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Please Take 5 Minutes to Contact Sununu to Veto the Budget!
Send a letter or postcard:
Office of the Governor
107 North Main Street
Concord, NH 03301
We encourage all of our activists to call or email their State Representative and State Senator, write letters to the editor (LTEs), testify and/or register positions on these important bills! To contact your lawmakers and express your thoughts on upcoming legislation, click here.
Send a letter or postcard:
Office of the Governor, State House
107 North Main Street, Concord, NH 03301
Please continue reading for a legislative update and reasons to ask Governor Sununu to veto the State Budget as well as events of interest for this week.
State House Update
Both the State Senate and House met at the end of last week to hold floor votes on significant, impactful pieces of legislation. Here's an update on some key bills we've spotlighted in recent Action Alerts.
The Bad News First - NH's State Budget
This week's Action Alert is to contact Governor Sununu to demand he veto this bad State Budget. On Thursday, the State Senate voted to pass the State Budget, HB1 & HB2, a version the Senate altered slightly from the House version.
The growing and ultra-conservative, extreme Libertarians making up the "Freedom Caucus" (approximately 40 members) continue to exercise outsized influence in New Hampshire's Republican controlled legislature as the Republicans work to appease them to maintain majority control. The extremists' agenda is far from New Hampshire's values, so the State Budget is now riddled with political, non-budgetary items that wouldn't pass as stand alone bills. Below are details on several of these items that can't stand on their own merits and do not represent the desires of the majority of Granite Staters.
As NHDP states: "Sununu owns this budget and all of the extreme measures in it. While the Republicans who wrote this budget are clearly committed to making life harder for New Hampshire’s working families, New Hampshire Democrats remain committed to fighting Sununu and the NH GOP every step of the way by continuing efforts to protect women’s reproductive freedom, increase funding for public education, and ensure property tax relief for Granite Staters. We must hold Sununu accountable by speaking out against this budget on social media. Everyone needs to ask New Hampshire Republicans why they wrote a budget that hurts Granite State Families."
Sununu has indicated that he is too weak to stand up to these extremists by stating to the press that he is unlikely to veto the latest version of the budget. It's our time to make noise!
Restrictions on Free Speech: A Ban on Discussions on Racism & Sexism in public schools and state government entities.
Senator Jeb Bradley (R) made an amendment to the House's version of the so-called "divisive concepts" language by removing state contractors from the ban's scope after public criticism was expressed by hundreds from NH's business community. However, the new language in the amendment is even more confusing and expands the scope of the ban beyond race and sex to include age, gender identity, creed, marital status, religion, national origin and mental/physical disability. In a Concord Monitor article on the Senate's version of HB2, Gilles Bissonnette, Legal Director of the ACLU-NH, speaking on Bradley’s amendment states, “Frankly, the bill is indecipherable and internally contradictory...And if legislators cannot answer basic questions as to what is banned and what is not under the bill’s text, then how are public employees supposed to know on the ground what speech is allowed and what is not?”
From the NH Bulletin, Critics unpersuaded by Senate’s changes to ‘divisive concepts’ bill: “David Juvet, senior vice president at the Business and Industry Association, which represents New Hampshire businesses, said the removal of state contractors from state regulation – contractors that are often New Hampshire businesses – was a step in the right direction. But the BIA still opposes the bill, Juvet said, largely because its member businesses disagree with it, even if it no longer directly affects them. The bill would send the wrong message to people of color considering moving to the state, Juvet said, and could discourage minority-led startups. ‘I think the reality is those people who were opposed to the original language of the bill will continue to be opposed to it as the BIA is,’ Juvet said.”
Governor Sununu’s own Diversity Council is opposed to the inclusion of the ‘divisive concepts’ language in the budget, and drafted a letter to the governor to ask him to push to remove it from the budget. From the NH Bulletin: “Cheshire County Sheriff Eli Rivera said that the new language from the Senate deserved more pushback….’You can paint it any color you want; it’s still censorship."
Dan and Sindiso Mnisi Weeks wrote about the very real problem of systemic racism and the harms of "clinging to a colorblind ideal" in NH Business Review.
Authorizes a costly School Voucher Program and undermines public schools with an estimated $90 million dollar cut to education.
