Today, HB 1319 advanced to the full Senate, though without an endorsement from the Senate Judiciary Committee. Instead, the Committee recommended HB 1319 by a 3-2 vote for “interim study”—essentially a polite way to kill the bill. An interim study committee takes no clear action on a bill, and its recommendations are not required to be acted on.
The bill still gets a vote on the Senate floor, and momentum is high. That vote could come either this Thursday, or next Wednesday or Thursday (May 2nd or 3rd) during the final days of the Senate session.
On Monday, April 16, the Committee met for nearly six hours—four hours over the allotted period—to hear testimony from transgender Granite Staters and their friends, family and community allies. This testimony included dozens of stories of discrimination in the workplace and in public places like restaurants and doctor’s offices.
The Committee said that ensuring transgender people have the same basic protections as everyone else is something that needs further study—but that’s just not true. HB 1319 has unprecedented support, from the business and faith communities, civil rights and public safety organizations, and individual Granite Staters.
As Sen. Hennessey noted during the committee debate:
“I’m really curious about what’s not ready. This is a fundamental right. I’m a child psychologist, and a school psychologist. I feel very strongly that this is not only a way to protect children, teenagers and adults, but that we need to be in step with what is going on in the nation, and denying that this is a reality or questioning that this is a reality is not helpful.”
HB 1319 heads to the Senate floor with an unprecedented amount of support. It has 15 sponsors, including nine Republican House members and three Republican Senators: Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley and Senators John Reagan and Dan Innis.
During the first House Judiciary hearing on January 31, the House Libertarian Caucus officially endorsed HB 1319, joining the Children’s Caucus, the New Hampshire Association of Chiefs of Police, the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Women’s Foundation, and the New Hampshire Human Rights Commission.
On March 7th, 2018 the New Hampshire House of Representatives passed HB 1319 with strong bipartisan support, voting 195-129 in favor after a recommendation from the House Judiciary Committee. And Republican Governor Chris Sununu has hinted that he supports the bill, as reported in the Union Leader.
This bill has been percolating in the legislature for two years. Two bipartisan committees and the full House of Representatives have advanced it. We don’t need more time to know discrimination is a problem and this is the right solution.