May 1 - Issue #15

NH State House Watch, the American Friends Service Committee

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State House Watch May 1
2015 Is
sue 15

Guns, Gambling, and the Budget

Last week the House voted by a wide margin to reject legislation authorizing construction of twogambling casinos.  Representatives also voted to allow people to carry guns without a permit, but Governor Maggie Hassan said she will veto the bill.  Meanwhile, the Senate tabled the latestright-to-work (for less) bill, presumably killing this measure for the year.    

See below for more news and analysis of last week's key votes. 

Our attention is still largely on the state budget, the subject of ongoing attention in the Senate Finance Committee.  The Committee will conduct a public hearing on Tuesday from 3 to 5 pm and 6 to 8 pm at Represenatives Hall.  NH Voices of Faith will hold a "prayer rally" in front of the State House at 1:30 pm.  We hope you will consider attending the rally and the public hearing.  More details below.  

House Rejects Casino Gambling Again

The House voted down SB 113, the bill that would have given us two casinos. The wide margin of the rejection surprised most State House watchers.  

Last week we wrote about the Ways and Means Committee amendment to the bill, added by Representative Henle. The first vote, on ratifying that amendment, failed in a vote of 141-162.  (This was a "division" vote, which means there is no roll call record of who voted which way.)  Next came the floor amendments. The first, proposed by Rep. JR Hoell, called for the repeal of all statutes against gambling, so there would be no casino monopoly. Let the market decide! It failed in a roll call vote of 103-259. The second floor amendment, proposed by Rep. Zaricki, would have allowed unlimited casinos. It failed in a roll call vote of 87-279. This was followed by an attempt at suspending the rules to consider a non-germane amendment, proposed by Rep. Abramson. His motion failed on a voice vote. The final vote on the original bill was a roll call vote of 156-208. The votes did not break down along partisan or typical ideological lines. 

We’re pleased with this outcome, and hope the state can turn its attention to a better way to raise adequate revenue. We would prefer to see NH resolve our revenue problems without the influence of outside corporate gaming influences. 

As for the future of gambling, casino bills in the NH legislature are like right-to-work bills -- zombies that return year after year.  

Workers Rights Protected

The Senate voted to table HB 658, the right-to-work (for less) bill that made an exception for police and firefighters unions. Bills that the legislature doesn’t want to publicly kill but want to avoid dealing with are often tabled, where they languish and eventually die at the end of the session. Bills can also be removed from the table. We’re hoping for the first option. 

Gun Bill Passes but Veto Promised

The House passed HB 116, the bill that eliminates the need for a permit to carry a concealed pistol or revolver, on a roll call vote of 212-150.  The existing statute requires a gun owner to apply to the police chief in his or her town for such a permit. Applicants are seldom refused. This statute has been in place for about 100 years; even former Governor Meldrim Thomson thought it was good policy. In recent years (with the help of prodding from the NRA and ALEC), gun activists have determined that the permitting process infringes upon their rights. If SB 116 becomes law, no more permits will be required. Permits would still be available for those who want to carry concealed in states where NH has reciprocity, and for out-of-state visitors who want to conceal what they’re carrying when they come to NH. The bill was amended in committee, so it now returns to the Senate for concurrence. Governor Hassan has said she will veto the bill.  We expect the veto will be sustained.

The Budget

The Senate Finance Committee continues to hear agency presentations on the budget, and the Ways and Means Committee is hearing revenue presentations.

On Tuesday, May 5, the Finance Committee is having a public hearing on the state budget in Representatives Hall at the State House. The hearing begins at 3 pm. This is the opportunity for you, the public, to tell the committee what you think about the budget for homeless services, mental health, energy conservation, and privatizing the Sununu Center, etc. It is also an opportunity to speak about the need to honor pay raises negotiated in the most recent contract between the state and state employees. 

The hearing is also a good time to explain to Finance Committee members that it would be foolhardy to cut business taxes at a time when the state is struggling to find funds for critical human needs.  We agree with the NH Fiscal Policy Institute that business tax cuts, already endorsed by the Senate majority but not yet incorporated into the budget, are unlikely to provide a big economic boost.

NH Voices of Faith will conduct a prayer rally by the State House steps at 1:30 pm on May 5.  Everyone is welcome to participate.  Visit the NH Voices of Faith 
Facebook page
 for more information.

Also Last Week in the Senate

HB 407, a bill calling for a study of military equipment acquired by law enforcement agencies, was amended to also create a study of “honorary legislation,” e.g. naming a state raptor.  The bill was also given a new title: “establishing a committee to study the classifications of military vehicles and equipment that may be purchased by the state and its political subdivisions and establishing a committee to study honorary legislation.” It passed on a voice vote. Now it will go back to the House, which can tack on additional studies and give it a more cumbersome title if it chooses.  

