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?

Top 3 recommended actions:

  1. The House Finance Committee is holding its third and final public hearing about the state budget today . These hearings are important opportunities for NH residents to let lawmakers know where we need public funds invested. Throughout this week, members of the House Finance Committee need to hear from us about our desire to see more money allocated to strengthen our public education system. Email them all at once: HouseFinanceCommittee@leg.state.nh.us
  2. The Senate’s paid family and medical leave bill, SB 1, will come up for a vote next week. Governor Sununu is still pushing his own private insurance plan and threatening to veto the versions being considered in the legislature. Call Governor Sununu at 603-271-2121 and urge him to support SB 1. Also join supporters of paid family leave for a rally on Tuesday, March 26, 11:30 AM to 1 PM.  
  3. Last week the House passed a bill raising the minimum wage in three steps to $12/hour by 2022. We are grateful to Representative Kris Schultz for offering an amendment to raise the wage to $15 an hour by 2024, and to the 79 House members who voted in support this amendment. Take a moment to thank the members who voted for a bolder minimum wage bill. Find out how they voted here and then send them an email. 

Other Important Bills Moving Through the State House (by topic)

*OTP means that the committee that looked at the bill suggests it “ought to pass” in a floor vote.

 

Strengthening Public Education:

The House will be in session on Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21 if needed. All sessions begin at 10 AM

HB 632, relative to the education tax credit. The ETC was enacted to allow businesses to get a credit of 85% of the amount contributed to be deducted from their state taxes. The donations were to be used by parents of disadvantaged students for tuition to non-public schools. The ETC was later expanded to allow individuals to get a credit against their interest and dividends taxes. The majority finds this is not an appropriate use of public funds. There are two organizations that distribute the scholarships, one of which has sent 100% of the money to religious schools. In 2017, 80% of the revenue went to religious schools. This bill would repeal the ETC as of July 1, 2020. The committee recommends OTP by a vote of 10-9.

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, March 21, at 10 AM.

SB 309, relative to stabilization grants for education. This bill passed the Senate and was referred to Finance. It returns with a committee recommendation of OTP by a vote of 4-1.

 

Securing Health Care for All:

The House will be in session on Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21 if needed. All sessions begin at 10 AM

HB 277, establishing a commission to study a public option for health insurance. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 11-7.

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, March 21, at 10 AM.

SB 259, expanding eligibility for Medicaid for employed adults with disabilities age 65 and older. This bill passed the Senate, was sent to Finance, and is now coming back with a committee recommendation of OTP by a vote of 5-0.

 

Workers Rights:

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, March 21, at 10 AM.

SB 1, relative to family and medical leave. This is the Senate family and medical leave bill, which crossed over early. The House bill (similar, but different), HB 712, passed the House and was sent to the Finance Committee.

SB 10, establishing the state minimum hourly rate based on whether an employer offers paid sick days to an employee.

 

Energy, Pollution, & Climate:

The House will be in session on Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21 if needed. All sessions begin at 10 AM

HB 261, requiring the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services to revise the rules relative to arsenic contamination in drinking water.

HJR 2, recommending and requesting the president of the United States and the United States Congress to exclude the state of New Hampshire from offshore oil and gas drilling and exploration activities.

HB 358, relative to combustion of wood residue at municipal waste combustors. This bill would remove exceptions to the ban on incinerating construction and demolition debris. This debris, even when cleaned to current EPA standards, may include arsenic treated wood and lead paint, which are unsuitable for burning.

HB 365, relative to net energy metering limits for customer generators. This bill would raise the capacity limit on renewable customer-generators and would allow participating municipalities to reduce tax rates by developing larger renewable energy products on municipally owned land and buildings.

HB 466, relative to the capacity of electricity customer generators for eligibility for net energy metering. This would increase the net energy metering limit for small customer generators from 100 to 500kw. This would lower costs for residential solar users and expand the use of solar generation. ***Might be possible to establish veto-proof majority for this bill so it’s an important one to support.***

HB 568, relative to New Hampshire energy strategy. This bill adds climate change to the concerns that the state energy strategy is required to address. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 12-7.

HB 582, relative to the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap and trade program for controlling carbon dioxide emissions. The bill makes changes to strengthen funding for energy efficiency programs while reducing rates for commercial and industrial customers.

HB 614, increasing penalties for air pollution. This bill would give the Department of Environmental Services the ability to impose enhanced fines on air and water polluters, in keeping with the current rates of inflation.

