The League at each level adopts positions based on members' study of an issue. When consensus has been reached, a position can be developed.
CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM Adopted LWVNH December 1971 Updated July 2013
Action to promote constitutional reform.
The League of Women Voters supports changes in the New Hampshire Constitution as follows: Governor
In order to increase the effectiveness of the General Court:
Action to achieve support of county services.
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire believes that county government should be based on the following:
A. Clear lines of authority and responsibility: within the region, other units of government (local, state and federal), with the public and without conflict of interest
B. Taxing power
C. Accountability to citizens of the region, through an established political process
D. Flexibility (responsiveness to change)
E. Procedures for evaluating efficiency
F. Well defined personnel practices
G. Subject to Right-to-Know law (RSA 91-A)
A. As a provider of services
Action to achieve increased effectiveness for Regional Planning Commissions
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire supports the following positions with regard to Regional Organizations/Regional Planning:
A. Boundaries should be reviewed periodically to ensure common geographic and economic characteristics.
B. Mandatory membership for local governmental units should be a long range goal.
C. Regional planning commissioners should be appointed who have the interest and the time to fulfill the responsibilities of their job. Bylaws should be established by commissions regulating duties (including attendance).
A. Physical, economic and environmental problems are suitable topics for regional planning.
B. Planning for human and social needs should be carried out primarily by appropriate social agencies, coordinated with planning under (A) where indicate
C. Project priorities should be based on the comprehensive plan for the region.
D. Projects should be carried out by commission staff (utilizing consultants, citizen committees where appropriate).
E. Projects should be evaluated in relation to the comprehensive goals of the region and the specific goals of the project.
F. Project accountability should be to providers of funds and to the public.
A. Basic funding should be through membership dues from local governments and through contracted services.
B. Additional funding should be provided for projects from state and federal sources.
C. Initial accountability should be to local governments, then to the state planning office and to the federal government (to the county only if contracted services are involved).
A. The State Planning Office should play a non-coercive role:
1. As clearinghouse, coordinating agency;
2. To develop statewide policy guidelines and minimum standards.
B. Relationships between regions should be improved by better communications and by cooperation on projects as needs demand.
C. Regional Planning Commissions should improve public relations efforts and actively encourage citizen participation.
D. Commissioners should take an active part in explaining Commission projects and activities, and in enlisting citizen and community support.
Regional planning commissions should continue their advisory status. They should not become part of the state or county governmental structure, nor should they become a separate (fourth) level of government within the state responsible only to local governments.
FINANCING GOVERNMENT Adopted by LWVNH, December 9, 1980 Updated July 2013
Action in support of reform to achieve equity in the New Hampshire tax system.
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire has established the following criteria for evaluating state taxes:
The optimum tax is one that provides a reliable source of revenue, raises adequate revenue to justify its imposition, is based on ability to pay, and is levied on a broad segment of the population.
The League also supports, where appropriate, a tax that is a direct payment for a service or benefit ("user's tax").
The League finds the following characteristics desirable in judging taxes:
In examining New Hampshire's present tax structure, the League finds that most state taxes only partially satisfy the above criteria. The League supports tax reforms that would make the present system more equitable and provide a broader base.
A. The League recommends the development of long-range fiscal goals to guide the state's budgetary process. The League recognizes that New Hampshire's governmental structure (two-year term for governor and biennial budgets), as well as the present tax system, tend to inhibit rather than promote long-range fiscal planning. Opportunity should be provided for effective participation in this process by a broad spectrum of public and private interest groups, as well as individual citizens.
B. The League believes that when the legislature promulgates laws requiring expenditures, responsibility for funding such laws lies with the legislature and should not be passed on to other governmental units without a good-faith effort to provide state funding.
C. The League believes that, if additional revenue is needed to support state government, any new taxes should meet the criteria established above. The League would support, in order of priority:
EDUCATION Adopted by LWVNH December 9, 1980 Updated July 2013. Further amended Jan. 18, 2018 (see below under Education part II)
Action to support access to equal basic education opportunities for every student in New Hampshire.
