Legislative Update - week of 4/16/18

Legislative Update - week of 4/16/2018 
This week, both the House and the Senate will be in session on Thursday to vote on bills. Committee hearings are also scheduled throughout the week.

Coakley Landfill Update

Last week, the Coakley Landfill Group and the City of Portsmouthbegan restricting access to documents previously accessible under a Right to Know request by myself, the Portsmouth Herald, and other Seacoast area legislators. A court date to try to obtain access to ALL of the documents was postponed and will take place next week. Meanwhile, in an Op-Ed in the Portsmouth Herald,Portsmouth City Manager John Bohenko continued his campaign to dodge responsibility. While Bohenko argues that groundwater migrating off the site is “safe”, Coakley neighbors are having none of it and continue to ask the City of Portsmouth to end the city’s opposition to remediating contamination at the site. Over the weekend, Sen. Dan Innis also turned up the heat by pointing out that Portsmouth city officials are looking out for their own interests while failing to address an obvious conflict of interest. Under the EPA Consent Decree, the city has a responsibility to act in the best interest of people in towns affected by the contamination. But Portsmouth, whose residents weren’t exposed to PFCs, seems mainly interested in trying to minimize costs for taxpayers. While no one wants to spend public money unnecessarily, there is strong evidence that more waiting will only translate into more exposure for people living in the area. We also now know that Portsmouth is also responsible for paying back a huge amount of money to the federal government if no treatment system is ever built on the site. The bottom line is that while sometimes it seems like there are no good choices when it comes to Coakley, simply maintaining the status quo is the worst choice possible. Avoiding the cost of a clean-up may save money in the short run. But the final cost will likely be much more over time--especially when you factor in the cost of illness averted and lives potentially saved. Meanwhile, HB 1766--the bill I’m sponsoring that requires an immediate cleanup of the site--continues to work its way through the state Senate with more news to come this week or next.

Last Week at the State House

  • A bill intended to change state residency requirements to make it tougher and more expensive for out-of-state college students to vote continues to make its way through the legislature. Hundreds of students and voting rights activists turned out at a Senate hearing to oppose HB 1264. This is one of a series of voter suppression bills introduced by the GOP majority this session that I am strongly opposing. It looks like there may be enough votes to pass this bill as well as an identical bill in the Senate (SB 373). Governor Sununu promised to veto both months ago,but has been silent since.

  • A bill I’m co-sponsoring with other Seacoast area legislators that would require the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to set ambient groundwater standards for two types of PFAS contaminants was unanimously approved by a Senate Committee. It now heads to the House Finance Committee.SB 309 has support on both sides of the aisle and should make it to the governor’s desk for signature soon.

This Week at the State House

On Thursday, several bills I’m sponsoring or co-sponsoring are up for votes in the state Senate:

  • HB 1592 will be voted on in the full Senate after receiving a unanimous Ought to Pass recommendation from a Senate committee. During last week’s public hearing, two Keene State environmental services majors--Allen Chague and Ethan Carr--gave powerful testimony that tougher arsenic standards in water mean fewer health issues for kids and pregnant moms. Lowering the arsenic drinking water level by one-half would also lower the incidence of bladder cancers by approximately one half in New Hampshire.

  • HB 1356 gets a full Senate vote after a strong endorsement from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  It would require the Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a data sharing protocol regarding health and environmental information collected by each agency.

  • The Senate will also vote on HB 1807, This much-need bill makes it easier for outside parties to obtain protective orders to safeguard the health and financial well-being of elderly, disabled, or impaired adults.

 

IMPORTANT!!! Also Coming Up This Week

  • HB 1319: On Monday at 1:30 p.m. in Room 100 of the State House, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a public hearing on #TransBill2018. This much-needed bill would explicitly protect transgender Granite Staters from unfair treatment in housing, employment, and public places like restaurants, hotels, and doctors offices. There are a pre-hearing rally and news conference at 12:30 p.m.

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Kimberly Sychterz
Legislative Update - week of 4/09/18

Dear Friend,

This week, both the House and the Senate will be in session on Thursday to vote on bills. Committee hearings are also scheduled throughout the week.


Coakley Landfill Update

Last week, a delegation from Portsmouth traveled to Concord testify against HB 1766--a bill I’m co-sponsoring that would force the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to order the Coakley Landfill Group to clean up PFC contamination on the site. While I’m disappointed that Mayor Blalock and the City of Portsmouth have decided to oppose an immediate clean-up of the site, I will continue to press for what is in the best interest of the families and communities near the site.The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee will send its recommendation on the bill to the full Senate soon. I expect it to be amended, but chances for passage--and action at Coakley--are possible. Meanwhile, Right to Know Requests by the Portsmouth Herald, myself, and other Seacoast Legislators have started to lead to interesting revelations about the City of Portsmouth’s management practices when it comes to Coakley. These led the Portsmouth Herald to publish a blistering editorial criticizing the city’s handling of the situation. In response, City Attorney and the Coakley Landfill Group Executive Board Chairman Robert Sullivan began restricting access to documents under our Right to Know request. Even if there’s nothing to hide, the appearance of a cover-up is not a good look for the City of Portsmouth. It’s also wasn’t very good news to the dozens of local residents who came out to an EPA-hosted public meeting on Thursday in Greenland, only to hear that current EPA plans only call for more testing and monitoring of the site with no cleanup of the hazardous chemicals anywhere on the horizon.

