What is the League working on this year? How has the League testified on specific bills? What has the LWVNH accomplished in the recent past? Tips for effective citizen advocacy. (Please note that testimony for 2017 has been left on this page pending the decision of our court case regarding SB3, the new voter registration procedures. 2018 testimony appears at the top of the list.)
The Secretary of Commerce announced his decision to include a question pertaining to citizenship in the 2020 Census. This decision is bad for the census, bad for our communities and bad for America.
The Census occurs once every ten years, so it is imperative to get the most accurate count. Every community relies on Census data -- from apportioning our national representatives to making decisions about public safety and neighborhood resources -- this information impacts every aspect of our lives. A fair and accurate count lets our leaders and businesses make sound investment decisions that keep our communities thriving. Including a citizenship question on the Census undermines the rights of eligible voters and threatens a process vital to our democracy.
The United States Constitution mandates an accurate count of all people living in the United States + not all citizens. For more than 200 years, the Census has collected information about the geographic distribution of our population so we can provide representation and invest in our communities equitably. Without a complete count of our nation's people, businesses will not have the tools to make sound investment decisions that keep our communities thriving.
We will do everything in our power to correct this issue before it's too late. To sign an online petition, go to this link to the national League of Women Voters website:
Senate Election Law, April 10, 2018: A large crowd was gathered to protest HB1264. This bill is seen as a voter suppression attempt, without once mentioning the word VOTE. Click here to read the League's written testimony, which was summarized in the committee hearing today.
House Election Law, March 29, 2018: A large crowd testified on SB438, which was designed to codify what towns could do in cases of weather or other emergencies on town election day. Most of the testimony was along the lines "we need standardized procedures if we postpone" but "the local election officials, not the Secretary of State, should be making the decision whether postponement is in the best interests of the voters." We expect the bill to be amended before it comes before the House for a vote, along lines suggested by the NH Municipal Association and Senator Fuller-Clark. League also presented testimony with addendum of various pieces of background materials not in this pdf Click here to read the testimony. League board member and Newbury town moderator presented this testimony: Click here to read the testimony.
Senate Ways & Means, Feb. 7, 2018, hearing on SB 586, a bill to authorize two casinos in NH. League opposes this unreliable and regressive way of funding our fair state. Click here to read testimony offered by League. Though the storm prevented our presenting it orally, we did submit it in advance in writing. Update Feb. 22, 2018. The Senate tabled this bill. Not dead, but whimpering in the corner.
House Election Law Jan. 25, 2018, hearing on HB 1543, a bill attempting to prevent college students from voting. Click here to read testimony offered by League, including some relevant court cases references. Update: House voted to kill this bill 3/22/18. Hurray.
House Transportation Jan. 23, 2018, hearing on HB 1583, re "citizen" or "non-citizen" on driver license for voting ID purposes. Click here to read the League's testimony. Update: House voted to kill this bill March 2018. Hurray.
Senate Election Law Jan. 23, 2018, hearing on SB527, a bill to require voter ID for absentee voters. League concurs that this bill would impose unfair demands on voters who are elderly or those with disabilities. Read testimony submitted by a League member and former Election Law Specialist for the League, with her personal story. Click here to read Joan Ashwell's testimony. Update: Senate passed this bill March 8, without an amendment that would have softened some of our original objections. Further update April 24, 2018: House Election Law committee unanimously recommends this Ought To Pass with a significant amendment that takes care of our earlier objections and expands the eligibility for voting absentee when a storm warning has been issued for election day. League can now support this bill.
Same bill, ACLU testimony. (ACLU is part of the NH Campaign for Voting Rights, as is League.) Click here for testimony. League's position is that without further work, this bill is unfair to groups of people that must vote absentee. [See update note above.]
House Election Law Jan. 18, 2018, hearing on HB1666, re redistricting. Click here to read League's testimony. We support this bill. update: House voted down this bill in Feb. 2018
Senate Election Law Jan. 16, 2018, hearing on SB438, re postponed town elections and shifting power to postpone from towns to the Secretary of State. Click here to read testimony from a town moderator and League member. League opposes the bill as written, but we do support the uniform rescheduling procedures included in the bill. Update: Senate voted Ought to Pass on March 8.
Further update April 24, 2018: Amended in House Election Law today. One amendment was defeated, which would have kept local control. At least a rescheduling plan was agreed upon. Then the eight page Griffin amendment was presented, based on RSA 669 and deals with changes of the location of the polling place for different causes. In severe weather events the secretary of state "may postpone a town election...." A moderator may request postponement "If the governor declares a state of emergency or the secretary of state determines that postponement is necessary...." A new element is "the continuity of operations plan (COOP)" - a postponement of elections plan developed ahead of time with the emergency management director of each political subdivision and submitted to the secretary of state and attorney general for review and approval. If the town has such a plan, the moderator may request postponement for weather, and, if the secretary of state has not responded to a moderator request within two hours, the moderator may postpone. This state control amendment was approved 11-9 along party lines.
An ought to pass as amended motion was approved 11-9 along party lines, and the amended version will be sent to the full House, maybe May 2-3. Recommended Ought To Pass as Amended along party lines.
Court hearing Sept. 11, 2017 stays penalties associated with SB3 implementation. Click here for the full details.
