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Right To Work Goes Down In The NH House, New Hampshire Labor Rejoices

To the great “disappointment” of Governor Sununu, SB 11, the so-called “Right to Work” for less bill, goes down in flames.  By a bi-partisan vote of 200 to 177 the members of the NH House voted to kill the bill.  “I am deeply disappointed today by the House’s failure to pass Right to Work,” stated Governor Chris Sununu.

“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,’” said Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), the Ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee. “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.”

“Today a bi-partisan majority confirmed that ‘Right to Work’ is still wrong for New Hampshire, and this vote should be the final nail in the coffin,” said NH AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett. “Across the Granite State, working people stood together against this corporate-backed legislation that would cripple our ability to speak up on job. We thank the legislators who let workers’ voices rise above special interests’.” 

AFT-NH, that represents 4,000 teachers, school support staff, city and town employees, police officers, library employees, and higher education faculty, was “extremely pleased” with Right to Work’s defeat.

“We are extremely pleased that the NH House defeated Right to Work by a 200-177 vote today,” said Doug Ley, President of AFT-NH. “The defeat of this bill was the result of cooperation across party lines and hard work by our members, fellow union brothers and sisters in the labor movement and community allies. The actions by the NH House today puts to bed this divisive legislation for at least another 2 years. We thank legislators who stood with working families.”

NEA-NH, the state’s largest public employee union, representing over 17,000 members, praised the vote.

“Educators’ working conditions are our child’s learning conditions,” said Megan Tuttle acting NEA-NH President. “By weakening the ability of educators to advocate for students, kids across New Hampshire stood to lose things like smaller class sizes, safe classrooms and drinking water, up-to-date resources, and expanded curriculum choices. Our ability to advocate for every public-school student was preserved today.”

“When out-of-state interests with pre-written legislation and lots of money try to set legislative priorities in New Hampshire, kids lose. Today’s vote prevented that from happening.”

“The 17,000 members of NEA-New Hampshire extend our thanks to those voting against SB11 today, especially those members who stood strong against the pressure applied by the majority leadership on this issue. Their resolve helped ensure that kids and educators across the state will continue to have a strong voice,” concluded Tuttle. 

Richard Gulla, President of the NH State Employees Association was “proud” of the legislators who stood with working families.

“Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted SB 11 Inexpedient to Legislate. We are proud of the legislators for standing with Granite State workers today and putting the so-called Right to Work bill behind us, where it belongs. The New Hampshire House recognized that there was no constituency supporting this legislation and proved out-of-state special interests have no place in our politics. It took courage to stand against the constant stream of pressure from outside funding – and Granite State families can now celebrate this accomplishment.”

“We are incredibly grateful to our elected officials for continuing to stand up for what is important. We look forward to working with Governor Sununu and the legislature to continue helping New Hampshire families,” Gulla added. 

Democrats also rejoiced as Sununu’s highest priority piece of legislation was defeated.

“New Hampshire proved once again that it’s a friend to workers’ rights. Despite Governor Sununu and NHGOP Chair Forrester’s brazen attempts, Republicans and Democrats in the State House stood together and made clear that this issue is above partisan politics,” said NHDP Chairman Ray Buckey. 

“Today’s defeat of the so-called Right to Work for Less legislation is a great victory for New Hampshire’s working families,” said Jeff Woodburn, NH Senate Minority Leader.  “Right to Work for Less makes it harder for people to earn a living, harder for people to make ends meet, and harder for people to support a family. I congratulate the bipartisan coalition in the House that recognized the damage it would have caused and came together to defeat this harmful legislation.”

Join The Fight Against Transgender Discrimination, Tell Your Reps To Support HB478

We all know that it is illegal to discriminate against someone because of their race or the color of their skin, but did you know that because of weak discrimination laws there are no real protections for those who are transgendered.

This means that a transgendered person can be fired from their job, denied an apartment or denied service in a restaurant, and otherwise discriminate against them simply because of who they are.

“Findings from a 2011 study by NCTE and the Task Force show that 63% of transgender participants had experienced a “serious act of discrimination”—events like a lost job, eviction, homelessness, and assault that drastically impede one’s ability to sustain themselves financially or emotionally” stated Freedom New Hampshire.