On Tuesday, I’ll be going to court with other Seacoast area legislators to try to obtain access to ALL of the documents held by the Coakley Landfill Group--including the ones withheld last week as well as documents related to private parties responsible for contamination at the site.


Last Week at the State House

Bills to fund Medicaid Expansion and a new state program to provide work and family medical insurance were approved and happily move on to the next step.

Additionally, two bills I cosponsored were passed and forwarded to the governor for his signature which include: HB1281 (a bill that requires the Governor to establish an executive order registry), SB574 (clarifies the reimbursement period for which a parent or guardian may be required to reimburse the state for services provided in a juvenile court proceeding).

My HB1446, that establishes September as Childhood Cancer Prevention Month, passed the House and Senate and will now go to the Governor.  I wrote this bill so that each September we pause and remember that children in our state have died from cancer. Much of my legislative work encourages the state to set more protective environmental standards so we can lessen environmental exposures and prevent cancer in our children.


This Week at the State House

Hearings and votes are scheduled on several bills I’m sponsoring or co-sponsoring.

HB 1592 will receive a public hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, April 10 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 103 of the State House. This bill has already been approved in the House and would require the commissioner of the Department of Environmental Services to set lower limits for arsenic contamination in drinking water. Arsenic can occur naturally in groundwater or can be released as a result of pollution. It is a known environmental trigger for bladder and lung cancers. Lowering the arsenic drinking water level by one-half would also lower the incidence of bladder cancers by approximately one half in New Hampshire.

On the same day at 1:15 p.m.,  HB 1356 will get a hearing from the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.  It would require the Department of Environmental Services and the Department of Health and Human Services to establish a data sharing protocol regarding health and environmental information collected by each agency. This bill has already been approved in the House and ensures that each agency knows what the other is doing when it comes to protecting public health from contaminated sites across the state.

On Thursday, two bills will be up for final votes after already being approved in the other chamber:

The House will vote on SB 309. This bill would require the Department of Environmental services to set state standards for perfluorochemicals in drinking water, ambient groundwater, and surface water. It would also establish the position of a state toxicologist.

The Senate will vote on HB 1807, This much-need bill makes it easier for outside parties to obtain protective orders to safeguard the health and financial well-being of elderly, disabled, or impaired adults.

Also Coming Up This Week

HB 1264: On Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. in Room 102 of the Legislative Office Building across from the State House, the Senate Election Law Committee will hold a public hearing on yet another bill that attempts to suppress the voting rights of college students. This time it’s by redefining who is eligible to vote. This bill is the “twin” of HB 372 and changes the meaning of “residency” in New Hampshire. It also eliminates the ability to vote as a “domiciled” voter. Both bills are opposed by student groups, the ACLU, and voting rights groups. Activists are planning a protest outside the building at 9:00 a.m. and a press conference is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. In a year when so many young people have been inspired to new levels of activism, HB 1264 and SB 372 are blatant attempts to trample on the rights of first-time voters. This self-destructive move only makes our state less attractive to young people. It gives them a reason either to never come to New Hampshire or to leave when their college days are over. The GOP majority will likely have the votes to force it through. Although Governor Sununu initially promised to veto both of these bills, he has been silent after expressing strong initial opposition. That’s why a good turnout at the hearing and the protest beforehand is critical. The governor must see that New Hampshire voters are ready to hold him to his word.

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Kimberly Sychterz
Legislative Update - week of 4/2/2018

This week is an extremely busy week in both chambers of the legislature. Both the House and the Senate will be in session on Thursday to vote on bills. Committee hearings are also scheduled throughout the week.

The upcoming week also marks the first full week that myself, Rep. Renny Cushing, Rep. Phil Bean, Rep. Mike Edgar, Attorney Paul Twomey, and former Portsmouth Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine will have access to the City of Portsmouth’s records concerning the Coakley Landfill Group as part of our Right to Know request. As the Portsmouth Herald reported on Sunday, an initial search on Friday has already revealed that $3.1 million of the $5.75 million provided by the federal government to pay for installation of a pump-and-treat system at the site was used instead spent to pay for a legal settlement with a contractor. This is outrageous and may be just the tip of the iceberg.

Monday night, the Portsmouth City Council is meeting and Coakley is likely to come up. That’s because on Tuesday, Portsmouth Mayor Jack Blalock is scheduled to travel to Concord to testify against a bill I’m cosponsoring that would force the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to order the Coakley Landfill Group to clean up the site. Last month, the Council in a 9-0 vote directed the mayor to oppose HB 1766 on legal grounds based on “guidance” from Coakley Landfill Group Executive Board member (and Portsmouth City Attorney) Robert Sullivan. Given recent revelations and more time to come up to speed on the importance of immediate action to families living near the site, I’m hopeful that the Mayor and the Council will reconsider their decision.

