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.
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, JUST PASSED THE HOUSE 200-97. This is the bill that would repeal 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. Last chance to stop this bill IS APPEALS TO GOVERNOR SUNUNU TO VETO SB 12!
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.)
Also note that at noon on Thursday, Feb. 9 Governor Sununu will present his budget to the NH House and Senate. The speech will be on WMUR-TV, possibly other stations or radio stations too.
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).
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.
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.
On Feb. 1, 2017, the League will submit this written testimony opposing HB231 in opposition to this bill that would have NH use proportional elect allocation, as Maine does. (Update--voted down 2/15)
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.
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>
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 Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty Learn more at: http://nodeathpenaltynh.org/
New Hampshire Prison Watch Learn more at: http://www.nhprisonwatch.org
Granite State Priorities (formerly The Granite State Fair Tax Coalition) P.O. Box 3431 Concord NH 03302 603-986-7696. Learn more at: http://gspriorities.org/ View this YouTube video of Mark Fernald's March 2014 talk on NH's tax structure. Fernald is a board member of GSP.
NH Kids Count and NH Child Advocacy Network 2 Delta Drive, Concord NH 03301 Learn more at: http://www.childrennh.org/web/nhcan.html Visit their Facebook page Their summit of Sept. 21, 2015 to kick off the legislative season produced the following summary of issues discussed. Click here to read the pdf
Tauscher, a Democrat formerly of Alamo who represented part of the East Bay from 1997 to 2009, said former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., will co-chair You Draw the Lines 2021, an organization she formed to take reapportionment power away from state legislatures and give it to independent commissions. She launched the effort in the wake of last month's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that upheld the constitutionality of Arizona's independent redistricting commission -- and by extension, California's as well.
In a statement issued Tuesday, Tauscher said she's thrilled to share the group's leadership with Davis. "Independent nonpartisan redistricting commissions, like the one we have in California, create the opportunity for more competitive districts and for more moderates of both parties to get elected to Congress," she said.
Davis said the effort is "critical to getting Congress working again."
"Creating independent nonpartisan citizen advisory commissions in even five or six states before the 2020 census could make all the difference to the make-up of Congress in the next decade," Davis said. "Ellen and I will be reaching out to our former colleagues and like-minded state elected officials of both parties in these key states to put the wheels in motion to get this done over the next five years."
The project will focus on passing ballot initiatives in key states over the next three election cycles to approve the formation of independent, nonpartisan citizen redistricting commissions based on California's model, which was passed in 2008.