This is unacceptable!

“Everyone should be treated fairly and equally under the law,” State Rep. Ed Butler, D-Harts Location, said. “By updating our civil rights laws to protect transgender individuals from discrimination, we will be saying that New Hampshire is an open and welcoming place for everyone.”

“There are thousands of transgender individuals in New Hampshire whose lives will be positively impacted by this bill,” said Gerri Cannon, a transgender community leader and Granite Stater. “No one should be turned away from a public business, kicked out of their home or be fired from a job simply because of who they are.”

The NH Labor News, the ACLU of NH, New Hampshire Freedom to Marry, and Freedom New Hampshire are encouraging everyone to contact your State Legislators and ask them to support HB 478, “An Act to Prohibit Discrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity.”

This bill will update and strengthen New Hampshire’s nondiscrimination laws —which currently protect people from discrimination at work, in housing, and in places open to the public— to include people who are transgendered. Law enforcement and public safety officials agree that protecting transgender individuals from discrimination is critical to ensuring everyone can live their lives safely.

“As Chief of the Dover Police Department and a member of law enforcement for over 31 years, I know our communities are safer when everyone is treated fairly and equally under the law and that includes transgender people,” said Chief Anthony Colarusso. “This group is actually disproportionately targeted for harassment and assault. However, in places where legal protections are in place, rates of violence against transgender individuals go down with no uptick in public safety incidents. Transgender equality and equal treatment for all is ultimately about building stronger communities for everyone.”

“We are united in our belief that fairness and equality are important to all of us,” JeanMarie Gossard, Freedom New Hampshire’s campaign manager, added. “Freedom New Hampshire is thrilled to be working with a broad coalition of business, faith and civic leaders, and people across the political spectrum, to support this important measure.”


Please visit www.freedomnewhampshire.org for information on how you can help secure these important protections for transgender Granite Staters.

NH Labor Leaders Speak Out About Today’s Hearing on So-Called “Right-to-Work” Legislation

Concord – Hundreds gathered to oppose the so-called “Right to Work” legislation in front of the New Hampshire House Labor Committee.  The testimony lasted for more than four hours.  

Unlike the Senate committee, the House committee actually listened to the people and voted the bills “inexpedient to legislate” (ITL) 14-7.  Five Republicans joined the nine Democrats on the committee to oppose both “right to work” bills.

The bill and the committee’s recommendation of “ITL” will be in front of the entire NH House next week.  If the NH House concurs with the committee recommendation, the bills will be killed.

Following today’s public hearing in the New Hampshire House of Representatives’ Labor Committee, New Hampshire labor leaders spoke out on the ant-worker legislation:

Glenn Brackett, President of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO: “The New Hampshire AFL-CIO was proud to stand with hundreds of working people across the state who are fighting to protect their rights at work. This legislation is an attack on working families by out-of-state special interests seeking to lower wages for everyone and undermine worker protections. The proponents of this legislation are playing politics with the future of our workforce, and New Hampshire working families deserve better.”

Richard Gulla, President of SEA/SEIU Local Union 1984: “So-called right to work has no place in the Granite State, and I’m proud we were able to pack this hall today with those who agree. Both of these bills are tired, recycled legislation that does nothing for the real problems facing our state. We need the House to reject these bills so we can get down to working together on legislation that helps – not hurts – New Hampshire families.”

Sarah Hirsch, President of the University of New Hampshire Lecturers Union: “The families of New Hampshire want the college students to be solidly prepared and ready to enter good careers. To do this, the faculty who teach and mentor them need to be protected, have job stability and security, good benefits, and a say in their working conditions!  Weakening unions ultimately weakens higher education, undercutting the development of a skilled workforce for New Hampshire at a time when we need more competitive workers in the state.”  

Frank Moroney, Executive Director AFSCME Council 93: “It’s a powerful statement that a majority of legislators, both Democrats and Republicans, voted against so-called “Right to Work” today. They stood together because they know protecting our right to speak up together on the job shouldn’t be a partisan issue. Right to Work would hurt working families across the Granite State, and we’ll continue to fight against this legislation as it moves to the House floor.”

