The Bulletin Board

Democrats: Strike ‘divisive concepts’ language from the budget

By: - May 25, 2021 12:11 pm
A view of the State House in Concord.

Senate Democrats said that while they have no specifics yet on the compromise language, when it comes to “divisive concepts” no compromise would be acceptable. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)

On Tuesday, Democrats said that cutting House Bill 544 out of the state’s biennial budget would be nonnegotiable in Wednesday’s budget session. Senate Republicans will introduce their version of the budget policy bill on Wednesday and vote on it during the same session.

HB 544 – a proposal that would ban teaching and training around so-called “divisive concepts” – has been a contentious element throughout budget discussions this legislative session.

House Finance Chairman Ken Weyler delivered an ultimatum to Senate Finance when the committee first took up the budget to leave in several pieces of policy or risk defeat on the House floor. The “divisive concepts” language is one policy Weyler included in his ultimatum.

Senate Democrats said that while they have no specifics yet on compromise language, when it comes to “divisive concepts” no compromise would be acceptable.

“I hope to see the language removed in its entirety from House Bill 2,” Sen. Cindy Rosenwald said during a press conference on Tuesday. She prepared an amendment that would do that. Rosenwald called the proposal a gag order that copies language from an executive order issued during Trump’s presidency to “combat offensive and anti-American race and gender stereotyping.”

“I don’t believe it’s fixable,” Rosenwald said of HB 544. “You can’t make it only semi-racist and -sexist. That’s not our values, and it’s not acceptable.”

Rep. Manny Espitia also spoke against the proposal. He said racist messages and threats he received last week after denouncing white supremacist graffiti in Nashua illustrate the need to strike the proposal from the budget.

“This (proposal) stops us from having any conversation on so many issues that we need to address,” Espitia said.

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Amanda Gokee
Amanda Gokee

Amanda Gokee is the New Hampshire Bulletin’s energy and environment reporter. She previously reported on these issues at VTDigger. Amanda grew up in Vermont and is a graduate of Harvard University. She received her master’s degree in liberal studies, with a concentration in creative writing, from Dartmouth College. Her work has also appeared in the LA Review of Books and the Valley News.

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