Coming up at the State House this week.

  • HB 1766 will receive a public hearing by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Tuesday, April 3 at 10:00 a.m. in Room 103 of the State House. This bill has already been approved in the House. If you think the families living near Coakley deserve to be able to stop living in fear of the water coming out of their taps, please come, sign in to support the bill, and consider testifying if you or a family member has been affected.
  • Earlier the same morning in front of the same committee, HB 485 will also receive a hearing. This bill contains several new measures to regulate and monitor contamination and establishes a state toxicologist position in the Department of Environmental Services.

  • Three bills I’m sponsoring will come up for votes in the Senate on Thursday, including a bill to establish September as Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

Also Coming Up This Week

  • SB 313: After being approved 21-0 by the House Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee, the bill to renew Medicaid Expansion heads for a vote in the full House on Thursday. I will support it. It’s critical that nothing get in the way of renewing a program that 50,000 Granite Staters depend on for their healthcare.

  • HB 628: After being passed in the House, the Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing on Thursdayafternoon on the Family Medical Leave Insurance bill. This bill is very important to the security of working families.

  • SB 593: A bill to repeal the death penalty repeal bill that passed the Senate will be heard by the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday.

Best,
- Mindi

P.S. Did You Know? You can view the House when in session, by selecting "LIVE" in the "General Court News and Hot Links" box at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Recordings are posted soon after each session on the Streaming Media page http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/media/default.htm.

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Kimberly Sychterz
Legislative Update - week of 3/26/18

Dear Friend,

This week, bills that were approved in the House or the Senate “cross-over” for consideration in the other chamber. When they do, a new round of committee hearings and work sessions begin. To give committees time to consider each bill, neither the House nor the Senate will meet this week. However, this will be an extremely busy week for committee work. Hearings and work sessions will be held on several key bills I’m sponsoring orcosponsoring.

  • Two environmental bills I’m cosponsoring that have already passed in the Senate will receive public hearings on Tuesday, March 27.
    • SB 309 would require the Department of Environmental Services to establish groundwater and surface water standards for the presence of perfluorochemicals (PFCs).
    • SB 240 would require parties responsible for contamination of wells to monitor those wells to ensure contamination levels don’t exceed ambient groundwater standards. If they do, it would compel them to provideran alternate source of clean water.
  • Also on Tuesday, several of my bills which have already passed in the House will receive hearings in the Senate. Two of the most important:
    • HB 1315 would stop university system funds from being spent to oppose the formation of unions and collective bargaining units.
    • HB 1565 would require the commissioner of the Department of Corrections to apply to the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospitals seeking to accreditation of the the secure psychiatric unit of the state prison as a psychiatric hospital.  We need to stop warehousing mentally ill criminals and start getting them the treatment they need.
    • HB1807- relative to elderly abuse on Tuesday at 1:30pmin room 101 of the legislative office building.
    • HB1281 establishing an executive order registry on Thursday at 9:30am in room 103 of the State House.

 
Also, worth noting is HB 1766--a bill I sponsored that requires the Department of Environmental Services to order the Coakley Landfill Group to clean up contaminated wells--has yet to be scheduled for a hearing in the Senate. However, the City of Portsmouth has announced that it will send Mayor Jack Blalock to the Senate hearing to testify against it for “legal” reasons. If you or someone you know of has been personally impacted by contamination at Coakley, please make plans to come to the hearing once it’s been scheduled and testify in favor of the bill. The alternative if this bill fails to pass could be years of additional waiting for the EPA to order action to be taken at Coakley.

Contribute $27 or more by March 31 and get a free bumper sticker!

Other Bills Coming Up This Week

  • SB-313: Medicaid Expansion executive session will be held on Wednesday 3/28 at 2pm.  This is a really important bill that would take health insurance away from 50,000 people if not passed.  There are problems with the bill that the committee will try to address.
  • SB 164: The House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee will meet on Wednesday for a hearing on a bill that would establish a commission to study repealing of statute of limitations for sexual assault. In the year of the #MeToo movement, this bill puts the needs of victIms first and is a solid first step in ensuring that more offenders are held accountable for their crimes.
  • SB 525:  The House Education committee will also meet on Wednesday to consider a terrible bill that passed the Senate that would end adult education financial assistance to students who are not legal residents. This bill targets immigrants on their way to citizenship who enroll in these courses to improve their language skills and job skills. It’s nothing less than a bill that seeks to kill the American Dream.
  • SB 527: The House Election Law committee holds a hearing on this bill on Thursday. It makes the already difficult process of absentee voting even more difficult. It would likely result in more ballots being disqualified and I will oppose it when it comes to the House for a vote.

