CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, the House of Representatives voted to pass multiple bills that restrict the right to vote, increase confusion in our election laws, and expend significant taxpayer money to increase government bureaucracy. House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement after the votes:
“With all the problems facing our state and nation, it is extremely disappointing that restricting the right to vote continues to be a top priority within the Republican Party. Legislation passed today by the Republican majority, including bills which affect the definition of ‘resident’ in hundreds of statutes and spend tax dollars shifting the enforcement of election laws from one office to another, do nothing to improve the way elections are run in our state make little sense policy-wise.”
“These proposals, which cost taxpayer money, add confusion, and increase bureaucracy in our election laws, are simply feel-good measures designed to placate conservatives who believe Donald Trump’s discredited assertion that voter fraud exists in New Hampshire.”
“As we know from the reports released following every single New Hampshire election, voter fraud is not an issue in our state. It is past time for New Hampshire Republicans to stop chasing every ghost that President Trump tweets out, and instead work with Democrats on bipartisan proposals to modernize and improve our election process.”
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CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 200-177 to defeat SB 11, legislation that would establish so-called “right to work” in the state. House Democratic leadership released the following statements after the vote:
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said: “The strong, bipartisan vote against so-called ‘right to work’ today is great news for New Hampshire workers. As we have seen in other states, ‘right to work’ laws result in reduced wages and make it harder for people to earn a living that supports a family. While this divisive issue was a distraction from the pressing matters facing our state, the House’s vote to ‘Indefinitely Postpone’ SB 11 ends debate on the issue for the rest of this term. The legislature’s focus can now shift to the state budget and our response to the opioid crisis, where it should have been all along.”
Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), the Ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee said: “Today’s vote was a confirmation of what we determined in the House Labor Committee, where Democrats and Republicans worked together to recommend defeat of so-called ‘right to work.’ With a strong economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America, legislation that reduces wages and interferes with the employer/employee relationship is the last thing our state needs. I am very pleased that the full House agreed with the bipartisan Labor Committee recommendation, and that we can finally put this issue behind us.”
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CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Representative David Cote (D-Nashua), the Ranking Democrat on the House Election Law Committee, released the following statement after House Republicans voted to kill HB 203, legislation that would remove partisan politics from the redistricting process.
“It is disappointing, though not surprising, that House Republicans have again rejected the idea of removing partisan politics from the redistricting process. The Republican Party has used redistricting as a tool to build artificial legislative majorities in state offices for years, particularly following the 2010 census when the process was controlled by former House Speaker Bill O’Brien,” said Representative Cote. “One needs to look no further than the 2012 State Senate election, when Republicans gained a 13-11 majority despite losing the popular vote, as evidence that partisan politics – not the interest of New Hampshire voters – is the overriding goal when Republicans control the process.”
Representative Cote continued, “Partisan redistricting plans usually end up in court with protracted legal battles that cost taxpayers money. The people of New Hampshire deserve legislative districts that are determined by common interests like geography, municipal services, and school districts, not by one political party’s attempt to gerrymander themselves into an artificial majority.”
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CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – The House of Representatives voted 200-97 today to pass SB 12, which would repeal the requirement to obtain a permit prior to carrying a concealed weapon. After the vote, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff released the following statement:
“The 94-year old requirement to obtain a permit before carrying a concealed weapon is one of the commitments to public safety that results in New Hampshire being frequently cited as one of the safest states in the nation,” said Representative Shurtleff. “A poll by Survey USA released just last week confirmed that the people of New Hampshire strongly oppose this effort to repeal the concealed carry license. A full 80% of Granite Staters stated that they support our current law, which allows concealed weapons to be kept away from individuals that should not have them, including those with dementia or alcoholism.”
“The urgency that House leadership exhibited in rushing this bill through the legislative process gives a clear signal to the priorities of Republican lawmakers this term. Senate bills have traditionally only been taken up prior to House bills in the most urgent of situations. The fact that House Republicans would rush legislation which is opposed by 80% of Granite Staters shows that their priorities are with their party, not the people they represent.”
Survey USA poll of New Hampshire adults released February 3, 2017:
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff released the following statement after Governor Chris Sununu delivered his Budget Address:
“Our state is currently in a great financial position, with a large surplus and historically-high Rainy Day Fund thanks to the strong position left by Governor Hassan’s administration. I am encouraged by statements of Governor Sununu in support of full-day kindergarten and funding for the developmentally disabled, but as we all know, the devil is in the details.”
“I am very concerned about the $500 million cut from state agency budget requests and what that could mean to the citizens of New Hampshire. The Governor’s budget address made no mention of the successful NH Health Protection Program, leaving serious unanswered questions for the 50,000 Granite Staters who rely on the program for their health care coverage.”
“House Democrats remain dedicated to working with our Republican colleagues on bipartisan initiatives, and on supporting a fiscally responsible budget that makes needed investments in initiatives that benefit all Granite Staters.”
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CONCORD, NH – House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff released the following statement this morning regarding this weekend’s travel ban instituted by President Donald Trump.
