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The DOJ delivers the Comey memos to Congress. Also on our rundown: More evidence that rent prices are out of reach in many markets; Wisconsin counties brace for sulfide mining; and the Earth Day focus this weekend in North Dakota is on recycling.

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Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearing on Transgender Nondiscrimination Bill

Business leaders, health-care experts, faith leaders and transgender people spoke in support of HB 1319. (Hannah Willard)
Business leaders, health-care experts, faith leaders and transgender people spoke in support of HB 1319. (Hannah Willard)
April 17, 2018

CONCORD, N.H. – Civil-rights advocates are optimistic that New Hampshire's transgender non-discrimination bill may soon be law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing Monday on House Bill 1319, which would protect transgender Granite Staters from discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. This is the third time this bill has come before the state Legislature.

Linds Jakows, campaign manager for Freedom New Hampshire, points out that it passed the House by a wide margin with the support of 50 Republicans, and there are three Republican co-sponsors of the bill in the Senate.

"We're cautiously optimistic but we really want to make sure that this passes," Jakows says. "So we'll be working hard to share our stories with every single senator to gain as much support as possible."

Gov. Chris Sununu is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk. Opponents of the bill claim that transgender people using gender-specific facilities will pose threats to privacy and safety.

But Jakows counters that experience has shown such fears are unfounded.

"In the 18 states and 200 cities and towns that have already passed this, there has been no increase in safety incidents so these laws have existed for a long time and the sky hasn't fallen," Jakows notes.

They add that transgender people are much more likely to be victims of assaults in public restrooms.

Opponents of the legislation also claim that transgender people already are protected by sex-discrimination laws. But Jakows says those protections aren't always enough, and HB 1319 would take away any doubt that transgender people are covered.

"It will make 100 percent crystal clear in New Hampshire state law that transgender people should be protected from discrimination in employment, housing and public places just like all other Granite Staters are right now," states Jakows.

The full Senate must vote on the bill by May 3.

Andrea Sears/Shaine Smith, Public News Service - NH