability.

Coming Up in the Senate

The full Senate will meet in session on Thursday, May 18 at 10 AM. You can watch it here.

On the Consent Calendar

HB 446, relative to participation in the education freedom accounts program by students with disabilities. This bill amends RSA 191-F:4 III and requires the Bureau of Special Education Support within the Department of Education to notify parents of the rights and services available to their child with a disability. HB 446 is specifically meant to clarify what federal and state regulations applied for a child with a disability placed in the EFA program. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 5-0.
HB 464-FN, relative to eligible students in the education freedom account program. This bill seeks to expand access to the EFA program by including several additional groups whose eligibility would not be determined by income. Under HB 464, any child who was in foster care, migratory, homeless, disabled, persistently bullied, learning English as a second language, received free or reduced meals, came from a persistently dangerous school, or came from a military family, would be eligible for the EFA program regardless of household income. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of  5-0.

HB 421, requiring menstrual hygiene products to be provided to prisoners who menstruate in state and county correctional facilities. As amended by the House, this bill requires that feminine hygiene products must be provided at no cost to all women in the custody of the state or the county. The amendment adopted by the committee simply adopts the language from SB 209 that was unanimously passed by the Senate earlier in the session. This includes the amendment which adds juvenile detention facilities and specifies sufficiency in regard to the number of menstrual hygiene products to be provided per menstrual cycle. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.
HB 408, relative to foster children and vaccinations. This bill requires that children living in a foster family home, but who are not in foster care, shall be subject to the same immunization requirements as any other child in the state. The Committee Amendment represents an agreement with the Department of Health and Human Services and the prime sponsor to level the playing field for all children across the state and ensure the same standards apply regardless of a child’s foster care status. The Committee Amendment also ensures that federal funding opportunities will not be put at risk by directing the Department to seek a waiver before implementing an expansion of the exemptions available to a child. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.
HB 321-FN-L, relative to minutes from nonpublic sessions under the right to know law. This bill requires public bodies to review meeting minutes withheld from public disclosure at least every 10 years to determine whether they should continue to be withheld. Minutes not reviewed after 10 years shall be made public. This bill ensures that nonpublic meeting minutes will be routinely assessed and released furthering government transparency in this state. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.
HB 379-FN, requiring notice be provided to tenants during residential eviction proceedings regarding legal counsel. This bill provides that tenants subject to eviction shall be provided with instructions on the process for contacting and obtaining assistance from New Hampshire Legal Assistance. Re-refer to Committee by a vote of 5-0.

On the Regular Calendar

HB 367-FN-L, relative to eligibility of students in the education freedom account program. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 3-2.

HB 142, relative to the operation of the Burgess Biopower plant. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 3-0.

HB 114, relative to the age at which a minor may receive mental health treatment without parental consent. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of 3-2.
HB 360-FN, an act legalizing cannabis for persons 21 years of age or older. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of 3-2.
HB 397, relative to the prohibition of the possession of hypodermic needles by minors. Re-refer to Committee by a vote of 3-2.
HB 431, permitting qualifying patients and designated caregivers to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic use. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of 3-2.
HB 473-FN, relative to penalties for controlled drug violations. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of 3-2.

Coming Up in Senate Committees

Monday, May 15

FINANCE, Room 103, SH
1 PM  EXECUTIVE SESSION Tentative List of Agencies:
Office of Professional Licensure and Certification
Judicial Council
Department of Safety
Department of Business and Economic Affairs
Department of Environmental Services
Department of Transportation
Department of Administrative Services

Tuesday, May 16

FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Tentative List of Agencies:
Department of Health and Human Services
Division of Children, Youth and Families
Division of Economic Stability
Division of Medicaid Services
Division of Long Term Supports and Services
Division of Public Health Services
Division of Behavioral Health
Office of the Commissioner

Friday, May 19

FINANCE, Room 103, SH
Tentative List of Agencies:
New Hampshire Retirement System
Fish and Game Department
Office of the Child Advocate
Judicial Branch
Department of Justice
Human Rights Commission
Department of Energy
Department of Corrections

Upcoming Events

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. A 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 (featuring AFSC staff members, Grace and Fisto), a Reggae festival, a gospel choir concert, African drumming, and more!

Monday, May 15

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. Learn more about the NH People’s Budget and how we can advocate for state resources to better serve our communities.

Tuesday, May 16

Trinity Grantee Briefing: Diversion Not Incarceration - 2 PM. Hosted by Trinity Church Racial Justice initiative & the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project. Join us for a virtual presentation & discussion on its newly released policy brief, Diversion Not Incarceration: Recommendations to Reduce Incarceration of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color with Mental Health Challenges. This brief analyzes the disproportionate incarceration of BIPOC individuals who have mental health issues. Join MHP staff and its panel of experts representing advocates, people with lived experience, community organizations, government agencies, law enforcement, and mental health practitioners in this facilitated discussion. Read the policy brief here

Wednesday, May 17

Our Freedom to Learn! - 6 PM to 7:15 PM. Hosted by HEAL Together. Join us on the 69th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Supreme Court decision “Brown v. Board of Education” as we launch our newly expanded "Toolkit for Organizing & Narrative Change.” This toolkit has been expanded and improved by national and local organizers and communications experts to support the continued growth of this movement to defend our communities’ public schools and lay the groundwork to make public education serve as the foundation of a just, multiracial democracy. As manufactured panic around "critical race theory" and attacks against LGBTQ+ rights in our public schools intensify, our school board members, teachers, educators, and students continue to organize against the far-right’s efforts to dismantle public education and divide our communities. We have all come together in a spirit of love and healing, united in the belief that honest education, diversity, and community are our greatest strengths.

Thursday, May 18

How Long is Long Enough? - 12 PM to 1 PM. Hosted by the Council on Criminal Justice. Join us to discuss the final report of the Task Force on Long Sentences. Task Force Director John Maki will moderate a discussion of the panel’s key findings and recommendations with four Task Force members. Attendees will have the opportunity to submit questions throughout the event.

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. This is the third in a 4-part series that will leave you with concrete skills and strategies to avoid calling law enforcement unless it is absolutely necessary. Recordings of all sessions will be available on our website.

Sunday, May 21

Building Bridges in the Human Family: Setting the Table to Talk About Race - 4 PM to 5:30 PM. Virtual. Hosted by New Hampshire Council of Churches. Curious about the anti-black, anti-white divide? Want to discuss race and racism but are afraid to say the wrong thing or offend someone? Want to discuss how we can move on from our tragic past? Join us for a dialog series for people who genuinely want to listen.

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 May 25 and May 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.

Wednesday, May 24

Tenant Rights Information Session – 6 PM to 8 PM. Hosted by 603 Legal Aid. Manchester City Library, 405 Pine Street, Manchester. When you rent housing, there are many laws that affect your relationship as a tenant with your landlord. Marta Hurgin, Legal Director for 603 Legal Aid, will present on the topic of Tenant Rights and go over some of the fundamental laws that all renters should know, followed by a Q&A. Following the presentation, renters who need legal assistance can complete an intake with a 603 Legal Aid staff member.

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.

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!