NH House Acts On A Number Of Bills Including Full Day Kindergarten, Water Testing, Increase Civics Course Requirements, And Action To Censure Rep Fisher.
Yesterday was another very busy day in Concord as the House acted on many of the bills put forth by the Senate earlier in the year.
First, the House restored funding to the amended SB 191, agreeing to spend $14 million dollars to fully fund full day kindergarten. Because the bill was changed from the one that passed the Senate, it will have to go back to the committee to finalize the details between the two bills.
“The House’s vote today in support of full-day kindergarten is a long-overdue recognition of the value that kindergarten programs provide to the development of our children. This bill simply provides full funding for kindergarten programs in communities that offer it, finally giving kindergarten the support it deserves,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “The business community recognizes the importance of early childhood education and strongly supports this bill. I am hopeful that the House Finance Committee will reach the same conclusion in their review of this legislation.”
Another issue that has already hit the wires is the censuring of Rep Fisher for his involvement in the online “Reddit Red Pill”. The House agreed to send the matter to the Legislative Adminstration committee for review where they will recommend reprimand, censure, expulsion, or no action.
“I was shocked to see a report linking the creation of the ‘Red Pill’ online forum to a New Hampshire State Representative,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “A brief search of the ‘Red Pill’ reveals that it’s central purpose is to train men how to manipulate and dominate women. Misogynist beliefs about the intelligence of women are prevalent in ‘Red Pill’ discussions. It is particularly troubling that Representative Fisher has shown no contrition for his actions since being revealed as the creator of this forum.”
“Referring this matter to the Legislative Administration Committee will allow for an investigation into Representative Fisher’s involvement with this forum since his election to the New Hampshire House. As elected officials it is our duty to act with honor both inside the State House and out, and I am confident that the Legislative Administration Committee will give this serious matter the consideration it deserves,” Shurtleff added.
“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.”
In an attempt to shield Rep Fisher, the House Majority Leader, Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack), stated there would be a “statute of limitations on the rape culture comments” and the committee would only investigate comments “Fisher made during the current legislative session” even though he founded and contributed to the website Red Pill over the course of many years.
The Republican’s in the House also pushed for similar actions against State Rep Sherry Frost who for making what some deemed inappropriate comments on Twitter earlier this year. Rep Frost did already apologize for her comment.
“The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman,” stated Rice-Hawkins.
The House approved legislation to significantly increase protections for children from lead in paint and drinking water. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord), prime sponsor of the legislation, offered the following comments after the bipartisan House vote:
“Today’s vote is the culmination of many months of bipartisan work by many committed stakeholders. I’m pleased that the House has joined the Senate to make this happen to protect our kids from the lifelong effects of disabling lead exposure.”
“Each year, several hundred children in New Hampshire test positive with dangerous and disabling levels of lead in their blood,” said Senator Feltes.
“SB 247 focuses on lead poisoning prevention by increasing testing, disclosures, and through modernization of our safety standards, addressing both lead in paint and lead in water. This bipartisan effort will save money in the long-run (for every dollar invested in prevention and abatement we save at least $17 dollars), help close the opportunity gap between low-income and upper-income children, and help combat a major public health problem.”
“This victory today is what it’s all about: getting things done for people that make a real difference in their lives, especially our kids.”
In an overwhelming vote of 328-30, the House of Representatives voted today to pass SB 9, which strengthens the Rape Shield Law. SB 9 ensures that rape shield protections include the victim’s past, and apply throughout the entire criminal justice process. The bill will now head to Governor Sununu’s desk for signature.
“Today’s vote to strengthen New Hampshire’s Rape Shield Law is critically important for victims of sexual violence. Only 16% of rapes are currently reported to police, largely because victims fear retaliation and the public scrutiny they would endure by coming forward,” stated House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “Ensuring that victims’ privacy rights are protected will allow people to come forward and seek justice without fear of their private life being broadcast to the world.”
“The strength shown by the Marriott family in their advocacy will ensure that other families are not forced to endure uncertainty, fear, and denial of rights as they seek justice.”
The House unanimously passed SB 45, legislation to increase civics course requirements for high school students. Senator Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), prime sponsor of the bill, offered the following comments after passage:
“I’ve been advocating for more robust civics education in New Hampshire’s schools for years,” said Senator D’Allesandro. “Today’s students are graduating with limited knowledge of the systems and processes of the society they live and work in and without grasping their powers and responsibilities within that system. The key to increasing citizen participation and resolving some of the frustration with government that we’re seeing lately is to give people the knowledge they need to participate. I’m glad we’ve taken this step to elevate the importance of civics education for our students.”
SB 45 creates a uniform framework for the administration of civics courses to include instruction on the U.S. Constitution, the New Hampshire Constitution, the structures and functions of federal government and how those branches interact with state and local government, opportunities and responsibilities for civic involvement and the skills to be an effective citizen.
The House passed SB 157, legislation to make clear all substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy, and that carriers properly notify consumers of their rights, including the right to appeal and the right to access services out-of-network at the same cost as in-network. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord) offered the following comments after the bill was passed by unanimous consent:
“To make progress on our opioid and mental health crises, it is critically important that the New Hampshire Insurance Department finish its network adequacy rules, and promptly complete and make public its analysis of insurance carrier treatment of persons with mental health impairments,” said Senator Feltes, prime sponsor of the bill. “In the meantime, SB 157 makes it abundantly clear that substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy analyses. It also helps make sure consumers and their families know where to turn to for help, including when critical services are not available in their network. The first number many folks call when struggling to find mental health or substance use disorder services is the number on the back of their insurance card. SB 157 ensures that the right information is provided at the right time.”