The League believes that the state of New Hampshire bears a constitutional responsibility for the promulgation of education.
The state should set minimum standards and guidelines for elementary and secondary education and should provide assistance, both technical and financial, to ensure that all districts meet those minimum standards.
The League also believes that state support for elementary and secondary education should be a high priority in the state budget but that local control should be maintained over local school budgets.
State funds should be used to reduce the basic educational inequalities among school districts.
State mandated programs should be funded by the state.
EDUCATION PART II Amended Jan. 18, 2018, to include the following: (note that this position was reached thru study and consensus process in 2017-18. It will encompass other areas after phase two of the study and consensus process is completed, by summer 2019, we hope.)
The League of Women Voters New Hampshire (LWVNH) believes that the responsibility to provide an equitable, quality public education for all children grades K through 12 is shared by the federal, state, and local governments, as expressed in the US and NH constitutions. A quality public education is essential for a strong, viable, and sustainable democratic society and is a civil right.
LWVNH believes a basic role of the state government in funding education should be to achieve equity among municipalities and school districts. This should be done with full understanding that equity does not mean equal, given that some sub-groups of students are more expensive to educate than others and that localities have specific needs.
LWVNH believes that the voters in each school district have the right and the power to choose to offer more educational opportunities beyond those that the state funds and determines to be an "adequate" education, and to raise funding locally, even if this creates greater disparities among school districts.
LWVNH believes that the disparity between actual per pupil costs in school districts and the amount the state contributes to school districts requires funding beyond current state property taxes. In determining our support for additional state revenue streams, LWVNH believes that revenue sources should be assessed in terms of their impact on the ability to pay, the stability and sustainability of the revenue stream, and whether the revenue stream results in regressive taxation or harmful social impact.
LWVNH believes that parents who choose not to use the public schools do so of their own volition and that public funds should not be used to support home schooling or private schools and academies, including religiously affiliated schools.
If any state funds are to be used to pay for all or part of private and/or religiously affiliated school costs, then LWVNH believes that the private/religious schools must have nondiscrimination policies, recognized accreditation, teachers that meet qualifications as set by the NH Department of Education, and that assessments of competencies must be used and reported to the NH Department of Education according to the timetables applied to public school districts.
Whether or not state funds are given to parents to pay for all or part of the expenses of home schooling, LWVNH believes that parents must be held accountable for outcomes, just as the public school districts are held accountable, by the administration and reporting of test results or performance-based assessments of competencies determined acceptable by the NH Department of Education.
LWVNH supports consideration of innovative approaches to education. If criteria are developed and met and approval is given for innovative programs, the League believes that time frames in which to assess, demonstrate and report outcomes must be included in the plan to move forward.
AN INDEPENDENT REDISTRICTING COMMISSION Adopted by LWVNH state board, 2005
Support of a state redistricting process and standards that promote fair and effective representation in the state legislature and in the U.S. House of Representatives with maximum opportunity for public scrutiny.
Support of legislation establishing an independent, non-partisan commission with broad-based community representation as the preferred redistricting body.
I. The standards on which a redistricting plan is based, regardless of who has responsibility for redistricting:
A. should include as required by federal and state law
1) substantially equal populationB. should prohibit the consideration of
2) geographic contiguity
3) protection from diluting the voting strength of a racial or linguistic minority
4) preservation of town or ward boundaries
1) the political affiliations of registered voters
2) the previous election results
II. The redistricting process, regardless of who has responsibility for redistricting, should include:
A. time limits for the process
1) automatic non-judicial procedures for problems of process and timely completion of the redistrictingB. maximum opportunity for public scrutiny, including
2) automatic court action if a plan is not completed on time (the plan, including appeals, must be in place 30 days before the deadline for candidates declaration to run for office.)
1) public hearings in a variety of locations around the state during the process (One suggestion was to hold at least three meetings in each congressional district.)
2) information concerning redistricting during the process should also be widely disseminated to the public by means of all available media.