HB 151, the bill to establish a committee to study end of life decisions, passed on a voice vote. 

HB 423
, the bill establishing the bobcat as the official state wild cat, passed on a voice vote. No hotdogs were harmed in the passing of this bill. 

Also Last Week in the House

The House also approved 
SB 92, establishing a committee to study public access to political campaign information. The committee will study the merits of an online campaign finance reporting system and a clearinghouse of information for voters. The bill passed on a voice vote. This is the twin of HB 304 which will be voted on by the Senate next week.

Last Week in House Committees

The House Election Law Committee approved 
SB 179
, tying voting to a thirty day residency requirement. The bill was amended in committee to add a requirement that voters obtain a driver’s license and register their car in NH. The bill passed 11-8 in a vote that fell along party lines. The constitutionality of the bill and the amendment are in question.  It is not yet scheduled for a floor vote.

“The sponsors of this legislation claim these restrictions will somehow stop voter fraud, but the proposed changes would penalize New Hampshire voters rather than help our elections,” explained League of Women Voters New Hampshire Election Law Specialist Joan Flood Ashwell. “There are many ways for voters to confirm their identity without forcing them to pay vehicle registration fees, and there are many ways to ensure they live in our state without a 30-day residency requirement. We can’t deny eligible voters the right to vote here in New Hampshire.”

The NH constitution states “all elections must be free.” Requiring motor vehicle registration sounds a lot like a poll tax to us, and another attempt at limiting participation in our election process. 

Next Week in the House

The House will be in session on Wednesday, May 6.

The Consent Calendar includes:

SB 135, relative to lead poisoning in children. The bill was amended in committee. The amendments add stronger language protecting tenants against retaliatory evictions. It also requires building inspectors to provide a DHHS prepared fact sheet regarding lead safe practices and the federal renovation, repair, and painting program during the building permit process.  The committee recommends OTP/A on a vote of 19-2. 

SB 62, relative to driver's licenses for persons without a permanent address. The bill stipulates that a resident who is without a permanent street address may obtain a license or renewal by certifying to the DMV in writing that he/she is a resident in a certain town or city in NH, and providing a letter signed by an authorized agency. The amendment requires that a license issued in this manner will expire in one year. The fee for this license will be reduced to $10. The committee stated that the amendment allows a person to get a one-year license at a lower fee so that they aren’t financially burdened as their living situation improves. Committee recommends OTP/A on a vote of 13-1. 

The Regular Calendar includes:

SB 105, relative to child resistant packaging for tobacco products and establishing a committee to study revising the indoor smoking act. This bill would require child resistant packaging for the liquid nicotine used to refill e-cigarettes and vape pens, and establish a committee to study revising the indoor smoking act to include e-cigarettes and vape pens. The majority of the committee saw no need for either of these safety measures. They feel that packaging is a federal issue, and that exposing out-of-state visitors to criminal penalties is wrong for NH. The minority finds that young children in NH have been hospitalized with serious health threats after ingesting fruit or candy flavored nicotine from containers without childproof caps.  Committee recommends ITL 11-10.  We are speechless. 

Coming up in House Committees

Tuesday, May 5 

Municipal and County Government, Room 301, LOB
SB 146 Relative to accessory dwelling units. Full committee work session. 

Thursday May 7 

Commerce, Room 302, LOB

10:00 AM Subcommittee work on 
SB 219, the bill that would require employers to provide reasonable accommodations to women who are breastfeeding. It also exempts nursing mothers from jury duty.

Science, Technology, and Energy, Room 304, LOB

10:00 Ad hoc subcommittee to discuss the future of renewable portfolio standards. 

Next Week in the Senate

The Senate will be in session on Thursday, May 7, at 10:00 AM

Regular Calendar

HB 304, establishing a committee to study public access to political campaign information. The committee would evaluate the merits of having the state establish a system of online campaign finance reporting and an online clearinghouse of information for voters, including voter registration and polling place locations. This is the House version of SB 92, which already cleared the Senate and just passed in the House, as we mentioned above.  (Note: Legislators and advocacy groups sometimes choose to introduce identical bills in both chambers for tactical reasons.  It can get confusing.)

