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What is the New Hampshire Executive Council?

The New Hampshire Executive Council is a unique body of government in New Hampshire that serves as a check and balance on the Governor and the Executive Branch of government. Each of the five Executive Councilors represents approximately one fifth of New Hampshire’s population. Councilors are elected every two years, at the same time as the Governor. 

Why is the Executive Council So Important to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care?

In particular, the Executive Council serves three functions that are critical to sexual and reproductive health care access in New Hampshire. The Council:

  • Approves contracts, including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s

  • Approves judges to all of New Hampshire’s courts, including the Supreme Court

  • Approves commissioners to critical departments, like NH’s department of Health and Human Services

Contracts

The Executive Council approves or rejects all state contracts over $10,000, including the contract that funds PPNNE and other members of the New Hampshire Family Planning Program. Since the New Hampshire Family Planning Program was established in 1972, the Executive Council approved this contract without controversy until, in 2011 and 2015, anti-reproductive health majorities on the Council decided to single out and reject PPNNE’s funding in the contract, injecting politics into the process for the first time. 

With anti-reproductive health care politicians emboldened by the Trump administration ramping up their attacks in recent years, having a majority on the Council who understand the importance of upholding access to family planning services has never been more important.

Judicial Nominees

The Executive Council approves or rejects all Supreme Court, Superior Court, and Circuit Court judges in New Hampshire. These judges, who can serve until the age of 70, shape the legal landscape of our state, including the reproductive rights landscape.

Now, more than ever, it's critical that judges serving on New Hampshire's courts understand the importance of upholding reproductive rights. The Trump administration continues to stack the federal courts with anti-abortion and anti-health care judges, including U.S. Supreme Court Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch. In his first term, Trump has appointed 53 federal circuit court judges to lifetime appointments, more than any president in recent history. And as the courts flip, more abortion restrictions pass -- including 59 abortion restrictions in 2019.

Commissioners and Department Heads

The Executive Council approves or rejects appointments of NH state commissioners, including the commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the NH Family Planning Program, the state HIV/STD Prevention Program, and other programs that directly affect sexual and reproductive health care.