This is an important week at the legislature for our work to implement a harm reduction approach to substance use, to protect LGBTQ+ youth, and to ensure that our communities are safe and welcoming for all.
Here's what is at stake this week:
- Stop saddling thousands of people with felony records each year for drug possession. HB 473 passed the House with overwhelming bi-partisan support and is before the Senate Judiciary Committee this Thursday. This legislation would reduce first-time possession or use of controlled drugs from a class B felony to an unclassified misdemeanor and subsequent violations from a class A to a class B felony. This is a big deal – under current law people face up to SEVEN years in prison for first-time drug possession. In addition to the potential of years of incarceration, the collateral harms of a felony conviction are tremendous – they inhibit pathways to rejoining communities, including making it more difficult for individuals to secure safe housing, meaningful education, and gainful employment. These obstacles increase the likelihood that individuals will reenter the criminal justice system. Tell your senator to rein in this counterproductive and harmful approach to addressing drug use and support HB 473! Take action now!
- Marijuana legalization: HB 639, which would legalize the possession of marijuana by adults, has its hearing in Senate Judiciary this Thursday. While far from perfect, this bill would end the needless ensnarement of thousands of people -- disproportionately Black people -- in NH’s criminal justice system every year. Take action now - urge your Senator to support HN 639!
- Don’t further erode trust between our communities and law enforcement: This Thursday the House Municipal and County Government Committee will hear testimony on SB 132, a discriminatory and harmful bill that would force our local New Hampshire police to do ICE's bidding. It would necessitate that police engage in federal immigration enforcement, including aiding in the detention of individuals who the federal government is looking to detain. Immigration detainers are not signed by a judge, do not go through due process, and are not related to criminal activity. Immigration detainer requests are when DHS asks local law enforcement to lock up a person without a warrant or judicial approval, merely based on the say-so of one DHS agent. That’s right – if passed, this law would require NH law enforcement to cage people without any due process. When local police detain individuals simply due to their alleged undocumented status, they create an environment where these individuals—including victims of domestic violence—are afraid to call for help and report crimes. This makes our communities less safe. Take action now!
- Don’t single out transgender youth for a special tier of surveillance in schools: After a major win last month when the full House voted to table HB 10, which would have, under the guise of “parents’ rights,” required schools to reveal a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity to their parents even if this information could cause hostility, rejection, and even violence at home, this week the House Education Committee will hear testimony on the equally harmful SB 272 – the Senate’s similar version of the bill. For LGBTQ+ youth, especially those who cannot be safe at home, school may be one of the few places to be themselves. Our schools should protect all students, including LGBTQ+ students, so they can learn and thrive in a safe environment as their most authentic selves. Take action now!
Our legislators are accountable to the people, and your voice can make a difference. Thank you for taking action!
Want to learn more about the ACLU of New Hampshire’s 2023 legislative priorities? Check out our legislative page here.