New Hampshire Democracy Report: April 22, 2019


It's baseball season, so a quote from slugger Hank Aaron is appropriate as we prepare ourselves for the second half of the 2019 legislative session:

You may not think you're going to make it. You may want to quit. But if you keep your eye on the ball, you can accomplish anything.”

It is critical that we keep our eye on the legislation we worked so hard to move forward in the beginning of the term, and keep the pressure on to ensure passage. Call your representatives; write a letter to the editor; show up for a hearing or vote; hold a sign.

Our legislators need to know that you've not taken your eye off the ball.


Crucial Votes Tuesday for SB 7 SMART Act Voter Registration and SB 8 Nonpartisan Redistricting Commission

Two important bills face committee votes this week in the House Election Law committee on Tuesday afternoon, 1 p.m, in room 308 of the LOB. The Senate's voting rights bill, the SB 7 SMART Act, funds changes to the New Hampshire DMV's software to allow voter registration when obtaining a driver's license or other business at the state agency. The SMART Act passed the Senate, 13-10. Supported by ODA

The SB 8 nonpartisan redistricting bill also faces a House committee vote immediately following SB 7. Because HB 706 has not yet been considered in the Senate, we expect SB 8 to be retained in deference to the slightly expanded HB 706, though the bills are quite comparable. However, it is still critical that your message of in support for HB 706 be sent to your Senator ASAP. Supported by ODA

House Election Law Votes Thursday on SB 106 Transparency Bill

SB106 revises a current statute, closing the loophole that allows groups to not to disclose their electioneering expenditures by restricting their Dark-Money-Defined.jpgadvocacy to communications that do not expressly say vote “for” or “against” a candidate. Open Democracy Action's Gordon Allen testified in a written statement,

This has allowed groups conducting large independent political campaigns to avoid registering with the secretary of state as “political advocacy organizations” as the law intended. These have been national groups conducting independent campaigns – estimated to spend millions on our NH primary and general elections. Because of this loophole, NH voters are being denied the right to know who these groups really are and how much they spend to defeat or elect their targeted candidates.”

Opposing testimony from Americans for Prosperity had been expected, but no one in testified in opposition of the bill. Open Democracy Action's Rick Bourdon, Bob Perry, Gordon Allen and Olivia Zink all testified in favor of the bill.

The amendment to the bill threw out some of the original language and set a threshold of $2500 of political communications or advertising at which the group becomes a political advocacy group. SB 106 passed unanimously in the Senate. The executive session begins at 11 a.m. Thursday, room 308 of the LOB. Co-Authored and supported by ODA


Committee Vote Tuesday on Whether Utilities May Pass on Costs of Lobbying to Ratepayers

SB 206 would prevent public utilities from passing on to customers some of their costs for lobbying and other political activity. On big, controversial projects like Northern Pass or pipelines, this amount can run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. SB 206 passed the Senate 24-0. Room 308 of the LOB, beginning at 1 p.m. Supported by ODA



Red = Open Democracy Action Priority Bill

Tuesday, April 23, 2019


10:00 a.m. SB 71, relative to the election of delegates to party conventions.

10:30 a.m. SB 105-FN, relative to contributions to inaugural committees.

1:00 p.m. Executive session on:

SB 7-FN-L, SMART ACT; establishing the secure modern accurate registration act Supported by ODA

SB 8, establishing an independent redistricting commission; Supported by ODA

SB 206, excluding the cost of lobbying and political activity from the rates of public utilities; Supported by ODA

SB 283-FN, relative to post-election audits of electronic ballot counting devices.




Sen. Levesque (C), Sen. Sherman (VC), Sen. Morgan, Sen. Birdsell, Sen. Gray


10:00 a.m. HB 345, relative to certification of devices for the electronic counting of ballots.

10:15 a.m. HB 452, establishing a commission on the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

10:45 a.m. HB 611-FN, allowing voters to vote by absentee ballot.

11:30 a.m. HB 651, allowing the use of campaign funds for child care expenses.


