A parliamentary battle in Concord ended today with Rep. Shawn Jasper (R-Hudson) emerging as Speaker of the New Hampshire House. It took three ballots and more than six hours for Jasper to prevail over former Speaker Bill O’Brien 195-178.
The original candidates for Speaker were Republican former Speaker Bill O’Brien of Mont Vernon and Democrat Steve Shurtleff of Penacook. O’Brien fell four votes shy of a majority on the first ballot, with blank ballots and write-ins preventing either candidate from winning outright. Nominations were then re-opened and Jasper’s name was introduced. After a recess for party caucuses, Shurtleff bowed out of the race. Two ballots later, Jasper prevailed.
Jasper in 2006 on conscience rights
House Bill 1492 from the 2006 session was introduced by five pro-life legislators including current Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester). It was a bill to protect the conscience rights of pharmacists choosing not to participate in dispensing so-called “emergency contraception” or “morning-after” pills. The bill failed. (The full vote is in this House record, which unfortunately requires quite a bit of scrolling to reach HB 1492.)
Rep. Shawn Jasper voted to kill the bill. He was one of the last people to speak to the House before the vote. His remarks were nowhere preserved, as far as I know, so I can’t link to a news account. I was in the gallery that day, though, and one thing Mr. Jasper said to his colleagues has stayed with me ever since.
“If you’re opposed to this kind of thing, you know better than to go into that profession.”
Representative Jasper is now Speaker Jasper.
Jasper’s record on the life issues
Jasper has a mixed record on life-issue bills, voting pro-life more often than not.
In the past session, he supported the original language of Griffin’s Law. He opposed the buffer zone and assisted suicide. On the other side, he voted against abortion-facility licensing and death penalty repeal. He did not vote on personhood.
He has a mixed record on informed consent for abortion, opposing such a bill in 2012 but supporting a similar one in 2013. In the 2011-12 session, he voted for parental notification, and against partial-birth abortion. Oddly, he voted against a resolution commending the work of pregnancy care centers.
Yet to be seen
Bills are already in the works for the 2015 session to deal with abortion statistics, fetal homicide and repeal of the buffer zone law. A decision by Speaker Jasper to support or oppose those measures will play a role in how they’ll be dealt with in the House.
The House majority and minority leadership teams will be named shortly, and committee assignments will follow.