STATE ISSUES


LEGISLATIVE REPORT 2020


UPDATE on HB 1615-FN and HB 1452
Both bills were voted ITL (Inexpedient to Legislate) or killed on Thursday, February 13, 2020.
Thank your representative.

To find your legislators, go to: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/default.aspx
 

HB 1615-FN and HB 1452 ON House Calendar February 13, 2020
HOUSE RECORD
Second Year of the 166th General Court
Calendar and Journal of the 2020 Session
Vol. 42 Concord, N.H. Friday, February 7, 2020 No. 6
 
HOUSE CALENDAR
MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE: The next House session will be on Thursday, February 13th at 1:00 p.m. At 2:00 p.m., the House and Senate will assemble in joint session to receive the Governor's State-of-the State Address. Following the Governor’s speech, the House will go back into session to act on pending legislation.
 
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13
REGULAR CALENDAR
 
MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY GOVERNMENT
HB 1452
, relative to employees of public libraries.
MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS.

Rep. Marjorie Porter for the Majority of Municipal and County Government. RSA 202-A:17 grants public library employees, if they so choose, the right to a public hearing prior to dismissal or removal from their jobs. This provision has been in place for more than seventy years and has worked well. This bill would amend the statute by denying the right to a public hearing to employees who have been employed by the library for less than six months. It was filed on behalf of a library that had an unpleasant experience with a discharged employee. Although we have sympathy for the aggrieved library, the majority believes existing law which has been working well for the entire state for many decades should not be changed because of one community’s unhappiness. The majority also believes we should not be taking away any employee rights, especially not long-held rights such as those provided by RSA 202-A:17. Vote 13-7.

Rep. Max Abramson for the Minority of Municipal and County Government. Under current law, newly hired library employees are granted the unusual right to a public hearing to challenge a dismissal, even if they didn’t show up for their first day of work--let alone showed up only to aggravate others in the job. This makes it more difficult for the librarian to take a chance on someone unproven, and could even discourage libraries from hiring temporary help. Instead, the bill hopes to mimic past practice that we see everywhere else, that new hires are brought on in a probationary basis and given a chance to prove themselves. Why are we now granting the benefits of tenure for those who choose a career in the atheneum from the moment of hire, a benefit not conferred upon anyone else in society? The minority raised concerns that these public hearings in the past have only turned into a public nightmare or an imbroglio cadenza, unlikely to enlighten, and could merely open up the town to increased liability, since every statement made on video could be taken out of context in court. Several revelations could come of such a public hearing--all bad.
 
HB 1615-FN, requiring criminal background checks for persons brought into a library to interact with minors in library-sponsored events.
MAJORITY: INEXPEDIENT TO LEGISLATE.
MINORITY: OUGHT TO PASS WITH AMENDMENT.

Rep. David Meader for the Majority of Municipal and County Government. If there is a venue that is the quintessential definition of public place, it is a library. Libraries are where people go to learn, communities come together, and social programs are held for the betterment of our society. This bill would create a barrier to programs held at libraries by requiring libraries to conduct criminal background checks on program participants and using the results to exclude community members, The New Hampshire Library Association strongly opposed this legislation, both because of the cost and administrative burdens it would impose and the precedent it would set. Multiple librarians testified about how they take seriously a library’s responsibility to prioritize both safety for visitors and public access. This bill does not advance public safety but will instead impede public access. For these reasons, a majority of the committee voted this bill should be inexpedient to legislate. Vote 19-1.

Rep. Max Abramson for the Minority of Municipal and County Government. The committee was warned both during and after the hearing of four instances where convicted sex offenders had led children’s events at public libraries. While we were assured that further abuse of children would never happen at the library itself, no mention of subsequent encounters were discussed. However, in most of these cases of abuse of children, the victim had been seen at a previous event. Children who are abused are four times as likely to turn to drugs or develop PTSD and three times as likely to develop major depressive episodes. The FBI warns parents to be sure that your children are, “under the watchful eyes of trusted and vetted adults.” Yet if the library and parents are not allowed to know about a history of felonies against children by someone involved in one of these children’s programs, how will leads be developed later on if one of those children goes missing? How much time will be lost by investigators when minutes count? When confronted with dark subject matter addressing the safety of children, we don’t kill a poorly drafted bill and change the subject. We redraft it to remove the unfunded mandates and address mechanical problems within it.


HOUSE RECORD. Second Year of the 166th General Court. Calendar and Journal of the 2020 Session. Vol. 42 Concord, N.H. Friday, February 7, 2020 No. 6

Update of Committee Action on HB 1615-FN and HB 1452
On Wednesday January 22, the Municipal and County Government Committee of the New Hampshire House of Representatives convened in Executive Session.