Dennis Caza, President of Teamsters Local Union 633: “Today, hundreds of our brothers and sisters stood in Solidarity to defend the rights of New Hampshire’s workers. We hope that we have sent a message to the legislature that so-called “Right-to-Work” is not the solution that New Hampshire working families need. In the coming days, we urge workers in every industry across the state to contact their legislators and let them know that this so-called “Right-to-Work” legislation is wrong for New Hampshire.”

New Hampshire Campaign on Voting Rights Condemns Rollbacks of Citizen’s Voting Rights

Modernization, not rollbacks, key for engaging voters, ensuring security 

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Campaign on Voting Rights condemns attempts by New Hampshire politicians to rollback the voting rights of New Hampshire voters.

New Hampshire politicians have proposed an unprecedented number of bills this legislative session stripping voters of rights, making voter registration more difficult, and changing same-day registration. Bill sponsors point to voter fraud as a justification for these rollbacks, however modernization not rollbacks are needed to improve the security and integrity of our voting system. Republicans in Washington, D.C. and New Hampshire’s Secretary of State Bill Gardner are confident and agree that voter fraud is not a widespread problem.

These rollbacks are another ploy to disengage voters from the political system, stripping them of their right to vote, a right provided to them as citizens of this country. 

The New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights urges state legislators to consider common sense reforms that will save taxpayer dollars and make the system more secure, if  they wish to examine New Hampshire’s election system:

1.      Implement a closed, secure online voter registration system connected to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicle database;

2.      Implement a closed, secure digital poll book system that saves taxpayer dollars and saves communities time;

3.      Support SB 197 to fund the attorney general’s Department of Justice to complete outstanding voter investigations rather than expand police power to the New Hampshire secretary of state.

“When politicians push bills that put limits on voter registration, they are infringing on the constitutional right of all eligible residents in New Hampshire to participate in our elections,” said New Hampshire Campaign for Voting Rights spokesperson Huck Montgomery. “It is in all of our interest to have the most secure and efficient voter registration system.” 

Thirty-nine states have adopted online voter registration while six others have automatic voter registration. Thirty-one states use digital poll books. In a national survey of dozens of election officials in 29 states “there was unanimity that electronic and online registration reduces costs.”

2016 Fiscal Revues Reveals $160 Million Surplus But What Will Happen Next Is Crucial

Today, the Department of Administrative Services released the 2016 NH Fiscal Report that show a whopping $160 million dollar surplus.

“Thanks to a strengthening economy, our work across party lines to develop a fiscally responsible budget and Senator Hassan’s strong leadership as Governor, we finished Fiscal Year 2016 with a surplus of almost $160 million. With this strong surplus, we were able to put an additional $70 million into our Rainy Day Fund- strengthening it to the highest level in recorded history. As our state’s fiscal outlook continues to strengthen, Senate Democrats remain committed to supporting the economic priorities that are critical to the success of our people, our businesses, and our state,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn.

“The strong surplus of nearly $160 million and historic level of the State’s Rainy Day Fund is yet another clear sign of Senator Hassan’s strong leadership and success as Governor. Regardless of what the Republican Party tries to say about the state’s fiscal health, Granite Staters know that Senator Hassan’s leadership led to real results for the State of New Hampshire. To build on that progress, Republicans in Concord should ditch failed policies like ‘right-to-work for less’ and join their Democratic colleagues on focusing on the real issues that matter to the people of New Hampshire and will keep our economy moving forward,” said Ray Buckley, Chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. 

For the people of New Hampshire this is good news.  It shows that programs like the NH Health Protection Program did not bankrupt the state as some claimed.  We have also filled up our rainy day fund.This will make this years budget fight even more interesting.

Will the legislature cut revenue sources or will they opt to invest in our future?

For example, today, Senator Bette Laskey (D-Nashua) introduced a new bill (SB 100) to appropriate $4 million to the Department of Transportation for the project development phase of the New Hampshire capital rail corridor project.

“The citizens and businesses of New Hampshire know that bringing commuter rail to this state will generate economic growth for decades to come and make New Hampshire a more accessible and attractive destination for families and investors,” said Senator Lasky, prime sponsor of SB 100. “With the support of businesses, workers and families, this project should be a priority investment of this legislature.”