Critical time for several bills-- SB3 is the voter registration "get tough on certain potential voters" bill that generated over 3 hours of testimony with more than 200 people signing in Opposed at the Senate election law committee hearing on March 7. An amended bill (another 11 pages to completely replace the one discussed on 3/7, Amendment #2017-0978s) was voted Ought to Pass as Amended in executive session on March 21, along party lines. It will be voted on in the Senate March 30 and League opposes it. Therefore our Call to Action for SB3 is to call your own Senator in the next few days and encourage defeat of this voter suppression bill when the full Senate votes on March 30. UPDATE 3/30/17 The Senate passed this bill along party lines. League is disappointed that much public input had so little impact on Senator's views.
More information on SB3 as amended: Studying the amendment closely (once it became available, at the end of the executive session) we see that the police come a'knocking part was deleted in response to public testimony and there is no longer a separate but duplicative affidavit that someone must sign who doesn't have documents to prove domicile if he/she registers on election day. However, the same-day registration document has merely shifted some paragraphs and tweaked minor wording. It is still many pages long, will be a challenge for some potential voters and will slow lines at the polls significantly. Of equal concern is that supervisors of the checklist are being charged with investigating--that's not their jobs and they are not trained to do so! Local election officials have been turning over names & affidavits to the Secretary of State for mailing of letters to people who vote without ID or domicile papers, and then to the Attorney General for failure to respond to letters. If those state agencies did their jobs (and had the funding to do them), we wouldn't be in this mess. But the big change is in how to deal with someone who doesn't produce documents within the specified period after an election.
Below is a strongly phrased explanation from Granite State Progress Executive Director Zandra Rice Hawkins:
"SB 3 has been poorly written from the start but this latest amendment makes it ten times worse. Senate Republicans attempted to quiet public outcry over the provision of sending police officers to voter doors but in doing so they passed an amendment that actually allows that and more. Under the amended version, checklist supervisors can still send law enforcement or they can deputize others to conduct the checks, which could include deputizing voter suppression activists or even vigilante groups. In fact, there are now no limits whatsoever on whom they could send. It is shameful that [senators] took credit during committee for removing the police officer provision by name while simultaneously opening the back door for the same activity and worse. SB 3 is nothing more than an attack on voting rights. It creates a poll tax by requiring financial transactions for many of the verifiable acts listed, and it penalizes voters $5,000 for being a day late with paperwork even if they did nothing wrong when registering to vote. In the hours-long public hearing, testimony highlighted that the bill will disproportionately impact [certain] eligible voters including students, low-income people, homeless veterans, and domestic violence survivors. New Hampshire politicians have many more pressing issues to deal with than needlessly attacking voting rights with harmful bills like SB 3."
The Senate sponsor offered the amendment in committee Tuesday morning [3/21] at 9am and called a vote less than 30 minutes later, denying Senate Democrats and voting rights advocates an opportunity to study the language and provide feedback prior to the vote. (League got a copy when a pile was placed on a table after the committee's vote.) League had suspected the police knocking on doors was a red herring from the beginning and we're not surprised it is now gone. But little else has changed, suggesting little regard for public input or voter impact. The bill still gives greater credence to a third party (landlord, perhaps) statement than to the potential voter's own declaration of domicile, which just seems wrong. If you wish to read the amended bill they'll vote on, it begins on page 28 of the Senate Calendar
Tuesday was the deadline for a recommendation from the committee before the Senate meets March 30. All bills originating in the Senate--including this one--must be acted on by close of session on that date, so there is no further public input opportunity--except YOUR CALLS AND EMAILS TO YOUR OWN SENATOR. Therefore: Our Call to Action for SB3 is to call your own Senator in the next few days and encourage defeat of this voter suppression bill.
SB248 to ratify the results of postponed town elections of 3/14 will be voted on by the full Senate on March 30. To read an excellent summary of the hearing affecting towns that postponed town meeting elections on 3/14, read this Concord Monitor article from 3/22. <http://www.concordmonitor.com/election-snow-bill-8821365>
UPDATE 3/30/17 The Senate rejected an amendment to ratify town election results, voted for the amended bill to create a study committee, on the theory that the House would propose and vote on a bill to ratify which would then go to the Senate. Please see our legislative alert on SB108 to which the House tacked its solution on our Hot Legislation page. League attended the hearing that included this bill and were surprised, after an hour of testimony, at what the Senate Election Law committee recommended as a bill replacement amendment along party lines, which does not deal with the immediate issue for the 70+ towns that postponed because of public safety concerns. You can read that entirely amended bill beginning on p. 40 of the Senate Calendar.
SB107 would establish an independent redistricting commission. League testified in favor (and on a related House bill that has already died). Committee recommends Inexpedient to Legislate with a party-line 3-2 vote, so sadly this bill will likely die too. (Voting 3/30) Next time maybe...in time for the next redistricting cycle.
For voters in Senate District 16: Dunbarton, Bow, Hooksett, Candia and Wards 1, 2, 12 in Manchester--The League of Women Voters express their condolences on the passing on March 21 of Senator Scott McGilvray. An educator and inspiration for many young people, he served too briefly in the Senate where he had hoped to make a difference on your behalf. A special election will be announced for that Senate seat. For now, you are without a state senator and the balance in the NH Senate is now 14 Republicans and 9 Democrats.
Looking ahead: next full House session is Wed., April 5 possible continuation to Thursday. Their list of bills is not yet available.