“As a first-generation son of an immigrant, I am appalled by this weekend’s actions by President Trump. Our country’s history is based on religious freedom and compassion for refugees. It is my belief that through President Trump’s actions, our citizens, our military and our country as a whole are in more danger from our enemies than ever before.”
“As a Vietnam veteran I can state without reservation that these are not the American values that I fought for. I call upon my Republican colleagues; our House Speaker, the Senate President and our Republican Governor to speak out against this extreme action by President Trump.”
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CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff proposed two amendments to House Rules during the House session. The amendments, which sought to address two separate issues that have arisen in the first few weeks of the 2017 legislative session, were both laid on the table before allowing for a full debate.
One amendment sought to protect the rights of the public and House members by requiring unanimous support among committee members before legislation can be voted on the same day as a public hearing.
“Members of the public take time out of their day to testify in front of the legislature. If we fail to even allow ourselves to consider the information they submit to us, we are failing to do our job as representatives,” said Representative Shurtleff. “This amendment would simply assure that committee members have the time to review the information presented to them before casting a vote. We have already had instances this term when committee leadership entered executive session immediately following a public hearing during which significant new information was presented. Despite the majority party’s refusal to even fully debate this proposal, House Democrats will continue to stand up for our constituents and their right to be heard by their representatives.”
The second amendment sought to enhance public safety by requiring House members to complete an approved gun safety course before carrying a concealed firearm in the House chamber.
“Since the restriction on carrying firearms in the House was removed in 2011, there have been at least five reported incidents of House members mishandling loaded guns in the State House complex. As these repeated incidents have shown, allowing members to carry loaded firearms in the House without proper training is a tragedy waiting to happen,” said Representative Shurtleff. “This amendment would simply require those who wish to carry in the People’s House to verify that they are properly trained to do so. I am disappointed that House Republican leadership would not even allow a full debate and opposed this sensible policy.”
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – The House Transportation Committee today held a public hearing on HB 214, repealing prohibitions on electronic device usage while driving. This bill would completely repeal the 2014 “hands-free” law regarding cellular phone use while driving, as well as the 2009 prohibition on typing text messages while driving.
Representative George Sykes (D-Lebanon), Ranking Democrat on the House Transportation Committee, released the following statement after the hearing:
“As public safety experts have reiterated, our current laws have helped to change driver behavior in a good way. Our recent statutes restricting cell phone use while driving have been significant public safety, public health improvements for our state,” said Representative Sykes. “Everyone has observed drivers distracted by their cell phones, and understand the risk they create to others on the roadway. The last thing we should do is eliminate common-sense restrictions that encourage dangerous behavior, as this bill would.”
CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey) introduced legislation, HB 115, to bring back the minimum wage in New Hampshire. The minimum wage in New Hampshire has been determined by federal law since 2011, when New Hampshire’s minimum wage law was repealed over the veto of Governor John Lynch.
“With all of our surrounding states moving forward on policies to increase the minimum wage, New Hampshire has the lowest rate in New England. Our low-wage earners, most of whom are family-supporting adults, are being left behind,” said Representative Ley. “Public support for increasing the minimum wage is overwhelming, as are the economic benefits for working families. It is past time for the House to step up and pass legislation that will improve the lives and working conditions of our constituents.”
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CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, the House Education Committee held public hearings on HB 155, relative to funding for kindergarten programs, and HB 129, repealing the education tax credit.
Representative Mary Stuart Gile, a former Chair and Ranking Democrat on the House Education Committee released the following statements subsequent to the public hearings on HB 155 and HB 129. Representative Gile, who holds her Doctorate in Education from Vanderbilt University and her Master’s in Education from UNH, began her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher at the Whitefield School in Jefferson, NH. She is a renowned expert in the area of child development and, among other accomplishments, established the Child Development Center and Laboratory School at NHTI.
“The skills attained by children during their early, impressionable years of life are critical to their development throughout adolescence and into adulthood. Overwhelming research shows the value of kindergarten programs to social and academic development,” said Representative Gile. “It was not until 2009 that New Hampshire caught-up to the rest of the nation by offering public kindergarten in every school district. However we remain one of the few states that do not provide funding for full-day kindergarten programs. Our failure to reimburse cities and towns for full-day kindergarten acts as a deterrent to communities that wish to enact these critical programs.”
HB 129 would repeal the education voucher tax credit law which was first passed in 2012 over the veto of Gov. John Lynch. That law was subsequently ruled unconstitutional in 2013 by NH Superior Court Judge John Lewis because it violated NH’s separation of church and state (NH Constitution Part II, Article 83). On appeal, the NH Supreme Court dismissed the lawsuit due to lack of standing by the plaintiff and did not rule on the constitutionality of the education voucher law.
“With the difficulties that we have securing needed funding for our public schools, it makes no sense to siphon money away from the tax base that provides that funding. Further, the New Hampshire Constitution expressly prohibits the financing of religious schools that the education voucher tax credit authorizes,” said Representative Gile. “Repealing this unconstitutional voucher law will return some sorely needed funds to our public education system.”
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