HB 1615-FN  “requiring criminal background checks for persons brought into a library to interact with minors in library-sponsored events” was voted Inexpedient to Legislate by 19 – 1.
 
HB 1452  “relative to employees of public libraries”  was voted Inexpedient to Legislate by 13 – 7.

Both bills will be voted on by the full House later in the current legislative session.

Thanks to everyone for contacting their representatives about these two bills. Your actions are important to our libraries.

And, thank your representatives for listening to their constituents!


History of our Advocacy
Call to Action – ASAP!

Update on Hearing on Library Bills: HB 1615-FN (background checks required) and HB 1452 (probationary period amendment) currently in the Municipal and County Government Committee.

The chair announced that the committee will determine their recommendation on the bills in executive session on Wednesday, January 22, 2020. That means the committee will consider any amendments proposed by committee members and decide whether to recommend the bills as “ought to pass as filed”, “ought to pass with amendment”, or be found “inexpedient to legislate” (killed). The public may attend this meeting but may not speak.

NHLTA and NHLA have asked members who live in the districts that committee members represent to contact their reps before January 22, share their opinions on HB 1615 and ask them to vote this bill “inexpedient to legislate”. Read the Action Letter. A list of Committee Members is on the Municipal and County Government Committee webpage (click on the name for the member’s contact information). Or check this LIST.

If you want to share your opinions on either bill and do not have a representative on the committee, contact the Chair of the House Municipal and County Government Committee.


Report on Hearing
NHLTA is following two bills this session, both of which had hearings before the House Municipal and County Government Committee on January 15, 2020. A number of NHLTA board members attended the hearings.
 
HB 1452 would establish a six-month probationary period for new hires at a library and limit the right of an employee being dismissed to request a public hearing to those who have been employed for longer than six months. NHLTA did not testify on this bill as we have decided to monitor the bill for now. The NH Library Association's legislative committee chair, Randy Brough of Laconia, spoke in opposition to the bill, while David Smolen, Conway Public Library’s director, explained why their library requested the legislation. (He said they incurred significant expense associated with the dismissal of an employee after only a couple months during which it had become obvious the employment would not work out; the employee requested a public hearing.) There were many questions from the committee, and it became clear that a number of committee members did not understand the current statute or the proposed amendment of the law. At the end of the hearing, several amendments were suggested, including adding language to allow for a probationary period (inserting that term into the statute) and to shorten the trial period to 90 days rather than 6 months. As you may recall, NHLTA polled our members on this issue, and while a majority indicated they favor the ability to use probationary periods for new hires, we concluded there were enough concerns voiced about changing the current law for NHLTA to take no position on this bill at this time.
 
HB 1615-FN would require libraries to conduct a criminal background check, including an FBI fingerprint check, of all persons who are performers or presenters of programs for minors sponsored by the library. There were a number of testifiers in addition to NHLTA: NHLA (Randy Brough again); the library director from Concord PL, the president of the Children’s Librarians of NH (a section of NHLA) who is from Nesmith Library; a lobbyist from the ACLU; and the manager of the Dept of Safety’s division responsible for criminal background checks. The first to testify was the sponsor, followed by his constituent who requested the bill. In addition, several people signed in opposition to the bill (including Margaret Byrnes of NHMA). The sponsor and his constituent were the only people in favor of the bill. All cited the impracticality of the requirement, and several commented on the potential cost and impact on programming. While many on the committee seemed somewhat persuaded by the testimony in opposition to the bill, others suggested that perhaps the bill could be amended in a variety of ways to make it feasible to implement. Again, committee questions made it clear that most did not understand the scope of the bill and the possible impact. NHLTA opposed this bill.
 

ILL UPDATE



To the NH Library Community:

January 2, 2020: After 17 years of service, the plug was pulled on the old NHU-PAC early this afternoon. It's been replaced by the new NHAIS Interlibrary Loan System. The NHAIS Interlibrary Loan System provides access to the holdings of libraries throughout the Granite State and supports resource sharing among them.
 
NHAIS is a program of the New Hampshire State Library, a division of the NH Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. NHAIS funding is made possible, in part, by the Institute of Museum and Library Services through the Library Services and Technology Act.


 

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE 2019

NH RSA 91-A Section II
"... The names of the members who made or seconded each motion shall be recorded in the minutes..."

Change effective January 1, 2019

 

How To Contact NH Representatives

You can contact representatives by email, fax, phone or letter at the contacts below.

NH State Legislature: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/default.aspx
Chris Pappas (1st District) https://pappas.house.gov/contact 
Ann McLane Kuster (2nd District) http://kuster.house.gov/contact
Maggie Hassan https://www.hassan.senate.gov/
Jeanne Shaheen https://www.shaheen.senate.gov/