More UPDATE on Tuesday March 21 probably 9 am the Senate Election Law committee will hold executive session on SB3. Public can't speak or sign in but can listen as the committee considers last week's testimony and likely amends the bill before referring it to the full Senate.
Our specific call for action, repeated from last week, is about SB3, the bill that will change drastically the voting registration process in NH. We have recently seen the 11-pages amendment to this bill, are still studying it so we can write testimony. League opposes this draconian response to unproven rumors of widespread voter fraud. We urge you if possible to come to the Legislative Office Building (behind the State House) on Tuesday, March 7, to sign in "CON" on SB3. MANY THANKS FOR THE HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WHO CAME AND SIGNED IN OPPOSITION.
The House has a slew of bills to vote on this week in their full session. Here is a heads-up about some we've mentioned during their hearings. Call your state representatives to urge their votes on the bills you most care about:
HB 351 (death penalty expansion bill) UPDATE: 3/8 THE FULL HOUSE DEFEATED THIS BILL. HURRAY!
HB640 (reducing penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana)--League does not have a position on this bill, but it would put NH in line with 19 other states that use a fine, not a misdemeanor criminal charge, to deal with possession of under an ounce of marijuana by adults.UPDATE--3/8 full House passed this bill, crossing party lines, 318-36!
Nearly all the Election Law bills being voted on this week had a split recommendation along party lines. League is bothered by this--voting procedures should not be partisan matters. But it appears they are. It is likely the full House will also vote along party lines. Here are the bills the League would especially like to see defeated:
HB552, which shifts to the Secretary of State investigative powers regarding voters without IDs who don't return those post-election letters he sends. The Attorney General is the investigative and prosecutorial power in NH, not the Sec. Of State who, ideally, should be focused on making voters and election officials better educated regarding voting procedures. Only one other state gives the Secretary of State this kind of investigative responsibility. League would like to see it defeated. UPDATE: House passed this as amended 3/8/17; we are disappointed.
HB464 would remove the authority of election officials to accept photo IDs other than those from the authorized list. League sides with the committee, who all agreed this bill is not needed--the current system works fine, whereby an election official can accept the identity of an employee at a nearby hospital, for example, who presents his hospital photo ID badge. UPDATE--3/8 House voted Inexpedient to Legislate, 298-51. We're happy.
HB372 attempts to tie definitions of "residence" and "inhabitant" as used elsewhere in statutes, to voting, which currently uses "domicile" in NH as the standard to register and vote. Playing with wording in an attempt to prevent college students in NH from voting where they live for 9 months or more a year, often for 4 or 5 years, has occurred nearly every session. The committee voted Ought to Pass along party lines; League urged Inexpedient to Legislate. UPDATE -- 3/8 House voted Ought to Pass 188-163.
We also have a few election law bills we'd like to see passed. They include this one:
HB 622, would allow all voters to vote by absentee ballot. League would, of course, like to see this pass, as the challenges of weather, transportation, family and job obligations, and the pace of modern life make waiting in lines at the polls a disincentive to many people.UPDATE 3/8 -- Sadly, House voted Inexpedient to Legislate 200-145.
+-Moving on from Election Law, League also testified in support of HB478, prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity. This bill would extend to gender identity the same protections against discrimination that exist for age, sex, race, creed, color, marital status, sexual orientation, familial status, physical or mental disability, or national origin. It comes out of committee with an Ought to Pass vote of 15-2, and was supported by business, law enforcement, and the legal community. Passing this bill is the morally right thing to do! UPDATE 3/9/17; 11 AM--House just voted to TABLE this bill. To come off the table this spring would require a 2/3 vote; it seems dead for this session.
In the Senate, which will meet in full session on Thursday, March 9:
SB 94, making a capital appropriation for affordable housing. It started out with a $250,000,000 appropriation, but was amended to $5,000,000. It comes out of committee with an Ought to Pass as Amended recommendation of 4- 0, which is better than has been provided in recent history for affordable housing initiatives. UPDATE 3/9--this bill was tabled, then sent to Finance. Not sure what that means.
SB 113, would create electronic poll book trial program. League testified in support, urges passage. An electronic poll book is hardware and software that allows election officials to review and maintain voter registration information for an election. It does not count votes. This bill would allow cities and towns to conduct a trial of such devices, provided they comply with all statutes and regulations. Within a month after the election, the cities or towns will submit a report to the Secretary of State's office on the device, the costs, accuracy of data, etc. The cities and towns are responsible for all of the costs. (The state will gladly accept the data, but not help with the costs.) The Senate election law committee recommends Ought to Pass unanimously; League agrees. UPDATE 3/9 Passed as amended.
SB 194 This bill would authorize online voter registration. League testified in favor, but the committee recommends Inexpedient to Legislate (along party lines by a vote of 3-2.) Online voter registration would facilitate changing address easily when a voter moves, would be done securely, and would save time for voters and election officials and provide a more accurate registration list. League would like this bill to pass. UPDATE 3/9/17 Bill was defeated in the Senate 14-10.
+--Usually League posts hearings of interest in the House or Senate, but beyond the SB3 hearing on Tuesday, this week has few other than Finance Committees. Our thanks to the members of those committees as they labor to prepare the budget--a huge job and they work diligently, meeting several times a week. Thank you, Representatives assigned to Finance.