Thursday, April 25, 2019


11:00 a.m. Executive session on

SB 44, relative to election procedures, delivery of ballots, and assents to candidacy;

SB 45, relative to electioneering at polling places;

SB 66, relative to political contributions by candidates for certain offices;

SB 67, relative to the definitions of resident and residency;

SB 68, relative to the centralized voter registration database;

SB 70, relative to vacancies among primary candidates and prohibiting a candidate from receiving the nomination of more than one party;

SB 104-L, relative to the postponement of city, town, village, and school district elections;

SB 106, relative to the definition of political advocacy organization. Supported by ODA



Sen. Levesque (C), Sen. Sherman (VC), Sen. Morgan, Sen. Birdsell, Sen. Gray

Note: The Committee will meet at 1:00 p.m. or 30 minutes following the end of Session.

1:15 p.m. HB 415, relative to the official ballot referendum form of town meetings.

1:45 p.m. HB 531, relative to the delivery of absentee ballots cast by elderly or disabled citizens.

2:00 p.m. HB 315, relative to the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program.


This Week's Session Meetings

The Senate will be meeting this Thursday April 25 at 10 a.m., though no Democracy bills are scheduled for a full Senate vote. We anxiously await HB 706 in the Senate after SB 8 is decided in the House. Be prepared to attend the State House in force as HB 706 is heard.

The next House sessions will be on Thursday, May 2 at 1 p.m. and likely Wednesday and Thursday, May 8 & 9. Because of the several Democracy bills being heard in committee this week, the next sessions will be important ones for mobilization. Please mark your calendars.

Last Week's Hearings

LLC Loophole Bill SB 156 Hearing Faces Little Opposing Testimony

Prime sponsor Sen. Dan Feltes and Open Democracy Executive Director Olivia Zink testified in support in House Election Law committee last week, with little opposition and few questions from lawmakers. SB 156 would force donors using a limited liability corporation to make campaign donations to disclose who is making the donation and how much. SB 156 passed the Senate by a 13-11 margin. Supported by ODA Hearing

Study Committee to Enhance Civic Engagement, HB 429 Heard

HB 429 faced little only one question from Sen. Sherman after testimony from Olivia Zink, and no opposing testimony. HB 429 creates a committee to study how civic engagement can be expanded in the state. We support the creation of this committee, as did House Election Law in a 19-0 vote. Supported by ODA

Final Push for HB 706: LTEs, Contacts with Legislators Needed

While we don't have a date for action on HB 706 in the Senate, the time to act is now! We need to get your letters in the pipeline, and please try to educate the groups in your universe about the importance of having a nonpartisan redistricting commission. Thanks to Concord's Mary Wilke, whose letter, “If you want fairness in elections, end gerrymandering” was published this last week in the Concord Monitor.

If HB 706 passes in the Senate, Governor Sununu may need to be persuaded to pass it. The governor needs to understand the consequences of acting against the New Hampshire electorate, who support a nonpartisan approach to redistricting. Once you've sent your letter to the papers, make sure to send a copy of it to Governor Sununu.


Friday: National Book Award Finalist Nancy MacLean, Author of Democracy in Chains, April 26

Nancy_MacLean_Author_Photo.jpgIf you're planning to attend the address by Nancy MacLean, you must Register ASAP to guarantee your seat. The event is this Friday, April 26, 6 p.m. at the Puritan Back Room in Manchester. Tickets are $60.00, and proceeds benefit Open Democracy's mission.

Prof. MacLean is the William H. Chafe Professor of History and Public Policy at Duke University and author, most recently, of Democracy in Chains.

Published this past June, Democracy in Chains was a finalist for the National Book Award, and the winner of the Lannan Foundation Cultural Freedom Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award in Current Affairs, and the Lillian Smith Book Award. The Nation magazine named it the “Most Valuable Book”of the year.  

Want to learn more about Professor MacLean? Read an interview done when she received her National Book Award nomination.


For updates and descriptions of the other important democracy legislation this session, click on the links below.

Click here arrowPublic funding

Redistricting and ending gerrymandering

Campaign reform

Money in politics


Questions? Want to Help?

Olivia Zink: [email protected]; (603) 661-8621 (cell)

Rick Bourdon: [email protected]; (603) 795-2818; (603) 759-1888 (cell)

Brian Beihl: [email protected] (603) 620-8300 (cell)

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