3) Wide dissemination of the final plan, both in print (at municipal offices and libraries) and in electronic form with notices concerning availability in all media
4) An appeal process
III. Redistricting should be limited to every ten years only (following the census).
The major updates were approved at convention; the minor changes and formatting were approved by the LWVNH Board in July and September 2013.)
ENERGY Adopted by LWVNH, April 1978
Action to achieve a reduction in New Hampshire's use of energy.
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire believes that New Hampshire cannot and should not sustain its historical growth rate of energy consumption. In both the state and national interest, New Hampshire must make a significant reduction in its use of energy.
I. Specifically, New Hampshire should reduce its overall consumption of oil and gas, and should develop and use a mix of energy sources based on the following policies:
A. Top priority should be given to conservation.
B. Increased utilization of renewable resources: solar, hydro, wood, wind, and solid waste.
C. The environmentally sound use of coal.
D. There should be no increase in the present use of nuclear power.
II. New Hampshire should commit itself to a policy of energy efficiency. The League believes that immediate state action is needed in the following areas:
A. Mandatory standards for energy conservation.
B. A statewide code to include strict thermal and lighting standards.
C. Time of day utility pricing and revision of the utility rate structure to reflect actual production cost.
D. New regulations to facilitate licensing procedures for industrial or home produced power.
E. Requirement that public utilities accept industrial or home produced electricity at an equitable price.
F. Promotion of more public transportation.
G. Mandatory deposits on soft drink and malt beverage containers.
III. In order to implement these goals, the League recommends:
A. That the Governor's Energy Office should assume a leadership role in policymaking, public education, research and development, and in all other matters pertaining to the state's energy program.
B. That the conservation of energy and the development of renewable energy sources should be encouraged by appropriate tax measures (incentives and fines.
C. That assessment of the state's energy needs should be based on objective current information.
D. That the Public Utilities Commission should be reorganized to provide adequate protection for consumer interests as well as for utilities' welfare. Public hearings at all levels should be an integral part of the decision making process.
E. That all state agencies should reflect the state's energy policy goals in their planning and regulatory operations.
F. That environmental, health and safety standards and compliance tables should not be relaxed in pursuit of the state's energy goals.
The processes used to develop and implement state energy strategies should give a voice to all levels of government. Public understanding and cooperation are essential to the success of any state energy strategy. Citizen participation in decision making must be assured at every governmental level.
LAND USE Adopted by LWVNH, February 1975
Action to achieve wise use of land; to provide an optimum balance between human, social and economic needs and environmental quality; and to conserve and ensure wise use of energy and other natural resources.
The League believes that state government has an obligation to:
1. Develop processes for comprehensive land use planning, including development of growth policy;
2. Encourage local, state and regional capabilities for land use planning and regulation;
3. Insure adequate public access to recreational areas;
4. Promote new concepts of community design.
Land Use Decisions of More than Local Concern.
The League has identified the following areas as being of more than local concern and advocates an enhanced state role in regulating land use in these areas:
1. Uncontrolled areas/unincorporated areas;
2. Fragile or historic lands where development could result in irreversible damage;
3. Renewable resource lands, where development could result in loss of productivity,
4. Natural hazard lands, where development could endanger life and property;
5. Areas impacted by public investment, where siting results in secondary land use demands;
6. Large scale private development, which would have substantial impact upon the physical, social and economic development of the area.
At a minimum, the state's role should include the following:
1. The state should require impact statements on major public and private development.
2. The state should develop criteria against which to review land use decisions in these areas.
3. The state should support the development of regional planning and decision-making capabilities, to be applied to large land use projects with regional impact.
Local Land Use Decisions
The League believes that most land use decisions are best made on the town or city level. The state's role should be a coordinating rather than a coercive one, as follows:
1. The state should develop a comprehensive land use plan for New Hampshire, designed to enhance local decision making and coordinated with plans and policies of regional agencies.
2. The state should provide increased financial and technical assistance for research, data collection and planning.
3. The state should encourage local communities to use innovative land use planning and regulatory techniques.
4. The state should establish an appeals procedure to arbitrate conflicts between governmental bodies and between citizens and governmental bodies in land use decisions.
