New Hampshire

New Hampshire: Oppose Payday Loans by Supporting Governor’s Veto of SB 160

Background:

SB 160, which was passed by the Legislature and vetoed by the Governor, would create a new small loan product in New Hampshire known as payday loans.  The bill also overturns the interest rate cap for these lenders and would allow them to charge interest rates in excess of 400 percent APR.  SB 160 was strongly opposed in the legislature by the Attorney General’s office, the local Welfare Administrator’s Association, and a coalition of churches, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

The vote in the House of Representatives on whether to override Governor Lynch’s veto could come as soon as March 7, 2012.

How to Take Action: Contact your representatives by phone or email and ask them to vote to sustain the Governor’s veto of SB 160: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx

Talking Points:

SB 160 would legalize excessive interest rates in excess of 400 percent APR.

  • SB 160 authorizes lenders to charge up to $15.50 per $100 installment loan, and that could result in interest rates effectively being in excess of 400 percent over the life of the loan.  As an example, lenders could charge consumers $1,100 to repay a $500 loan over six months.

Prohibition of usurious interest rates is a traditional New Hampshire value.

  • New Hampshire had strict limits on small loan interest rates from our founding until 2000.
  • The 36 percent cap on small loans that the Legislature passed in 2008 had the support of a broad coalition including the Banking Department and the Attorney General’s office under now–U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte.

New Hampshire’s 36 percent cap on interest rates is consistent with the law in other states.

  • 31 states outlaw high-cost car title lending. No state in New England allows it.

New Hampshire does not want high-cost title loans.

  • A recent poll of New Hampshire voters found that only 4 percent support an increase in the maximum rate that car title lenders can charge.
  • The Local Welfare Administrators’ Association has opposed SB 160 because our cities and towns see families in their welfare offices looking for help with financial situations made worse by payday loans. Triple-digit interest rates increase the burden on local taxpayers.

High-interest payday loans harshly impact low wage earners and the poor.

  • The excessive interest charged by payday lenders could force vulnerable individuals into a downward spiral of debt, hurting New Hampshire families, communities, and economy.

Under SB 160, regulation of payday lenders will be inconsistent with current practices for other forms of consumer credit.

  • Unlike current law for the examination of banks, SB 160 requires the Banking Commissioner to provide a payday lender with advance notice before conducting an examination of its books, records, and loan documents.
  • The administrative fine authority of the Banking Commissioner over payday lenders is less than half the existing authority over other lenders.

Additional information: For more information on how to express your support or opposition to state legislation, please visit: http://www.catholicnh.org/public-issues/action/

New Hampshire: State Legislators to Vote on Religious Exemption for Contraception Coverage

Act Today!

NH State Legislators to Vote on Religious Exemption for
Contraception Coverage

There has been much press surrounding the mandate issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) requiring contraceptive and sterilization coverage in almost all private health plans nationwide.  Here, in New Hampshire, a state law also mandates contraception coverage without regard for whether such coverage violates the rights of citizens to practice their faith.  An amendment to HB 1546 provides that employers with a religious objection will not be required to provide contraceptive coverage.  A vote on this amendment is expected to be held March 7, 2012.

The current New Hampshire laws require all insurers providing outpatient services or prescription coverage also to provide coverage for contraceptive services, drugs, and devices.  The current state mandate, without an exception such as the one contemplated in an amendment to HB 1546, violates one of the most basic beliefs in our society – that religious freedom is a fundamental right of all.

Some have tried to frame the debate about this amendment as the Church attempting to impose its view on others.  This is not true at all.  Approving this amendment does not deny women access to contraceptives.  Instead, approving the amendment would mean that those with a religious objection to contraceptive products and services would not be required to pay for them.  Employers who do not have a religious objection to providing such coverage will be required to continue to offer contraception under their plans.

The Catholic Church consistently has supported and advocated for access for all men and women tolife-affirming healthcare, healthcare that supports and sustains life.  We, as Catholics, cannot and should not be compelled to violate the tenets of our faith by paying for or otherwise providing services that we consider to be immoral and disrespectful of life.  Please consider contacting your legislator in support of religious liberty.

How to Take Action:  Contact your representatives by phone or email and ask them to support the amendment to HB 1546 providing a religious exemption to the State insurance contraception coverage mandate:  http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx

Additional Information:  For more information on how to express your support or opposition to state legislation, please visit:  http://www.catholicnh.org/public-issues/action/

To read more on this issue visit: http://www.catholicnh.org/public-issues/social-justice/healthcare/

New Hampshire: Defend Marriage

Marriage

Urge Your State Representatives to Support Traditional Marriage

Background:

In 2009, by the narrowest of margins, the New Hampshire Legislature passed a law that overturned thousands of years of Western civilization by redefining marriage as the union of any two adults.  In 2011, HB 437 was introduced to repeal that law and restore the definition of “marriage” as the union between one man and one woman.  The Legislature is expected to vote on an amended version of HB 437 within the next two weeks.

In addition to repealing same sex marriage, the amended version of HB 437 would also re-establish civil unions for same sex couples. Civil unions were in place before the legislature created same sex marriage, and they were repealed when the same-sex marriage law was passed. Thus, the proposed amendment to HB 437 largely reinstates the situation which was in place before the same sex marriage law took effect. The Diocese of Manchester consistently has opposed legislation that would establish civil unions.  However, the proposed amendment to HB 437 falls into a category of legislation which the US Bishops have previously considered: bills in civil law which may not reflect the fullness of the Church’s teaching, but which nonetheless provide an “incremental improvement” in the current law and a “step toward full restoration of justice.” USCCB, Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship, 32. Because the proposed amendment to HB 437 would accomplish the tremendously important goal of repealing the same sex marriage law, the Diocese supports HB 437.

