E-News from New Hampshire Council of Churches, 11 January 2010

NH Legislature Re-Convenes
Heating Aid Attempt Fails; House Kicks Payday Lending Down the Road

The Senate attempted but ultimately failed to temporarily shift funds now dedicated to energy efficiency to the state's Electric Assistance Program. The move was expected to assist an estimated 8,000 low-income NH residents on a waiting list for help paying energy bills this winter. 

In a dramatic vote over in the NH House, lawmakers last week overturned a committee recommendation to kill SB193 - a bill which would extend New Hampshire's 36% interest rate cap on payday and car title loans to cover all small loans. It didn't pass that day but it survived to see another day - January 20 - when another House vote will be taken.  The bill is supported by a number of organizations as well as NH Banking Commissioner Peter Hildreth. More information about this bill and what it would do from Sarah Mattson or Jon Baird, NH Legal Assistance, 206-2214. Because of the tight vote, your calls in support of capping the interest rate on small loans to your House members over the next week are important. Click here to find contacts for your state representatives.

This Wednesday, the House will vote on other bills carried over from 2009 that may be of interest. HB 304, an assisted suicide bill, is recommended inexpedient to legislate. Against the backdrop of the spread of H1N1 and a tough economy, the Committee studying paid sick leave for workers has  recommended the idea be referred for further study. A bill to ban all live dog racing in the state - with both NH dog tracks now closed - is recommended to pass. HB 642, which would establish a flat rate education income tax, while reducing statewide property, business and other taxes has been rejected by the House Ways & Means Committee, which is asking the House to agree and kill the proposal.

Legislation to expand gaming in NH, for and against new forms of taxation, for and against expanding healthcare for low and moderate-income children through Healthy Kids, same-sex marriage, abortion and other measures are proposed in what is shaping up to be a busy year for policy makers. We will report on matters of priority to Council members. If you work on policy matters for your denomination, please contact Policy Associate Laurel Redden with news of your work at 894-5931 or Laurel@nhchurches.org.