When we launched the New Hampshire People’s Platform on the first day of the 2019 legislative session, we pledged to work on issues that a majority of Granite Staters care about, including affordable health care, a stronger public education system, more rights for workers, and a healthy environment for future generations.

Here’s where the rubber meets the road. Will you take action right now on an issue you care about?

Major events this week:

Raise Your Voice on the State Budget

The House Finance Committee is going on the road next week, holding public hearings in Milford and Laconia on Monday evening, March 11.  They will hold another on Monday, March 18, at the State House. Budget hearings provide important opportunities for those who benefit from state services, i.e. everyone, to make sure the budget-writers understand the impact of their votes.  In recent years, the voices of people dealing with mental illness, opioid and substance misuse, and the need for services for people with developmental disabilities have been particularly effective. Those voices, and the personal stories which underlie them, are needed again, as are the voices of those who understand the invaluable role of NH Legal Assistance, whose funding was slashed in Governor Sununu’s first draft of the budget.

 

Tuesday is Town Meeting Day…

…and in towns that still have town meetings, they’re mostly stretched out from Tuesday to Saturday.  We urge all of you who are lucky enough to live in a place where town meeting still exists to go forth and govern! We are aware of several towns (including Lee, Exeter, Warner, Chesterfield, Albany, Langdon, Alstead, and Sanbornton) where voters have placed resolutions on the agenda calling on our federal officials to back policies which take us back from the brink of nuclear confrontation and to support global abolition of nuclear weapons.

Major votes & hearings:

Raising the Minimum Wage

House Session is Thursday, March 14 at 1pm

HB 186 Establishing a state minimum wage and providing for adjustments to the minimum wage.

Thursday at Noon – Raise Up NH Visibility outside House Chamber in support of $15/hr min wage

 

Climate & Energy

House Session is Thursday, March 14 at 1pm

HB 496 Establishing a committee to identify the requirements needed to commit New Hampshire to a goal of 50 percent renewable energy for electricity by 2040. This bill, as amended, only deals with renewables, and leaves out nuclear energy, which is a sticking point for the minority. The majority states that it is a planning tool. The committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 12-8.

HJR 1 Supporting efforts to develop wind power off the New Hampshire coast.

HB 102, relative to municipal ordinances regarding the use of plastics. This permits towns to adopt bylaws to regulate the distribution  of single use plastics;

HB 559, enabling municipalities to ban single use sources of plastic pollution;

Committee Hearing: Tuesday March 12, Energy and Natural Resources, Room 103, State House

9:30 AM SB 165 Relative to net energy metering by low-moderate income community solar projects. This modifies the method for calculating net energy metering credits for low-moderate income community solar group host projects.

10:00 AM SB 168 Relative to Class 2 obligations under the electric renewable portfolio standards. This bill increases the renewable portfolio standard requirements for new solar energy from 2019 – 2025.

10:30 AM SB 124 Relative to renewable portfolio standards after 2025. This bill revises the minimum percentages of Class I to IV renewable energy in the electric renewable portfolio standards through the year 2040.

Committee Hearing: Wednesday March 13, Science and Technology, Room 304, LOB

10:00 AM Executive session on HB 365 Relative to net energy metering limits for customer generators. This bill increases the electric generating capacity of customer generators who may participate in net energy metering and modifies the transition of tariffs applicable to certain customer-generators. The bill also clarifies the definition of eligible customer generator for purposes of the utility property tax.

 

Money in Politics:

HCR 5 Requesting the United States Congress to propose a constitutional amendment to reverse the ruling of the United States Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. This resolution would add NH to other states calling on Congress to propose such an amendment. We were happy to read, “The majority agrees that corporations are not people.”

 

Voting Rights:

Senate session is Thursday, March 14 at 10am

SB 7 Establishing the secure modern accurate registration act (SMART ACT). This would allow for voter registration at the Division of Motor Vehicles. The committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 3-2.