 
Recap: Week of March 19-23
 
Ups

  • In a big victory for working families, a bill to create a voluntary, state-administered Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance program (HB 628) was approved by the House. It is now way to the Senate.
  • Two toxic anti-choice bills were stopped. HB 1721 would have criminalized advice from doctors that could be perceived as encouraging a woman to have an abortion. HB 1707, which would have established a mandatory 24 hour waiting period before woman can obtain an abortion, was sent to Interim Study--effectively killing it. A third bill that would have dealt a severe blow to women’s reproductive freedom was tabled but bears watching because it could come back later in the session. HB 1680 would outlaw abortions any time after the moment when a fetus could be subjectively considered “viable” outside the womb--with no exceptions, even in situations where the health of the mother is in jeopardy.
  • HB 1592 was approved by the full House and now crosses over for consideration in the Senate. One of many environmental bills I’ve sponsored or cosponsored in this session, this one requires the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to update standards for acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic contamination is one of the primary causes of bladder cancer.

 
Downs

  • In a week when many of us took part in the March for Our Lives to end gun violence, the Senate killed an amendment to a school safety bill that would have given local school boards the ability to control the presence of firearms on school grounds. I also voted against another bill that unfortunately passed the full House that makes it legal to carry loaded firearms on snowmobiles and ATVs. (What could go wrong?)
  • A bill I proposed to require labeling bottled water with annual test results for PFCs, MBTE, and arsenic (HB 1632) was killed. Chalk up another victory for the lobbyists and big money at the expense of consumers.
  • Also killed was HB 1610. This pro-consumer bill would have required property sellers to disclose the presence of environmentally hazardous sites to buyers within one mile of the property.
  • Another bill I proposed was tabled by the full House and is likely dead for this session. HB 1701 would have required the Coakley Landfill Group to open its records under the state right to know law.
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Kimberly Sychterz
Legislative Update - week of 3/18/18

Both the House and the Senate will be in session on WednesdayMarch 21 and Thursday March 22.  Votes that were delayed last week on three of my bills will take place in the House. Another bill I’m cosponsoring which has already passed in the House will be up for a vote in the Senate.

  • HB 1632: My bottled water labeling bill requires manufacturers of bottled water to have it analyzed at least annually for perfluorinated chemicals, MBTE, and arsenic to ensure it is safe for drinking. Test results would also need to be posted on the label.
  • HB 1701: Taxpayers have a right to know how the Coakley Landfill Groups spent $27 million over three decades while never spending a dime to remove PFCs from the water despite being given over $5 million from the Department of Defense for that purpose. This bill requires the Coakley Landfill Group to open its records under the state Right-To-Know Law. This request would not only cover public entities, such as the City of Portsmouth but also private companies that hauled or dumped ash, waste, and trash at Coakley.
  • HB 1610: This bill requires property sellers to provide notice to buyers of environmentally hazardous sites within one mile of the property. It also makes them disclose water test results if a source of MTBE or perfluorinated chemicals is identified within one mile of the property.
  • SB 1592: This one is back for a second vote in the full House after some tweaking by the Executive Department and Administration Committee. It would require the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to update standards for acceptable levels of arsenic in drinking water. Arsenic contamination can occur naturally, but it also can be the result of pollution. It is one of the primary causes of bladder cancer.

 
Also Coming Up This Week
Several bills that I am sponsoring or co-sponsoring will be heard in the House and Senate Committees this week:

  • HB1446, Relative to Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. This bill would automatically make September Childhood Cancer awareness month in New Hampshire. This bill will be heard at9:30 am in the Senate Public and Municipal Affairs Committee in room 102 of the Legislative Office Building.
  • SB240, relative to the monitoring and treatment of contaminated wells. This bill would set some criteria for continued monitoring for chemicals. The bill will be heard on 03/20/2018 at 10 AM in the Legislative Office Building, room 303.
  • SB574, this bill clarifies the reimbursement period for which a parent or guardian may be required to reimburse the state for services provided in a juvenile court proceeding. This bill will be heard on 03/27/2018 at 2 PM in room 206 of the Legislative Office Building.

 
Thursday is the last day any new bills can be considered in the House, so hundreds of bills will be up for votes.

  • On Wednesday, the House will be voting again on a family and medical leave insurance program. HB 628. was approved in February but was sent to the Finance Committee to work out the funding mechanism. But unfortunately, the bill comes back with an amendment recommendation from the Majority that radically changes the bill by turning it into a pricey private insurance program. I will oppose this amendment. But I plan to support a second amendment offered by the minority which clarifies funding without changing the intent of the original bill.
  • Three anti-choice bills originally scheduled to be voted on in the House last week were moved to Thursday of this week because of the jammed calendar. These bills would sharply curtail reproductive freedom in New Hampshire.
    • The good news is that a bill that would criminalize communication between a woman seeking an abortion and doctor if the doctor is deemed to encourage the woman to obtain an abortion (HB 1721) came out of committee with strong recommendations for the full legislature to kill it.
    • Another (HB 1707) establishing a mandatory 24 hour waiting period before a woman can obtain an abortion has been recommended for Interim Study.
    • One of the most restrictive--HB 1680--would outlaw abortions any time after the moment when a fetus could be considered “viable” outside the womb. There is no exception even in situations where the health of the mother is in jeopardy.
  • Also this week, my committee will hear the Senate Medicaid Expansion bill (SB 313) will receive a public hearing in Representatives Hall of Tuesday, March 20 at 10:00 a.m. in Representatives Hall. It’s critical the House and Senate reach agreement on the passage of a final bill because over 50,000 Granite staters depend on it for their healthcare.
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Kimberly Sychterz
Legislative Update - week of 3/11/2018 

This week the full House meets at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 15th. Three of my bills will be up for floor votes.

