Below is our 2017 Legislative Review, highlighting the legislative actions that had the greatest impact on your civil liberties this year. With your support, we fought many uphill battles on voting and reproductive rights; advanced proactive privacy and criminal justice reform; and built bi-partisan support for transgender non-discrimination protections.
Thank you for responding to our many calls-to-action! Throughout the 2017 Session, ACLU of NH members contacted their representatives in record numbers. Your voices were heard!
Debtors’ Prison Practices: As a result of over two years of integrated advocacy, SB 200 will curb the unconstitutional practice of jailing people because they are too poor to pay a fine. This bipartisan bill, signed by Governor Sununu, will appoint counsel whenever an indigent defendant is threatened with jail for failure to pay. The bill follows a 2015 ACLU of NH report, which documented debtors’ prison practices occurring throughout New Hampshire.
Marijuana Decriminalization: After over a decade of advocacy, the New Hampshire Legislature overwhelmingly passed critical, common sense, drug policy reform – decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana. The bill is on its way to the desk of Governor Chris Sununu – he has indicated he intends to sign HB 640 into law.
Death Penalty Expansion: The House Criminal Justice Committee voted 17-3 against expanding the death penalty. We opposed this bill to expand New Hampshire’s death penalty, which would have included knowingly causing the death of a person who is less than 18 years of age.
Civil Asset Forfeiture: We supported this bill to change the venue for civil asset forfeitures from the federal court system when the amount is less than $100,000. The House passed HB 614 in a vote of 219-139, but the Senate referred to the Judiciary Committee.
Voter Disenfranchisement: SB 3, signed by Governor Sununu on June 11, creates an unfunded mandate for cities and towns and long lines for same-day registration. The bill, as passed by the House and Senate, severely tightens voter qualifications and criminalizes legitimate same-day registration voters who know they cannot provide proof that they have performed a so-called “verifiable act,” such as buying a home or entering a formal lease.
Electronic Poll Books: SB 113 authorizes a trial of electronic poll book devices for voter registration and check-in at future municipal and statewide elections electronic poll books. Having a closed, electronic database makes it easier for officials to maintain accurate lists of eligible voters and make sure that only eligible citizens participate in our elections.
Data Collection: The House Health and Human Services Committee retained a bill requiring abortion data collection by abortion providers. We will continue to advocate for the privacy rights of those seeking abortion services.
Viability Ban: The House tabled a “viability ban” which would have put women’s health and rights at risk by creating onerous and unsafe regulations on the ability of a woman to make her own personal medical decisions regarding her pregnancy.
Fetal Personhood: The Legislature passed and the Governor signed a fetal personhood measure that recognizes a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time under New Hampshire law. SB 66 threatens to pit the rights of a fetus against the rights of a pregnant woman and erode the protections under Roe v. Wade.
LGBT / NON-DISCRIMATION
Gender Identity Non-Discrimination: The NH House, by 8 votes, voted to table a non-discrimination bill that would have barred discrimination based on gender identity in employment, housing and public accommodations. HB 478 was supported by the NH Business and Industry Association; the NH Association of the Chiefs of Police; the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence; and prominent NH businesses and insurers.
PRIVACY & TECHNOLOGY
Government Surveillance: The New Hampshire Legislature passed a bill that that will require NH law enforcement to have a warrant before using a StingRay device to collect cell phone information, including location information. HB 474 is on its way to the Governor’s desk.
Internet Privacy: In early April, President Donald Trump signed a measure reversing new FCC privacy protections that would have required Internet Service Providers (ISPs) – like Comcast – to seek your permission before sharing your browsing history, location history, contacts, and other personal information. NH lawmakers responded by filing bi-partisan legislation and we will continue to work with them to protect Granite Staters’ online privacy rights.