“Commuter rail offers a modern, safe, transportation infrastructure that not only bridges the gap between employers and their need for an educated workforce, but also helps attract and keep young people in our state to drive future growth. This is not a partisan or ideological issue – it is a win-win that is supported by both Republicans and Democrats; business leaders, and working families. Given the significant economic benefits of bringing commuter rail to New Hampshire, I urge my colleagues on the Senate Finance Committee to support this legislation,” Laskey added.  

With a $90 million dollar surplus, after taking money out for the rainy day fund, can we finally agree that the funds are there to push for expanded rail service to New Hampshire.

What about our broken down roads and bridges?  Will the legislature finally put some serious money to repair the hundred red listed bridges in the state?

What about our schools? Will the legislature put some much needed funds to update any of the state public schools?  Will they put more money towards the state’s university system and the community college system of NH?  The State of NH is dead last in state spending on our state universities which is also why we have the highest in-state tuition in the country.

Hopefully they will choose to make some serious investments in our state’s infrastructure and spend more on education funding.

1-27-17 AFT-NH Legislative Bulletin: Right To Work, Minimum Wage, And Frank Edelblut

January 27, 2017

Yesterday was a warm, almost Spring-like day, always welcome in January. The gold of the State House dome shone brightly in the sunshine, and I even took the time to sit for a short while on a bench on the State House grounds. Inside, however, the legislative session is just beginning to warm up, with a short session of the House to deal with a few legislative items, following an intensive week of public hearings on proposed bills, as committees work hard to push legislation to the floor for debates and votes.

The most important news of the week was the scheduling of hearings on so-called ‘right to work’ legislation by the House Labor Committee. The hearings on both the Senate (SB 11) and House (HB 520) versions of ‘right to work’ (virtually identical and almost entirely plagiarized from sample legislation created by the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC), will be held in Reps Hall on Wednesday, February 8, beginning at 10 am. The hearings are expected to draw hundreds to the Hall, and it is likely the testimony will last for hours. More information on attending and testifying will be forthcoming, but if you can, start planning to join the fun! Battle-lines are being drawn now on this issue, between those who advocate for the working people of New Hampshire and their workplace voice versus those who seek to eradicate any vestiges of worker rights. Our focus will turn to reaching out to the members of the NH House and asking them to oppose so-called Right to Work in any and all forms. Please be sure to visit the AFT-NH website at www.aft-nh.org and utilize the resources on the Defeat Right to Work page.

Interestingly, the House Labor Committee also conducted hearings this week on proposed legislation HB 115 to increase the minimum wage in NH, from its current $7.25/hour up to an eventual $12.00/hour. Any increase would be welcome and long overdue, but those who clamor for so-called ‘right to work’ are also those who oppose any increase in the minimum wage, preferring to redesign the New Hampshire Advantage as one built on low wages and severe limitations on working people’s voice and rights.

In the background, there is also the dangerous proposed bill (HB 438) to ban payroll deduction of union dues by public employers, a strategy employed in Wisconsin to eviscerate public sector unions by making it very difficult for them to collect any member dues. This is actually the most severe threat facing organized labor and all working people in NH. Once unions are gone, can we expect employers to suddenly shower us with generous raises, expanded benefits, and kindly treatment? Remember, when employers exercise unilateral control over the workplace, it is not a recipe for happiness and harmony. Power seeks more power is the old axiom, and absolute power seeks more power absolutely.

Amongst the hundreds of bills now before the various committees of the House and Senate, a few stand out. There are over a half-dozen bills aiming to further reduce pensions or even nearly destroy the NHRS system, breaking every promise made to state, county, municipal, educational, and public safety employees. In a bright note, a bill to require the State to pay 15% of the annual cost of the NHRS survived its first committee test, but faces rough waters in the House. The State used to pay 35% of the costs of the NHRS, but now contributes nothing, a classic example of “downshifting” costs onto local taxpayers, so this bill would at least begin to right that wrong. AFT-NH remains an active partner and participant in the NH Retirement Security Coalition. It will take the combined effort of employee groups, stakeholders and members to protect the NH Retirement System as we know it.