  • HB 1632: My bottled water labeling bill requires manufacturers of bottled water to have it analyzed at least annually for perfluorinated chemicals, MBTE, and arsenic to ensure it is safe for drinking. Test results would also need to be posted on the label. This bill came out of committee with an inexpedient to legislate or “kill” recommendation.  I have pulled it off consent so that I can speak to the importance of protecting our tap water in NH since bottled water is less regulated than tap water!
  • HB 1592: My original bill set a specific standard for the maximum acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water that matched a level adopted by several other states. But this amended version requires the NH Department of Environmental Services to set the level. DES has already admitted the current standard is too high and a reduction would have a direct impact on certain forms of cancer, such as bladder cancer and lung cancer.
  • HB 1701: Taxpayers have a right to know how the Coakley Landfill Groups spent $27 million over three decades while never spending a dime to install a water capture and treatment system water despite being given over $5.25M from the Department of Defense and about $5M from the state for that purpose. This bill requires the Coakley Landfill Group to open its records under the state Right to Know Law. This request would not only cover public entities, such as the City of Portsmouth which is already subject to the right to know--but also private companies that hauled or dumped hazardous waste and trash at Coakley.

 
Also Coming Up This Week

Four anti-choice bills originally scheduled to be voted on last week were moved to this week because of Thursday’s snowstorm. These bills would sharply limit a women’s access to reproductive healthcare in New Hampshire. The good news is that two of the worst--HB 1721 and HB 1787--came out of committee with strong recommendations for the full legislature to kill them. HB 1680 is the worst of the lot and is recommended for Interim Study. This bill would outlaw abortions any time after the moment when a fetus could be considered “viable” outside the womb. There are no exceptions even in situations where the health of the mother is in jeopardy.  Email all House Representatives about these bills! Here’s what you can say:

  • Vote against the committee recommendation of OTP on HB1680-FN (An Act relative to abortions after viability) and instead vote in favor to kill the bill.

  •  Vote in favor of the committee recommendation to interim study HB1707-FN (An Act relative to information regarding abortion).

  • Vote in favor of the committee recommendation to kill HB 1721-FN (An Act relative to coercive abortions) and HB1787-FN (An Act relative to the rights of conscience for medical professionals).

The House Finance Committee will hold an Executive Session on SB 193 on Wednesday where a vote is likely. After passing in both the Senate and the House, funding mechanisms are being debated in committee regarding this toxic bill which uses money from public school budgets to fund private and religious education. This bill is a pet project of Americans for Prosperity, which is supporting similar irresponsible bills in states across the country.
 
Recap: Week of March 5-9
Ups

  • HB 1319--which bans gender discrimination in New Hampshire passed the House! The gallery exploded into cheers when the overwhelming results of the roll call vote were announced. The victory of HB 1319 represented a clean sweep for transgender rights after another horrible bill failed that would have prohibited gender reassignment treatment for minors.
  • There was also huge news for families impacted by the Coakley Landfill Superfund site. My bill requiring the NH Department of Environment Services to compel the Coakley Landfill group to clean up contamination at the site (HB 1766) was approved 207-118. It now moves onto the Senate. Another bill I’m cosponsoring (SB 309) that requires the Department of Environmental Services to set state standards for PFCs in drinking water was also approved in the Senate.
  • We also won one for the rights of workers to organize. The legislature approved my bill (HB 1315) which bans the state university system funds from being spent to oppose the formation of unions and collective bargaining units.

Downs

  • An effort by Rep. Lee Oxenham to convince the House to suspend the rules to allow new legislation banning bump stocks as well the sale of long guns to people under age 21 to be considered in this session was defeated in a tone-deaf vote by NRA supporters.
  • Another head-shaker was the rejection of a bill that would have required modern radiation monitoring equipment to be installed along our seacoast. The seacoast is wedged between the concrete-crumbling Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant and nuclear submarines at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard--and the nearest modern monitoring equipment located 50 miles away in Concord--this is another short-sighted decision that will likely be revisited next year.
  • In the ongoing GOP war against voting rights, the legislature approved a bill that changes the definition of residency and would force voters using out-of-state licenses for identification to register cars they own in NH within 60 days of voting. This is a naked attempt to disenfranchise out-of-state college students who have a legal right to vote under our state constitution as long as they are domiciled here.
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Kimberly Sychterz
Legislative Update - week of 3/4/2018 

The upcoming week is a busy one for the New Hampshire House. We will be in session Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Hundreds of bills will be voted on, including 19 bills that I am sponsoring or co-sponsoring.