+----Below is optional reading, as these bills are likely to pass or fail without debate, according to the committee recommendations. They are, however, bills that League finds of special interest.
A number of "bad" bills are on the House consent calendar to be defeated. This means that the committees that heard these bills agreed overwhelmingly that they should not become law. Sometimes even sponsors agreed they are Inexpedient to Legislate. No further action by voters should be required--but here are the numbers and a brief description of each that has attracted League attention, just in case you are following them:
HB106, would have required "corroborating evidence in sexual assault prosecutions"--as though there are witnesses to these heinous acts. UPDATE--PULLED OFF THE CONSENT CALENDAR, AND THEN TABLED--not likely it will be revived this session; would take a 2/3 vote to do so.
HB285, which would have eliminated judicial discretion in sentencing. This goes counter to recent trends in NH and elsewhere to give greater discretion to judges. UPDATE--HAPPILY, DEFEATED IN HOUSE.
HB309, would have required expiration dates on student ID cards when used for voting purposes--silly to implement this now, counter to a 2014 law. UPDATE--3/8/17 HOUSE DEFEATED THIS BILL.
HB642, an election bill that was such a horrendous mish-mash of changes in election law "even the sponsor agreed that this bill is unwieldy" and should be defeated. DEFEATED 3/8/17.
HB214, would repeal the ban on texting while driving, which has been in place only a short while.UPDATE--DEFEATED.
Here are some "good bills" also on the House Consent Calendar, very likely to pass without any further debate and then move on to the Senate:
HB215, establishing a commission to study the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana--just think, we will actually study an issue before drafting new laws one way or the other! UPDATE--PASSED THE HOUSE 3/8/17
HB304, opponents of Common Core as a required standard will like this: this bill clarifies the authority of school boards to implement or not implement CC standards, but if they don't, they must determine and approve local academic standards that meet or exceed state academic standards. League did not attend these hearings, but the committee vote was 16-2 in favor of passing this bill. UPDATE--3/8/17 PASSED AS AMENDED.
HB412, broadens access to pre-engineering and technology curriculum from grades 6-12 to grades K-12, to awaken students' interest in STEM subjects earlier--first step in building a 21st century workforce. UPDATE--PASSED IN THE HOUSE.
HB537, a campaign finance bill we like, to include limits on campaign contributions given to candidates before they officially file (same limits as on pre-primary and general election contributions). One small step toward campaign finance reform. The House election law committee was unanimously in support of this bill!UPDATE--3/8/17 PASSED IN THE HOUSE.
HB475, on which League testified and then grinned broadly when it was immediately voted Ought to Pass--a bill to honor the first two female legislators in NH with portraits in the State House. No money attached, but that's an issue for another day. May the force be with us, may the portraits be done and installed in a place of honor in time for the 100th anniversary of women's right to vote and the election of these women to the NH House--2020. UPDATE--3/8 PASSED THE HOUSE.
HB 203, the independent redistricting commission bill, was killed 190-164. League is very disappointed. Voters should be able to choose their representatives; elected officials should not be choosing their voters by manipulating voting districts to their advantage. This was a roll-call bill, so find out how your representative(s) voted and ask why.
SB 11, the right-to-work bill, which would have prohibited unions from charging fees to non-union members for collective bargaining efforts on their behalf, was voted Inexpedient to Legislate by a vote of 200-177 on 2/16. Immediately there was a motion on the floor to "indefinitely postpone" the bill, which won 193-184. So for now, the status quo stands (unions can charge collective bargaining fees to non-members). One representative testifying said this is the 30th time a version of this bill has come before the House. This bill cannot be revived this session.
HB 588 This bill would require voters who do not have a valid ID on election day to vote with a provisional ballot, which would be counted days after the election is over upon presentation of ID, thus delaying final election results. League believes this bill should be voted down, and the Election Law committee and the full House agreed. This bill was killed by the full House 2/15/17. We're happy.
HB 235, allowing the use of an assisted living facility photo ID card for voter ID purposes. League supports this option for a voter ID used by elderly people who no longer have a drivers license or passport. However, the full House killed this bill, 195-178, 2/16/17. Fiscally conservative legislators did not apparently consider the additional expense of using affidavits and photos taken at the polls and the required follow-up investigation when voting on this, nor did they consider the emotional effect upon elderly voters of having "mug shots" taken at the polls and having to reply to mail 3 months later about whether they really voted. The League fears that if other bills are passed in this session limiting the use of an ID affidavit, elderly voters will be discouraged from voting.
HB 201, requiring background checks for commercial firearms sales. This common sense gun violence reduction bill is a good idea, in League's opinion. The full House killed the bill, by a vote of 221-151, on 2/16/17. League is disappointed.
HB 558, prohibiting private and for-profit prison contracts. League is vehemently opposed to private prisons, and we are pleased that the majority of the committee agrees with the concept of not privatizing NH correctional facilities. But this is a badly written bill, opposed by the Dept. of Corrections. After hearing testimony, the League agrees with the committee's recommendation of Inexpedient to Legislate The full House killed the bill by a vote of 230-99. League is happy.
HB 646, relative to the placement and detention of a minor in a secure facility. Occupancy at the Sununu Center has been declining for the last decade. It is currently operating at half capacity. This bill would move the state toward a model of community treatment for low level juvenile offenders. It would limit the capacity of the center, beginning in 2018, so that elements of the center can be repurposed for treatment eligible for Medicaid. House passed this bill on a voice vote 2/15/17 and referred it to Finance.
