NH Council of Churches - Public Policy Update April 29, 2010


Proposed Cuts Imperil Human Services;
Religious Voices Needed to Support Reliable Revenues

The NH Council of Churches has worked with NH CARES on state budget issues for many years, with a shared goal of supporting critical human service programs. NH CARES has issued an alert and call to action, following the introduction of an amendment to SB 450, which seeks to balance the state budget by cutting funding for critical state programs and services.
The people whose lives will be affected as the Legislature and Governor seek to close budget gaps are those who are least likely or able to speak for their own needs. Those who will be affected range from the sickest who turn to the state's catastrophic illness program for help dealing with the financial impact of serious illness to those who depend on home health personnel to meet their daily living needs, whose reimbursement rates will be cut. That's just a taste of what's among the dozens* of programs targeted for closure, elimination, reductions and restructuring.
Religious voices can certainly provide guidance on whether we simply cut off our most vulnerable - or we strike a balance and seek reliable new sources of revenue to help meet our budget obligations. Our budget is, after all, a statement of our moral values.
The NH House Ways and Means Committee is working through May 5 to develop a revenue package to balance devastating budget cuts. They need to hear that there is support for finding reliable new sources of revenue - beyond the meager plugs proposed, such as charging custodial parents higher fees if they are forced to turn to the state to help collect child support or raising fees on pet shops.
Please consider contacting members of the House Ways & Means Committee, the House Speaker and Governor Lynch today to say you support seeking reliable new revenue - that does not come with the harmful effects of expanded gambling - to balance the budget to prevent the most devastating cuts.

Contact Info:
Governor's Office: 271-2121 or fax 271-7540
Speaker of the House: 271-3661
House Ways & Means Committee Members:

Chair: Susan Almy, Lebanon, 448-4769   
William Hatch, Gorham, 466-9491
Frank Davis, Pembroke, 485-9953
William Butynski, Hinsdale, 336-7498
Dennis Vachon, Northwood, 664-9974
no email available
Gilman Shattuck, Hillsborough, 464-3850
John Kelley, Nashua, 880-4083
Ron Mack, Hancock, 525-3650
William Johnson, Gilford, 524-8949
Susan Price, Barrington, 664-7826
Robert Walsh, Manchester, 622-1023
Norman Major, Plaistow, 382-5429
Mary Griffin, Windham, 432-0959
no email available
Priscilla Lockwood, Canterbury, 783-4349
Frank Sapareto, Derry, 894-7083
Jordan Ulery, Hudson, 882-8979
Joe Osgood, Claremont, 543-0762
Kenneth Weyler, Kingston, 642-3518
David Bettencourt, Salem, 898-4653
No email available
Russell Ober, Hudson, 883-9654

*The governor's budget presentation is available here. Click for a reduction summary for 2010 and for 2011.


Immigrants Await US Senate Action;
NH Senate Takes Up Resolution

The new Arizona law requiring police to demand papers from residents they suspect are undocumented has fueled the call for Congress to take up comprehensive immigration reform. Here in New Hampshire yesterday, a diverse coalition, led by Reform Immigration FOR America, called on the US Senate to take action, as the NH State Senate Judiciary Committee held a public hearing on HCR 22, a resolution that would call upon national leaders to take immediate action on immigration.
Now is the time to contact both our US Senators and our NH Senators on immigration reform. Please take a moment in the next day or two to urge your state and US Senators to take up and pass comprehensive immigration reform.

An excellent letter from Bishop John McCormack to the NH Congressional delegation urging comprehensive immigration reform - with points to consider in forming a just and humane policy - can be found here.
Find your NH state senator's contact here and Shaheen and Gregg's contacts here.

To join a growing group of religious leaders involved in Reform Immigration FOR America's efforts in NH, contact Kris Schultz at 603-275-2227.


Friday, April 30
Immigrant Workers' Day Rally
4:30 pm
Manchester City Hall Plaza
For more information, contact Eva Castillo, NH Alliance for Immigrants and Refugees, at (603)661-2873.

DEATH PENALTY - Sign On Deadline May 10

Clergy: Sign on to End the Death Penalty

Religious leaders are encouraged to add your name to a letter supporting the abolition of the death penalty, which will be submitted with the NH Council of Churches' testimony to the Commission to Study the Death Penalty in NH (formed per passage of last year's HB 520). Deadline for adding your name to the letter is Monday, May 10. Denominational signers include the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, United Methodist Church, The Episcopal Church, United Church of Christ, Episcopal Church, Roman Catholic Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Church. For more information or to receive a copy of the letter click here.

Commission to Study NH Death Penalty Hears From Churches May 14

The Commission to Study the Death Penalty in NH will next study whether the death penalty is a deterrent to further crime at its April 9 meeting. It will then consider whether the death penalty comports with evolving moral standards at its May 14 meeting. NH Council of Churches and denominational leaders have been invited to testify at the May 14 meeting.

The Commission's final report is due Dec. 1, 2010. Information about the Commission, including Commission members, meeting transcripts and more is at the Commission's website.

Links to information about the most recent hearing is available at the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty website.  Visitors to their website can also sign up for alerts and further information about the Study Commission and any other efforts to abolish the death penalty.


Mental Health Matters Rally - Tuesday, May 4, 3-5:30 pm, Statehouse Lawn, Concord. How do funding cuts affect your community? Please join consumers, families, healthcare staff and other concerned community members who believe Mental Health is an essential  service. Program held rain or shine and will include special guest speakers. Sponsored by: Riverbend Community Mental Health, Fellowship Housing Opportunities, NAMI-NH, NH Psychological Assoc. and NH-NASW.
NH Children's Trust Fund Interfaith Luncheon: What do our faith communities do to nurture strong and stable families? - Thursday, May 20, 11:30-1 pm, St. John the Evangelist Parish Activity Center, 72 South Main St., Concord.  Keynote: Jim Hmurovich, CEO, Prevent Child Abuse America. Panel Discussion: Joe Naff, NH Catholic Charities, Ann Gratton, Lutheran Social Services of New England, Mohamed Ibrahim, Islamic Society of the Seacoast Area, Rev. Mary Higgins, Northern NE District of the Unitarian Universalist Association, Beth Bascom, Faithfully One by One. $10 registration fee includes lunch. Info/Register at NH Children's Trust Fund (603) 224-1279 or info@nhctf.org.
GSOP Annual Dinner -- Saturday, June 12, 6 pm, St. Anthony School Cafeteria, 148 Belmont St., Manchester. Cost is $20 per person, $30 per couple, and $150 for a table for eight.  Everyone, whether a GSOP member or not, is welcome. Call GSOP at 603-668-8250 or email Granitestateop@comcast.net to reserve.

Quick Takes:

  • Find New Hampshire legislative voting records.
  • Find NH state legislators' contact information here.
  • Reach your Congressman or Senator by calling the Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121. Or, type in your ZIP code here to link to both NH Senators and your Congressperson's pages.