Here are some highlights:

  • My bill to compel the state Department of Environmental Services (DES) to force the Coakley Landfill Group to install a groundwater capture and treatment system at the Coakley Superfund site (HB 1766) will be voted on by the full House following a committee recommendation along party lines to kill it. If you haven’t been following this one closely, over the weekend the Portsmouth Herald broke a story that the federal government provided over $5 million to build a water extraction treatment system years ago at the site to remove contaminants that was never built. If no treatment system is built, all of that money will need to be paid back. We have a known cancer cluster and families in the area are terrified. What are we waiting for? Astonishingly, Mike Wimsatt of NHDES opposed the bill even though he sent a letter to legislators in July stating that the surface water contamination coming from Coakley dump is unacceptable.
  • House Bill 1701 is also coming to the floor this week.  The bill would require the Coakley Landfill Group, which is composed of certain municipalities and which is responsible for remediation at the Coakley Landfill, to submit to the department all records pertaining to the remediation. CLG has maintained its record are not subject to the right to know law.
  • Several of my bills which sought to create lower drinking water and surface water standards for perfluorinated chemicals were recommended inexpedient to legislate by Democrats and Republicans alike on the House Resources and Recreation Committee. House Republicans sponsored HB1101 and cut and pasted my legislation onto their bill.
  • House Bill 1591 was also voted inexpedient to legislate which would fill a gap in our rules that would give citizens exposed to toxins the right to sue parties in civil court I will be leading a floor fight on this bill because I think it is important to give people rights in this area when we have many large contaminated drinking water sources in our state. Mike Wimsatt of NHDES opposed the bill citing flimsy reasoning.
  • House Bill 1659 would establish a committee to study possible health and safety impacts of the alkali-silica reaction on the seacoast,” is sponsored by Rep. Renny Cushing, D-Hampton. The bill would have created a six-member committee of House and Senate members to “study the possible impact on the health and safety of the public from the alkali-silica reaction in the concrete of the Seabrook atomic plant,” and provide health and safety recommendations by the end of the year.
  • Not unexpectedly, my House Bill 1632 which would compel bottled water manufacturers to concentrations of arsenic, MTBE and perfluorinated chemicals on their labels was voted inexpedient to legislate.  This was heavily fought by bottled water industry including Coca-Cola.  I may pull it off consent just to have a conversation on the floor about the need to protect tap water since FDA regulations on bottled water are less strict.
  • Protecting the elderly and other vulnerable adults has been a top priority for me this session. HB 1807 is a bipartisan bill that would beef up legal protections for vulnerable adults and make it easier for the courts to intervene in situations of abuse.
  • Public money should never be spent trying to bust unions. UNH spent $240K to hire a premiere union-busting firm. HB 1315would prevent university funds from being spent to oppose the formation of unions and collective bargaining units.
  • There’s a strong chance that this week we’ll be well on our way to banning gender discrimination in New Hampshire. HB 1319comes up for a vote with an Ought to Pass recommendation and I am a co-sponsor of this bill.

 
Also This Week - Unfortunately, women's access to reproductive health care is under attack in Washington and in Concord. I find this ironic since it is Women's History Month and this week Thursday is International Women's Day.  In addition, the legislature will look at ways to prevent violence and transgender rights. 

  • On Tuesday, I will vote in favor of a motion by Rep. Lee Oxenham to suspend House rules so that a bill can be introduced on Wednesday that would 1) limit the sale of firearms to anyone under the age of 21 and 2) prohibit the sale of bump stocks. This is a critical piece of gun violence prevention legislation that NRA supporters in the legislature will be fighting hard to block.
  • Four anti-choice bills that would sharply curtail reproductive freedom in New Hampshire will also be up for votes. The good news is that two of the worst--HB 1721 and HB 1787--came out of committee with strong recommendations for the full legislature to kill them. But another has been recommended for Interim Study and one of the most restrictive--HB 1680-- would outlaw abortions any time after the moment when a fetus could be considered “viable” outside the womb. There is no exception even in situations where the health of the mother is in jeopardy. These are horrible bills and I'm hoping that HB1680 will be tabled immediately.
  • The battle continues this week as the GOP majority continues to try to chip away at voting rightsHB 1265 would require college students to meet stringent state residency requirements in order to vote--something that directly conflicts with our state constitution. I will vote against this bill as well as any other attempts to disenfranchise college students and other classes of voters.

 
Did You Know?
You can view the House when in session, by selecting "LIVE" in the "General Court News and Hot Links" box athttp://www.gencourt.state.nh.us. Recordings are posted soon after each session on the Streaming Media pagehttp://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/media/default.htm.

Do you like these emails?  Let us know.

Best,

- Mindi

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Kimberly Sychterz
We need your help!

Next week will be a really busy week in the State House, the NH House will take on important issues.  You can help us by telling your representatives how you want them to vote!

Here's how YOU CAN HELP (email: HReps@leg.state.nh.us)!

  • On Tuesday, March 6, tell all House Representatives  to vote in favor of a motion to suspend House rules so that a bill can be introduced on Wednesday, March 7 that would 1) limit the sale of firearms to anyone under the age of 21, 2) prohibit the sale of bump stocks. Tell them to vote in favor of the rules suspension and the bill introduced on Wednesday.

