Making Democracy Work

Hot Legislation

State legislation requiring quick action.

Information on state issues and live bills upon which the League of Women Voters of New Hampshire is interested, is taking a position, and/or has determined action is needed.

Occasionally we post action alerts from the national League here as well.

2017 NH Legislature

The legislature met Nov. 29 and 30 to do their orientation for new members following the Nov. 8 election. Their organizational meeting was Dec. 7. Rep. Shawn Jasper and Sen. Chuck Morse were reelected by the body memberships as speaker of the house and senate president. Some special committees are meeting in December. Their regular committee hearings will begin in January 2017. The Senate and House will meet in joint session on January 4 to convene and on January 5 for inauguration day.

Bill texts are not yet available on the state's website.

To see the complete calendar of New Hampshire State Senate sessions and committee meetings, click here.

To see the complete calendar of New Hampshire State House sessions and committee meetings, click here.

LWVNH is supporting, opposing or following a number of the bills in the Legislature which we consider priority bills. Please come to the hearings and learn about League advocacy. We're always looking for members who wish to be part of our Legislative Action Team.

2016 session

The legislature is in recess until January 2017.

Final NH House and Senate meetings were held June 16. They met in special session to vote on the drug grants bill that recently failed because of a non-germane amendment (this time standing by itself, as it deserves).

Election Law: SB4, would require 30-days domicile in NH. LEAGUE OPPOSED. Update May 12, 2016--this bill passed the House with an amendment, but failed to get thru committee of conference. Bill is dead. SB423, would allow 17 year olds to register if they will be 18 by the next election. LEAGUE SUPPORTS THE SPIRIT OF ENCOURAGING YOUNG PEOPLE'S INTEREST IN VOTING. Update May 12, 2016--This bill passed. Tell all your young friends that if they will be 18 by the time of an upcoming election, they can go to their town or city clerk to register at their convenience, even if they are still 17.

SB464 --drug court grant program. LEAGUE SUPPORTED AND HAS TESTIFIED IN FAVOR. The amendment includes appropriation. Update: this bill has become law.

SB466--to send 17 year old offenders to the Sununu Youth Center rather than to prison or county houses of correction, in compliance with PREA recommendations. LEAGUE SUPPORTS. Update: this bill has become law.

SCR 3, (New Title) applying to the United States Congress to convene a limited convention for the exclusive purpose of proposing amendments to the federal Constitution concerning election reform that do not abrogate or amend the first amendment to the federal Constitution. MAJORITY: OUGHT TO PASS. MINORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE. 10-6 Update: May 12, 2016--Both SCR 3 and SCR 4 were Tabled by the House.

SCR 4, (New Title) applying for an Article V convention to propose an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that imposes fiscal restraints on the federal government. Click here to read our testimony. Update see above

SB498 would reduce a first-time marijuana (under 1/4 ounce) offense to a violation, thus eliminating the criminal record attached to a misdemeanor or felony. League's study of women incarcerated has revealed how difficult life is for offenders and their families when there is a criminal record. Update: June 2016 this bill became law

SB426--to create an end of life study commission. League has no position but is curious to see what a commission might propose. Update May 12: The House voted this bill Inexpedient to Legislate, killing the bill for this session.

SB381, relative to the combustion of the wood component of construction and demolition debris. This bill would allow the incineration of some construction debris, a practice that was outlawed in NH in 2008. NH has only one trash incineration facility, the Wheelabrator Plant in Concord. The minority finds that there was no demonstrated need for this change in the law, and that this wood may well contain toxic chemicals like lead or arsenic. An editorial in the Concord Monitor expresses concern that this could be the first step in NH becoming a regional disposal center. The editorial also mentions the fact that none of the bill's sponsors live in Concord. The committee recommends OTP by a vote of 11-8. The minority recommends it be referred for interim study. It is opposed by the NH Sierra Club. For more on this bill, see the Sierra Club's Facebook post. Update June 6, 2016--This bill passed both House and Senate but was vetoed by Governor Hassan. The veto was sustained.

HB 1482, relative to the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. LEAGUE SUPPORTS further study because we don't believe the particular program that was in the bill is the best one to use in NH. Update: this bill has become law. League is sorry the Crosscheck Program won't receive further study before adoption.

HB1534, authorizing trial program of electronic poll books, passed in the Senate with an amendment, but eventually Bill did not pass..

HB 582, repealing the requirement for a license for concealed carry. Update: this bill passed both houses but was vetoed by Gov. Hassan in June. The veto was sustained in a later vote

HB1681, which would have decreased penalties for having hypodermic needles with a tiny amount of controlled drugs, which many saw as a first step to a future needle exchange program. The bill has been entirely amended to set up a commission to study needle exchange programs.Update May 2016: This bill was turned into establishment of a commission to study a needle exchange program. The House concurred with the Senate amendment to make this a commission, and the Governor signed it June 2016.