Former State Senator Jeanne Dietsch penned a very informative article on the problems with the school voucher plans. The piece details some of the most problematic issues with the School Voucher proposal, including the fact that oversight of the statewide “freedom accounts” is being handed to an organization that has just one employee. Jeanne speaks to the Republicans' disregard for the well-being of NH's children: "One in every nine children in NH lives in poverty – less than $22k per year for a family of three – compared with one in fifteen adults. Between 2008 and 2018, the proportion of children on free and reduced lunch rose almost 40%. NH has among the highest rates of college debt, highest tuition, highest growth in teen suicide. Educational achievement has been demonstrated over 50 years to vary with poverty and parental education more than race. Mental health problems can be caused or exacerbated by the stress of poverty and depression...the G.O.P. is defunding 22 positions at DCYF, the people tasked with protecting children, at a time when reports of abuse have increased. Is it because the state is short on funds? No, revenues exceed plan. It is because the pay scale for those positions is so low that DCYF has been unable to fill 41 vacancies. Last time NH let case loads rise to 70 per employee, two children died. The problem is not lack of funds, it is lack of interest from the G.O.P...Rather than address poverty and its impact on educational achievement, G.O.P. leaders merely bandage the wounds of a sick society. They inserted "Education Freedom Account" vouchers into the budget. The EFAs give $4600 per year to people already paying their children's private tuition. For a family living in poverty, whose parents work extended hours to get by, a partial tuition subsidy is useless. " Sign up for Jeanne's insightful newsletters here.
Defunding of the Division For Children, Youth & Families (DCYF) which will cut 22 positions from an already underfunded program.
Major cuts to the Department of Health and Human Services while implementing.
Corporate tax giveaways and a reduction in the Income & Dividends Tax, which mostly helps the wealthiest in the state.
Taking Away Reproductive Choices
The passed budget also includes language imposing a ban on abortion at 24 weeks with no exemptions for rape, incest, or fetal anomaly/health, making it much harsher than legislation in other states. Despite claims that he is pro-choice, Sununu says he won't veto the budget over this abortion ban.
The Ugly...Other Legislation
NH Republicans = Guns, Guns, Guns
SB 154 passed by 12 votes (199-177), which will prevent local or state police from enforcing any new presidential executive orders or federal limits aimed at improving gun control measures. From NHPR: “Representative Manny Espitia of Nashua was…among the Democrats questioning the bill’s constitutionality. Espitia warned this bill would make it harder for local police to combat hate crimes. He recently faced online threats from a white supremacist group after he called out racist graffiti in Nashua. ‘New Hampshire law enforcement may not be able to cooperate with Department of Justice officials with white nationalist groups or armed militias in this state where firearms are involved, creating further harm for Granite Staters of color,’ Espitia said.”
SB 141 passed the House with a vote of 197-180 which eliminates the State Police's "Gun Line" background check for gun buyers, thereby removing the State from any role in the background check process. NH would solely rely on the FBI to conduct all National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) searches concerning the purchase, sale, and transfer of firearms for licensed dealers operating in NH. This bill had the strong support of the National Rifle Association.
The Senate Republican majority also passed HB 195, removing reckless brandishment of a weapon from criminal reckless conduct, and HB 334, allowing loaded weapons and knives on snowmobiles and Off-Highway Recreational Vehicles. More on these gun bills here.
And more ugly legislation passed...
SB 137 Relative to the minimum hourly rate for tipped employees. This bill would freeze the tipped minimum wage at $3.27 per hour on the day that the federal minimum wage increases. Passed by the House by a division vote of 201-171.
SB 89 Adopting omnibus legislation relative to election procedures and registers of probate. This otherwise innocuous bill was amended to add a new section that prohibits the implementation of the For the People Act of 2021, in the event that it becomes law. Passed by a division vote of 200-175. This would establish an expensive and confusing two-tiered election system in NH, with state elections being done one way and federal elections being handled another way.
From WMUR: “During the debate on the measure Thursday, Representative Russell Muirhead, D-Lyme, said the GOP amendment will create two separate election procedures. ‘It’s a reaction to a federal bill that hasn’t even become law,’ he said. ‘The bill is blatantly unconstitutional. The supremacy clause of the U.S. Constitution establishes that the federal constitution and federal law generally take precedence over state laws.’ Muirhead said the bill as amended ‘will create a logistical nightmare for state elections’ and will cost the state ‘thousands of dollars in unnecessary litigation’ and ‘double the work of election officials’ while increasing costs to taxpayers and creating ‘vast unnecessary confusion for voters throughout the state.’"
The Good - A Little Ray of Sunshine
SB 61, the anti-union, anti-worker bill that Republicans like to call "Right to Work" was killed by the House, voted down 175-199. This was a welcomed blow to a big push by most Republicans this session. Thankfully, there are some pro-worker, pro-union Republicans who united with Dems to defeat this bill. A subsequent floor vote to indefinitely postpone this "Right to Work"-for less! bill means this legislation cannot be resurrected for the remainder of the biennium, therefore not before 2023. Thanks to all who reached out to their representatives on this issue!
From InDepthNH: “’These bills are nothing more than out of state, corporate interests looking to take advantage of our lawmakers, our businesses, and our workers,’ said AFL-CIO New Hampshire president Glenn Bracket. ‘They deprive workers of their freedom to join together and form strong unions if they choose to. And they have no business being a part of how we do things here in New Hampshire.’”
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