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.
Update May 27, 2015 From Jeff McLynch, Executive Director of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute, comes this information about the latest state budget developments. Consider calling your state senator.
Earlier this afternoon [5/26/15], the Senate Finance Committee gave its initial approval to an amendment to the FY 2016-2017 budget that would significantly reduce the rates of both the business profits tax (BPT) and business enterprise tax (BET) over time. Those rate reductions would begin in 2017 + that is, within the upcoming biennium + and be fully phased in by 2020. Based on prior fiscal notes, the likely revenue loss from the amendment is roughly $14 million in FY 2017 and more than $83 million in the FY 2020-2021 budget cycle, when its full effect would finally be felt. What's more, it appears that the Finance Committee will use a temporary surplus from FY 2015 to paper over the impact of these tax cuts in the FY 2016-2017 budget.
As the complete details of the Senate Finance Committee's budget plan are not yet available, NHFPI is still working to assess the consequences of the proposed tax cuts, but at this stage it seems clear that:
. The Senate intends to put off the full consequences of cutting business taxes until five years from now, with no plan for how to accommodate the revenue losses those tax cuts will produce.
· The Senate intends to use a risky, fiscally irresponsible strategy of relying on temporary surpluses to finance tax cuts in the near term.
· The Senate will fail to fully restore funding for higher education, health programs, and other vital services in order to finance tax cuts.
The full Senate will take up the Finance Committee's budget recommendations next week. Consequently, I urge you, as soon as possible, to contact your Senator and ask that he or she oppose efforts to cut business taxes. Similarly, should you have the capacity to do so, I urge you to alert your memberships about the Senate's plans and to share this information with any networks or coalitions of which you may be a part.
I will try to follow up in the coming days with additional materials on the Senate's proposed business tax cuts, but, if you should have any questions in the interim, please don't hesitate to let me know. In addition, you can access the statement NHFPI released earlier this afternoon on the Senate's tax cut proposal here.
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> The casino bill of 2015 was defeated in the House April 29, 2015. We are pleased.
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 co-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 part of the LWVUS task force studying redistricting in preparation for the required redistricting following the 2020 census. LWVNH 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.
March 28, 2015 update: This news article explains the investigation of some of the supposedly fraudulent voters...much ado about nothing. Read the article here
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>
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.