The House will also vote on four bills that are threats to women's reproductive health care. Tell representatives of the full House to:

  • Vote against the committee recommendation of OTP on HB1680-FN (An Act relative to abortions after viability) and instead vote in favor to kill the bill.

  • Vote in favor of the committee recommendation to interim study HB1707-FN (An Act relative to information regarding abortion).

  • Vote in favor of the committee recommendation to kill HB 1721-FN (An Act relative to coercive abortions) and HB1787-FN (An Act relative to the rights of conscience for medical professionals).

Other important bills where you can help include:

  • ****Tell Representatives to vote against the committee recommendation to kill HB1766 an act which tells New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to compel action from Coakley Landfill Group to do the right thing and clean up Coakley.

  • *****Tell Representatives to vote against the committee recommendation to kill HB1779 an act to install real-time radiation monitoring of air so New Hampshire residents know their exposure, if any.

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Kimberly Sychterz
Read the Latest

Legislative Update: 2/25/2018

The upcoming week is a light week in the NH House. However, while the full House won’t be in session, several of my bills will be debated in committee.

  • HB 1315: Would prohibit state universities from 1) spending funds to discourage employees from joining or forming a labor union and 2) taking disciplinary action against those who do.

  • HB 1764: Requires commissioner of the department of employment security to conduct an annual cost of living study using current economic data to estimate the minimum yearly cost of goods and services necessary for individuals and families to achieve and maintain economic self-sufficiency.

  • HB 1592: This bill requires the NH Department of Environmental Services to develop an ambient groundwater quality standard for arsenic

Recap: Week of Feb 19-23

Last week in the NH legislature, dozens of bills were voted on, including six  bills I sponsored or cosponsored.

 

One of the biggest disappointments was the rejection of a bill bill asking Congress to support a constitutional amendment to regulate the role of big money in elections and redraw legislative districts so they don't favor any political party. How are we ever going to get big money out of politics if our legislators lack the courage to even ask Congress to act? Another was the tabling of a bill that would have given employees of the legislature the right to unionize . Another head-shaker was the rejection of a bill establishing a committee to look into silica-alkalai deterioration at the crumbling Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant.

 

But there were some good moments too.

 

By a huge majority, the House approved a bill annulling convictions for possession 3/4 of an ounce of marijuana

or less that occurred before September 16, 2017. Anyone this applies to will need to petition a court for an annulment and pay a $100 fee. But assuming the Senate and the governor agree, this lets those convicted of this victimless crime to have it removed from their record.

  

In an encouraging vote that shows the NRA may finally be losing its death grip on our state, a bill that would have allowed handguns to be carried on university and community college campuses was thankfully defeated.

Four bills I’m sponsoring or cosponsoring were passed and now move on to the Senate:

  1. HB 1565 requires the psychiatric unit at the state prison be accredited as a psychiatric hospital. New Hampshire is one of the few states that allows people to be put into prison who haven’t committed a crime. This bill is a good first step to help  ensure they get the care the need.

  2. HB 1356 requires the department of environmental services and the department of health and human services to share data regarding health and environmental information collected by each agency. With so many environmental issues facing our state, I was surprised they don’t. So were a majority of my fellow legislators and now we’re on our way to fixing this.

  3. HB 1446 establishes September as childhood cancer awareness month in NH.

  4. HB 1282 requires the governor to post all executive orders made by the governor’s office on the governor’s website within 72 hours.

I also want to report that three of my bills (HB 1590, HB 1618, HB 1727) that would have set specific standards and required monitoring of perflourinated chemicals have been reported out as Inexpedient to Legislate. However, all three were incorporated--at least in part--as amendments to HB 1101, which recommends that the NH Department of Environmental services sets any standards.

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Kimberly Sychterz
Legislative update week of February 19th

Last week:

  • New Hampshire House says there’s no place for Hate in the Granite State: After a nasty attempt to table my Anti-Hate Resolution (HCR 13) the motion was summarily slapped down by a vote of 132-191. Then the full New Hampshire House of Representatives approved by a vote of 234 to 69. Representatives John Cloutier of Claremont and Latha Mangipudi of Nashua spoke about their experiences with hate in New Hampshire. The testimony was moving and I believe the passage of the Resolution is healing. The New Hampshire House has sent a statement to the world that we condemn hate crimes and any other form of conduct that constitutes racism, religious or ethnic bias, discrimination based on disability, age, marital or familial status, sexuality or gender discrimination, incitement to violence, or animus contrary to law. After 2017’s attempted lynching of a mixed race child in Claremont, this resolution sends a strong statement to the rest of the country that there is no room for hate in New Hampshire. 
  • One of my bills, HB1561, drew no less than 7 lobbyists flown in from across the country to testify against it this week in a hearing. The bill was to ban use of cancer-causing crumb rubber on children’s playing fields. The lobbyists who were flown in to oppose my bill represented the Synthetic Fill Company, Turf Council, and the Tire Industry Association. Three elected officials including myself and one resident testified in support.  We had no chance without strong advocacy.
  • Did you know that bottled water is less regulated than your tapwater?? Another bill of mine, HB1632, opposed by lobbyists was a consumer protection bill requiring bottled water companies to test for cancer causing PFCs, arsenic and MTBE, and include test results on labels. This bill was also heavily opposed by Coca Cola and the International Bottled Water Association. 
  • Transparency is the heart of Democracy right? Not in the New Hampshire House. HB1557 would have required legislative committee hearings be videotaped and streamed online (so citizens might have a chance to see the influence of lobbyists) was defeated.  It would also allow access to the elderly, sick, or disabled to access state government policy making. The bill was voted down on the floor by a vote of 236 to 96.
  • Another attack on women got thwarted last week. HB1511 intended to make a woman responsible for the death of a fetus at 8 weeks. Thanks to Representative Dan Eaton, this bill was tabled on a vote of 204 to 121