HCR12, a resolution "Whereas, a group of New Hampshire public and private sector leaders of the New Hampshire Coalition for Business and Education (NHCBE) has endorsed and committed to a statewide workforce enhancement goal whereby 65 percent of the state's working age population will hold a postsecondary credential or degree by the year 2025;" which would guide the state's policies toward education. "Click here to read the text of the resolution:<http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/bill_Status/billText.aspx?id=803&txtFormat=pdf&v=current> Update May 2016: This bill has passed both houses, will go to the Governor for signing.

SB 509-FN, relative to voter registration forms and relative to voter identity verification. This bill incorporates changes to the Voter Registration form including the removal of existing wording requiring compliance with motor vehicle laws. The second section of this bill, as amended, changes the procedure for investigating voters who did not confirm their status after being sent a letter of identity verification.

Rep. Wayne Moynihan for the Minority of Election Law. League agreed with the minority that this bill should not become law. Rep. Moynihan explains some of our same arguments. As justification for this change to the law it was reported that, over the course of several elections, a "large" number of voter identification letters have accumulated in the office of the NH Secretary of State. Under the current law, it is the duty of the Attorney General's (AG's) Office to investigate these returned letters, and determine whether any voter fraud has occurred. The AG's Office states that it does not have the available staff or budget to enable the process of investigation to be completed. This bill proposes to expand the power of investigation from the AG's Office to the Secretary of State and to town clerks and checklist supervisors. It would become the duty of the town clerks and check-list supervisors to undertake the time and effort to scrutinize the letters and investigate the circumstances, and then compile a "list" of "not...legal voters." The bill's fiscal note states that it would require additional staff time at the local level and could result in increased local expenditures. Even with this downshifting of investigation expenses to the local towns and cities, the Department of Justice further anticipates that some "temporary full-time" investigators and paralegals would be needed to implement the bill, at a cost to the department of at least $167,000.00 per year. Over the years, the department's regular reports with respect the investigation of verifying letter has rarely if ever exposed any voter fraud. This bill downshifts unnecessary and burdensome state expenses onto cities and towns. It is opposed by the New Hampshire City and Town Clerks' Association. It creates expenses and personnel requirement upon the Department of Justice with no appropriations therefore, and no explanation as to the source of funding for the cities and towns. signed into law June 2016

HB 1426-FN, relative to earned time credits for prisoners participating in educational programming. Update: became law June 2016 League supports this provided that women have educational opportunities equal to male inmates. We believe this can happen when the new prison opens and is fully staffed.

Senate committees of interest: The Senate Public & Municipal Affairs committee will discuss this amended bill 4/27/16, LOB 102, 10 am: Amendment to HB 1534, that would allow Manchester, Hooksett, and Durham to use electronic poll books in the primary and the general elections as trial programs, then report to state on how it worked. It's really a new bill, and Manchester has already done a public presentation on the electronic book (a League board member attended, was impressed). The original bill was just a procedural thing about reporting deaths to supervisors of checklists. League supports Ought to Pass, as a possible way to expedite voting. Click here to read League's testimony on HB 1534 Update: we just found out about a new amendment to this bill-- Click here to read additional testimony on this very new amendment to the bill requiring both paper and electronic polls books be used for this trial, which seems to defeat the purpose. Update: did not pass

An election bill that was voted on 4/14/16 is HB 1313-FN, relative to eligibility to vote and relative to availability of voter information. The bill was defeated. League wanted this bill killed, voted Inexpedient to Legislate. See our testimony on testimony page.

SB 492, relative to expenditures from the energy efficiency fund was killed in the House. League discussed this issue at Quad States in 2014. For members and friends interested, here is a description of the bill and hearing from the New Hampshire Municipal Assn's e-newsletter 4-4-16. "NHMA strongly supports this bill, which increases to $5 million (from $2 million) the amount that can be distributed to municipalities and school districts from the sale of carbon allowances under the regional greenhouse gas initiative (RGGI). Those funds are used for energy efficiency projects, which reduce municipal costs and thus save money for taxpayers. The bill would also distribute additional funds to the low income core energy efficiency program, which provides weatherization for low income home-owners. SB 492 is identical to a bill that the Senate passed last year, but which died in a committee of conference. The objection last year was that the bill would eliminate the rebates to residential ratepayers that exist under current law. However, those rebates (about $1.50 a month) are insignificant compared to the savings that would result from SB 492, not only for low income customers, but for all residential customers. Municipal energy efficiency projects, of course, help to reduce property taxes for everyone. Further, by increasing energy efficiency, these programs reduce demand for energy and thus help to keep costs down for all customers. According to information provided last year by the Office of the Consumer Advocate (which is charged with representing the interests of residential ratepayers), between 2002 and 2015 the energy efficiency programs saved over 10 billion electric kilowatt hours and 16 million natural gas MMBtus, translating to customer savings of over $1.6 billion. SB 492 squeaked through the Senate on a 13-11 vote, and it will definitely have opposition in the House. After the hearing on Tuesday morning, the committee is planning to discuss and presumably vote on the bill at 1:00 p.m. the same day." (NHMA urged support).

