NH Council of Churches - Public Policy Update 14 February 2011

Begging Your Patience  


State and Federal policy and legislation is moving swiftly, and we understand (and share) frustration with short-notice requests for action. Often, legislative calendars are set on short notice, and the opportunity for input on critical policy seems rushed. Please know that the Council attempts to share information with you as soon as it is available to us, either in these bi-weekly Updates or in single-topic Action Alerts. We appreciate your patience with this rapid pace and multitude of emails as we move deeper into the prime legislative season, and pray that where it is feasible, you will continue to do justice. The religious voice is needed now more than ever in the public square!




State Budget: The Pain Still to Come? 


It's been a grueling few weeks for those watching the state budget preparations and its impact on our oldest, youngest, poorest and disabled. The House passed HR 11, a resolution which sets the ceiling on the state budget for the next biennium lower than what NH economists forecast. The House Finance Committee will determine what needs can be funded using those revenue estimates, which would mean fewer and less accessible services for our most vulnerable residents. Governor Lynch, giving an early hint of what he'll reveal in his budget address Tuesday, vows no tax increases or new taxes, and acknowledges that cuts will be painful. Merely funding the same services -- many of which, in this lousy economy, help a growing number of struggling families and individuals trying to meet basic needs -- in the next budget means the state faces an estimated revenue shortage of between $500 million to almost $1 billion.  


Some of the proposed ways lawmakers plan to bridge that gap include putting caps on eligibility for Medicaid (and putting the state's participation in Medicaid up for study), and creating new requirements that will surely be an obstacle to eligibility like drug-testing and photo ID requirements for food stamps and cash assistance, which will be heard next week.*


We will bring you specific developments as they happen and as you have opportunity to object to injustice. Please answer the call when it comes. What does the Lord require of you?


*Public Hearings on Food Stamp Eligibility 

HB 484-FN requires random drug testing of food stamp participants

HB 485-FN requires photo identification for food stamp participants


Tuesday, Feb. 22, starting at 10:00 AM   

Room 205, Legislative Office Building  

House Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs contacts 


NHCC opposes measures to discourage, bar entry or otherwise reduce eligibility for programs that feed our poorest residents.


Right to Work: For Less?

HB 474-FN relative to freedom of choice on whether to join a labor union will be voted on by the full NH House Tuesday. Following a large turnout at the public hearing, there was a 10-7 vote of Ought to Pass in House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services, with both a majority and minority report.  This is considered a move that would undermine the ability of unions to organize in both the private and public sectors, eroding worker protections, fair wages and benefits. Legislators need calls before the vote in the morning. You may find your representatives' contacts here.

Federal Budget: Action You Can Take --

From Your PC  


Sojourners is circulating a "What Would Jesus Cut" online action calling on Congress to oppose budget proposals that increase military spending while cutting domestic and international programs that benefit the poor, especially children. Visit their site to find out more about this action and link to our US Senators and Representatives.




Expansion Bills Update 

Two bills that would expand the death penalty in NH,  HB 147 and HB 162, await a House Criminal Justice Committee recommendation. The NH Council of Churches provided testimony on both of these bills. Thanks all who testified, attended or contacted Committee members or your own reps about these bills. 


If you haven't already, please take a moment now to contact Committee members, especially if they are your representatives, to let them know you oppose the death penalty. Ask them to recommend both bills Inexpedient to the full House.


Letter Writers Wanted: NH Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty seeks people to volunteer to write letters to the editor on a monthly basis. Ideas, tips and discussion points can be provided. Contact Barbara at info@nodeathpenaltynh.org.



House Committee Says No to Slots in NH; Calls Needed to Your House Member 


This week, the House Municipal & County Government Committee voted a stunning 16-0 to recommend that the full House defeat HB 267, the 5-casino bill. During the Committee's brief executive session, members spoke about crime and addiction, low wages, and lack of economic benefit seen in other states such as New Jersey which have legalized slot casinos.
Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling asks for help with the following:
1.    Please call your Rep today, asking him/her to uphold the Committee vote and to oppose HB 267 when it comes up for a vote in the full House. Find Your Rep Here.
2.    Support HB 348, which would save money and improve regulation of existing gambling by merging the Lottery and Racing & Charitable Gaming Commissions, and would bar these agencies from attempts to implement slot machines by rule and bypassing legislative authority to make policy.  


HB 348 Public Hearing

Thursday, February 17, 1:30 pm

LOB 306, House Executive Departments & Administration Committee.  


Please call any members of the ED&A Committee you know or who represent you, asking them to support HB 348. 


For more information on the true costs of expanded gambling, see Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling's site,  www.noslots.com.

NHCC members stand united in opposition to expanded gambling, and believe it is not a responsible solution to our state's fiscal problems. Read NHCC's statement here.  





Anti-Immigrant Bill Hearing Thursday, 2/17

HB 644-FN is an anti-immigrant bill that allows the state to enter into an agreement with the Federal government allowing state and local police to enforce Federal immigration law. Among its other provisions, it prohibits "unlawfully present aliens" from being eligible for public assistance or drivers' licenses.  