5. The state should develop mechanisms to minimize conflict of interest on the part of persons who make land use decisions.
6. The state should develop and implement techniques to assure meaningful participation by citizens throughout the process of land use decisions, whether local, regional or statewide.
SITING SPECIAL FACILITIES Adopted by LWVNH, May 14, 1985
Action to develop and implement effective siting and operating procedures for special facilities which will safeguard environmental quality, include public participation, and provide for conflict resolution.
The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire finds that, in order to minimize conflict in major facility siting decisions, the state must assume a leadership role in the process.
Siting a Facility
Concurrence statement on disposal of low level radioactive waste; TriState.
The Leagues of Women Voters of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont adopt the following position on Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal.
Compact Status: The Leagues of Women Voters of Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont believe there are a number of acceptable solutions for the three states to meet their responsibility under the Federal Low Level Radioactive Waste Policy Act of 1980 with regard to disposal of low level waste generated within the region. The Leagues support:
Site Selection: The Leagues want hazardous and radioactive waste treatment, storage and disposal facilities sited under conditions which pose the least amount of risk to the public and to sensitive environmental areas and natural resources. They must be located away from natural hazard areas, drinking water supplies, fragile land areas, valuable ecosystems, significant renewable resources, wildlife, historic and agricultural areas. Secondary land use impacts, such as buffer areas, adequate roads, and transportation safety, must also be considered.
Management: The Leagues endorse host state control during all stages of managing low level radio active waste. The host state should oversee site selection, active operations, the decommissioning, closure, and institutional control of the site. This must include longterm monitoring and maintenance to ensure that wastes remain isolated until they are environmentally safe. The host state needs enforcement capability and the ability to sue violators for damages.
Economics: A complete evaluation of the economic, social, and environmental impacts must be carried out in such a way that decision makers and the public have adequate information on which to base a decision. The full costs of planning, selecting, building, administering, operating, monitoring, providing liability coverage, and institutional control after closure must be adequately projected and borne by the generators of waste. Provision should be made for periodic review of the economics of the operation.
Citizen Participation: The League of Women Voters strongly believes that public understanding is crucial to the success of important decisions on low level waste disposal. The League proposes clear provisions for public participation and strict application of the Right to Know Law. Citizen participation throughout the decision making process must be assured at every governmental level. Statement developed July 5, 1984 by Carol Fritz (LWVME), Aileen Katz (LWVNH), Sonja Schuyler (LWVVT).
Critera for evaluating low level radioactive waste COMPACT PROPOSALS in the eleven states of the Northeast:
These criteria were developed in April 1984 by a working group of League leaders in the Northeast states to help evaluate low level radioactive waste compacts that may be proposed as substitutes for the Northeast LLW compact.
The League of Women Voters supports cooperative solutions to the national problem of low level waste management and disposal through the adoption of regional compacts. LWV believes state cooperation offers a safe, effective and economic means to achieve an important goal--the environmentally sound management and disposal of low level waste. The establishment of regional compacts provides an effective means to ensure protection of public health and the environment and is preferred over the proliferation of disposal treatment and storage facilities.
Compact language should include these provisions: 1)Guidelines and timetables to aggressively encourage source and volume reduction; 2)Accountability of a compact commission and ample and effective opportunities for public participation in decision making:
a) *Public funds for such participation;3)Full judicial review including judicial review standards; 4)A liability system that is equitable and that ensures sufficient funds will be available for cleanup or compensation, should this be necessary at any time during operation and after closure; 5)An equitable and timely host state selection process that emphasizes environmentally sound siting processes and ensures proportional sharing of responsibility; 6)Equitable sharing of responsibility for regulation, financing and siting; 7)*Clear lines of responsibility for producers, party states, host state, and compact commission; 8)**Requirement for periodic internal review and evaluation by party states, with clear guidelines for procedures on amending the compact if necessary; 9)*The full costs of planning, selecting, building, administering, operating, monitoring, providing liability coverage and institutional control after closure must be adequately projected and borne by the generators of the waste. *Added by LWVs of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont. ** Added by LWVs of Maine and New Hampshire.