Take Action:

  • Contact your House representatives and ask them to support traditional marriage by supporting the amended version of HB 437. Tell them that the same sex marriage law was wrong when it was passed in 2009, and it continues to be wrong.  Urge the legislature this year to correct the fundamental error that occurred in 2009.

To find your representative, visit:  http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/wml.aspx

  • Attend the Marriage Rally in support of marriage on Tuesday, February 7, 2012, at 12:00 noon at the State House in Concord.  Please arrive by 11:45 a.m.

Talking Points and Catholic Teaching:

  • The starting point for any discussion about the Catholic Church’s position on same sex marriage is that every person is of incomparable worth and has intrinsic dignity—a dignity that can never be taken away.  The Church believes that affirming the meaning of marriage as a union between a man and a woman affirms the meaning and dignity of the human person, created as male and female.
  • One man and one woman are essential to marriage because of their differences—the difference is the difference, and true union is only possible in and through their difference.  Marriage is a unique bond of husband and wife fundamentally open to the possibility of new life and is the context for mothering and fathering.
  • The uniqueness of marriage flows from the unique identities of man and woman.  Each brings distinctive physical, emotional, and spiritual gifts to the marital union.  Men and women complement one another.  No other form of relationship between persons can be considered equivalent to a natural relationship between a man and a woman out of whose love it is possible for children to be born and reared by both a mother and a father.
  • Marriage is not merely a private institution or a personal commitment between two people who love one another.  It is the foundation of the family, which has been, and must continue to be, the bedrock of every human society.  There is no other relationship which symbolizes life and love as marriage between a man and a woman does.  Justice requires that marriage as the union of one man and one woman be restored and protected.
  • This is not a matter of discrimination.  Treating different things differently is not unjust discrimination.  It is respecting the unique reality of the relationship between a husband and a wife who alone are capable of forming a union open to new life.

Additional Information:  For more information on how to express your support or opposition to state legislation, please visit:  http://www.catholicnh.org/public-issues/how-to-take-action/

New Hampshire: Act Now to Stop Expansion of Gambling

Faithful Citizenship News
Contact your Representatives and ask them to
say no to expanded gambling.

HB 593, which would legalize two casinos and 10,000 slot machines in New Hampshire, will be considered by the Legislature in January.

The objection of the Church to expanded gambling arises out of its beliefs that those who are in greatest need, including the poor and vulnerable, deserve preferential concern and that support for families should be a priority for economic and social policies. While the Church does not view gambling as morally unacceptable in and of itself, the behavior that often accompanies state-endorsed gambling results in the deprivation of basic needs of persons, particularly the poor, and harm to children and families.

The reality is that if the gambling industry were allowed to expand in New Hampshire, it is unlikely that the State has any reasonable way to address human behavior that moves beyond intended recreational activity. “The passion for gambling risks becoming an enslavement” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2413). Gambling addictions can result in divorce, bankruptcy, family violence, attempted suicide, and teen addictions. Those who can least afford to gamble often are the ones who engage in it.

We fear that any further expansion of the gambling industry in New Hampshire will destroy families and damage our family-focused environment. New Hampshire cannot afford the social costs of the addictive behavior that inevitably accompanies the presence of the gambling industry. Finally, if the gambling industry expands in New Hampshire, we believe that the State must be prepared to finance expanded human services to assist residents enslaved by addictive behavior.

Information compiled by the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling suggests that HB 593 would degrade New Hampshire’s healthy, family-friendly brand image and harm charities that rely on charitable gaming: DETAILS HERE

How to Take Action

Call your House representatives TODAY and ask them to oppose HB 593. CLICK HERE to find contact information for House members.

CLICK HERE to view testimony of the Diocese of Manchester on expanded gambling.


New Hampshire: Show Support for our Immigrant Brothers and Sisters

Contact the Executive Council before Wednesday, December 14 and ask them to support federal funding for critical services for refugees and their families.

On Wednesday, December 14, the Executive Council is expected to vote on whether to accept federal funds to enter into contracts with several agencies to provide school-related social services and preventive health services to New Hampshire refugees.  The services funded by these federal grants are lifelines for the immigrant community and include English language instruction, job training and mentoring, and other services that support successful integration of our immigrant and mainstream communities.

The refugees that the federal funding would support are here in New Hampshire because they were forced to flee their homelands to escape genocide, torture, or religious, ethnic, or political persecution. The federal funds are critical in supporting their efforts to restore their dignity and lead productive lives. Please contact your Executive Councilor and ask him or her to vote in favor of these contracts: http://www.nh.gov/council/.

New Hampshire: Guidelines for Political Activities

Guidelines for Parishes & Schools
on Political Activities

In the Catholic tradition, participation in political life is a moral obligation rooted in our baptismal commitment to follow Jesus Christ and bear Christian witness in all we do.  The lay faithful are shapers of public policy and participate in public life by voting, running for office, and otherwise participating in the political process.  The role of Catholic clergy as teachers of the faith is to speak clearly about moral issues that have a public dimension. Together, we are called to work for the transformation of society in ways that make it just.

For reasons that are both theological and legal, as a religious institution, the Church’s involvement in public life does not extend to endorsing or opposing particular candidates or political parties.

CLICK HERE to read more about the restrictions, do’s and don’ts.