Coming up in Senate Committees:

Monday, May 4 

Finance, Room 103, SH
9:00 AM -12:00 PM Agency Presentations on the budget
Dept. of Health and Human Services: Division of Community Based Care Services (including BEAS): Elderly and Adult, Behavioral Health and Substance Abuse, Developmental Services, the NH Hospital, and the Glencliff Home. 
1:00 PM Department of Administrative Services
2:30 PM  Fish and Game 

Tuesday, May 4 

Finance, Representatives Hall, State House, 3 to 5 pm and 6 to 8 pm

Public hearing on 
HB 1-A, the budget for 2016 and 2017, and HB 2
, the budget trailer bill, the part of the budget that deals with raising revenues to support HB 1-A.  The hearing will start at 3 pm.  It is scheduled to go to 5 pm, take a one-hour break, resume at 6 pm, and conclude by 8 pm.  We recall that two years ago the Senate Finance Committee stayed until 10 pm to enable everyone who wanted to testify to be able to speak.  If you want to speak, please be prepared to deliver your remarks concisely.  A written statement will be appreciated by committee members (and members of the press).  

Ways and Means, Room 103, SH
9:00 AM  Presentations 
Department of Revenue Administration
Division of Motor Vehicles
NH Auto Dealers Association

Events Coming Up  

Friday, May 1

Rally for Immigrants and Workers Rights - This year's rally will be at Market Square in Portsmouth at 5 PM.  You can find more information on 

Saturday, May 2

Black Lives Matter – a vigil hosted by Occupy New Hampshire Seacoast, 2:00 – 3:00 PM 
Henry Law Park, Henry Law Drive, Dover, NH.  “We can no longer stand by when black lives are discounted. The absence of accountability in the recent deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the death of 12 year old Tamir Rice are a breaking point in humanity’s conscience and the inception of a new movement in America.”  More information on

Tuesday, May 5 

A forum on the State budget, with Exeter legislators. 7 pm, Science Amphitheater at the School of Science and Technology, Tuck Center, 30 Linden Street, Exeter 

NHCA Community Conversations on NH Budget
NH Citizens Alliance is holding discussions with Jeff McLynch of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute to help us understand the state budget debate.  Each event will feature a presentation, followed by questions and comments. Light refreshments will be provided. These gatherings will last from 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Please be sure to record your selection time and location.  Sign up 

•    Franklin - Tuesday May 12 at 5:30 PM - Franklin Public Library, 310 Central Street.

When Opportunity Stops Knocking  - New Hampshire’s Kids and the American Dream
Join a statewide conversation to share ideas with neighbors, hear the latest research, and inform the presidential primary campaigns about the increasing barriers our state’s children face in achieving their dreams.
NH Listens, a project of the Carsey School of Public Policy at UNH, is hosting 12 local conversations around the state. For more information and registration 

Wednesday May 6 - Berlin, Laconia, Nashua
Thursday, May 7 - Manchester, Pittsfield, Plymouth
Tuesday May 12 - Keene, Lancaster, Portsmouth
Wednesday May 13 - Concord, West Lebanon, Rochester

Friday, May 22 – Saturday, May 23
Ancestral Reburial - The Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail invites you to honor the dead who were found buried beneath a Portsmouth street as they are reinterred in sacred ground.  Friday night, beginning at 7:00 pm, an overnight vigil at the New Hope Baptist Church, 263, Peverly Hill Road, ending with a sunrise service at 6:00 AM on Saturday morning.  A motorcade will transfer the caskets to the State Street entrance of the African Burying Ground Memorial Park on Chestnut Street. At 8:30 AM there will be an unveiling of commissioned artwork, and at 9:00 the reburial ceremonies will begin. Wearing white or traditional African attire is encouraged. More information 
here and on Facebook.

Next week on "State House Watch/White House Watch" Radio

You can hear us live on Monday from 5 to 6 pm and re-broadcast on Tuesday from 8 to 9 am at 94.7 FM in the Concord area and at anywhere you can get an internet signal.  You can also download podcasts of past shows, includinglast week's with Representative Susan Almy and Bethany Carson of Grassroots Leadership.  

Governing Under the Influence

Former business executive Carly Fiorina toured New Hampshire this week and spoke at an event hosted by Americans for Peace, Prosperity, and Security, which we consider a booster club for the military-industrial-complex.  Senator Bernie Sanders declared he is a candidate for president, and announced two public events taking place tomorrow in Manchester and N. Conway.  George Pataki, John Kasich, and Lindsey Graham will pay NH visits next week. We're training more "bird dogs" tomorrow morning at the Exeter Unitarian Universalist Church, 8 to 9:30 am.  Read all about it on our 
GUI web site. Bookmark our candidate calendar and return often to find out where the candidates will be.

-Arnie Alpert and Maggie Fogarty

PS - Don’t forget to “like” us on 
Facebook.  Search for “American Friends Service Committee-NH” to “like” us.  After all, we are your Friends.

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.  Click 
here for back issues.

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 direct the New Hampshire Program, publish the newsletter, and co-host the “State House Watch” radio show on WNHN-FM.  Susan Bruce helps with research and writing.  Addy Simwerayi produces the radio show.  We also thank Eric Zulaski for help with proofreading.  

"State House Watch" is made possible in part 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!

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