March 17 - Food Stamps Still at Risk

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NH State House Watch

March 17, 2017

We hope that you’ve all finished digging yourselves out after the big snow on Tuesday! As you rest your weary arms, State House Watch is here to help you catch up on the latest legislative goings-on.

The House Finance Committee had 3 public hearings on the budget, and now their work on crafting the budget for the next biennium will speed up.  They have a March 30 deadline to complete their work, which must be acted upon in the full House by April 6.  After that, it’s the Senate Finance Committee’s turn.  We will keep a watchful eye, and keep you updated.

To no one’s surprise the Senate voted to ITL (i.e. defeat) the bill to increase the minimum wage, SB 83.  Voices of Faith were on hand to lend their support to the passage of the bill, but in the current climate, there was little chance that it would succeed. We will continue to support bills to improve the lives of low wage-workers in our state.

Proposed Food Stamp Policy Change Puts Families at Risk

The Senate bill to restrict food stamp eligibility bill, SB 7, passed with an amendment that requires approval of the legislative HHS Oversight Committee to continue the existing program for families with children. Sarah Mattson Dustin of NH Legal Assistance, whose research revealed the severe impacts of the original bill, commented“NHLA and our allies who work on behalf of low-income New Hampshire families recognize the improvements the NH Senate made to SB 7 today. But this bill as amended still makes it harder for the food stamps program to continue serving low-income working families with kids. We will keep advocating for these essential benefits, which are 100 percent federally funded and a crucial tool in the fight against child hunger. We heard in the debate that New Hampshire's senators received HUNDREDS of messages against the bill. That is a great sign that New Hampshire voters are engaged and committed to protecting our most vulnerable neighbors. There is still much work to be done, but we are deeply grateful to everyone who stood with us and with low-income working New Hampshire families."

We also want to call your attention to the bill's fiscal note, which concludes, " Finally, if households lose eligibility for the Food Stamp program, they may turn to local and/or county governments for assistance."

The bill has now been referred to the Senate Finance Committee, which is holding a hearing on another proposed amendment to the bill on Tuesday, March 21, at 1:00 PM, in Room 103 at the State House.

Senator Lou D’Allesandro’s perennial proposal to establish casino gambling, which this year takes the form of SB 242, came out of committee with an ITL recommendation but nevertheless passed the Senate yesterday in a roll call vote of 13-9. The bill now moves on to the Senate Finance Committee. The Senate is also taking up HB 560, the House bill establishing keno, the video lottery game. If history has predictive value in this instance, the Senate will approve a casino bill which will die in the House, while the House-passed keno bill will die in the Senate.

It’s a relatively light week coming up in both the House and Senate.

We send a shout-out to John Raby, who introduced a resolution at New London’s annual town meeting calling for removal of U.S. nuclear missiles from hair-trigger alert, cancellation of plans to spend $1 trillion on a new generation of nuclear weapons, and negotiations leading to worldwide nuclear abolition.  The resolution passed 73 to 45.  Read more in the Concord Monitor and check out the Nuclear Weapons Working Group’s Facebook page to stay up-to-date on efforts to reduce nuclear threats.

Another shout-out to the Town of Harrisville, which last night approved by a vote of 74 to 48 a measure directing the local police not to inquire about the immigration status of anyone questioned for minor infractions.  See more in the Keene Sentinel.

Vocabulary Refresher (requested by a reader)

“ITL” means “inexpedient to legislate,” or a bill deserves to be defeated.

“OTP” means “ought to pass.”

“OTPA” means “ought to pass as amended,” in which case we recommend to State House Watchers that you review the language of the amendment, which might be a minor tweak or might be a total reversal of the bill’s original intent.

Last Week in the Senate

(Any Senate bills that passed will cross over to the House, unless they are referred to the Finance Committee for consideration of fiscal impact.)

SB 83 Increasing the minimum wage to $12 over several years. ITL by a party line vote of 14-9.

SB 209 Adds e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine to the list of products the state’s tobacco cessation program is trying to prevent or cease the use of. ITL by a vote of 12-11.

SB 226 Would have eliminated the one-week waiting period before an eligible worker may receive unemployment benefits. ITL by a voice vote.

SB 227 Expands job training programs offered by the Department of Resources and Economic Development. It provides funding for individuals not otherwise eligible for state or federal training programs, and provides child care and transportation for workers not eligible for other programs. Voted OTP in a roll call vote of 19-4. It now moves to Finance.

SB 129 Requires a portion of the funds in the renewable energy fund to benefit low-moderate income residential customers. A floor amendment offers a one-time incentive of up to $6,000 or 50% of system costs, whichever is less, to any residential owner of a small renewable generation facility that would classify as a Class I or II source of electricity, provided it is located on or at the owner’s residence. Voted OTP by a voice vote.