HB 644-FN Public Hearing   

Thursday, Feb. 17, 2:45 PM 

Room 204, Legislative Office Building

House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee   

If you cannot attend the hearing, please contact your representatives on the Committee to oppose this bill. 


Sign Language Takes on New Meaning

HB 577 requires any business posting signs in any language other than English to add all six official languages of the United Nations to those signs. Instead of further engaging in civil dialogue on the subject of immigration, this bill serves to further inflame the debate and direct attention toward non-English speakers.  


HB 577 Public Hearing

Tuesday, March 1, 11:30 AM

Room 302, Legislative Office Building

House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee contacts


Can We Have Civil Dialogue on Immigration?   

RSVP Today! 


"Immigration, the Church, and the Bible"

A day-long workshop for clergy and lay leaders 

Friday, March 11, 2011

9:00 am to 4:00 pm

Wesley United Methodist Church

114 Main St. Worcester, MA 


Presenter: Professor M. Daniel Carroll R., Distinguished Professor of Old Testament at Denver Seminary, Author of Christians at the Border: Immigration, the Church, and the Bible


Cost of registration: $20 includes lunch and a copy of Strangers in the Land, the 6-week devotional guide on immigration from the editors of Sojourners. Scholarships are available.


Why attend? You can help shift the conversation about immigration reform. We need to know what our Bible says about this contentious topic. We believe that local congregations can be centers of respectful, honest, biblically-grounded conversation about hard issues. Like most hard choices, there is no room for cheap grace; there is a path to costly discipleship. This workshop and the resources that follow can help.


A flyer with registration form is available at the NHCC website. Please share this with your networks*. Send a team from your church. We encourage Pastor and lay leaders to come together. All participating congregations will be acknowledged in the workshop materials.


Please feel free to contact us with any questions- 603-224-1352 or info@NHchurches.org. We look forward to seeing you in Worcester.


*Sample Bulletin/Newsletter Insert:


Immigration, the Church and the Bible  

Friday March 11, 2011: You are invited to a day-long ecumenical workshop in Worcester on the Christian Churches, the Bible and Immigration Reform, led by Prof. Daniel Carroll of Denver Seminary. $20 includes lunch and a copy of Strangers in the Land, the 6-week devotional guide on immigration from the editors of Sojourners. Pastors and Lay Leaders encouraged to come as a team. Scholarships are available. For more information or to register visit: www.NHchurches.org or call 603 224-1352.



Churches in Politics? 

HCR 25 is a resolution urging Congress to amend the Internal Revenue Code to permit churches and other houses of worship to engage in political campaigns. A resolution authorizes no actual law; it is typically used by sponsors to make a statement on one topic or another. A public hearing is set for Thursday, Feb. 17, 11 am, Room 203, Legislative Office Building in House State & Federal Relations Committee.


Updating NH Law

HB 551 deletes both the authority of religious societies to assess taxes and the limits on the amount of donations that can be made to such societies. This awaits committee vote in House Judiciary. 




Please note: NHCC tracks - but does not take a position on - legislation of high ethical and moral content that are of interest to one or more denominations. Therefore, we seek merely to inform you on such bills and provide  information without note or comment. 



Public hearings on HB 437-FN, relative to the definition of marriage, HB 443-FN, establishing that marriage between one man and one woman shall be the only legal domestic union that shall be valid or recognized in this state, and on HB 569-FN, establishing domestic unions as a valid contract and extending certain rights to parties to a domestic union take place:


Thursday, Feb. 17, beginning at 10:30 AM

Representative's Hall, Statehouse 

House Judiciary Committee contacts 



HB 228-FN prohibits the NH Dept. of Health & Human Services from entering into a contract with Planned Parenthood Federation of America or any organization that provides abortion services and prohibits the use of public funds or insurance for abortion services. House Health, Human Services & Elderly Affairs Committee held its public hearing on this bill, and will hold a worksession (open to the public, but no public input is officially taken) Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2:30 pm in room 205, Legislative Office Building.


NH State Legislative Calendar

February 15: Governor's Budget Address

February 28-March 4: NH 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


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

Policy Resources for Churches 


Enough For All: Discussion Guide for People of Faith

Start a conversation about the meaning and reality of the phrase, "Enough for All" with a new discussion guide created by A Minnesota Without Poverty.  This six-session interfaith discussion guide focused on topics including the basics in life, creation and the environment, economy, equality and community, and time.  Download the guide here.  Questions about the contents of this discussion guide may be directed to info@mnwithoutpoverty.org 

"Development, Security and Economic Justice: 
What's Gender Got to Do with It?"


Ninth annual   

Ecumenical Advocacy Days  

for Global Peace with Justice Conference

March 25-28

Washington, DC   


Join faith-based advocates from across the U. S. to be inspired and equipped to speak boldly on behalf of people-centered sustainable development and economic justice, physical safety, security and peacemaking. Experts will train participants on policy issues and advocacy, culminating on Monday with lobby visits on Capitol Hill.

Around the world, women and girls comprise seventy percent of those living in poverty. The 2011 EAD conference will lift-up the vital issues of U.S. and global economic justice, safety and security, and sustainable development, with a particular focus on those most impacted - women, girls and families


Registration and more information about Ecumenical Advocacy Days is at www.AdvocacyDays.org