All posts by Ellen Kolb

New Hampshire-based writer, pro-life activist, hiker.

The cost of the buffer zone law, so far

A postscript to yesterday’s New Hampshire House committee vote on buffer zone repeal, HB 589: Rep. Gary Hopper (R-Weare) read aloud to his fellow committee members a communication he had received from Deputy Attorney General Ann Rice in response to a query from him about what the state has spent so far defending the buffer zone law.

He read the letter aloud in a meeting that was open to the public; he posted it today on Facebook; his correspondent is a state employee; the topic was state business. Sounds like quotable stuff to me. So here is Deputy AG Rice to Rep. Hopper, as posted by Rep. Hopper this morning:

…So far, the Department has devoted 313.75 hours of attorney time in defending the buffer zone law, which equates to $43,611.25 (313.75 hours x $139.00/hr). We do not track the time that support staff devotes to any particular case so I cannot provide a cost for that. As far as future costs, that will depend on what the plaintiffs chose to do. If they appeal the decision to the US Supreme Court, we would file an objection, which I would estimate would involve approximately 40 hours of attorney time at $139/hr, or $5560 in cost. If the US Supreme Court accepted the appeal, the Department would likely devote several hundred hours on the appeal. I am unable to better estimate the amount of time required.

The plaintiffs could opt to refrain from further litigation unless and until a buffer zone is actually being considered. At this point, I cannot estimate if or when that would occur, or the amount of time that this office would spend on the litigation.

Recall that in the Supreme Court’s McCullen v. Coakley decision overturning a Massachusetts buffer zone law, taxpayers not only covered the cost for the state to defend an ultimately unconstitutional law but were later on the hook for $1.2 million in plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees.

I’m sure Massachusetts’ costs started small. Look where they ended up.


Buffer zone repeal House committee vote, 2017

[Update, 2/22/17: the original version of this post listed Rep. Jordan Ulery as absent from the hearing. Rep. Dan Hynes has advised me that Rep. Ulery is no longer on the Judiciary Committee. I regret the error.]

The New Hampshire House Judiciary Committee is sending this year’s buffer zone repeal bill to the House floor with an Inexpedient to Legislate (ITL) recommendation. I was present for the vote, and there is some dispute over whether the vote was 10-7 (which is how I tallied it) or 9-8 (which is how the clerk reported it) for ITL on HB 589.

One representative sounded to me like he voted “nyet” on the ITL motion, with the clerk mishearing that as “yes.” (Short “e” came through clearly even if the consonants didn’t.) I believe that was Rep. Jason Janvrin (R-Seabrook), although I could be mistaken; I was looking down at my tally as the roll was being called. If I discover I’m in error about Rep. Janvrin’s intention, I will correct this post.

Any errors in the tally below are mine, and I would appreciate corrections.

The debate was long and produced no new information, although it allowed several reps to reiterate tiresome misinformation. I’ve attended and written about every hearing on the buffer zone and attempts to repeal it, and if you want to know how buffer zone fans defend their law, help yourself to the coverage.

Voting today IN FAVOR of ITL, therefore recommending that the repeal bill be killed: Reps. Claire Rouillard (R-Goffstown; acting committee chair today), Sandra Keans (D-Rochester; committee clerk), John Leavitt (R-Hooksett), Janet Wall (D-Madbury), Timothy Horrigan (D-Durham), Paul Berch (D-Westmoreland), Linda Kenison (D-Concord), Charlotte DiLorenzo (D-Newmarket), Mary Jane Mulligan (D-Hanover).

Unclear vote, which I might have misheard as explained above: Rep. Jason Janvrin (R-Seabrook).

Voting AGAINST the ITL motion, therefore supporting the repeal bill: Reps. Gary Hopper (R-Weare), Michael Sylvia (R-Belmont), Robert Hull (R-Grafton), Kurt Wuelper (R-Strafford), Robert Graham (R-Milton), Dan Hynes (R-Merrimack), John Mullen (R-Middleton).

Absent for the day was Chairman Rep. Joseph Hagan (R-Chester). Rep. Mullen was seated on the committee for the day to replace Rep. Hagan. [This post originally listed Rep. Jordan Ulery as absent; that was an error. Rep. Ulery is a former, not current, member of the Judiciary Committee.]

40DFL local opening events

The Spring 2017 40 Days for Life campaign begins on March 1, with kickoff events taking place next weekend.

Greenland, New Hampshire

Kickoff rally Sunday, February 26, 2 p.m. For more details, register for vigil hours at the Greenland 40 DFL page. The campaign takes place outside the Lovering Center.

DSCF8357
Hand-embroidered sweater worn by one of the Greenland 40DFL volunteers.