HB 489, establishing a commission to study the tax structure of our state. The committee recommends Ought to Pass as Amended by a vote of 21-0. Passed on a voice vote in the full House 2/16. League believes a serious look at our state's funding situation is long overdue. We hope that, the commission will work do a serious study of this important issue.
Senate update 2/16 SB 68, which was requested by the Dept. of Corrections, to allow the courts more discretion in offering alternative sanctions for probation violations. The League supports this bill, based on our 2009-2012 study of incarceration issues. This bill passed; we are happy.
SB 12 has already passed the Senate, also passed the House 200-97. Update 2/22--Governor Sununu just signed this bill into law. This is the bill that repeasl the current requirement for a license to carry a concealed weapon. The League OPPOSES repealing this license requirement, for public safety reasons. Most NH law enforcement people also oppose repealing it.
HB 145 would require municipal approval (a vote by the town/city) for siting high voltage transmission lines. UPDATE 2/9--JUST PASSED THE HOUSE 229-60 IN SPITE OF The committee that heard the bill recommending it be killed (Inexpedient to Legislate) because such transmission lines are of statewide or regional value and one town should not be allowed to hold up a project. BILL GOES TO THE SENATE NEXT.
HR 7 is a resolution calling on Congress to consider a US Constitutional Amendment that would prohibit campaign contributions unless the donor is eligible to vote in that particular federal election. League SUPPORTS this resolution, even if it is unlikely to result in an actual amendment, because it would be one step in reducing the influence of big outside money in campaigns. It would limit contributions for a US Senate seat representing NH, for example, to people who actually live in NH. More work is needed on campaign finance reform, but this would be a positive step. UPDATE 2/9--WOW! THIS BILL PASSED THE HOUSE 211-75 !
HCR 3 would rescind (cancel) all applications by the NH Legislature for a federation constitutional convention and urge other states to withdraw similar requests. League SUPPORTS this bill because our study of the constitutional amendment process in 2015 led to a position opposing these Article V conventions unless/until numerous questions about scope, electors, and checks and balances are settled well ahead. The fear of a "run-away" convention is a real one. (For more information, read the League's position on http://lwvnh.org/LWVUSstudies.html
(It may seem, at first, that League positions on the last two bills are contradictory, but they are not. We oppose a Constitutional Convention, but we would support a Constitutional Amendment coming from Congress, which would then need to be passed by 3/4 of the states.)
Two other Calls for Action this week: If you wish to ask questions (via email or phone) of the House members on the election law committee re bills they are hearing this week (see our Hot Legislation notice), here are some prepared by a former League member to get you going.
On Tuesday, at 2 pm in LOB 204, will be a hearing to expand the death penalty. If you can, sign in as opposed (our national League position.) A show of force in numbers (no need to testify). Update 2/22--This bill was voted Inexpedient to Legislate by the committee on a bi-partisan vote of 17-3--good news.
Thank you to all the League members and friends who crowded the representatives hall this morning (March 7 and again April 18) in opposition to SB3.
The League testified as opposed to the amended bill on March 7. The 11 pages amendment attempts to do a number of things to tighten proof of domicile and to enlist town resources in investigating new voters who fail to provide traditional proof of domicile. League is distressed by this voter suppression tactic that will affect the most vulnerable potential voters. Click here to read testimony.
Among the many others who testified was League board member Nancy Marashio in her role as Newbury town moderator. Here is that testimony.
Addressing the legal difficulties with the proposed amended bill was the ACLU representative on the NH Campaign for Voting Rights coalition. Here is the ACLU testimony. Also from Gilles Bissonette with the ACLU is this editorial in the Concord Monitor of March 29.
A fact sheet about the bill has been prepared by Open Democracy, part of the NH Voting Rights coalition. Click here to read the one page pdf.
The NH Municipal Assn also opposes this bill, saying some technical issues make it unworkable. Click here to read their view, from April 21 bulletin.
This is the perennial bill to fund part of NH's budget by creating casinos, an unreliable and regressive tax funding sources. It has passed the Senate, but in the past has failed in the House.
Update May 4: the House voted 275-82 Inexpedient to Legislate today, with one member noting "that ship has sailed." Then the House voted to "Indefinitely postpone" which means we won't see it popping up again in 2018. League is grinning.
Update April 20, 2017--in session today both the House and the Senate passed this bill ratifying all postponed elections and setting up a process for ratifying warrant articles without a new election. Kudos to the legislators who worked on this solution.
Update: House Election Law will likely exec this bill May 9.
HB 372 UPDATE--Passed in the house along party lines, 3/8/17--we are disappointed.
HB 552 UPDATE--Committee tied 10-10 when voting on 2/22/17--not sure how this will go to the full House. Committee may reconsider it first. This bill would give investigatory powers to the Secretary of State over voters without IDs and also the responsibility to determine whether someone voted improperly--League believes this is the duty of the Attorney General. UPDATE 3/8/17 -- Just passed the full House.
Revised testimony on HB 552 will be presented to Senate Election Law committee on 4/4/17. Click here to read the revised testimony.
Each of the above bills in some ways makes voting harder or more complicated or may disenfranchise some voters.
