This Week at the State House (Week of 5/27/24)

This Week at the State House (Week of 5/27/24)

Last week was an important one for the New Hampshire legislature - both the House and Senate met to cast final votes on hundreds of bills. While some New Futures priority bills are heading to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law, this is not the case for all bills.

To become a law, a bill must be passed in the same form by both the House and Senate before it is sent to the Governor. Many bills that have been amended need to go back to either the House or Senate, where they originated. There, lawmakers can vote either to pass the bill with amendment (concur), kill it, or work through differences in a Committee of Conference.

The House and Senate are expected to host sessions this week to vote on the amended bills.

Learn more about where bills are heading below:

Headed Back to the House for Concurrence

Resources for Child Care Centers: Last week, the House was one vote short of passing SB 596. Recognizing the critical need for this legislation, the Senate added language from SB 596 as an amendment to HB 1202. This amendment would still provide additional funding to child care centers caring for children with extra behavioral or developmental needs through the New Hampshire Child Care Scholarship program. Now, the House of Representatives will vote to concur with the Senate’s amendment on HB 1202. Email key members of the House of Representatives to urge them to concur.

Cannabis Commercialization: HB 1633, as amended by the Senate, meets many of New Futures’ Principles for Responsible Cannabis Policy, including an increase to 20% of cannabis revenue designated for substance misuse prevention, treatment, and recovery funding; strong protections for kids; and sound public health policy. However, the Senate-amended bill does fall short on social justice principles. The bill keeps criminal penalties for possession until 2026 and does not have opportunities or programs for the communities impacted by the war on drugs. The House of Representatives will vote on whether to concur or non-concur with the Senate’s amendment. If the House chooses to non-concur, they can request a “committee of conference” and attempt further negotiations with Senators.

Supporting Development of Recovery Housing: HB 1521, as originally introduced, would expand access to recovery housing in New Hampshire by helping cities and towns develop recovery housing resources. Unfortunately, the Senate passed an amended version of the bill that would make it more difficult to develop recovery houses in some communities.

Oversight of Substance Use Treatment System: SB 495 aimed to improve New Hampshire’s substance use treatment system by strengthening patient protections and ensuring high-quality services. Although SB 495 did not advance this session, components of this legislation were added to another bill that is advancing in the state legislature, HB 1079. HB 1079 originated in the House and was amended by the Senate to incorporate pieces of SB 495.

Headed Back to the Senate for Concurrence

Child Care for Child Care Workers: SB 404 as amended by the House of Representatives would provide child care workers with access to the New Hampshire Child Care Scholarship program as part of a six-month pilot program. This bill heads back to the Senate for concurrence.

Growing the Health Care Workforce: SB 403 aims to increase access to care by creating voluntary certification for Community Health Workers (CHWs). Voluntary certification would provide a clear career path and greater financial stability for these frontline health workers.

RSV Immunization: SB 559 would ensure access to the RSV immunization for New Hampshire children. This bill doesn’t make the immunization mandatory; it simply removes financial barriers for families who choose to get it.

Treatment Services in NH’s Criminal Justice System: SB 508 would increase access to substance use and mental health screening and treatment for individuals in New Hampshire's criminal justice system. This would help them receive the treatment services they need, reduce criminal recidivism, and help New Hampshire overcome the ongoing addiction and mental health crises. The House passed the bill with an unrelated amendment, so the bill is going back to the Senate for concurrence.

Ending Hunger for Older Adults and Children: SB 499 would help feed NH’s older adults, people living with disabilities, and children. Last week, the House passed a version of the bill that helps older adults access SNAP benefits and keeps funding for New Hampshire’s participation in Summer EBT, a federal program that feeds hungry kids during the summer.

Headed to the Governor

The following bills were passed by the House of Representatives and are now heading to the Governor’s desk:

Insurance Coverage Mandate for Youth Mental Health Services: SB 411 would create a committee to study emergency mental health services for youth in New Hampshire. These services include wraparound services, behavioral or mental health crisis assessments, crisis intervention services, crisis stabilization services, intensive in-home services, residential treatment services, intensive structured outpatient programs, parent and youth peer support services, and partial hospitalization programs. These services are critical to ensuring that the needs of New Hampshire's most vulnerable children are met.

Preventing Childhood Lead Exposure: SB 399 would help families access lead testing by removing financial barriers. This would help protect Granite State children, who are at the highest risk for lead poisoning, from the harmful impacts of lead exposure.

Banning Hemp-Derived THC Products: SB 505 would permanently ban hemp-derived THC products known as delta-8, delta-9, and delta-10. These dangerous and unregulated products were sold in NH due to a legal loophole, until a 2023 law banned them for one year.

The following bills were passed by the Senate and are now heading to the Governor’s desk:

Anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation: On Wednesday, the Senate voted along party lines to pass HB 396, which means FOUR anti-LGBTQ+ bills are heading to Governor Sununu's desk after passing both the NH Senate and the NH House of Representatives. The Governor has two options - sign these bills into law, or veto them to protect the rights of LGBTQ+ kids. It’s critical we ask Governor Sununu to veto anti-LGBTQ+ bills and keep New Hampshire inclusive and welcoming for everyone.

Learn more about the bills:

  • Discrimination in Public Spaces: HB 396 would allow for discrimination against transgender people by banning them from using restrooms or locker rooms and participating in sports that align with their preferred gender identity. Bans such as these prohibit transgender youth from participating in typical daily activities and make them feel unwelcome in their communities, which leads to poorer mental health outcomes.
  • Sports Ban for Transgender Girls: HB 1205 would ban transgender girls from playing on school sports teams that align with their gender identity at public middle and high schools. It is unclear how this bill would be enforced, which could lead to intrusive and damaging inquisitions on any student-athlete.
  • Censorship in Schools: HB 1312 attempts to silence discussions of gender and sexuality in the classroom by implementing a two-week advance notice of any curriculum including those topics. When LGBTQ+ youth feel support, acceptance, and open representation within their homes, schools and communities, they have much better mental health, educational and social outcomes.
  • Restricting Access to Medical Care for Transgender Teens: HB 619, as amended, would ban gender-affirming surgery for transgender youth and prohibit doctors from referring care for transgender youth to out-of-state doctors. Transgender youth, like all youth, have the best chance to thrive when they are supported and can get the doctor-prescribed medical care they need when they need it. Gender-affirming care is evidence-based and supported by medical authorities like the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

Bills not Advancing:

Restricting Access to Medical Care for Transgender Teens: The Senate voted to table HB 1660, meaning it will not advance this session. HB 1660 would have banned Medicaid insurance plans from covering some types of gender-affirming care for transgender youth. While this bill will not advance, a bill banning gender-affirming surgeries and out of state referrals for all transgender youth, regardless of health insurance provider, is headed to the Governor’s desk. Email the Governor to urge him to veto this bill and others that target LGBTQ+ youth.

To check in on the status of all our priority bills, visit our Current Legislation page and select an issue you care about!

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