As freshman state senators, we really feel compelled to specific our robust opposition to HB 544. The language of HB 544 seeks to ban state companies, Ok-12 faculties, public schools and universities, and state contractors from educating sure “divisive ideas” like race and intercourse.
What this truly means is that discussions about systemic racism, gender inequality and different necessary features of our nation’s historical past will likely be muzzled underneath the guise of neutrality and equality. However that is doublespeak. This invoice perpetuates and codifies a tradition of silence, inaction, unequal therapy and oppression and creates much more division in our state.
Seeing how the COVID-19 pandemic has laid naked the disproportionate well being and financial impacts on individuals of shade and girls, we entered the Legislature with resolve and a deep dedication to deal with these inequities, in a uniquely New Hampshire means. We knew our fellow legislators wouldn’t all the time agree with us on learn how to obtain the targets of equality and inclusivity, nonetheless we remained surprised on the assist HB 544 has acquired from Republican management in each the Home and the Senate.
Though the invoice was tabled within the Home, it was later hooked up to the 2022-2023 biennial finances, now earlier than the Senate. The chair of the Home Finance Committee has publicly said how necessary the inclusion of HB 544 is to keep up Home assist for the finances. Sadly, HB 544 and the advocacy across the invoice are a direct consequence of what’s taking place in our nation — a reactive, harmful and fragile backlash to protect “a standard lifestyle” from those that have traditionally benefited from inequity and systemic racism.
This invoice has no place in New Hampshire, the place now we have all the time prided ourselves in not permitting divisive nationwide discourse to take maintain. Frankly, HB 544 can also be unconstitutional and fiscally irresponsible. This laws is the shut mannequin of an govt order from former President Trump that was struck down in federal courtroom for constitutional violations. There isn’t a query that if this invoice turns into regulation, it is going to be topic to courtroom challenges, leading to pricey litigation and attorneys charges on the taxpayer’s dime.
One other vital influence this invoice may have in New Hampshire is to restrict implementation of the unanimous suggestions made by the governor’s Fee on Legislation Enforcement Accountability, Neighborhood, and Transparency relating to annual coaching on implicit bias and cultural responsiveness, ethics and de-escalation for all New Hampshire regulation enforcement. These suggestions, developed by a various group of stakeholders which we’re proud to assist, shouldn’t be hindered by oppressive laws.
If handed, the regressive language of HB 544 would additionally drive away companies, workers, younger individuals and a various inhabitants from New Hampshire with disingenuous rhetoric of “unity.” Denying the existence of injustice, discrimination, and systemic racism, and ignoring the actual life experiences of Granite Staters, won’t unite us, it can solely contribute to additional division and sluggish our progress as a state.
Lately, the New Hampshire Companies for Social Duty and a few of our largest employers despatched a letter sharing their robust and united opposition to HB 544. Within the employers’ letter, they shared that “the success of New Hampshire companies will depend on the power to draw various generational, gender and racial worker teams in any respect ranges inside our organizations” and that HB 544 “can have a chilling influence on our workplaces and on the enterprise local weather in New Hampshire.”
The Enterprise and Business Affiliation of New Hampshire, with over 400 member companies, has additionally introduced its opposition to the invoice, saying that passage of the invoice “could be a black eye for New Hampshire.” HB 544 represents an unwillingness to have tough conversations and transfer in direction of true fairness for all Granite Staters.
Is that this the message we need to ship to individuals of shade and girls in our state? Is that this the message we need to ship because the eyes of the nation that asses New Hampshire’s “first within the nation” main standing? Is that this the message we need to ship to our college students as we put together them to compete in a contemporary world? Is that this the message we need to ship to the younger individuals who we’re desperately attempting to draw and retain on this state to resolve our mounting workforce scarcity?
As a result of this concern will likely be a decisive one all through the finances course of, we encourage everybody to contact their elected officers and ask that they strongly oppose the language of HB 544 so we are able to refocus our consideration in direction of constructing an equitable, trendy and future-focused state and economic system.
(Sen. Sue Prentiss represents Senate District 5 and lives in Lebanon, Sen. Becky Whitley represents Senate District 15 and lives in Hopkinton. Sen. Rebecca Perkins Kwoka represents Senate District 21 and lives in Portsmouth.)