Also on the same day we supported HB622, allowing all voters to vote by absentee ballot, as a voting change bringing NH closer to the 21st century. The bill allows one to fill out an absentee ballot application without claiming illness, disability, or being out of town. It recognizes the busy lives we all lead, particularly families and caregivers, and lets them vote absentee if they wish without excuse. UPDATE--House election Law committee voted this bill Inexpedient to Legislate, along party lines 11-8. UPDATE 3/8/17--defeated in the House.
On Feb. 14, 2017, League presented this testimony to the Senate Election Law committee on SB 107 in favor of establishing an independent redistricting commission.
On Feb. 1, 2017, League presented this testimony on HB320, which would use a mathematical optimization method to apportion districts. We still prefer an independent commission be appointed, and then they would decide the method to use to apportion districts. UPDATE--the House Election Law committee voted this bill Inexpedient to Legislate 11-8 on 2/23/17; likely to come up for a vote in the full House on March 8 or 9. UPDATE--3/8/17 House voted Inexpedient to Legislate along party lines.
On Feb. 1, 2017, the League submitted this written testimony opposing HB231 in opposition to this bill that would have NH use proportional elect allocation, as Maine does. (UPDATE--defeated on 2/15/17)
(UPDATE 3/29/17--the full Senate voted to "re-refer to committee" which means they may study it further before deciding how to act. At this point that suggests any further action would be in 2018 in the full Senate.)
On the same day we submitted written testimony in support of HB478, which adds gender identity to the non-discrimination statutes. Here is our testimony on HB478. That bill also passed the committee, 15-2. Hurray! UPDATE 3/9/17--the House tabled this bill; likely dead for the session.
The League offered testimony on April 5 and 6, 2016 on the following election laws bills: SB509 that, among other things, makes the secretary of state responsible for criminal investigations. We oppose. Click to read our testimony
SB 4 requiring 30 days residence before registering to vote. We oppose. Click to read our testimony
HB 1482 that proposes adopting a voter crosscheck system that has been shown to have many flaws and as a result has voters unfairly eliminated from voting roles. We oppose. Click to read our testimony. ----
The League offered testimony March 30, 2016 on HB 1313, which has made its way to the Senate. HB1313 would, among other things, require a residency of 10 days before registering to vote, overturning our current "same day registration" status. Click here to read the League's testimony.
The League offered testimony March 1 on HB 1482. LWVNH urges the House Election Law Committee to support HB 1482 which creates a committee to conduct a study of our voter registration database including ways to improve the accuracy of the records, and we urge the committee to reject this proposed amendment because the database chosen has been shown to be faulty Click here to read the testimony.
The League offered testimony in January 2016 on HB1356, which is due out of election law committee on March 3. Click here to read the League's testimony in opposition to this bill that would, we believe, further confuse the legal definition of domicile for voting purposes.
The League also offered testimony in January 2016 in opposition to another election law bill, HB1313, that would, among other things, require a residency of 10 days before registering to vote, overturning our current "same day registration" status.Click here to read the League's testimony.
The League offered written testimony for a Feb. 11, 2016, hearing in the Senate Health and Human Services committee, in support of SB333, a bill to establish drug court grants, improve access to drug treatment, and several other substance-abuse related items. Click here to read the League's testimony
The League offered testimony 1/27/16 opposing SB509, a bill that would change the voter registration forms in a non-helpful way. It would also require the Secretary of State to investigate when people failed to supply additional documents. The correct agency for investigations is the Attorney General's office, not the Secretary of State, and the investigation is a presumption of guilt. Click here to read the League's testimony.
The League testified 1/27/16 in favor of SB507, allowing online voter registration and online correction of address of already registered voters. Click here to read the League's testimony.
The League offered testimony 1/26/16 on HB1511, requiring uniform polling hours to eliminate voter confusion. The League supports the principle behind this bill. Click here to read the testimony
The League offered testimony on 1/26/16 in opposition to HCACR 17, a proposed constitutional amendment that would simply confuse the issue of voting domicile. Click here to read the testimony
The League offered testimony on 1/26/16 in favor of SB464, establishing a grant program for drug courts throughout the state, in accordance with our position on alternatives to incarceration. Click here to read the testimony The bill passed in the Senate 2/4/16 with an amendment.
The League testified in both the House and the Senate in favor of bills creating a non-partisan redistricting commission. Read the testimony on SB425, given Jan. 14, 2016 Click here to read the testimony on HB1564, given Jan. 12 This bill was voted Inexpedient to Legislate by the full House on 2/20/16, killing the bill for this year.
The League testified in favor of SB 486 on Jan. 20, 2016. The League strongly believes that the Secretary of State's office has an obligation to make clear and simple voting information available to the public on its website. Read the League's testimony here
The League sent testimony to the Election Law committee on Jan. 13, 2016 regarding SB 346, encouraging uniform polling hours in NH towns and cities, for the benefit of voters. Click here to read the League's testimony The League also reiterated our testimony of last session regarding SB4, the domicile bill. "Amended text of SB4 can be found on page 5 of this Senate document"<http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/scaljourns/calendars/2016/sc%202.pdf>
The League will submit testimony to the House Criminal Justice committee on HB 1628, relative to human trafficking of minors, on Feb. 2, 2016. Click here to read the League's testimony.
