2014 NH legislative session opens today

New Hampshire State HouseThe New Hampshire House and Senate got back to business today. Hearings on new bills are on hold until 2013’s business is formally concluded. Today was a matter of dealing with veto messages, re-referred 2013 bills, and (just to keep things interesting) a successful move in the House to pass Medicaid expansion by making it an amendment to another bill. Yes, an Obamacare provision without a hearing. The Senate did not act on that today.

Among the hundreds of bills that have been introduced, here are a few that I’ll be watching.

Fetal Homicide – “Griffin’s Law”

Rep. Leon Rideout (R-Lancaster) has been very busy promoting HB 1503 on social media and conventional news outlets. As with all the bills listed here, no hearing date has been set yet. HB 1503 would allow prosecution for causing the death of a fetus – excluding abortions, excluding any act taken with the mother’s consent, and excluding the first eight weeks of pregnancy. This is what the New Hampshire Supreme Court asked for in 2009’s Lamy case. Related posts: Rep. Rideout explains how Griffin’s Law got its name; what the Lamy case was about.

Abortion

  • HB 1502 would require New Hampshire’s department of health and human services to collect abortion statistics.
  • HB 1501 would require licensing of outpatient abortion facilities. Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester) is chief sponsor of both bills, and both bills have numerous co-sponsors.
  • Rep. J.R. Hoell (R-Dunbarton) is the sole sponsor of HB 1504, recognizing that life begins at conception.
  • Eight abortion advocates led by Sen. Donna Soucy (D-Manchester) want to pass SB 319, imposing a 25-foot no-free-speech zone around abortion facilities.

Death penalty

HB 1170 would repeal New Hampshire’s death penalty. Chief sponsor Rep. Renny Cushing (D-Hampton)  is joined by ten co-sponsors. Related post: Going on the record against capital punishment.

End-of-life issues

  • Physician-assisted suicide is back with HB 1325. Rep. Joel Winters (D-Nashua) is chief sponsor.
  • Related to HB 1325: two bills would modify New Hampshire’s current law against causing or aiding suicide. HB 1216 would remove from the law the language about “soliciting another to commit suicide.” HB 1292 would provide an “affirmative defense” to anyone who aids in the suicide of a person with a terminal illness. Rep. Tim O’Flaherty (D-Manchester) is chief sponsor of both bills.
  • In ironic contrast to Rep. O’Flaherty’s efforts is HB 1588, which would require suicide prevention education in schools. The long list of sponsors is led by Rep. Donna Schlachman (D-Exeter).

Human trafficking

HB 1293 would establish a civil cause of action for victims of human trafficking. Only two sponsors, which surprises me: Reps. Shawn Sweeney (R-Milford) and J.R. Hoell.

Legislative calendars with the following week’s hearing schedules are available Thursday evenings. Look for the calendar links at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/.