SB 197 Making an appropriation to the Department of Justice to enforce election and lobbying laws. The bill appropriates $100,000 to fund a full-time investigator to enforce election and lobbying laws. OTP by a vote of 23-0.

SB 7 Relative to eligibility for food stamps. This bill would restrict food stamp eligibility and could deprive 17,000 low income families of food stamp benefits.  It will save the state no money, and cost plenty to administer, as town welfare officers pointed out repeatedly during their testimony at the hearing.  With an amendment proposed by Senator Jeb Bradley, the bill passed by a party line vote of 14-9 and is referred to the Finance Committee for further consideration.  But first, the Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on a new amendment, on March 21 at 1:00 PM in Room 103 of the State House.

SB 236 The title is “Making the Medicaid expansion law permanent.” In committee, it was amended to stipulate that “permanent” would last until 2020. But on the floor, the bill was tabled.

SB 239 The original intent of the bill was to remove the Division of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) from DHHS and create an independent department. It’s been amended to create the position of assistant commissioner to oversee DCYF and adds several other layers of oversight protection. Passed by a voice vote, and referred to Finance.

SB 247 Preventing childhood lead poisoning from paint and water and making an appropriation to a special fund. As we learned last week, some provisions were stripped from the bill, but even so, it is incremental progress. Passed by a roll call vote of 17-6 and referred to Finance.

SB 233 Relative to the legalization and regulation of marijuana and establishing a committee to study the legalization of marijuana. The bill was ITL’d by a vote of 19-4.

SB 1  Reducing the rate of the business profits tax. Re-referred to committee by a voice vote.

SB 2 Reducing the rates of the business profits tax and the business enterprise tax. Both tax rates were cut in 2016, and the fiscal impact isn't clear yet. The House very prudently tabled a similar measure. The Senate chose to forge ahead, despite the absence of information on how the first round will affect state revenues. The bill passed by a vote of 14-9, and was referred to Finance.

SB 207 The bill to tax chewing tobacco by volume was tabled.

SB 208 Establishing a working families property tax relief fund. ITL by a vote of 14-9.

SB 242 The annual casino bill came out of committee with an ITL recommendation. After a speech by its prime sponsor, the ITL motion was defeated.  A floor amendment to add an impact study to be done 3 years after the casino begins operating was approved. The bill passed as amended, by a vote of 13-10, and was referred to Finance.

SB 244 Relative to exemption of income from taxation under the tax on interest and dividends. This would increase the amount of income exempted from taxation for both individuals and businesses. The lead sponsor of the bill is a business owner, who did not recuse himself from the vote. Passed by a vote of 12-8 and referred to Finance.

Next Week in the House and Senate

The House and Senate will both be in session on Thursday, March 23, at 10:00 AM, but we don’t see anything worthy of note on their agendas.

Coming up in House Committees

Monday, March 20


Division I, Room 212, LOB
10:00 AM  Budget work session on HB1-A and HB 2

Division II, Room 209, LOB
10:00 AM  Budget work session on  HB1-A and HB 2

Division III, Rooms 210-211, LOB
10:00 AM  Budget work session on HB1-A and HB 2

Tuesday, March 21

Children and Family Law, Room 206, LOB

10:00 AM SB 166 Provides that if a child’s birth is the result of rape there shall be a “rebuttable presumption that termination of the biological father’s parental rights is in the best interest of the child.”


Division I, Room 212, LOB
10:00 AM  Budget work session on HB1-A and HB 2

Division II, Room 209, LOB

10:00 AM  Budget work session on HB1-A and HB 2

Division III, Room 210-211, LOB
10:00 AM  Budget work session on HB1-A and HB 2

Wednesday, March 22

Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Room 204, LOB

10:00 AM SB 66 The bill provides that a fetus will be included in the definition of “another” for the purposes of first and second degree murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide, and causing or aiding suicide.


Division I, Room 212, LOB

10:00 AM  Budget work session on HB1-A and HB 2

Division II, Room 209, LOB
10:00 AM  Budget work session on HB1-A and HB 2

Division III, Room 210-211, LOB
10:00 AM  Budget work session on HB1-A and HB 2

Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs, Room 205, LOB

9:00 AM  Executive session on SB 224 This bill prohibits persons licensed to provide counseling services to engage in conversion therapy with a person under the age of 18.

Coming up in Senate Committees

Tuesday, March 21

Election Law and Internal Affairs, Room 102, LOB

The Committee is expected to exec on SB 3, redefining "domicile" at some popint during the day.