HB 1313-FN, relative to eligibility to vote and relative to availability of voter information. (Note: League submitted testimony in opposition to this bill, on which we testified when it was in the House.) Click here to read the League's testimony. Update: Bill was killed in April.

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This billed passed the Senate, but was tabled by the House in May 2016: An amendment to CACR 27 RELATING TO the operating budget. PROVIDING THAT the state shall not spend more from any fund than such fund receives in revenue, nor use the proceeds of any bond to fund its annual operating expenditures. Amend the resolution by replacing paragraph I with the following: I. That the second part of the constitution be amended by inserting after article 6-b the following new article: [Art.] 6-c [Balanced Budget.] The state shall not, without an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the total number of representatives apportioned under part 2, article 9 and of the total number of senators allocated by part 2, article 25, either spend from the general fund or any other fund capable of producing a surplus more in any biennial budget period than that fund receives in revenues, plus any surplus in that fund from the previous biennium and any amounts held in a revenue stabilization, reserve, or contingency account to the extent such account was funded by the general court before that budget period, or use the proceeds of any bond or other instrument of indebtedness to fund, directly or indirectly, its annual operating expenditures. (League note: This is essentially a balanced budget amendment of the NH constitution, but said budget could be overridden by a 2/3 vote of the legislature. If this or a similar CACR is eventually passed in the Senate and House by 60% of the members, the proposed constitutional amendment would be on the November ballot, which would then need a two-thirds vote by the voters to become part of the constitution.) It is dead for the 2016 election.

HB1696 to reauthorize NH's Medicaid Expansion Program, called the NH Health Protection Program. See note under "hearings" below for more information UPDATE--PASSED 3/30.

SB 507-FN, authorizing online voter registration. Inexpedient to Legislate, Vote 4-2. LEAGUE SUPPORTED PASSAGE OF THIS BILL.

SB 528-FN-A, making an appropriation for supportive housing for persons with substance use disorders. referred to Interim Study.(League note: this bill would appropriate $2 million to fund supportive housing as part of a multi-pronged plan to address drug use crisis in NH. League has no official position.)

HB 1511, relative to hours of polling. Became law with amendment. League believes that voter confusion over polling hours results in ballots not being cast despite the intent to vote.

HB 1143, relative to showing a ballot. This bill was defeated. League does not have a position on this bill, but we understand that first-time young voters feel life doesn't happen without a selfie to document it, currently illegal in NH.

The NH Senate deadlocked 12-12 on March 3 on a bill to suspend the death penalty, effectively killing the bill for this year. The League's national position is in opposition to the death penalty.

HB 1612-FN, relative to the age for purposes of compulsory education. This was voted Inexpedient to Legislate (killed).

CACR 17, relating to domicile for the purpose of voting. Providing that only a resident of the state may establish a domicile for the purpose of voting. This bill was defeated. LWVNH opposes this bill and has testified in opposition.

Rep. Wayne Burton for the Minority of Election Law. By redefining domicile as residence, this proposed amendment to our state constitution will have the effect of disenfranchising those coming to NH as college students, veterans seeking services, and medical professionals on interim appointments, for example, through requiring a permanency standard deemed constitutionally unacceptable by the US Supreme court. Changing settled law in ways that reduce voter turnout, now among the highest in the country, diminishes our exemplary status of which our forebears would be proud.

HB 1313-FN, relative to eligibility to vote and to availability of voter information, requiring 10 days residence before voting. . This bill was killed in the Senate March 2016. LWVNH opposed this bill. The NH Constitution and the US Constitution guarantee the right to vote to all citizens, 18-years-old or older. The US Supreme Court has said that you may not put a waiting period on a citizen's right to exercise the fundamental right to vote. No state has a residency requirement although some states that do not have same day registration are allowed a time period to confirm registration information before an election. "League Testimony"<http://www.lwvnh.org/files/1-18-2016_hb1313_lwvnh_testimony.pdf >

HB 1356, relative to construction of the terms "resident" and "inhabitant." This bill was eventually killed, but we expect similar bills to be filed in 2017. This bill is an attempt to rewrite the definition of domicile so that students, members of the military and several other categories of people will lose their right to vote. There are about 600 laws in NH dealing with questions of residency, abode, domicile and habitation. This bill does not take into consideration the complexities of the many laws that may somehow involve issues of residency or domicile, and it does not accommodate the different jurisdictions of the state and town officials who administer our laws. "League testimony"<http://www.lwvnh.org/files/1-18-2018_hb_1356_lwvnh_testimony.pdf >

HB 1482, establishing a committee to study improving the statewide voter registration database. This bill passed. LWVNH opposed it. We supported the original bill to create a study committee. The amended version calls for adopting what is called the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program. The program is a partisan program to compare voter checklists of states and remove duplicate names. The program has few controls and is best known for removing tens of thousands of people from certain racial and minority groups. It is so bad that the state of Florida dropped out. There are nonpartisan voter checklist programs that should be studied. The best offer a more complex crosscheck system which prevents removing legitimate voters from the checklist.