HB 558, restricting the availability of plastic straws. This bill would prohibit businesses from providing a single-use plastic straw to a customer unless requested. There is no penalty included in the bill.

HB 560, relative to single-use carryout bags. This bill restricts the distribution of single-use plastic bags in certain food service and large retail environments.

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, March 21, at 10 AM.

SB 206, excluding the cost of lobbying and political activity from the rates of public utilities. As an example, Eversource spends large sums on lobbying, which the committee believes should not be passed on to the ratepayers.

Senate Committee Hearings, Energy and Natural Resources, Room 103, SH  – Friday March 22

8:00 AM SB 13, relative to limited electrical energy producers and net energy metering. This bill increases the generating and discharge capacity of eligible customer generators under the limited electrical energy producers act and adds qualifying storage systems.

8:45 AM SB 159, relative to net energy metering limits for customer generators. This increases the capacity of customer generators from one to five megawatts and modifies the transition of tariffs applicable to certain customer generators. It also clarifies the definition of eligible customer generator for the purposes of the utility property tax.

9:30 AM SB 166, relative to competitive electricity supplier requirements under net energy metering. This bill would require competitive electricity suppliers to purchase electricity generation from net energy metering according to the same rules and tariffs as regulated electric utilities.

10:00 AM SB 75, establishing a commission to study the economic impact of national carbon pricing in New Hampshire.

 

Gun violence prevention:

The House will be in session on Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21 if needed. All sessions begin at 10 AM

HB 109, requiring background checks for commercial firearms sales. Committee recommends OTP by a vote of 10-9.

HB 208, relative to the justified use of deadly force upon another person. This bill is intended to expand the “stand your ground” law and permit the use of deadly force when witnessing the commission of a felony. Given that not all felonies involve violence, the committee thought this goes too far. DO NOT SUPPORT

HB 514, imposing a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm. This bill would create a seven-day waiting period between the purchase and the delivery of a firearm. The committee amendment removes a waiting period on purchases of ammunition. The majority believes this will decrease the number of gun suicides. The committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 12-8.

 

Local governance:

The House will be in session on Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21 if needed. All sessions begin at 10 AM

CACR 4, relating to right to govern. Providing the people of the state may enact local laws that protect health, safety, and welfare.

 

Militarism:

The House will be in session on Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21 if needed. All sessions begin at 10 AM

HCR 7, urging the president and Congress to adopt a policy renouncing the first use of nuclear weapons.

 

Citizenship/Immigration:

The House will be in session on Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21 if needed. All sessions begin at 10 AM

HB 397, relative to drivers’ licenses for New Hampshire residents who do not possess a social security card.

HB 471, relative to indicating citizenship on drivers’ licenses and nondrivers’ identification cards. DO NOT SUPPORT

HCR 3, relative to welcoming communities. This resolution would designate September as diversity month, and an opportunity to welcome communities of immigrants and celebrate cultural diversity. Committee recommends OTP/A by a vote of 14-4. The annual Welcoming Communities Luncheon will be held on Thursday, March 21 at noon in the State House cafeteria. Welcoming NH says, “Join us to enjoy multi-ethnic food and taste the multi-cultural contribution made to NH. All are welcome to enjoy this festival of cultures and celebrate diversity in our communities.”

 

Gender justice:

The House will be in session on Tuesday, March 19, Wednesday, March 20, and Thursday, March 21 if needed. All sessions begin at 10 AM

HB 669, relative to gender identity information included on drivers’ licenses and nondrivers’ identification cards. This bill would allow non-binary residents to opt for an X gender identifier, rather than male or female.

HB 520 Relative to availability of diaper changing stations in public restrooms. This bill requires public accommodations built after January 1, 2021 to install and maintain at least one changing station that is accessible to all genders. Any public building renovated at a cost of over $50,000 would require a similar installation. Dads change diapers, too.

 

Money out of politics

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, March 21, at 10 AM.

SB 66, relative to political contributions by candidates for certain offices. This bill prohibits candidates for any office elected by a joint session of the general court (like Secretary of State) from making contributions to any political committee, political party, political advocacy organization, or candidate for state representative, speaker of the house of representatives, or state senator.

 

Voting Rights

SB 230, requiring the Attorney General to hire staff to supervise election law, campaign finance law, and lobbying matters. This bill authorizes the AG to hire two additional attorneys, an investigator, and an investigative paralegal to be assigned to campaign finance, election law, and lobbying matters in the civil law bureau.

**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!