Senate Finance Approves Alternative Divisive Concepts Provision for Budget

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Courtesy photo

Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro is pictured with Gov. Chris Sununu in this file photo.


CONCORD — The Senate Finance Committee split down party lines 4-2 Thursday to approve an alternative to the divisive concepts provisions the House included in the state budget package.

The alternative proposal from Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro, would create a system based on a list of qualities such as race, age and sex and would declare that no one is inferior or superior and applies the concept to several situations including education as well as training and education of public employees. The Human Rights Commission would oversee the new statute.

Sen. Cindy Rosenwald, D-Nashua, said she feared the proposal would prevent young people from knowing the real history of this country and rob them of “a more inclusive education.”

She said she had graduated from college before she learned of the internment of Japanese Americans in World War II.

Rosenwald said she is concerned  the proposal would ban critical concepts like systematic bias which is important to those who want to create an equitable and inclusive workplace.

“This an attack on local parents and communities who are better able to address these topics,” she said. “It is not our role to start censuring local school districts. . We should trust families and local boards rather than impose this gag rule.”

But Sen. Erin Hennessey, R-Littleton, pointed to a provision in the proposal that says nothing in the legislation prohibits discussing historical ideas.

“It addresses those concerns,” she said.

Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, said the proposed language is more ambiguous than what is in the divisive concept bill, House Bill 544, which was included in the budget.

She said the proposal conflicts with and would supersede an educator’s code of ethics. 

Soucy said the Human Rights Commission will be overwhelmed with cases because of its ambiguity.

But Sen. Bob Giuda, R-Warren, said there is nothing in this bill that stops teaching facts. “This is designed to bring facts forward in the totality of history and prevent bias one way or another,” Giuda said, “to ensure the minds of future generations are not unduly influenced by such toxins as critical race theory.”

Many public officials along with business, education, faith, and advocacy organizations have publicly opposed the bill.

“This is an effort to legislate a problem that does not exist but that has become the boogeyman of far-right actors set on disrupting any substantive progress on racial justice,” said Zandra Rice Hawkins, Executive Director, Granite State Progress. “It is the ultimate gaslighting to call it discrimination to learn about and acknowledge systemic racism and sexism.”

The committee also voted to increase privacy protections as the Department of Health and Human Services moves forward with a contract to create a “closed loop system,” for its clients.

The changes would give the legislative Health and Human Services Oversight Committee until Nov. 1 to issue a report on the system.

And the committee voted to increase the amount of funding for affordable housing approved the day before by $10 million bringing the total in the next biennium to $35 million.

The committee meets again at 1 p.m. Friday to finalize budget details and hear from the Legislative Budget Assistant.

Garry Rayno may be reached at

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