June 6

NH State House Watch, the American Friends Service Committee

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AFSC-NH State House Watch, June 6
2014 Issue 22

The House and Senate finished their work for the season on Wednesday, June 4.  Members approved all of the Committee of Conference reports that were presented.  

If Governor Maggie Hassan vetoes any of the 242 bills which were approved this year, Senators and Representatives will return in the fall to vote on veto over-rides.  Otherwise, unless they are called back for a special session, they won’t be returning to vote before the November 4 election.   we can see the state house from our office

We are wrapping up as well.  State House Watch will be back next week with a report on highlights and low points of the past session.  We would love to get your views on this newsletter, which we have sent out every week since the beginning of January.  Please take a few minutes to complete our survey.   Let us know what you like, what we could improve, and how you made use of the newsletter.

We also want to remind you that if you do appreciate this newsletter and other work of the American Friends Service Committee you can go to our websiteto make a donation.  Look for the green Donate Now button.  Or, if you’d prefer, we are happy to receive checks at our office, 4 Park Street, Suite 209, Concord NH 03301.  Thanks!    

Coming Up at the State House

House committees have scheduled meetings on bills that were referred to “interim study.”  Check the House Calendar or the docket for the bill in question if there is one that interests you. The House will be inactive during the month of July.   

The Senate Calendar lists a number of meetings for committees that include Senators as members (e.g. the Commission to Study Business Taxes and the Exotic Aquatic Weeds and Species Committee both have scheduled meetings on Monday, June 16) but otherwise looks pretty quiet.

The filing period for candidates for state office opened up on June 4 and runs through June 13.  That means you’ve got another week to act if you would like to be a State House Watcher from the inside. Get details from the Secretary of State. There is plenty of political news about who is running and who is not.    

Speaking of who is not, Representative Terie Norelli, who finished up her term as Speaker of the House, will be our guest on the “State House Watch” radio show on Monday.    

Committees of Conference (COC)

SB 369 was renamed: relative to the Medicaid enhancement tax.  As we reported last week, Governor Hassan negotiated a deal under which the hospitals (with the exception of St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua) agreed to drop all lawsuits challenging the MET (which was ruled unconstitutional twice) in return for guarantees of reimbursement for uncompensated care.  All that remained was for the House and Senate to translate the Governor’s deal into statutory language, a task accomplished by the SB 369 Committee of Conference.  The COC report was accepted by both chambers, with strong bipartisan support. The House roll call vote was 278-72. The Senate passed SB 369 on a voice vote.  

Governor Hassan said: “Today’s bipartisan vote to implement the Medicaid Enhancement Tax agreement with 25 New Hampshire hospitals is a critical step that will help provide stability to our budget while also ensuring that we can continue to provide critical health services to our people. This agreement is fair to the hospitals and to New Hampshire taxpayers, allowing the important and productive partnership between the hospitals and our state to continue.  As part of this agreement, the participating hospitals agree to end costly litigation that threatened the stability of the state’s budget. In addition, the agreement brings us nearly all the way back to the situation that existed before funding to hospitals was cut in 2011 and ensures that all revenue from the Medicaid Enhancement Tax will be used to support critical healthcare services.”

Analysts say the MET deal will lead to reduced revenue for the state.  Coupled with other shortfalls in tax revenue, the state is facing some new, unforeseen budget problems.  Garry Rayno of the NH Union Leader wrote today that "Gov. Maggie Hassan warned lawmakers last week that if state revenues continue their downward trend in June, they may have to return this summer to approve budget cuts that could total tens of millions."  He added, though, that Senate President Chuck Morse says the Governor and agency heads should figure it out themselves. In any case, next year's budget debate will once again expose a chasm between the state's needs and the revenues our elected officials are willing to raise to meet them.   

SB 591, relative to an abusive work environment and the health and safety of public employees, was approved by voice votes in both chambers. Our thanks go to all who worked for two years to enable this legislation that will protect our public employees. 

HB 1407, which prohibits employers from requiring workers to disclose their social media passwords, was approved.

HB 1188, the paycheck equity bill which prohibits employers from discharging, disciplining, or discriminating against employees for disclosing the amount of their wages, was approved.  Senators adopted it by voice vote.  On the House side it passed with a roll call vote of 207-120.  

HB 1376, establishing a committee to study pipeline safety and development, was approved. 

A Few Other Bills of Interest

These were not on our watch list but they caught our attention in the final moments of the session:

SB 389, relative to the enforcement of motor vehicle laws by officers of the Fish and Game Department, gives game wardens authority to pull you over for running a stop sign. 

HB 496, relative to driving privileges for certain first-time DWI offenders, allows limited driving privileges for first time DWI (driving while impaired) offenders, if they can show proof that they need to drive in order to keep their jobs, attend school, attend job training, get to and from substance abuse treatment, or get to and from medical treatment. The driver’s vehicle must also be equipped with an interlock device. The Senate added an amendment stipulating a complete loss of license for 45 days was required before the limited driving privileges could go into effect. House members of the COC agreed to concur with the Senate and adopt the bill as amended.  This looks like a common sense remedy to an overly punitive process, especially if coupled with continued efforts that educate about the dangers of impaired driving.