There are also a number of bills to increase funding for charter schools, free them from property taxes, and further siphon off monies for public schools. Once again, there is a bright spot—the proposal to fund full-day kindergarten. The bill has had its public hearing in front of the House Education Committee, which is expected to act on it on February 8. Governor Chris Sununu loudly proclaimed his support for full-day kindergarten during his gubernatorial campaign, so it will be interesting to see if his support translates into Republican votes for it in the House.

In closing, I have two requests of you. First, I hope some of you can attend the January 31 public hearing on the nomination of businessman Frank Edelblut as Commissioner of Education. AFT-NH has already posted a “lesson plan” on Mr. Edelblut, and your testimony, whether in person or in writing, may help sway the Executive Council, which must approve his nomination. You can email the Executive Council members directly at gcweb@nh.gov. Second, please “Wear Red for Public Ed” on January 31. Let’s show our pride in public education! Dress in red, have your colleagues dress in red, take photos and send them to us for posting on-line. Be proud and say it loud, to paraphrase James Brown, and let’s celebrate one of America’s greatest accomplishments and contributions to the world—the idea of free, broad-based public education.

Your outreach to the legislators does make a difference and we are hearing back that you are contacting them. It matters. Please keep contacting them! We know when we act in unity, we can make a real difference.

In Solidarity,

Douglas Ley

AFT-NH, President

New Statewide Poll Shows Overwhelming Opposition to Changes in NH’s Smoke-free Law

Image by D-15 Photography on FLICKR CC

NH voters are inexorably opposed to changing the state’s current smoke-free law; opposition is deep and wide, crossing party, geographic, gender, age, and ideological lines.

CONCORD – State Representative Robert Hull has proposed legislation (HB 279) to make “changes to the indoor smoking act,” would allow smoking in “private residences”.  If passed this bill would allow smoking in grocery stores, restaurants, bars and lounges across the state.  

The health and well being of the workers inside these establishments must be considered when legislators debate this repeal.  Workers should not be force to breathe air that is dangerous to their health.  

Poll results released today by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) showed that the voters of New Hampshire are overwhelmingly supportive of the state’s current smoke-free law and oppose attempts to once again allow smoking in certain public places. This information was released on the heels of ACS CAN’s annual legislative breakfast, where over 50 cancer survivors and advocates converged in Concord to urge lawmakers to protect their right to breather clean indoor air and oppose HB279. 

According to the poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, fully 88 percent of New Hampshire voters oppose the proposed bill that would allow smoking in grocery stores, restaurants, cocktail lounges, and bars. Majority support for the current law is bi-partisan and spreads across every demographic sub-group and geographic region of New Hampshire.  Even smokers themselves are opposed to a change. Other findings of the poll include:

  • 84 percent of voters favor the current law – which prohibits smoking in bars, restaurants, and other public places – and only 14 percent oppose it.  An incredibly high 74 percent of voters strongly favor the current law.
  • A smoke-free environment is important to voters, and by seven-to-one, they say the right of employees and customers to breathe smoke-free air is more important than the right of smokers and business owners to allow smoking in restaurants and bars.
  • 70 percent of voters say they are less likely to vote for their state legislator if they back this bill.

“The results of this poll are unprecedented and should send a loud and clear message to lawmakers: voters overwhelmingly value their right to breath clean indoor air, and wholeheartedly oppose any changes to the state’s current smoke-free law,” said Mike Rollo, director of government relations for ACS CAN in New Hampshire. “There is simply no political upside to supporting this bill, nor is there any upside for the health of Granite Staters.”

“Along with voters statewide, ACS CAN strongly opposes any legislation that would weaken New Hampshire’s clean indoor air laws,” said Rollo. “We hope lawmakers will take in account the overwhelmingly high opposition to changing the law as they debate HB 279. Voters have made their opinion clear: now is the time to be looking forward to continued progress in the fight against cancer – not the time for stepping back to undo a decade long protection of clean indoor air in the Granite State.” 

NH Legislators Hold Hearing On A Woman’s Right To Privacy

NH Legislators Push A New “Personhood” Bill In NH House

CONCORD – On Thursday, January 19TH at 10am, the Criminal Justice Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives will hold a hearing on HB 156 – a bill that is unnecessary and inconsistent with current law, and if passed, will pose considerable consequences threatening the health and privacy of women in the Granite State.

