A narrow partisan margin in the NH House, combined with the obstinacy of Republican leadership to accommodate members with health or other issues by permitting remote participation, has put a spotlight on attendance this year Grafton County Democratic Representatives have responded. Five of our legislators made the 100:100 club, 100% voting participation and 100% in session day attendance: Susan Almy (Lebanon), Heather Baldwin (Thornton), Bill Bolton (Plymouth), Tom Cormen (Lebanon) and Sallie Fellows (Holderness). Another six of our Representative made the 96:100 club, close to perfect voting and full session attendance: Tommy Hoyt (Campton), Peter Lovett (Holderness), Corinne Morse (Canaan), Russell Muirhead (Hanover), James Murphy (Hanover), George Sykes (Lebanon).
These 11 legislators deserve our thanks for juggling their duties at the State House with work and family. But a May 3, 2023, NHPR article on ‘How Often are your NH representatives showing up to vote’, pinpointed issues behind attendance. During the height of Covid, the NH House and Senate accommodated remote participation – just as many state legislatures continue to do.
But when Republicans regained the majority, they eliminated all options for remote participation and have made no provisions to assist on child care or adjusting calendars to assist legislators who are paid just $100 annually for their state service coordinate their State House duties with jobs and families. That’s why the House and Senate are overwhelmingly populated with retired individuals and business owners who can afford to take time away from work.
The best way to change all this to elect a Democratic majority in the NH House and Senate next year, which will assure steps are taken to truly value families and working people by accommodating them with modern changes to allow them to serve with far fewer challenges.
We’re thrilled to report that last week’s forum on deep canvassing was a success. The event had 252 registered, of which 158 participated, including many familiar faces from Grafton County Dems. Hosted by the Kent Street Coalition and co-sponsored by Conversation Canvassing New Hampshire (the project that began right here two years ago with our own Voter Outreach Committee), it proved to be a rich discussion about the power of listening conversations with voters.
Keynote speakers Chloe Maxmin and Canyon Woodward, authors of Dirt Road Revival, reflected on their experiences campaigning in rural Maine. In contrast to “data-driven, extractive” campaigns, they said, deep canvassing emphasizes the “quality of contact” with voters, as well as support for the volunteers who go to doors. They asserted that “relationships around values can be more important than agreement on issues” and encouraged building local connections over time.
Other speakers followed, both representatives of New Hampshire organizations leading current canvassing efforts (CCNH, 350 New Hampshire, Granite State Organizing Project, Belknap Canvassing Team, and Cheshire Canvassing Team) and volunteers who shared their highlights of their experiences at doors. Each speaker added new information and perspectives, while reinforcing the value of deep canvassing as a proven strategy for engaging voters ahead of election season. By the end, we felt this forum had clearly advanced the CCNH goal of “developing statewide, sustainable, year-round canvassing teams dedicated to progressive values.” As Susan Hay of the Cheshire team put it: by listening to voters now, “we’re earning the right to be persuasive next year.”
SUPPORT SB 263, which would permanently reauthorize the New Hampshire Granite Advantage Health Care Program, also known as expanded Medicaid. This bill passed the full Senate by a voice vote in March. The House Health and Human Services Committee will vote on the bill on May 10. Please contact the committee and urge them to pass this important bill.
OPPOSE SB 132, the anti-sanctuary cities bill. The House Municipal and County Government will vote on this bill during an executive session on May 10. Please contact the committee before Wednesday and urge them to recommend ITL, and please let your own Representatives know that you want them to defeat the bill when it gets to the full House. Start a campaign to gather signatures from your own town/city/county on two important letters of opposition, from municipal officials and law enforcement, which we will send to the full House in time for the floor vote in a few weeks. To add names, contact us at email@example.com.