Next week several of my bills will be heard in committee:

  • On Tuesday, HB1766 to require the Coakley Landfill Group to remove contaminants from well water polluted by PFCs will be voted on in committee. Given 30 years of inaction by the EPA, this bill represents the best chance for quick action for families living near the landfill. The bill is one of four environmental bills I’m sponsoring that different committees will be discussing and possibly voting on.
  • Also on Tuesday, HB 1807 a bill I’m cosponsoring to protect our seniors will be heard in committee. This bill makes it easier for vulnerable people in abusive situations to get help without the need to notify the person who is abusing them.

On Thursday, the full House of Representatives will vote on a full slate of bills, including several I am cosponsoring:

  • HB 1565 would require the secure psychiatric unit at the state prison to be accredited as a psychiatric hospital. The would ensure that prisoners get the help they need instead of simply being warehoused.
  • HB 1446 would designate September as childhood cancer awareness month.
  • HB 1646 would require cell phone carriers to provide a monthly report of dropped calls in each zip code. Dropped calls are a huge issue in rural areas and at the beaches - better data will help consumers.

Also this week, the legislature will get its first look at a Senate bill to renew the New Hampshire Health Protection Program. Also known as Medicaid expansion, this bill would preserve healthcare for 50,000 people as well as much of the funding used for opioid treatment. A hearing will be held on the bill at 1:30 pm Tuesday in Representatives Hall.

 

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Kimberly Sychterz
Legislative update week of February 12, 2018

Hope you had a great weekend!  We were really busy in the North Country and on the Seacoast meeting and hearing from voters about what is important to them. If we didn't get to see you we hope to soon!

Last week, after I found someone to allow the House to reconsider HB587, the House narrowly passed the bill to the Senate that would ban damaging gay conversion therapy in our state by a vote of 179 to 171

We also put a big one in the win column as Governor Sununu signed a bill I cosponsored in the New Hampshire legislature that strengthens protections for children against lead contamination from paint and water. Another bill I cosponsored to provide funding to fight invasive aquatic species in our lakes and rivers was also approved in the House and moves onto the Finance Committee for review.

This week, two bills I'm cosponsoring are up for votes by the full house onFebruary 15th:

1. HCR 13 is a resolution that condemns hate crimes, incitements to violence, and other forms of discrimination, including sexuality or gender discrimination. Approval of this bill would send a strong message that there's no room for hate in New Hampshire, including our state legislature.

2. HB 1577 is a transparency bill that requires all meetings and sessions of committees of the House of Representatives to be recorded and made available on the Internet. Currently, only sessions of the full House and Senate are recorded and streamed.

Several of my bills are also working their way through House and Senate Committees this week:

1. HB1319 will be heard at 10 AM on Tuesday in Representatives Hall which is a bill to ban sexual and gender discrimination. Two weeks ago, hundreds of people showed up to tell their stories and offer support of this legislation.

2. HB 1632 will receive a hearing on Wednesday. This bill would require producers of bottled water analyzed at least annually for contaminants. Concentrations of any contaminants would also be required to be listed on the label. Last week, seven lobbyists showed up for a hearing to oppose my bill to ban crumb rubber from being used on playing fields. Expect a similar turnout for this one.

2. HB 1610 will receive a hearing on Tuesday. This bill requires property sellers to provide notice to buyers of environmentally hazardous sites within one mile of the property and to disclose water test results if a source of MTBE or perfluorinated chemicals is identified within one mile of the property. This bill protects buyers from unwittingly purchasing properties with contaminated water that has not been remediated.

3. SB240 will be heard by the Senate Finance committee on Thursday. It requires parties identified by the NH Department of Environmental Services as responsible for contamination to provide monitoring. If standards are exceeded they are also required to provide water treatment of access to an alternative source of water.

Also up for votes on Thursday by the full House are two bills that I strongly oppose:

1. HB 1511 would effectively ban abortions after 8 weeks. It also amends the fetal homicide bill passed in 2017 to remove immunity from criminal charges for acts committed by a pregnant woman relative to the fetus.

2. HB 438 would set aside negotiated provisions in collective bargaining agreements throughout the state. It is anti-union and a slap in the face to state employees, who have been without a contract for over 200 days and counting.


Hope you have a great week!

- Mindi

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Kimberly Sychterz