State House Watch: May 26, 2023

By Maggie Fogarty and Grace Kindeke


NH Senate (Concord, NH) New Hampshire Magazine, 2019

“Nonviolence is the constant awareness of the dignity and the humanity of oneself and others; it seeks truth and justice; it renounces violence both in method and in attitude; it is a courageous acceptance of active love and goodwill as the instrument with which to overcome evil and transform both oneself and others. It is the willingness to undergo suffering rather than inflict it. It excludes retaliation and flight.” - Wally Nelson, conscientious objector, civil rights activist, and tax resister

Dear State House Watchers,

We wish for you a peaceful and restful Memorial Day weekend, with some time to reflect on the meaning of this day, which was initiated by African-American soldiers and their families in South Carolina in 1865 when they offered a solemn parade and other rituals of remembrance for those whose lives were lost to war. Read more here.

State offices will be closed on Monday for the holiday; there will be some action later in the week when the Senate Finance Committee finalizes their proposed budget, and the full Senate votes on a short list of bills.

A hearty congratulations to the Starbucks workers who succeeded in their campaign to unionize the Rochester store! Thanks to all who found ways to show solidarity in the weeks leading up to the vote. Read more about this important win and the challenges ahead: Starbucks Workers in Rochester Win Union Election but Face Bigger Battle Ahead.

State Budget

It was a week of votes in the Senate Finance Committee which has nearly finalized its work on their proposed budget. This past week, committee members voted to invest in affordable housing development and homeless services but rejected an amendment to assist municipalities with costs for retirees in the state system. Read more here and here.

The significant lack of affordable housing continues to have far-reaching impacts on New Hampshire communities and the state’s economy, including as a driver of staffing shortages: How New Hampshire's housing crisis is making it hard to hold onto essential health workers. “As of March, New Hampshire’s 10 community mental health centers had about 350 unfilled clinical positions — including therapists, psychiatrists, case managers and mobile crisis responders. It’s part of a broader staffing crisis affecting nearly every corner of New Hampshire’s health system, from major hospitals to agencies that care for seniors and people with disabilities in their homes. Some nursing homes have closed entire wings because they don’t have enough workers. As employers try to fill those vacancies, they say the state’s tough housing market — with its high costs and limited options — is standing in the way.”

Committee members also approved an amendment to restore the education trust fund and to increase per pupil adequacy aid. Read more here and here.

We expect the full Senate to vote on the budget on June 7. Watch for an action alert from the NH Campaign for a People’s Budget.

Immigration News

We are grateful to the members of the House Municipal and County Government Committee who advocated strenuously on Wednesday in opposition to SB 132, the anti-sanctuary cities bill. We were glad to see that an amendment and an “ought to pass” recommendation were defeated, and the bill heads to the full House without recommendation. Read more here. We expect the bill to be on the House calendar for the June 8 session. Please keep up the calls to your own Representatives and urge them to defeat this harmful bill.

The ACLU of NH has filed a lawsuit to require Customs and Border Protection to respond to their request for data regarding border crossings at the Canadian border. Read more here. The request for data relates to the governor’s push for $1.4 million to fund a Northern Border Alliance to engage local, state and county police in border patrol activities. The measure had been removed from the House budget but was restored by the Senate Finance Committee last week.

At the US/Mexico border, advocates and volunteers report on human rights abuses in the days following the end of Title 42. Our AFSC colleague Pedro Rios describes the suffering of migrants who were trapped for several days between border walls, on US soil, without adequate food, water and shelter: “Border Patrol agents in San Diego held hundreds of asylum seekers between the two 30-foot border walls, with little access to water, one or two granola bars per day, no shade and a single unusable portable toilet. This open-air pre-processing area violated Customs and Border Protection’s national standards on how it should interact with people under its custody. The conditions were so objectionable that the Southern Border Communities Coalition was compelled to submit a complaint to the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.” Read more here.

Lindsay Toczylowski from the Immigrant Defenders Law Center, shared this commentary on Wednesday: “The lifting of Title 42 — the policy that shut down the U.S. asylum system for three years — should have been an inflection point leading to a more humane and orderly system for processing asylum seekers. Instead, the Biden administration doubled down on the politics of exclusion, introducing new restrictive measures, including an asylum ban, that keep asylum out of reach for those who need protection the most…. When Title 42 expired, the Biden administration touted the drop in unauthorized border entries as a political victory. But at the border we see it for what it actually is: a sign that access to asylum protection does not meaningfully exist in the United States for those who need it most. Instead, we’ve seen the return of militarization tactics and restrictive measures that deny access to asylum…. It may be time to start calling President Biden the ‘Asylum-Denier-in-Chief.’ He’s earned it.”