10:40 AM  Executive Session on HB 247, relative to retention of voter registration forms. Town and city clerks will be required to retain the registration forms of any voters whose last address was in Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, or Rhode Island, and forward a copy to the supervisors of the checklist, who will enter the information into the centralized data system and make the determination of whether or not to add the voter to the checklist. In the case of denial, notification will be sent in 7 days, with REJECTED stamped across the form, and an explanation of said rejection. 

Note: NH doesn’t have a voter fraud problem.  Our problem is that we have an abundance of proposals to fight voter fraud that threaten the fundamental right to vote.  Join us at the State House on April 1 to demand protection and expansion of the right to vote.

11:00 AM HB 262 Establishing the blackberry as the state berry. We can’t resist observing that according to Wikipedia, State House Watch’s main source of botanical knowledge, the blackberry is an “aggregate fruit,” not a berry. We encourage the Election Law and Internal Affairs Committee to consult a reputable botanist. 

11:20 HB 372 An act relative to construction of the terms “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency.”  The NH ACLU says provisions of this bill, which aim to force voters to register their cars in the state, function as a "post-election poll tax" for some voters.  The NH Campaign for Voting Rights calls it "a thinly veiled attempt to intimidate voters (particularly students) through DMV registration.

11:40 AM SB 248 Ratifying elections and meetings postponed due to the weather emergency on March 14. There was a great deal of confusion about whether or not town elections could be postponed because of the storm. Despite the Governor’s urging everyone to get out and vote in a blinding snowstorm, some towns opted to postpone their elections. This bill legalizes and ratifies the results of those elections.

Energy and Natural Resources, Room 103, SH

9:15 AM HB 352 Changes the name of the energy efficiency fund to the energy fund, and increases the number of project categories that may be funded by the renamed fund.

9:45 HB 540 Repealing the voluntary greenhouse gas emissions registry.

Finance, Room 103, SH

1:00 PM Hearing on a new amendment to the food stamp bill, SB 7.

Judiciary, Room 100, SH

10:10 AM  HB 94 Prohibiting certain defenses in prostitution and human trafficking cases. The prohibited defense is “I didn’t know she was underage.”

Wednesday, March 22

Ways and Means, Room 100, SH 

9:15 AM HB 560 Establishing keno. This bill would allow establishments where liquor is poured to be licensed for keno terminals. Keno is an electronic lottery game. The revenues would go to DHHS to address problem gambling, and to the education trust fund.

"State House Watch" Radio

Next week on "State House Watch," we'll get an update on the food stamp deform bill and have a conversation with Elizabeth Ropp, a community activist/community acupuncturist, about getting legislation made. The radio version of "State House Watch" airs live every Monday from 5 to 6 PM on WNHN, 94.7 FM in greater Concord and on the internet. The show repeats on Tuesdays from 8 to 9 AM. Last week we discussed trans-gender rights with Linds Jakows from Freedom NH and public education with Dan Vallone of Reaching Higher NH. You can listen to the podcast here.

Upcoming Events

Saturday, March 18
 - "Skills for Social Change" workshop hosted by the Monadnock Interfaith Project, 9 AM to 1 PM at St. James Episcopal Church, 44 West Street, Keene. Lunch will be provided; suggested donation is $10.  Space is limited so RSVP today to Sarah Harpster, (603)903-2202,

Monday, March 20 (also March 27 and April 3) - Three Lenten Mondays for Refugees at Divine Mercy Church, Rt. 101, Peterborough, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM.  Information and discussion about refugees.  For more information, call Frank at 784-5260.

Tuesday, March 21 (re-scheduled from March 14) - Statewide Clergy Training about Sanctuary Congregations, 10 AM to 12:30 PM at Blessed Sacrament Church, 14 Elm Street, Manchester. Lunch will be provided. This meeting is open to all congregations, faith groups, clergy and lay leaders interested in exploring what sanctuary and solidarity could mean in our New Hampshire communities. Granite State Organizing Project and several local congregations are sponsoring the event. Please contact GSOP at (603) 668-8250 or email Viola if you’re interested in attending.

Tuesday, March 21 - The Greater Manchester Clergy Association and the Granite State Organizing Project are hosting a procession in support of immigrants and refugees. The procession will begin at Grace Episcopal Church at 5:00 PM with a welcome and prayers. We will process to the Plaza outside of City Hall where the sacred texts of our faith communities, which speak of welcoming and justice will be read.

Thursday, March 23 - "A Hair-Trigger Away? Nuclear Security in the Age of Trump," a program with Lisbeth Gronlund of the Union of Concerned Scientists, sponsored by the NH World Affairs Council, 6 PM at UNH-Manchester.  Register and get more info here.

