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. Voting Rights – Last year, Republican majorities passed two voter suppression bills that were affronts to our democratic system. This week, we are supporting HB 105 and HB 106, which will overturn some of the worst parts of the voter suppression bills. Email members of the Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs: Melanie.Levesque@leg.state.nh.us, Tom.Sherman@leg.state.nh.us, Jon.Morgan@leg.state.nh.us, Regina.Birdsell@leg.state.nh.us, James.Gray@leg.state.nh.us,  tricia.melillo@leg.state.nh.us Or, better yet, come to the committee meeting in Room 102 of the Legislative Office Building (33 N State St) on Tuesday at 9:45 AM
  2. Environmental Justice – SB124 is an important bill recognizing our state’s contribution to the climate crisis and establishing a plan to reduce New Hampshire’s greenhouse gas output by 2025. Email the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee and ask them to support SB 124. Even better, come to Room 304 in the Legislative Office Building (33 N State St) on Wednesday 1:00 PM
  3. Join us tomorrow at our Education Justice Lobby Day at the Statehouse!

Other important bills we’re supporting:

Healthcare

Tuesday 10:00 AM – Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs, Room 205, LOB – Subcommittee work sessions on SB 290, relative to the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program. This bill allows general funds to be used to help fund the program and adds exemptions from the paid work requirement and the unpaid work requirement, and SB 293, relative to federally-qualified health care centers and rural health centers reimbursement. This bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services to reimburse federally-qualified health centers and rural health centers for services provided to persons whose Medicaid eligibility has been suspended for failure to comply with the work and unpaid work requirements established under the Granite Advantage Health Care Program.

Senate Floor vote Thursday – HB 692, relative to dental care for Medicaid recipients. This bill requires the Medicaid managed care program to provide dental benefits to the people they cover.

Wednesday – Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs, Room 205, LOB – 1:00 PM Continued subcommittee work session, if necessary, on SB 290, relative to the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program; and SB 293, relative to federally-qualified health care centers and rural health centers reimbursement.

 

Voting Rights

Tuesday 10:30 AM SB 67Election Law Committee, Room 308, LOB – relative to the definitions of resident and residency. This bill would undo some of the provisions of last year’s HB 1264, including returning “for the indefinite future” to the definition of resident and residency.

Wednesday, April 17 – Senate Election Law and Municipal Affairs, Room 102, LOB

  • 9:30 AM HB 539, establishing a committee to study the implementation of the One4All ballot in municipal elections. The One4All ballot is designed to help voters with visual impairment vote independently.
  • 9:45 AM HB 105, relative to domicile, residency, voter registration, and investigation of voter verification letters. This bill modifies the definition of domicile for voting purposes, modifies forms and procedures for voter registration, and removes the requirement that the Secretary of State conduct post-election registration inquiries. This bill repeals some of the most egregious aspects of SB 3, the voter prevention bill passed in 2017, which included a provision that public officials “or their agents” would go to the homes of newly-registered voters to ensure that they lived there. SB 3 is currently being challenged in court.
  • 10:15 AM HB 106, relative to the terms “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency.” This bill amends the statutory definitions of those terms to include an intent to maintain a principal place of physical presence for the indefinite future, a term removed from statute in 2018 by last session’s voter prevention bill, HB 1264.

Thursday 10:00 AM House Education Committee, Room 207, LOB – Executive sessions on SB 263, relative to anti-discrimination protection for students in public schools. Requires school districts and chartered public schools to develop a policy to prevent, assess the presence of, intervene in, and respond to incidents of discrimination; SB 138, relative to the degree granting authority of Signum University; and SB 142, requiring feminine hygiene products in school restrooms.

 

Environment

Tuesday 10:00 AM – House Resources, Recreation, and Development Committee, Room 305, LOB – Full committee work session on SB 76, relative to the prohibition of offshore oil and natural gas exploration. This work session will be followed by an executive session.

Wednesday 1:00 PM – House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee, Room 304, LOB – SB 124, relative to renewable portfolio standards after 2015.

Wednesday 2:00 PM SB 168, relative to class 2 obligations under the electric renewable portfolio standards.

Thursday – Senate Floor Vote on HB 365, relative to net energy metering limits for customer generators. This increases the electric generating capacity for customer generators who may participate in net energy metering. It also modifies the transition of tariffs applicable to customer generators and clarifies the definition of customer generator for purposes of the utility property tax.

Tuesday, April 16 Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Room 103, SH

  • 8:50 AM HB 737, establishing a commission to investigate and analyze the environmental and public health impacts relating to releases of perfluorinated chemicals in the air, soil, and groundwater in Merrimack, Bedford, and Litchfield.
  • 9:10 AM  HB 614, increasing penalties and fines for air pollution and water pollution.
  • 10:30 AM HB 494, relative to removal or containment of contaminants from the Coakley Landfill. This bill requires the Department of Environmental Services to pursue a remedy regarding the removal or containment of contaminants from the Coakley Landfill, and creates specific timelines.

 

Criminal Justice Reform

Senate Floor vote Thursday – HB 253, relative to criminal record checks in the employee application process. This would prohibit employers from asking applicants about their criminal history before an interview.