Reading Recommendation

Read a devastating new report by Solitary Watch and Unlock the Box documenting for the first time that more than 122,000 people each day are locked in solitary confinement for 22 or more hours a day in US prisons and jails. Here's the report.

Last Week at the State House

SB 263, which would permanently reauthorize expanded Medicaid, faces an unfortunate delay in the House Finance Committee. The bill, which passed the Senate unanimously in March, and then passed the full House on May 18 with a roll call vote of 193-166, was referred to the House Finance Committee for further consideration. The committee seems likely to retain the bill due to objections by Republicans. Read more here. We’re disappointed with where this is going in committee, but we remain hopeful that a permanent reauthorization will be included in the state budget.

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 House & Senate

Neither the House nor the Senate met in session this past week.

Coming up in the House

The House will meet in session on Thursday, June 8. Sessions are also scheduled for Thursday, June 15 and June 29.

Coming up in House Committees

Tuesday, May 30

11 AM Continued Executive Session on SB 85-FN-A, relative to emergency behavioral health services and behavioral health crisis programs

EDUCATION, Room 205-207, LOB
10:30 AM Public hearing on proposed non-germane Amendment #2023-1812h to SB 136, prohibiting the employment or volunteering of a revoked or suspended educator. The amendment allows a student exemption from the requirement for filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form for high school graduation.

ELECTION LAW, Room 306-308, LOB
9:45 AM Executive Session on CACR 9, relating to the New Hampshire presidential primary. Providing that the New Hampshire presidential primary will be the first presidential primary of a presidential election cycle.

WAYS AND MEANS, Room 202-204, LOB
9:30 AM SB 32-FN, relative to the opioid abatement trust fund.
11 AM Executive Session on SB 32-FN, relative to the opioid abatement trust fund.

Thursday, June 1

FINANCE, Room 210-211, LOB
10 AM Executive Session on SB 128-FN, relative to payment for legal services for persons involuntarily admitted for mental health services; SB 267-FN, requiring the commissioner of the department of environmental services to consider “cumulative impacts analysis” in rules and statutes; SB 172-FN, allowing court-appointed guardians to receive Temporary Assistance to Needy Families benefits; SB 239-FN, relative to the use of harm reduction services to treat alcohol and other substance misuse; SB 263-FN, extending the New Hampshire granite advantage health care program (also known as expanded Medicaid), and reestablishing the commission to evaluate the effectiveness and future of the New Hampshire granite advantage health care program.

Coming up in the Senate

The Senate will meet in full session on Thursday, June 1 at 10 AM in the Senate chamber. Watch it here

On the Consent Calendar

HB 251, relative to the cost of compliance with disclosure of electric renewable portfolio standards. This bill requires electric utilities to post the estimated annual cost for the average residential ratepayer for the compliance with the electric renewable portfolio standard under RSA 362-F on the December bill. The estimated cost for the compliance year shall be calculated once per year and shall be distributed through the mail or online. This new notice will increase transparency so that granite staters know what they are paying for in their utility bills. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.

On the Regular Calendar

HB 46-FN, establishing a committee to study replacement of bail commissioners with court magistrates. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 6-0.
HB 337-FN, relative to directing the office of professional licensure and certification to provide notice of public meetings and an opportunity for comment from the public, and creating a new attorney II position. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 6-0.
HB 435, relative to relief aid calculation in determining grants for adequate education. Committee recommends ITL by a vote of 6-0.
HB 440-FN, relative to the uses of education trust fund. Inexpedient to Legislate, Vote 6-0.
HB 504-FN, relative to the adult parole board and making an appropriation therefor. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 6-0.

Coming up in Senate Committees

Tuesday, May 30

FINANCE, Room 103, SH


Wednesday, May 31

FINANCE, Room 103, SH

Upcoming Events

Plan your summer at World Fellowship Center! See the calendar of events here.

NH Education Department Listening Sessions - Join communities and advocates across the state to weigh in. The Education Department task force working on updating the ED 306 Standards has announced a series of 'listening sessions' through May and June at school locations around the state. The next listening sessions are:

May 24 at 6:30 p.m. at John Stark High School, Henniker

May 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Kearsarge Professional Development Center, New London

May 30 at 6:30 p.m. at Goffstown High School, Goffstown

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!