SB 304 Relative to campaign contributions and expenditures and making an appropriation therefor, also known as the “Voter Funded Election Bill.”  The committee recommends re-referral by 3-2. Visit Open Democracy Action for more on this proposal, which we hope will return for serious consideration.

SB 305 Relative to voter registrations accepted by other state agencies, such as the DMV.

Committee Hearing: Wednesday, March 13, Election Law and Municipal Affairs, Room 102, LOB

11:00 AM HB 67 Relative to the definitions of resident and residency. This bill would remove some of the requirements instituted in 2017 by SB 3. Students would no longer be forced to register automobiles in order to be eligible to vote.

Criminal Justice Reform

Committee hearing: Ways & Means, Thursday, March 14, 10am, LOB Room 202

HB 481 Relative to the legalization of cannabis.

Gender Justice:

House Session is Thursday, March 14 at 1pm

HB 446 Relative to initiating amendments to birth records. This bill provides a procedure for an individual to obtain a new birth certificate based on a change of gender identity.

Housing:

Senate session is Thursday, March 14 at 10am

SB 84 Making an appropriation to the Department of Health and Human Services for homeless services expansion. This bill would appropriate $5,049 ,000, with $2,000,000 earmarked for eviction prevention assistance, $2,000,000 for providing homeless shelter management, $1,000,000 for rapid rehousing for youth between the ages of 18-24 and TANF eligible families, and $49,000 for funding a business systems analyst in the department, for the bureau of housing supports. The bill was amended to modify the appropriation for the business systems analyst position. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 6-0.

Health care Justice:

House Session is Thursday, March 14 at 1pm

HB 692 Relative to dental care for Medicaid recipients. This would require the Medicaid managed care program to provide dental benefits to the people they cover.

Senate session is Thursday, March 14 at 10am

SB 290 Relative to the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program. This bill began as a bold attempt to make changes to the program, including  the reduction of hours for the work and community engagement (i.e. unpaid work) requirement. It would allow general funds to be used to fund the program, exempt some people from the unpaid labor requirement, and add circumstances for the elimination of the unpaid labor requirement. The bill has been amended to water down most of the initial proposed changes. Newly eligible adults shall receive benefits if they are found to be engaging in at least 100 hours per month of unpaid labor, which includes self -employment. General funds can only be used as a last resort. The committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 3-2.

SB 292 Relative to implementation of the new mental health 10-year plan. This bill gives the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services two years to fully implement the 10-year plan of 2018, when it is finalized. The committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 5-0.

Gun violence prevention:

Committee Hearing: Wednesday, March 13, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB

10:00 AM Executive session on HB 514, imposing a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm, which establishes a 7-day waiting period for the delivery of a firearm or ammunition; and HB 687, relative to extreme risk protection orders, which establishes a procedure for issuing extreme risk protection orders. Family or household members would be able to petition the court for an order to temporarily restrict access to firearms by individuals who are found to pose a risk to themselves or others.

Committee Hearing: Wednesday, March 13 Education, Room 207, LOB

10:00 AM Executive session on HB 449 Relative to safe school zones and chartered public schools. This would include chartered public schools in the definition of “school” for the purpose of safe school zones.

Strengthening Public Education:

Committee HearingL Wednesday, March 13, Finance, Division II, Room 209, LOB

1:00 PM Or one half hour following the executive session, division work session on HB 177, relative to the calculation of stabilization grants; HB 686, relative to calculating and funding the interim cost of an opportunity for an adequate education and extending the interest and dividends tax to capital gains; and HB 709, relative to the formula for determining funding for an adequate education.

Terrible Bill of the Week:

HB 477 Relative to allowance sales under the New Hampshire Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative Program. This bill proposes taking all funding from RGGI and distributing all but the defined administrative fees back to ratepayers. The purpose of RGGI is to provide a funding mechanism to make investments in energy efficiency programs and transition off fossil fuel dependence more rapidly. The committee recommends ITL by a vote of 11-8.

**The above info was compiled with major help from American Friends’ Service Committee’s weekly State House Watch email, published by Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty. Thank you AFSC!