SB 507-FN, authorizing online voter registration. This bill was killed in March 2016 LWVNH supports. We supported the original version of this bill because it is a more secure and easier way to register to vote and to maintain the checklists. We support using HAVA funds which were given to NH by the federal government in 2003 to be used to modernize voting systems. The Secretary of State still has about $11 million in HAVA funds so we are disappointed by the amendment to pay for the change out of the General Fund.

SB 509-FN, relative to voter registration forms and relative to voter identity verification. This bill passed. LWVNH opposed. The bill was heavily amended.

Juvenile Justice

June 4, 2015 The NH Senate voted on HB 2, which includes language instructing the Dept. of Health and Human Services, that administers the Sununu Youth Services Center (primarily a residential facility for youth in trouble with the law) to reduce their spending by $3.5 million and to "develop a plan to reduce the cost of providing existing services...which shall include privatization of services. The League opposed prison privatization a few years ago and will keep a close eye on the plan as it develops to be sure that running of the Sununu Center is not turned over to a for-profit entity. See the :LWVUS position on privatization of government services.

early May 2015: LWVNH echoes this appeal presented to the NH Senate Finance committee--Rev. Gail Kinney's statement included a call to "'just say `no' to any effort to privatize juvenile offender services in the state of New Hampshire. New Hampshire's troubled young people should never, ever, ever be turned over to be profit centers for a private corporation."

August 2014: NH Juvenile Justice Reform Bill Signed

NH Kids Count and its partners in the NH Juvenile Justice Coalition celebrated passage of a sweeping juvenile justice reform bill (HB 1624) during the 2014 legislative session.

Both the House and Senate enacted HB 1624 with wide margins and Governor Hassan signed the bill into law. Effective July 1, 2015, HB 1624 raises the age at which juveniles are treated as adults in the courts from 17 to 18 and ensures other protections for youth.

Based on our study of incarceration issues in NH, the League testified in support of this bill.

Death Penalty Repeal

The NH Senate met in session on Thurs., March 3, 2016 at 10 am. At that time the senate voted 12-12 on SB463, to suspend the death penalty "until methods exist to ensure that the death penalty cannot be imposed on an innocent person." The bill is effectively killed for this year. The League's national position is in opposition to the death penalty.

In mid-February the NH House held a hearing on HB1552, which would expand the crimes under which the death penalty could be imposed. One is terrorism, which is already a federal capital crime. That bill was defeated in the House on March 9. League opposed expanding the death penalty.

Casino Gambling

Defeated in the Senate March 24, 2016 is another expanded gaming bill, SB551, which would have allowed 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. League opposes this bill. Our position on gambling is on our Positions page.

Leading the effort to defeat expanded gambling last year and this year is an organization dedicated to preventing casinos from gaining entrance into our state: Casino Free New Hampshire. (see the website and Facebook page

Update on voting rights

The League of Women Voters New Hampshire continues to oppose restrictions on the right to vote, especially those that seem to target students, the elderly, and the poor.

In the 2017 NH Legislative session, the League plans to support actively a redistricting commission bill. We have testified in the past, and now with a national as well as our state position behind, will work to see that the 2021 redistricting process in NH is accomplished in an open non-partisan way.

A legislative study committee to review election law with a goal of improving voter participation was appointed in 2014. The committee initially announced its intention to begin public sessions around the state in April 2014. A meeting was held in Ossipee on July 29, 2014. A final meeting (though without a quorum) was held in late October. A report was issued by Nov. 1, but without a quorum it was unofficial.

State Legislature Calendar

To see the complete calendar of New Hampshire State Senate sessions and committee meetings, click here. To see the complete calendar of New Hampshire State House sessions and committee meetings, click here.

NH members of Congress

Here are the Washington DC phone numbers, state office phone numbers, and websites of the current New Hampshire US Senators and Representatives. Emails may be sent via the websites only.

This list was updated in January 2015.

Senator Kelly Ayotte (202) 224-3324 website Manchester NH office: 622-7979

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (202) 224-2841 website Manchester NH office: 647-7500

Representative Ann McLane Kuster (district 2) (202) 225-5206 website Concord NH office: 226-1002

Representative Frank Guinta (district 1) (202) 225-5456 website Manchester office: 641-9536