If passed, HB 156 would recognize a fetus as a legal entity separate from a woman.  By recognizing a fetus as a person who can be an independent victim of a crime, HB 156 creates a legal basis for depriving a pregnant woman of her status as a full person under the law. New Hampshire has rejected proposals similar to HB 156 over a dozen times the past two decades. 

“The ending of a wanted pregnancy is a deep and devastating loss, and our laws must punish people who commit violent crimes against pregnant women,” states Susan Arnold, Chair of the New Hampshire Reproductive Rights Advisory Council. “New Hampshire law already punishes those who commit violent crimes against pregnant women. In 1990, the New Hampshire legislature adopted a law that provides enhanced felony punishment for assaults that result in loss of pregnancy.” A person who “purposely or knowingly causes injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth” currently faces up to 15 years in prison.

“Personhood” measures, like HB 156, subject a pregnant woman to involuntary medical treatment, surveillance, and incarceration. In states that have adopted laws like HB 156 purport to exempt women from criminal liability – a pregnant woman is still more likely to be punished for “risky” behaviors that is not criminalized for others, and that may or may not have caused harm to her fetus.

And while the bill includes an exemption for abortion, HB 156 will inevitably contribute to a nationwide effort to establish a framework for overturning Roe v. Wade. By establishing a contradiction in the law and pitting a woman against her fetus, HB 156 threatens to erode a woman’s constitutional right to make her own private medical decisions.

 

NH House Dems Sponsor Legislation To Provide Funding For Full Day Kindergarten And Repeal Voucher Bill

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.” 

Convicted Domestic Abuser Placed In Leadership Of NH House Committe That Oversees DV Laws

GOP Lawmaker Convicted of Domestic Violence Named Vice Chair of NH House Committee That Oversees DV Laws 

Rep. Frank Sapereto (R-Derry) was convicted of simple assault in 2013 and has twice sponsored legislation to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault laws

Concord, NH – Convicted GOP lawmaker Frank Sapereto (R-Derry) was named the Vice Chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee yesterday afternoon. The committee hears all domestic violence and sexual assault legislation; Rep. Sapereto was convicted of simple assault in 2013 and has twice attempted to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault laws, in 2013 and 2014. 

“An individual convicted of domestic violence should not hold a leadership position on the very committee that will determine domestic violence laws in our state,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress. “In addition to his own conviction, Rep. Sapareto has twice sponsored legislation to weaken New Hampshire’s simple assault law, even though domestic violence advocates and law enforcement have repeatedly warned that doing so would empower bullies and abusers. This appointment also raises serious questions about how comfortable domestic violence survivors will be participating in committee hearings under his leadership.” 

“I’m very disappointed in this decision by the Speaker,” said Raymond Buckley, Chair of the NH Democratic Party. “Appointing someone with a criminal record to chair the Criminal Justice committee would be inappropriate in any circumstances, but to do it in exchange for an endorsement is reprehensible.”

In 2013, now-former State Rep. Mark Warden (R-Goffstown) spoke in support of Sapareto’s bill to weaken simple assault laws, stating that “a lot of people like being in abusive relationships” and “are always free to leave.” In a media interview that same year, Sapareto stated that the state court system had handled 8,417 misdemeanor assault cases the previous year and that his bill made sense because no one was seriously hurt in at least half of those cases. WCAX reported that House Speaker Shawn Jasper “says he offered Sapareto the job to win his backing for the speakership, which Sapareto also sought.”

According to the most recent report from the Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence, domestic violence was a causal factor in 83% of the murder/suicides in New Hampshire during the 2014-2015 biennium. 


Related Reading:

  • Russman Law, NH Considers a Bill to Reduce Simple Assault from a Misdemeanor to a Violation, October 29, 2013
  • Eagle Tribune, Derry lawmaker fights assault conviction, April 12, 2013
  • HuffPo, Mark Warden, New Hampshire State Legislator, Says People May Like ‘Being In Abusive Relationships’, February 27, 2013 (includes Concord Monitor story and Granite State Progress video)
  • WCAX, Rep convicted of misdemeanor given top criminal justice post, December 20, 2016
  • Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Abuse Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee’s 11th Report, September 2016
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