Legislative Update May 6

Week of May 6th – May 10th

House Session Wednesday, May 8th and (possibly) Thursday May 9th.

BILL: SB 263 Relative to Anti-Discrimination for Students in Public Schools

STATUS: The Education Committee voted 11-7 OTP/A (amendment #1690h), and with such a close vote we have a chance to overturn the majority report in the house.

CORNERSTONE POSITION: OPPOSED. No one wants invidious discrimination in schools. As the bill is currently written, however, it poses more questions than solutions. See Cornerstone’s bill commentary here

  • The bill includes “gender identity” as a protected class under anti-discrimination policy. There’s no age limit on that. If a school employee were to address a six-year-old by a pronoun consistent with the child’s biological sex and not with the child’s adopted “gender identity,” SB 263 would open the door to lawsuits. Do we want a state law that forces the courts to become “pronoun police”?
  • The bill only applies to discrimination by schools, not individual students. A student being bullied by a fellow student because of gender identity, religion, or any other reason mentioned in anti-discrimination law would not be protected by SB 263.
  • Any student who is denied the opportunity to play on the sports team of his/her choice on the grounds of being transgender (i.e. a male identifying as female being denied a place on a women’s sports team) would be able to sue the school and school district under SB 263. 

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Urge your reps to support the committee minority recommendation of ought to pass with amendment #1804h. Saying “vote OTP/A” isn’t enough, since there are two different amendments, only one of which is acceptable. The minority’s amendment would change the bill to a study committee.

BILL: SB 310, Casino Gambling

STATUS: The Ways and Means Committee voted 17-2 Inexpedient to Legislate. Now it goes to the full house. 

CORNERSTONE POSITION: OPPOSED. Casinos and video slot machines foster gambling addictions, breed crime, and usually have a net negative economic effect. Cornerstone has long held the position that gambling harms families, and research supports our position. We agree with the committee majority (excerpt from majority report): “Casino bills have been introduced every session since 1999; while there may have been a time when casinos made sense for New Hampshire, that time has come and gone.”
WHAT YOU CAN DO: Urge your reps to support the committee vote of “Inexpedient To Legislate”. 

BILL: HB 481, Legalizing and Regulating Recreational Marijuana

WHEN:  The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on this bill Tuesday, May 7th at 9:00 am State House Building, Rm 100.  

CORNERSTONE POSITION: OPPOSED. Enabling widespread use of recreational marijuana PRIVATIZES THE GAINS AND SOCIALIZES THE LOSSES of marijuana commercialization. HB 481 is wrong for New Hampshire. Learn more by viewing this video message from Neil Hubacker, Cornerstone’s Director of Strategic Alliances.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: It’s not too late to contact the committee and urge “Inexpedient To Legislate”.

BILL: SB 196 Relative to Non-Academic Surveys Administered by a Public School to its Students. 

WHEN: The House Education Committee will vote on four bills including SB 196 on Tuesday, May 7th at 10:00 am Legislative Office Building; Rm 207.

CORNERSTONE POSITION:  OPPOSED. SB 196 would roll back a 2017 law protecting student privacy and parental rights. Instead of giving parents the right to “opt-in” before a non-academic survey is administered to their children in school, it would switch to an “opt-out” policy – meaning that if a parent doesn’t actively say NO, the school will administer the survey to the student. Read more here.
WHAT YOU CAN DOContact the House Education Committee and urge them to vote “Inexpedient to Legislate”. Email HouseEducationCommittee@leg.state.nh.us. 

BILL: HB 291 Establishing a Committee to Study Certain Findings and Other Initiatives Regarding End-of-Life Care.

WHEN: The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on this bill Tuesday, May 7th at 10:15 am State House Building, Rm 100.  

CORNERSTONE POSITION:  OPPOSED. Cornerstone will oppose the bill until and unless it is amended to ensure that a study of palliative and hospice care will not provide cover for physician-assisted suicide. HB 291 is a dangerous bill.  
WHAT YOU CAN DOContact the Senate Judiciary and tell them that any end-of-life study must rule out the possibility of legalizing assisted suicide.

Update on Recent Legislative Action
Bills we have been following, that are now on to the next steps. Your voice still needed and still matters!

BILL: HB 383, Anti-Discrimination in Schools

STATUS: The New Hampshire Senate voted on HB 383 to re-refer HB 383 to the Education and Workforce Development Committee. That basically means the bill is on hold as committee members await House action on a substantially similar student nondiscrimination bill, SB 263.

CORNERSTONE POSITION: OPPOSED to HB 383. As with SB 263, the language is unclear. Furthermore, feelings about one’s own gender identity could become the basis of a claim of discrimination. It would be wrong to take the noble goal of nondiscrimination and use it to punish people who aren’t on board with gender politics.