Friday, March 24 - Friday Family Fun Night and World Dance Party, hosted by New American Africans at Concord UU Church, 274 Pleasant Street. Join NAA for an evening of drumming, dancing, food and good company. Suggested donation is $10 per person, $20 per family. From 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, Sayon Camara will be drumming. Enjoy free ice cream and Somali meatpies. From 8 PM to 10 PM, bring your own music and dancing shoes; the floor will be open for any and all who want to stay late to dance.  For more information, contact Ayi D'Almeida,

Saturday, April 1- March for Voting Rights, hosted by NH Rebellion, 1 PM to 3 PM. March from Concord High School to the NH State House. The 1.2 mile march through downtown Concord will bring together hundreds of concerned citizens and numerous advocacy organizations dedicated to our democracy. After the walk, we will hold a rally at the State House featuring students, veterans, and other leaders. After the rally we will have activist training sessions. Concord High School: 170 Warren Street. NH State House: 107 N Main Street. You can find more information and spread the word via the Facebook event page.

Sunday, April 2-Justice for All concert with Lea Gilmore/Rise Up Singing, to benefit the Greater Manchester NAACP, 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM, at Brookside Congregational Church, 2013 Elm Street, Manchester. This singalong concert will provide an opportunity for people in the Merrimack Valley to stand together in solidarity with groups facing threats to their safety, dignity and rights including immigrants, People of Color, Muslims, and the LGBTQ community. We will celebrate groups working for racial justice, as well as on immigrant rights, climate, and peace. We will sing together to increase our hope, resilience and ability to act in these challenging times. Suggested donation is $20.  Buy tickets here.  Spread the word via the Facebook event page.

Monday, April 3 - NH Blue and You sponsors a day-long interactive workshop to provide an opportunity for leaders from law enforcement, criminal justice, municipal government, civil rights organizations, immigrant and refugee communities, mental health, and education to examine the challenges and opportunities associated with creating a more perfect union, through honest conversation on policing and community-police relationships among those most affected by current tensions.  The NH Blue and You initiative includes the NH Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Seacoast and Manchester NAACP chapters, in partnership with NH Listens, working together to have local, regional and statewide gatherings.  1:00 – 7:00 PM at the Grappone Center in Concord, includes dinner.  Reigster here.

Monday, April 3 and Tuesday, April 4 - Uphaus v.Wyman and Civil Liberties in the McCarthy Era, at 7 PM.  Locations: April 3 at Kennett High School (409 Eagles Way, North Conway) and April 4 at Dover City Hall Auditorium (288 Central Avenue, Dover).  Fifty-eight years ago, Willard Uphaus went to jail for refusing to cooperate with the legal authorities of New Hampshire. Across the decades, his story speaks to major civic discussions that continue to this day. UNH English professor Michael Ferber will lead a panel of distinguished scholars in a discussion of Uphaus v. Wyman, a notable 1950s legal case that was ultimately decided by the US Supreme Court. In it, NH Attorney General Louis Wyman sought to prove that Willard Uphaus and the White Mountains conference center of which he was director (the World Fellowship Center) were guilty of subversive activities. No such subversion was proved, but Uphaus ended up serving time in Merrimack County jail for his principled refusal to turn over lists of guests, staff and speakers. The panelists and audience members will consider questions that resonate today -- the balance between individual rights, liberties and conscience and the rights and needs of the broader society. In addition to Professor Ferber, the members of the panel are W. Jeffrey Bolster, UNH Professor of History; Clare Chapman, Executive Director of the NH Council of Churches; and Maria Sanders, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Plymouth State University. This program is presented by the World Fellowship Center and made possible by a generous grant from New Hampshire Humanities Council.  Spread the word via the Facebook event pages for April 3 and April 4.

Saturday, April 22 (Earth Day) - March for Science at the State House Plaza in Concord, NH from 9 AM to 3 PM. The mission is “to unite as a diverse, nonpartisan group to call for science that upholds the common good and for political leaders and policymakers to enact evidence based policies in the public interest.” Event organizers include 350NH, ECHO Action, Acadia Center, League of Conservation Voters (LCV), Citizen’s Climate Lobby (CCL), Moms Clean Air Force, and NH Unites for Humanity.  You can find more information at the Facebook event page.

And there's a Portsmouth event too!  Find more information here.

With very best wishes,

Maggie and Arnie

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.

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 is a State House Watch researcher and writer.  Fred Portnoy produces the radio show.

"State House Watch" is made possible in part by a grant from the Anne Slade Frey Charitable Trust.

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