Death Penalty Repeal Actions:

  1. Thank your Senator if she/he voted for the repeal bill.  They are Senators Shannon Chandley, Martha Fuller Clark, Jeanne Dietsch, Dan Feltes, Harold French, Bob Giuda, Martha Hennessey, Jay Kahn, Melanie Levesque, Jon Morgan, John Reagan, Cindy Rosenwald, Tom Sherman, David Starr, Ruth Ward, and David Watters.  Find their contact info here.
  2. Write or call the Governor.  Encourage him to reconsider his support for executions.  You can call him at 603-271-2121 or send him a message using this link.
  3. Consider joining a prayer vigil outside the Governor’s office during the 5-day window he has to sign or veto the bill.  Since we don’t know exactly when this will be, get in touch with the Rev. Jason Wells at the NH Council of Churches to be notified as soon as we know the timing.

 

Immigrant Rights

Tuesday 1:30 LOB Room 103 – Hearing on Driver License Expansion Bill

The Senate Transportation Committee will hold a public hearing on HB 397, the bill allowing undocumented NH residents to qualify for driver licenses.  As Maggie Fogarty of AFSC wrote in a letter published at SeacoastOnline, “In a state that has insufficient infrastructure for public transportation, driver licenses are essential for a family’s well-being, getting to medical appointments, taking children to school, getting to the grocery store. While we await constructive action on immigration policy, New Hampshire can and should enact a driver license policy that makes our communities stronger and safer.” Please plan to join in on April 23 for a strong show of support for this common sense proposal.

 

Workers’ Rights

Thursday 11:00 House Legislative Administration Committee, Room 303, LOBSB 249, including the legislature as a public employer under the public employer labor relations act. This bill establishes procedures for collective bargaining by nonpartisan employees.

Wednesday 2:30 PM – Labor, Industrial, and Rehabilitative Services, Room 307, LOB – SB 148, relative to notification to public employees relative to their right to join or not join a union.  This bill requires employers to provide written notice to any person hired as a public employee regarding their Constitutional right to join or not join a union, an estimate of the cost of joining the union.  It also requires the public employer to provide access to information about access to the union and the collective bargaining process; and SB 59, adding post-traumatic stress disorder and acute stress disorder to the definition of “injury” for the purposes of workers’ compensation and reestablishing the commission to study the incidence of post-traumatic stress disorder in first responders.

 

The Budget

The House passed all three budget bills quickly and with a minimum of drama. The capital budget, HB 25 wasn’t even debated. The vote to pass it was 362-5. The other two parts of the budget, HB 1 and HB 2, both passed on strict party line votes after two amendments were adopted and four were defeated.

Other budget highlights include $164.7 million in new funding for needy school districts to come from a capital gains tax that would be added to the existing interest & dividends tax.  HB 2 also includes the Paid Family and Medical Leave plan that replaced the governor’s Twin State Voluntary Leave Plan, plus increases in funding to the Public Defender program and to NH Legal Assistance. An additional $2.5 million beyond the governor’s budget was added to fund 25 positions at the understaffed Division of Children, Youth, and Families. There is also more funding for community mental health programs, including $3 million for a fourth mobile crisis unit and $2 million for children’s mobile crisis teams. The developmental disabilities budget includes funding of the DD waitlist and increased pay for service providers.

Of the unsuccessful amendments, the first would have changed the calculus for determining stabilization grants for public education to be distributed to municipalities.  The second would have replaced the paid family medical leave proposal with the governor’s Twin State Voluntary Leave Plan, a plan which is going nowhere since our twin state, Vermont, is not going to adopt it. The third failed amendment dealt with changing the levels of grants to school districts.

More on the story from Sarah Gibson at NHPR and Garry Rayno at InDepthNH.

Another great source of information is the NH Fiscal Policy Institute, whose analysis of the House budget proposal (prior to floor amendments) can be found here.  Phil Sletten, the Institute’s policy analyst, will join us on our State House Watch radio show on Monday.  Tune in Monday at 5 PM to WNHN, Concord’s low power FM community radio station at 94.7 FM or streamed wnhnfm.org.  The SHW program podcast archives can be found here, and you can use this email link to send us questions you think we should ask him.  Low power to the people!

The budget has crossed over to the Senate, where the Finance and Ways and Means Committees will begin hearing presentations from state agencies next week. As the process moves along and we move closer to the end of the fiscal year, senators will benefit from having better revenue projections than those that were available to the House.

 

Do High Prescription Drug Costs Affect You?

HB 717, which has passed the New Hampshire House and is moving on to the Senate, would ban the use of a co-pay coupon where there is a generic alternative available. New Futures says co-pay coupons help patients afford high-cost medications, and are generally given out by doctors or found on the internet.  Holly Stevens from New Futures says her organization does not oppose banning the use of co-pay coupons, but believes it would need to be done in a way that does not harm people who rely on these programs. “HB 717 is a ban that would prevent Granite Staters who rely on co-pay coupons from affording their very expensive, and potentially life-saving, medications,” she said.

New Futures is looking for advocates who have used co-pay coupon programs to share their stories with senators so they will be fully aware of the impact HB 717 will have on New Hampshire’s families.  Click here to tell them your story about co-pay coupons.  You can also call or email Holly Stevens or call her at 603-225-9540 x127.