Sunday, June 4

Community Health Conversation – 3 PM to 6 PM. 200 Bedford St. Manchester. Hosted by Manchester Community Action Coalition. The COVID Public Health Emergency status has ended. What does that mean for our community? Join us as we talk with each other and the Manchester Health Department on the newest information about vaccines and immunizations. Come with your questions, concerns, and ideas about how we can keep our community healthy. Childcare will be available.

Monday, June 5

Clearing the Fog: Benefits & Challenges of Offshore Wind for New England – 5:30 PM to 7 PM. Hosted by NH Network for Environment, Energy & Climate. Offshore wind is said to be New England’s greatest untapped energy resource.  Today, Europe has well over 5000 offshore turbines producing carbon-free energy. The US has exactly 5. There is a strong push to access this clean energy, but – it’s complicated! There is pushback from many quarters.  A fog of myths and misconceptions is gathering around the issue. In this event, our panel of experts will dispel the fog of misinformation, to help us understand the real benefits and challenges of offshore wind in New England.

Tuesday, June 6

Community Roundtable on the Annual Highway Safety Plan – 10 AM to 12 PM. Hosted by NH Office of Highway Safety. National Safety Council of Northern New England, 2 Whitney Road, #11, Concord. Join us for a roundtable discussion to solicit feedback from our stakeholders on our annual Highway Safety Plan (HSP) and provide an opportunity to share ideas and provide suggestions for implementation of our states annual HSP. Contribute your unique perspectives and ideas about important highway safety issues that impact the motoring, walking, or rolling members of the public. Help our office shape the 2024 State of New Hampshire Highway Safety Plan by voicing your specific needs and/or concerns.

Thursday, June 8

NH Renews Climate & Energy Lobby Day & Luncheon – 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM. Tandy's Pub & Grille, 1 Eagle Square in Concord. Hosted by NH Renews Coalition. Join the NH Renews coalition for a lobby day to make our voices heard and show our collective power! Please join us as we make our voices heard and show our collective power. If you're interested and willing you are welcome to share your experience with legislators on how the high cost of utilities and dependency on non-renewable sources has impacted you and your community. All are welcome!

We Want to Hear from You, Community Conversation – 3 PM. Hosted by Safari Youth Club, Manchester Pride, City of Manchester. Hallsville School, 275 Jewett St. Manchester. All are welcome! Refreshments will be served. Contact: & (603) 624-6500 (ext. 160 or 204).

Friday, June 9

Convening on Migrant Justice – 9 AM to 12 PM. Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice, 320 E 43rd St, New York, NY. Hosted by AFSC. Join AFSC staff from across our global programs to discuss Quaker approaches to migration and forced displacement. Registration begins at 9 AM  and the program begins at 9:30 AM.

Saturday, June 10

NH's First Guns to Gardens Event! – 10 AM to 2 PM. 79 Clinton Street, Concord. Hosted by GunSenseNH and New Hampshire Council of Churches. Currently, NH law enforcement officials are prohibited by state law from destroying firearms which come into their possession. They are permitted to store the firearms, use them in their own work, or sell them at public auction. Guns to Gardens provides an opportunity for Granite Staters to remove unwanted firearms from circulation by turning them into garden tools. Please join us as a volunteer or as someone who wishes to take their unwanted gun out of circulation!

Healing Justice Workshop – 11 AM to 12:30 PM. Zoom & 15 Rutherford Place, New York, NY. Hosted by AFSC. Meet young leaders from AFSC's healing justice programs to learn about injustices in the US immigration and criminal legal systems, including how students have used photography, filmmaking, and other forms of art to drive social change and how past participants continue their advocacy today. Join us in person or via Zoom. A link to join will be sent out before the event.

Tuesday, June 13

Open Democracy Book Club: One Person, No Vote – 7 PM to 8:30 PM. Hosted by Open Democracy. Join us for another book club to discuss Carol Anderson's One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression Is Destroying Our Democracy. Anderson follows the astonishing story of government-dictated racial discrimination unfolding before our very eyes as more and more states adopt voter suppression laws. In gripping, enlightening detail she explains how voter suppression works, from photo ID requirements to gerrymandering to poll closures. In a powerful new afterword, she examines the repercussions of the 2018 midterm elections. And with vivid characters, she explores the resistance: the organizing, activism, and court battles to restore the basic right to vote to all Americans.

Thursday, June 15

MCAC Town Hall: 3rd Anniversary Celebration – 5 PM to 6:30 PM. SEE Science Center, 200 Bedford Street, Manchester. Hosted by Manchester Community Action Coalition (MCAC). Join us for an evening of partnership and science. There will be community, music, dance, food, science activities, insects, robots. All are welcome! 

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!