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. Can you take action on an issue you care about this week?

Take action to raise the minimum wage–

“Raising the minimum wage is reasonable and necessary,” wrote small business owner Emmett Soldati in an op-ed in today’s Concord Monitor. Emmett is one of many Rights & Democracy members who have been raising their voices about the need for a livable wage.

This week, it’s especially important to take action to raise the wage since the House is scheduled to vote Wednesday or Thursday on SB 10 (the bill to increase the wage to $12 an hour by 2022). We anticipate the bill passing in the House, and making its way to Governor Sununu’s desk in short order. The Governor has not said whether he plans to veto SB 10, so public pressure could make a big difference right now.

Take a moment to call Sununu at (603) 271-2121 and ask him to support SB 10.

And, though $12 an hour by 2020 is a good start, we would like to see an even more adequate increase in the future. A $15 minimum wage has been implemented this year in 4 states – Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, and Illinois. It’s time for us to aim higher in New Hampshire as well!

Sign our petition to raise New Hampshire’s wage to $15 an hour.

Other actions we recommend:

Fix the Education Funding Crisis

From the NH School Funding Fairness Project:

“On Friday, the Senate Finance Committee approved an amended version of the House’s budget and sent it to the full Senate, which will vote on it on June 6.  Assuming the Senate confirms it, a Committee of Conference (comprised of Senators and Representatives) will be formed to work intensively over a period of days, hammering out differences between the House and Senate budgets.

Although the Senate Finance Committee’s amendment retained two critical school funding measures that were in the House budget (restoration of stabilization grants to 2016 levels and funding for an independent commission to develop a long-term solution), it reduced by about $71 million the amount of  interim aid the House budget had included for struggling districts.

The NH Constitution requires that the State provide funding to ensure the opportunity for an adequate education for all NH children. While neither the House nor the Senate budget does that, the House budget is significantly better for school districts and local taxpayers. Therefore, we want to support the House’s position when the conference committee meets.

*Stand with us at the State House*

We’re encouraging interested people to come to the State House on a day in mid-June when the Committee of Conference is meeting. (The day has yet to be determined  The plan is to stand in the hallway before the meeting begins, with each person holding a sign naming the city/town from which s/he came. When it’s time for the Committee of Conference to begin its session, people will file into the meeting room to observe, as a means of silently encouraging members of the committee to bear in mind the devastating impact that inadequate school funding has on communities and schools all around the state.

We’re hoping that people from at least twenty different communities will show up.  If school is out, it would be great if some students could join in.  This will most likely be our last chance to influence the legislature on these issues before they send a budget to the Governor.”

Please email Kevin Pentz: kevin@radnh.org if you want to take part in this action.

 

Support a Livable Wage

The House will be in session on Wednesday, June 5, at 1:00 PM and on Thursday, June 6, at 10:00 AM.

SB 10 Establishing the state minimum wage hourly rate based on whether an employer offers paid sick days to an employee. The bill was amended in committee to change the title and eliminate the provisions regarding paid sick days. The bill, as amended, would set the state minimum wage at $10 per hour, beginning January 1, 2020. On January 1, 2022 (not 2021 as it says in the House Calendar blurb), the minimum wage would increase to $12 per hour. Tipped employees would receive 50 percent of the applicable minimum wage. The minority feels that increasing the minimum wage will cause workers to become victims of automation and out-sourcing, and that this is not a benefit to the State. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 12-8.

 

Voting Rights

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, June 6, at 10 AM.

HB 504 Relative to election-related amendments to the US Constitution. This bill calls upon Congress to support amending the Constitution to enable Congress to regulate the role of money in elections, and that such regulation should not be deemed a violation of freedom of speech rights.  It also supports amendments mandating the redistricting should not be done to advantage any political party. It does not specifically refer to the Citizens United decision or the concept of corporate constitutional rights. Please click here to email/call state senators to vote YES on HB 504 2. Also click here to attend the vote live on Thursday, June 6th!

HB 106 Relative to the terms “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency.” This bill amends the general statutory definitions of those four terms to include an intent to maintain a principal place of physical presence for the indefinite future. The term “indefinite future” was removed from statute in 2018, with the passage of voter prevention bill HB 1264.

 

Support Health Care for All

The House will be in session on Wednesday, June 5, at 1:00 PM and on Thursday, June 6, at 10:00 AM.

SB 292 Relative to implementation of the new mental health 10-year plan. This passed the House and was referred to Finance. It’s coming out of Finance with no amendments, and an OTP recommendation by a vote of 22-0.

SB 272 Relative to mental health parity under the insurance laws. This would authorize the Commissioner of Insurance to enforce the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008. The act requires health insurers to provide the same benefits for mental health services that they provide for physical health services without additional limits to copays or number of visits. An amendment was added that concerns fair reimbursement for auto body shops from insurance companies, an issue that is the theme of another bill, HB 664, which is still in the Senate Commerce Committee. The minority believes the bill should be adopted without the auto body amendment. Committee recommends OTP/A.

SB 290 Relative to the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Program. This bill attempts to deal with the possibility of the loss of coverage for enrollees as the result of the imposition of a work requirement. It does not eliminate the unpaid work requirement, but it establishes a trigger for its elimination if there are increased uncompensated care costs as a result of beneficiaries being suspended from the program, or if 500 or more enrollees lose coverage. The bill also tweaks the minimum required balance for the TANF reserve fund and allows general funds to be used as a last resort if the federal match of 90% is sustained.

 

Energy & Climate

The House will be in session on Wednesday, June 5, at 1:00 PM and on Thursday, June 6, at 10:00 AM.

SB 168 Relative to class 2 obligations under the electric renewable portfolio standards. This bill would incrementally increase the Class II (solar electricity) portion of the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which describes how much of NH’s total energy mix will come from renewable energy, from the existing 0.6 percent solar to 5.4 percent solar by 2025. The majority report points out that unlike fossil fuels, we can harvest this energy in our state, paying in-state producers, who will hire NH workers. The minority report calls this a burden on our lands and our pocketbooks. The committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 12-7.

SB 206 Excluding the cost of lobbying and political activity from the rates of public utilities. This bill would prevent public utility companies (like Eversource) from passing on the considerable amount of money they invest in lobbying on to ratepayers. The minority says it is unnecessary because the PUC already has rules in place that prevent it. The committee recommends OTP by a vote of 10-9.

 

***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!