Oppose Temporary Marriage Officiant in NH

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Your Voice Counts!

HOW TO SUBMIT TESTIMONY

The New Hampshire legislature held public hearings about HB295-FN-A, an Act establishing a special marriage officiant license. JPus created this guide for JPs and town clerks, because the legislators needed to hear from stakeholders to get their perspective of this legislation. All the effort paid off, and the bill died without passing.

Written Testimony

You may submit written testimony by email to your own legislators so they are aware of your position. If you don’t know who your Senator is, click here. Please also send a copy of your testimony to JPus at admin@JPus.org so we can submit it to the Senate Clerk which will make your statement part of the official record. We would also like to keep track of our collective efforts.

Oral Testimony

If the bill passes in the Senate Judiciary Committee (the hearing was on April 23, 2019), then it will go before the full Senate. Testimony can be made in-person, at the capitol in Concord, once a hearing date is set. If you will testify in person please bring enough written copies of your testimony that can be distributed to all senators, as well as the court clerk.

When testifying, keep your presentation succinct. While there is no official time limit, if you lose your focus the chair may interrupt you or ask you to wrap it up. JPus will be there too, so please let us know to expect you so we can meet up.

COMPOSING YOUR TESTIMONY

Direct your written and oral testimony to the Chairs, and other members of the Senate, state your name, your town and whether you are in favor or opposed to HB 295.

State that you are a Justice of the Peace and a member of the Justice of the Peace Association.

Here is a template to help you present your message.

Your goal is to help members of the legislative body better understand what your experiences are. Think about the different points you may want to get across. You won’t be able to cover them all, so identify between one and three to help you focus your message. Think about how you could give Legislators a real understanding of how amateur officiants may pose a problem. To see how One-Day Solemnizers have created havoc in Massachusetts see JPus’ white paper here.

All public hearing testimony, written and spoken, is public information. As such, it will be made available on the state’s website and indexed by Internet search engines.

Following are some suggestions to help you formulate your message:

  • What do you offer that makes hiring a professional JP important?
  • JPs are standing in for the state when they perform their duties. Is the JP role more than someone just signing a form? How?
  • Consider the NH JP Manual for the official duties. Does this bill diminish the importance of JP’s responsibilities that being a professional JP provides?
  • The state’s income from fees related to a special marriage officiant will be at the expense of JPs who derive their livelihood from their marriage officiant role, negating the state’s benefits.
  • When concluding your statement, please remember to restate your position (for or against) HB295-FN-A” and thank the committee for taking the time to listen to your experiences.

TO-DO CHECKLIST

  1. Write testimony; use our template for guidance, or call the JPus office at 203.255.7703.
  2. Email testimony to your senator, and send a copy to JPus: admin at jpus.org, to let them know your position on HB295-FN-A. Help them understand why this is important to you.
  3. Speak with your town clerk and fellow JPs. Make sure they are aware of this pending bill and ask them to get involved. JPus is available as a resource.

RELEVANT LINKS

Read about the problem with HB295-FN-A here.

JPus presented oral and written testimony opposing the legislation.

  • January 16, 2019: JPus testified before the Judiciary Committee and submitted written testimony. While at the Legislative Office Building, we had some meaningful one-on-one conversations with Judiciary Committee Members. In addition, JPus’ Loretta Jay emailed with Representative Cushing about the bill. Despite these efforts the committee passed the bill 11 to 8.

  • March 6, 2019: The NH House Ways and Means Committee heard testimony about the bill. JPus provided both oral and written testimony. Twenty-nine NH JPs endorsed our statement; this was appreciated by the lawmakers and we were encouraged to bring concerns to the Senate.

  • April 23, 2019: The bill passed out of the Ways and Means Committee and the full House. JPus testified against the bill when it was heard before the Senate Judiciary CommitteeRead JPus’ statement.

JPus MEMBERS ONLY  Join our closed Facebook group for ongoing discussion with other JPs about this important issue.