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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. 

Who is My Councilor?

Click here
to find your Executive Council member and their contact information.

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

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 and federal contracts over $10,000, including the contract that funds PPNNE and other members of the New Hampshire Family Planning Program. The New Hampshire Family Planning Program covers preventative sexual and reproductive health care, such as birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment, for low-income and uninsured Granite Staters. Essential, preventive health care is provided for free or on a sliding scale. 

Since the New Hampshire Family Planning Program was established in 1972, the Executive Council approved this contract without controversy. Then, 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.

Currently, three members of Gov. Sununu’s Executive Council have a record of voting against PPNNE’s contract: Councilor Joe Kenney (D-1), Councilor Ted Gatas (D-2), and Councilor Dave Wheeler (D-5).

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 U.S. Supreme Court, which is now stacked with ultraconservative Trump appointees, has decided to take up a case that’s a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade. If Roe’s protections are overturned or weakened, it will fall to the states to protect the right to safe, legal abortion.

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. 

New Political Hurdles for Family Planning Providers

The budget signed into law by Gov. Sununu requires NH family planning providers to jump through unnecessary, politically motivated hurdles to confirm that state family planning funds aren’t used for abortion care. State and federal funds are already prohibited from going toward abortion care. 

Providers already submit financial information for the council for review, as directed by the RFP process. These audits are applicable to all vendors in the NH Family Planning Program, including Federally Qualified Health Centers.

Funding for providers in the New Hampshire Family Planning Program expired on June 30, 2021. These contracts, including Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s (PPNNE), fund cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, birth control, and other safety net care; they do not fund abortion care. 

On September 15, 2021, the Executive Council voted 4-1 to deny a six-month extension to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England’s Family Planning contract. Voting to reject contracts were Councilors Kenney (District 1), Stevens (District 3), Gatsas (District 4), and Wheeler (District 5). Councilor Warmington (District 2) was the sole vote in support of PPNNE's contract.