April 24, 2015 LWVNH has advocated strongly since 2012 against onerous voter ID laws. One that is still in flux is the requirement to take photos of citizens who vote without photo IDs. Read this article, from the NH Municipal Association, that explains the bill and its latest tweak and asks, reluctantly, that legislators "hold their noses and vote for the amended bill" if they won't agree to eliminate the requirement entirely. Download the pdf
March 30, 2015The League of Women Voters NH, the NH Civil Liberties Union and the Fair Elections Legal Network have filed a brief with the NH Supreme Court in opposition to a bill, HB 112, which would require citizens who vote to register a motor vehicle and get a NH driver's license, even if they would otherwise not be required to under NH law. You may read more about the issue at this webpage:
Read the League's earlier posting on this bill
We offered testimony 3/18/15 in opposition right from the start. After the above initial testimony on March 18, the bill was amended so it does not disenfranchise someone who moves from one district to another within NH, 30 or fewer days before elections, if they were already registered. However the bill would not allow same day registration and voting for someone who moves to NH in that 30 days period.
SB 4 bill would strictly define "domicile" for voting purposes in a way that would disenfranchise some groups of voters. Read the testimony delivered March 10, 2015, by the League of Women Voters NH to Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee in opposition to this bill. Update: bill was re-referred to committee for further study, by Senate vote 3/26/15.
House Ways and Means bill establishing Keno gaming HB594 . League presented testimony opposing this bill Feb. 17, 2015.House Ways & Means voted to retain this bill 3/3/15. That means it can come up again next year.
Senate Ways & Means--Gambling Update 4/29/15 The House defeated this bill today with a surprisingly large margin 208 to 156. We are pleased. "SB113"http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/legislation/2015/SB0113.pdf> League presented testimony in opposition to casino gambling Feb. 17, 2015. The League's testimony was referenced in this Union Leader article of Feb. 17 Senate passed this as amended March 12.
Constitutional Amendment Bill CACR 10 would put on the Nov. 2016 ballot the proposed NH constitutional amendment to make the term for Governor of NH a 4-year term. This is a position long held by LWVNH. League will give testimony at the Feb. 19, 2015 hearing.Voted Inexpedient to Legislate 3/11/15. It will not be on the ballot in November 2016
Election Law: Feb. 12, 2015 SB207 would eliminate the requirement that moderators take photos of voters who don't present acceptable photo ID on election day. This requirement is slated to go into effect later in 2015. 3/12/15 update: The senate voted to kill this bill today, meaning the photo requirement stands. The League opposes taking the photos and therefore supported the bill to eliminate the requirement, so we are disappointed. Read our testimony for the full explanation. A League board member who is also a town moderator also submitted this testimony. Update July 2015--the purchase of cameras has, so far, not been funded. It is the argument of many that a non-funded mandate does not have to be followed. We must wait to see, as work continues on a new version of the budget, whether funding is included for purchase of cameras and printers.
Election Law: Feb. 5, 2015 HB 659-FN would allow the use of absentee ballots by those who don't currently fit the strict restrictions of religious, medical, or out of town excuse (such as the busy parent who works til 5, picks up the kids at soccer, has to cook dinner, and just can't get to the polls). League testimony supports this bill. Feb. 17 committee voted to retain this bill (for further study perhaps).
Election law: Feb. 5, 2015 HB 627 would eliminate election day (aka "same day") voter registration and enact provisions of the National Voter Registration Act. It would also create a provisional ballot, which is unconstitutional in NH. Read the League's testimony in opposition to this bill. March 4, House voted Inexpedient to Legislate.
Election law: Feb. 5, 2015 HB 620 would authorize the state to participate in an interstate database. The reality is that the program identified in the statute is flawed. League submitted written testimony urging a vote of Inexpedient to Legislate. March 4, House voted Inexpedient to Legislate.
Science,Technology & Energy Feb. 4, 2015 HB 208 was heard in committee Feb.4, 2015. The League testified in opposition to the bill which seeks to repeal the NH Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative program. We urged the committee to vote Inexpedient to Legislate. Feb. 13 update: This bill was amended to eliminate the part about repealing RGGI but kept the part that would return the money from greenhouse credits to ratepayers rather than the current situation, which returns money to municipalities to improve energy efficiency in public buildings.House voted to pass as amended Feb. 18, will go to Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee for a hearing.
Election Law: Feb. 2, 2015 League testimony was submitted regarding the amended HB 112. The League opposes this badly crafted wording that attempts to define "domicile" for voting purposes in a number of ways that appear to be unconstitutional or intended to disenfranchise various groups . The text of the amendment entirely replaced the simple original wording of the bill, which was heard on Jan. 28. Click here to read the amended wording. The House tabled this bill, has requested an opinion from state court justices.
Finance: Feb. 2, 2015 League testimony was submitted electronically in support of HB 634, a bill related to interest, dividends, and capital gains that would increase exemptions to low and middle income families but raise capital gains taxes on those who can most afford it. The League's testimony offers moral support for the bill based on our position to adequately fund the state's obligations and our criticism of regressive taxation. Update: This bill was retained in committee on Feb. 10 at their executive session.
Election Law: Jan. 20, 2015 League testimony was given in opposition to HB 127, which would allow ballot clerks to recognize voters without IDs. League opposition stems from the discriminatory recognition of some voters and not others, and from the use of ballot clerks, who are appointed by parties, not elected, and thus not accountable to the voters.House voted Inexpedient to Legislate on March 4.
