NH Council of Churches - Public Policy Update 11 January 2011



With the 2011 New Hampshire legislative year underway, the New Hampshire Council of Churches brings you updates and alerts on proposed policy changes with significant moral and ethical consequences.


Bills and rulemaking receive priority in areas where our member denominations share a position. The religious voice in the public square is important and unique; a religious voice speaks to the big picture and to the effects of laws and rules on the most vulnerable in our society.

Religious leaders bear the responsibility to speak up for those who cannot.


Speaking up takes many forms: attend a social justice meeting of your denomination or society; include information in a Sunday bulletin or newsletter; talk to a representatives; attend a legislative hearing or in other ways. The religious community can choose to take these actions based upon severity and urgency. The religious community uniquely paints the moral backdrop for policy makers as they consider difficult decisions before them.


How do we decide what information to bring you? A standing Public Policy Committee of the NH Council of Churches, comprised of board members and  representatives of member denominations works together,  examines the issues and determines priorities. New Committee members are welcome and encouraged; please contact me for information.


Thus far, the Public Policy Committee is focusing on these critical areas:


1)  The biennial state budget, now being crafted for fiscal years 2011-12, particularly the nearly one-third of the state budget providing Health and Human Services for the state's needy.

2)   Immigration (see below for the first public hearing related to this topic).

3)   Death penalty, both to oppose expansion and promote repeal.

4)  Expanded gambling, opposing slots and casinos


We will bring you information on the process and points of input, as well as background information to help religious leaders determine where and when important policy topics will come up. A Public Policy Update is planned every two weeks this session.


Because policy-making takes place at a rapid pace with unpredictable timing, we will supplement biweekly Updates with Alerts. We understand the frustration for those who wish to engage their congregations, social justice committees and others on a policy matter and have just a day or two's notice. This is simply how the NH legislative process operates. We will do our very best to alert you to developments as they happen.


With blessings for your concern and attention,

Laurel Redden, Public Policy Associate

NH Council of Churches




Public Hearing Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011, 10 AM

House Concurrent Resolution 2 (HCR2)

House State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee

Room 203, Legislative Office Building, Concord


Though it would carry no force of law in and of itself, this resolution in support of the Arizona immigration law would put the State of New Hampshire "on record" in full support of the Arizona law on Immigration Enforcement (SB 1070).  Part of the resolution states that the General Court of the State of NH shall pursue legislation to protect its citizens from illegal immigrants.The bill also emphasizes that the people of NH have the right of security including personal safety and job security and that the State of NH has the obligation to ensure the personal safety and job security of its citizens.

This hearing presents an opportunity to educate legislators about NH's immigrant and refugee communities, who they are, how they contribute, why they have come to NH, and to dispel the myths about increased crime perpetrated by immigrants as well as job loss to "Americans" due to increased immigrant populations. If your church welcomes and works with immigrant and refugee populations, your first-hand experiences and knowledge may be the most valuable piece of information legislators will hear.

As with all public hearings, there are several ways to make your voice heard. You may choose to testify to the committee, or simply sign in to register your opposition to the bill.

You may also  communicate with members of the State-Federal Relations Committee by mail, email, or telephone outside of the hearing time.

Though immigration reform is an issue in search of federal action, states are taking the matter into their own hands - with potentially dangerous and cruel results. There are several proposals this year in the NH legislature that target undocumented workers, and in the process, build an environment of bigotry and injustice that could have wider reverberations. We will post you as these reach actionable points.   


Contact the Governor


Governor Lynch was recently interviewed on WMUR saying he would support expansion of the death penalty in our state. In his interview, he said he needs to hear from law enforcement, victims and advocates before making his decision. Governor Lynch needs to hear from the citizens of New Hampshire who support repeal and who are opposed to expansion.


Additional points:


- People who commit horrible murders need to be held accountable. The state can do that, and protect public safety, without additional killing.

- The Study Commission agreed that the death penalty is "substantially more expensive" than life without parole. At a time in which political leaders say they want to focus on fiscal responsibility, considering a measure that costs millions for no real purpose other than vengeance makes no fiscal sense.

- Even the pro-death penalty members of the Commission did not want to expand the death penalty.

- The death penalty harms murder victim family members as was explained by the Governor's appointee to the Study Commission, Sherry Young.


Contact Governor Lynch:

Office of the Governor

State House, 107 North Main Street

Concord, NH 03301


Or send email via webform.

Thanks to Katherine Cooper at the NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. For more information about the study commission and upcoming Coalition actions, see www.nodeathpenaltynh.org or call Katherine at 603-674-4885.


Related Report

As Use of the Death Penalty Continues to Decline, a Majority of Americans Support Repeal

Legislative Calendar

January 26: Last day to introduce HBs, or to amend House Rules by majority vote

February 19: Governor's Budget Address

February 28-March 4: Senate break (note: House members will not break this session)

March 31: Crossover (House Bills pass to Senate, Senate Bills pass to House)

May 25-June 8: Filing period for 2012 session House bills (Senate has not published 2012 bill introduction calendar)

June 23: 2011 Legislative session ends

Legislative Resources:




  • 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.

NHCC Members in the Public Square



  • Diocese of Manchester Sponsors Legislative Breakfast. State legislators are invited to a continental breakfast with the Bishop of Manchester at 8:00 a.m. Wednesday, January 19, at the Upham-Walker House.


Please send brief notices of policy-related actions, meetings, events that may be of interest to the broader faith community to Laurel@nhchurches.org.