New Hampshire Legal Assistance

Helping to balance the scales of justice for everyone since 1971.

Crossover Report 2018

Posted Mar 30, 2018

March 22 marked crossover, the day when all bills still under consideration in the New Hampshire Legislature cross from one chamber to the other.  NHLA advocates across all practice areas have been involved with various legislation that could harm – or help – low-income residents in New Hampshire. Our efforts have included a wide array of partners including clients, other non-profits, and state agencies.

 

Below is an overview of some bills that NHLA advocates successfully worked to advance in the first half of the session, and what’s next for each of them:

 

  • HB 1216 related to Property Taxes:  NHLA worked with the sponsor of the bill, Representative Belanger, to add a provision that protects homeowners who are eligible for abatement or deferral of their property taxes, where a third party might have made tax payments. Current Committee: Public and Municipal Affairs
  • HB 1637, related to School Discipline: NHLA, along with the juvenile justice coalition, worked to get this bill introduced. While the bill is not prescriptive in terms of the standards individual school districts must set, it will require school districts to go through the process of considering what types of offenses truly warrant school exclusion and set clear policies. This will provide better transparency for families.  Research shows that out-of-school suspensions are directly correlated with future suspensions and future involvement with the criminal justice system. Current Committee: Education
  • HB 1673, related to property taxes: HB 1673 proposes to lower the interest rate on late and delinquent property tax payments. Current rates were set in the 1980s and are  double or sometimes triple prevailing rates.   This puts an added burden on people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Current Committee: Ways and Means
  • HB 1774, related to Parenting plans: This was requested by the study committee on parental rights and responsibilities established in 2016, on which NHLA actively participated.  The bill would require parenting plans to include a detailed parenting schedule, revises factors for determining the best interests of the child, and amends the statutory criteria governing relocation.  Current Committee: Judiciary

  • HB 559, related to Energy Efficiency: HB 559 would increase the amount of funding available for energy efficiency programs. In particular, it increases money going to support low-income weatherization projects from the current 15% to a minimum of 35%. This will greatly increase the number of families that can be assisted with weatherization which lowers household energy costs by up to 30%.  By reducing utility bills, low income residents can afford other basic necessities, avoid evictions and foreclosures and reduce reliance on welfare programs. Current Committee: Finance
  •  HB 1807, related to Elder Exploitation Protections: NHLA helped draft this legislation, which would expand the circumstances for when a person can be criminally liable for exploitation. Establishes protective orders which provide a user friendly and affordable method for victims to obtain relief not currently available. Current Committee: Health and Human Services
  • HB 1319, related to Gender Identity Non-Discrimination: HB 1319 prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. NHLA specifically advocated for protections as part of our fair housing project. We are working with a broad coalition of non-profits, businesses, and families to secure final passage of this important bill.  Current Committee: Judiciary
  • Senate Hearing: TBD


Also alive, and passed the Senate and now before the House:


  • SB 313, Reauthorizing the New Hampshire Health Protection Plan, also known as Medicaid Expansion: This bill focuses on reauthorizing Medicaid expansion for another five years with some modifications to the system structure. NHLA is supportive of Medicaid Expansion, but does not agree with the addition of work requirements that is in this bill.


 NHLA also participated in several efforts to prevent legislation that would have potentially harmed our client population. Our advocates led a broad coalition of low-income housing advocates to successfully kill a bill that would have doubled the amount a landlord could charge as security deposit.   We also coordinated various poverty and hunger groups to testify against two bills that if passed would have changed the work requirements for SNAP (food stamps).   We worked with partners including the NH Civil Liberties Union to defeat several bills that would have restricted access to gender transition services.  We also collaborated with the NH Coalition Against Domestic And Sexual Violence on a couple of potentially problematic bills related to protective orders. 

Thank you for supporting our work giving voice to low-income New Hampshire residents in the halls of the State House!