Voter ID requirements were passed in June 2012, revised in spring 2013. The League honors its commitment to voter service and education by publicizing the voter ID requirements (please visit our Elections page).
We were also co-plaintiffs in a lawsuit opposing the voter registration requirement to register a car in NH. That case was settled with a permanent injunction against the restrictive requirement in July 2014. Oral arguments on the appeal were heard April 22, 2015. In Feb. 2015 it came to the attention of the League and the American Civil Liberties Union of NH that the Secretary of State was sending a letter to voters who used an affidavit to prove domicile in the November election that seems to be in violation of the court order. See the ACLUNH press release on the matter
Expanded Gambling The League continues to oppose gambling expansion as a state revenue source. The coalition against expansion of gambling in NH is reorganized under the name Casino Free NH (see the website and facebook page: http://casinofreenh.org/ <https://www.facebook.com/CasinoFreeNH> When the casino bill of 2015 was defeated in the House April 29, 2015, we were pleased. Another bill has arisen in the 2016 session, SB551, which would allow one casino at Rockingham Park in Salem. League continues to doubt the figures presented as potential state revenue, given that Massachusetts' plans for a casino less than an hour away are going forward. SB551 was recommended Ought to Pass by the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Feb. 9, 2016, but was tabled by the entire Senate Feb. 18. If it is revived later in the session and if passed there then must pass in the House (where other casino bills have died). League opposes this bill.
May 2017 another casino bill will be voted on in the House, recommended ITL by the committee. Editorial by two former NH governors also opposes the bill. Read the editorial here.
Incarceration The League is tracking legislation related to our study of women incarcerated in NH. We attended bi-monthly meetings of the Interagency Council on Women Incarcerated in NH until that body was disbanded in late 2014. We also observe meetings of the committee recently established to study the availability of services in the community to offenders released on parole. A board member regularly attends meetings of the Interbranch Criminal and Juvenile Justice Council. League president Liz Tentarelli was appointed by Gov. Hassan to the Citizens Advisory Board of the NH Correctional Facility for Women on Feb. 5, 2015 (3 year term).
New Hampshire Prison Privatization The League opposed the large-scale privatization of prisons in NH for which bids were being evaluated (fall 2012). We attended coalition meetings opposed to privatization. We urged members to contact the Governor and their Executive Councilors to express opposition to privately run prisons. Happily, the privatization issue has been put to rest for now (spring 2013), and a new women's prison was approved in the capital budget. The League is keeping a close eye on plans for the new prison as they are developed. We attended the ground breaking on August 18, 2014. League board members are available to speak to groups in the community interested in learning more about incarceration, alternatives to incarceration, and privatization of prisons.
Alternative Sentencing Members of the League's study committee on incarceration testified in support of establishing more drug courts (alternative courts) in NH. That legislation passed (spring 2012) and we urge the counties to establish drug courts, which are both more successful than incarceration in solving addiction problems in the long run and save money over incarceration costs for drug offenses. We are also heartened by the increase in mental health courts in several NH counties.
Redistricting League board member Nancy Marashio is a member of the LWVUS task force studying redistricting in preparation for the required redistricting following the 2020 census. LWVNH board members have testified in favor of having an appointed redistricting commission in NH (currently the legislature does this) and we advocate for greater openness in the redistricting process.
See national organization on redistricting below.
For a light-hearted satiric look at the issue of gerrymandering, watch this "Youtube video:<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zMqxdNUDOo&feature=youtu.be&noredirect=1>
Trevor Potter is a lawyer, former commissioner (1991+1995) and chairman (1994) of the United States Federal Election Commission. He is the founder, President, and General Counsel of the Campaign Legal Center, a nonprofit organization which works in the areas of campaign finance and elections, political communication and government ethics. His government experience also includes service as assistant general counsel of the United States Federal Communications Commission (1984-1985) and attorney with the United States Department of Justice (1982-1984).
He is also notable for appearing on the television program The Colbert Report, where he discussed political action committees, and the founding and progress of Colbert Super PAC. Potter explained to Colbert's audience the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision made by the United States Supreme Court that allowed the creation of "Super PACs", and was the lawyer behind the creation and functioning of Stephen Colbert's PAC, "Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow". You can hear his talk via YouTube by clicking on this link: <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZHasnxft6o&feature=youtu.be>
March 8, 2017 -- happily a bill to expand the crimes punishable by the death penalty was defeated in the House.
LWVNH is a member of the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. The June 8, 2015 issue of Time magazine includes an op ed piece by NH Rep. Renny Cushing, who has been a vocal opponent of the death penalty since it first affected his family 32 years ago. Read his piece and also visit the NH Coalition's website for additional current information: http://nodeathpenaltynh.org/
New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights, an informal coalition that also includes NH-ACLU and America Votes and Open Democracy.
New Hampshire Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Learn more at: http://nodeathpenaltynh.org/
New Hampshire Prison Watch Learn more at: http://www.nhprisonwatch.org
Open Democracy aka New Hampshire Rebellion 4 Park St Concord NH 03301 No longer a formal coalition, we nevertheless continue to be represented at their meetings. Learn more at their website Also visit their Facebook page
NH Coalition to End Homelessness Learn more at: https://www.nhceh.org/