The Women’s Foundation actively monitors legislation that impacts women and girls in New Hampshire. Below are some of the NH House and/or Senate bills we are keeping an eye on.
2019 Legislative Watch List
Area(s) of Focus: Advocating Economic Security and Fostering Work Life Balance
These are companion bills that would establish a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program for New Hampshire workers. Currently women in New Hampshire bear a disproportionate share of family caregiving responsibilities and are less likely to have employment benefits that include paid leave to take time off due to illness, to care for a newborn, or to assist with a sick child or aging parent. A family and medical leave insurance program is a smart investment in our workforce and our economy.
Read our testimony in support of these programs – January 29, 2019
Update, May 2019: While this legislation successfully passed both chambers of the NH Legislature and enjoys broad public support it was vetoed by Governor Sununu earlier this month. The bill lacks sufficient margin of legislative support to override this veto making it difficult to see a positive outcome for a paid family and medical leave program until after the 2020 elections. We are proud of the strong coalition efforts and deeply disappointed in Governor Sununu’s position and approach to the issue.
Area(s) of Focus: Championing Health and Wellness and Reproductive Rights
SB 279 would provide insurance coverage for fertility care to optimize safe pregnancies and healthy infants. Fertility services, such as In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and fertility preservation are NOT currently included in most insurance plans in New Hampshire. We believe that women and families should have access to the full range of health services – reproductive care, fertility care and maternity care – on the path to parenthood.
Update, May 2019: This legislation passed the NH Senate on a Voice Vote with bipartisan support back in March. After a public hearing before the House Commerce Committee in late April, and several subsequent work sessions, amendments were introduced which limited the scope of the bill in some areas, but left the primary provisions intact. The House Commerce Committee voted 12 – 8 to pass the bill on to the full House for a vote in early June. While we are excited by the prospects for success, we are disheartened that the bill has taken a partisan turn. We hope to secure bipartisan support in the full House vote and then help persuade Governor Sununu to sign the bill into law.
Areas of Focus: Championing Health and Wellness and Supporting Women and Children at Risk
This legislation would require feminine hygiene products to be provided in girls’ restrooms in middle and high schools in New Hampshire. The considerable issue of period poverty impacts the health and hygiene of teenage girls whose families struggle with the cost of sanitary products and can result in missed school days each month.
Read our testimony in support of Senate Bill 142 – April 3, 2019
Update, May 2019: This bill passed both the House and Senate with bipartisan support and we are currently working on a strategy to ensure support from the Governor.
Area of Focus: Promoting Women and Girls in Leadership
This legislation would allow a new category of expense for candidates for elected office by permitting campaign funds raised to be used for child care expenses incurred for campaign-related activity. This change would impact favorably candidates with young children and help support opportunities for women and greater diversity in civic involvement by recognizing child care as a legitimate campaign expense.
Read our testimony on House Bill 651 – April 24, 2019
Update, May 2019: This legislation enjoyed strong and overwhelming support in the House and passed unanimously on the House Calendar in March. After an objection to the bill by NH Secretary of State Bill Gardner before the Senate Election Law Committee, there was opposition from some Senate Republicans. The fate of the bill is now before the full Senate and up for a vote in late May.
Learn more about recent efforts to elect more women to public office in our recent Gender Matters Issue : Women and the 2018 General Election
2018 Legislative Wrap Up
The newly-enacted updates to New Hampshire’s contraceptive equity law ensure women can access prescription birth control without any cost-sharing (such as co-pays and deductibles) and guarantee insurance coverage for 12-month prescriptions.
Legislation to establish a paid family and medical leave program for New Hampshire workers died on the Senate floor. We continue to believe that paid family and medical leave is a lifeline for women, children, and families and will continue to work to see it passed.
HB1287, to which we were opposed, did not pass. Instead, a package of three bills addressing New Hampshire’s child marriage laws was passed. Under the previous marriage laws, girls as young as 13 and boys as young as 14 could get married with permission from their parents and a court order. The newly-enacted laws set a minimum age of 16 for all people seeking to marry, regardless of gender and with no exceptions. In addition, 16- and 17-year-olds will have to convince a judge that marriage is in their “best interest” before obtaining the necessary court order – a meaningful judicial process that puts kids first.
Learn more in our Gender Matters NH Marriage issue.