b) *Provision for effective participation by the host community (communities) in the entire process;
c) *Provision for periodic review of site operation;
INCARCERATION of Women in New Hampshire Adopted by the LWVNH Board April 27, 2012
LWVNH believes that the incarceration of women in NH, whether in the county Houses of Correction, the women's prison or the halfway house, impacts not only the offenders and their families but also society as a whole. The League believes that the corrections system should encompass gender-specific strategies in their policies for the treatment of women within that system. The League also believes that the goal of the corrections system for women should be to provide opportunities for rehabilitation while recognizing the need to address and repair the harm caused by criminal behavior.
The League supports the following:
The use of alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders who can be safely managed in the community.
The strengthening of policies designed to support the role of the mother in her children's lives.
The use of gender-specific assessment tools.
A facility used to house offenders must provide transportation (or be located on public transportation routes) for legal services, work opportunities and health care. Lack of transportation cannot continue to be a barrier to full participation in available and necessary services.
Any facility used to house offenders must have adequate and appropriate space for the provision of the diverse services needed for women offenders.
A priority emphasis on rehabilitative programs that:
Increased collaboration among the county departments of corrections.
The primacy of the State's and counties' roles in managing functions of incarceration.
The goals of SB500 (The Justice Reinvestment Project, enacted in 2010, modified in 2011):
Sentencing alternatives, including drug and mental health courts, probation, restorative justice, weekend sentencing, use of electronic monitoring or fines should be considered as efforts to keep families together and allow offenders to earn a living, pay taxes and contribute to their communities.
Ensure intake and assessment collection of information specific to females.
Housing, health care, counseling and treatment (if required), employment, and family issues all need to be addressed in each individual's re-entry plan.
Increased collaboration among the county departments of corrections:
Action to achieve an effective, integrated and coordinated system of juvenile justice in New Hampshire.
The League of Women Voters believes that constitutional rights and fair hearings must be assured to all individuals. To this end the disposition of youth adjudicated or identified as CHINS (Children in Need of Services) must be designed to treat and rehabilitate children in the least restrictive environment, promoting family unity and community responsibility whenever possible.
Local Role The League of Women Voters of New Hampshire firmly believes that the primary responsibility for appropriate care and treatment of CHINS or juvenile offenders lies with local governments.
The League supports measures to increase the effectiveness of the communication between school guidance departments, police, parents, and service providers. In addition, the League supports alternative education programs and youth employment initiatives.
State Role Recognizing that the need for youth services in various communities throughout the state can differ substantially, and that the ability of communities to fund and manage programs independent of outside help, the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire advocates that the state take a greater role in the administration of services to delinquent, pre-delinquent youth and CHINS. Such a role would include:
The League opposes further expansion of gambling in New Hampshire. The League opposes relying on gambling as a source of state revenues because it does not meet the requirements of being progressive, reliable, or flexible.
The League opposes legalization of additional forms of gambling with the exception of small games of chance.
The League supports state regulation of all forms of gambling with local option to set stricter rules.
The League supports levying special taxes on private-for-profit gambling operations.
The League favors state support of a compulsive gambling treatment program.
In the event that video gaming, slot machines, and casino operations become legal in New Hampshire, the League supports limiting their size and density. The League would support requiring adequate existing municipal services, environmental impact statements, and siting restrictions for off-track and sports betting operations.
TRANSPORTATION Adopted at Quad States Council spring 1998
Regional Quad State Agreement on Transportation
The LWV 1998 Quad States Council (including the four state delegations from LWV-ME, NH, VT, RI) support action to encourage participation and cooperation in promoting regional transportation initiatives. The goal is regional planning and implementation of integrated transportation systems throughout New England. Specific objectives include:
The board of LWVUS has released its legislative priorities for 2019. The first tier priority is the Campaign for Making Democracy Work, which includes expanding voter access, fighting voter suppression, money in politics, and redistricting reform. Second tier priorities are healthcare reform, immigration, and protecting the environment.