HB 1533 requiring a warrant to search information on a portable electronic device, was adopted.  This bill refers to any device that is capable of creating, receiving, accessing, or storing electronic data. The Senate deleted a provision requiring authorities to return devices quickly to their owners; the House decided to go along. 

In Other News…

Meridian, one of the three companies hired to run the state’s managed care program for Medicaid recipients, announced it was terminating its contract.  We don’t yet know what impact this will have on Medicaid clients and their health care, but we appreciated this comment from Diana Lacey, President of the NH State Employees Association:  “This demonstrates the perils of outsourcing critical human services.  The state continues to place its eggs in the baskets of outside contractors, which is risky business, because if a private contractor is not meeting its profit projections, they can simply pull out, and in this case leave thousands of Medicaid clients stranded.”

Diana will lead a workshop on "The High Cost of Privatization" tomorrow at the NH Progressive Summit.NH State House

State House Watch Radio

Our guest next week will be Speaker of the House Terie Norelli, who is retiring this year.  You can hear us live on Monday from 5 to 6 PM on WNHN, 94.7 FM in Concord, or over the internet. The show re-broadcasts Tuesday from 8 to 9 AM.  You can download a podcast of any of our earlier shows, including last week's show with Representative Steve Shurtleff.  

Upcoming events

June 7 - The third annual NH Progressive Summit, hosted by NH Citizens Alliance for Action and Granite State Progress, runs from 9 AM to 5 PM at New England College in Henniker.  The theme of this year’s event is “Building the Progressive Movement.”  Workshops will include one led by Maggie called "How Do We Talk about Poverty without Blaming the Victims," and one on "Bird-Dogging Skills" with Arnie, AFSC intern Addy Simwerayi, and Olivia Zink of the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare.  Click here for more information and to register.
June 7 - NH Peace Action will hold its annual membership meeting with special guest Father Roy Bourgeois, founder of SOA Watch, from 10 AM to 2 PM at the Chong/Pearlman Residence, 34 Wadleigh Road in Sanbornton. The event includes a potluck lunch at 12:30 pm with BBQ by the Common Man Restaurant.  If your last name begins with A-P, please bring a dessert.  If it begins with Q-Z, please bring an appetizer or salad dish.  Suggested donation is $20 per person.  Please call the office (603-228-0559) or mail a check to NH Peace Action, 4 Park Street, Suite 210, Concord NH 03301 to reserve your space today.

June 10 - 25 - The State Energy Advisory Council is holding six meetings around the state to give residents the opportunity to review and comment upon the draft of the energy strategy plan they have developed for NH. The draft plan, the meeting dates, times, locations, and directions are all available here.

June 11 - The Granite State Organizing Project will convene a meeting for Manchester tenants, landlords, public officials, and community members to discuss improving housing conditions in the city.  The meeting will take place at 6 PM at the Neighborworks Meeting Room at 373 Union Street (corner of Spruce and Union). For more information or to RSVP call the GSOP at 603-668-8250 or send an email.

June 14 - World Refugee Day activities will take place in Manchester at the YWCA and Victory Park from 11 AM to 3 PM. 

June 27 marks the hundredth anniversary of the verdict rendered against Joe Hill, a labor organizer and songwriter framed for murder in Salt Lake City.  Joe Hill was sentenced to death; his execution was carried out on November 19, 1915.

July 5 - The NH Rebellion is sponsoring a walk from Hampton Beach to Fort Constitution in New Castle to promote awareness of the "systemic corruption" which comes from the influence of money in our political system.  The rebels will also march in July 4 parades in Amherst, Ashland, Merrimack, and Conway.  Organizers of the NH Rebellion will give a presentation at the NH Progressive Summit on June 7. 

Ongoing - Registration has begun for the summer programs at The World Fellowship Center in Albany, NH, a truly special place which “promotes peace and social justice through education and dialogue inspired by nature."  Check out their website and plan to spend some time there this summer!  Arnie and Maggie will be the speakers there on July 15.  
September 27 - John Nichols, Washington correspondent for The Nation and co-author ofDollarocracy: How the Money and Media Election Complex is Destroying America, will headline AFSC's annual fundraising dinner.  Mark your calendar and stay tuned for details.

-Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty

AFSC’s New Hampshire 
State House Watch newsletter is published to bring you information about matters being discussed in Concord including housing, the death penalty, immigration, and labor rights.  We also follow the state budget and tax system, voting rights, corrections policy, and more.

The AFSC is a Quaker organization supported by people of many faiths who care about peace, social justice, humanitarian service, and nonviolent change.  Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty staff the New Hampshire Program, publish the newsletter, and co-host the “State House Watch” radio show on WNHN-FM.  Susan Bruce helps with research.  Fred Portnoy produces the radio show.  AFSC's State House Watch projects are supported by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.    

Your donations make our work possible.  Click the “DONATE NOW” button on our web page to send a secure donation to support the work of the AFSC’s New Hampshire Program.  Thanks!

American Friends Service Committee 
4 Park Street
Concord, NH 03301

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