Concord, New Hampshire

Kickoff event Saturday, February 25, 5:30 p.m. (following 4:00 Mass) at St. John the Evangelist Church activity center. (Christ the King Parish), 72 S. Main Street.

Beth Gaby
Beth Gaby, campaign leader for 40DFL Spring 2017 in Concord.

The official opening of 40 Days for Life will be at midnight on March 1, the very first hour of the worldwide campaign. (Or you could think of it as the end of the last evening of February.) Area Knights of Columbus will be praying from midnight to 1 a.m. To join them or to select your own vigil hours. sign up at the Concord 40DFL page. The campaign takes place outside the Equality Center, formerly known as the Feminist Health Center.

The Worcester, Massachusetts 40 Days for Life team is having its kickoff event on Sunday, February 26, in Medway, MA. Guest speaker will be Dr. Anthony Levatino. He is a physician, a lawyer, and a former abortion provider.

Worcester 40DFL Spring 2017

 

Norma McCorvey, R.I.P.

A few days ago, Abby Johnson on her Facebook page called for prayers for Norma McCorvey, who was very ill. I am now hearing that McCorvey has died at age 69, having lived for 44 years in the shadow of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that bore her pseudonym.

McCorvey went public, affirming her real identity and refusing to embrace being “Jane Roe.” Eventually, in the midst of a tumultuous life, she repudiated the Court decision and became pro-life.

On a visit to Texas last year, I went to Mass at a small chapel  in downtown Dallas. The pastor turned out to be the man who had ministered to McCorvey when she professed the Catholic faith. Rather than talk about her, he demurred: “Leave her alone. She’s been too much used.”

Too much used. The attorneys who represented her in Roe can take some credit for that. For the briefest of overviews about McCorvey and the court case that thrust her into American history, read Live Action’s post from earlier this year, 7 Things You Didn’t Know About Jane Roe of Roe v. Wade.

I think of her as one of the voices to trust whenever I hear an abortion advocate say “trust women.”

“I realized that my case, which legalized abortion on demand, was the biggest mistake of my life….but now I’m dedicated to spreading the truth about preserving the dignity of all human life from natural conception to natural death.”

“[I]t doesn’t make any difference what religion you are, or how young you are or how old you are, I think if they get up and go to these abortion mills, and stand there – and they don’t have to do anything, they can just stand there and pray, I think that would make a lot of difference. We have to be seen in numbers.”

May she rest in peace.

 

Where’s the roll call on SB 66? (Update: Found!)

Update: a few hours after this post went up, so did the Senate roll calls for SB 66. View them at this link. The first roll call listed is the 8-week amendment that failed on a 12-12 vote. Sens. Jeb Bradley (R-Wolfeboro) and Dan Innis (R-New Castle) joined the Senate’s ten Democrats in rejecting that language. They did support the 20-week amendment, which passed 14-10. 

The thing about legislative roll calls is that they’re public. They tie elected officials to particular votes. They’re an accountability measure.

During the debate on Senate Bill 66, the fetal homicide measure passed yesterday by the New Hampshire Senate, three roll call votes were taken, according to the official docket for the bill, accessed via the General Court’s web site.

Docket of SB 66 as posted 11:30 a.m., 2/17/2017.

The first roll call (“RC”) was on an amendment; the vote was 12-12; the amendment failed (“AF”). This was the attempt to change the bill’s language to 8 weeks, instead of keeping the original “viability.”

The second roll call was on the amendment to replace “viability” with 20 weeks. This one passed (“AA” or “amendment adopted”) 14-10. The third roll call was to accept the bill as amended, and on another 14-10 vote, the bill passed.

Those RC notations are all hyperlinked to the page that ought to give us the roll calls: each Senator’s name, each Senator’s vote. Instead, we have this.

Record indicating no roll calls on SB 66, as viewed 11:30 a.m. 2/17/2017.

Each day’s roll calls are usually posted online by the end of the day. The recent House right-to-work roll call was online within ten minutes of when the vote occurred.

Personally, I’d like to know the breakdown on that 12-12 vote. I feel safe in saying all ten Democratic senators opposed the bill in all its proposed versions. So who are the two Republicans who couldn’t support the 8-week amendment?

I could just call the Senate clerk or call a Senator. But there’s that thing about roll calls being public. There’s that roll call page on the web site.

I’ll update this when and if the roll calls are posted.

 

Update: N.H. Senate Passes Amended Fetal Homicide Bill

The New Hampshire Senate today passed SB 66 on a 14-10 vote. The measure is a fetal homicide bill that would give prosecutors the option of filing homicide charges against anyone whose bad actions cause the death of a preborn child against the mother’s wishes. As introduced, SB 66 could have been used only for fetal deaths after viability, but the Senate amended the bill today to change “viability” to 20 weeks’ gestation.

The bill’s legislative docket indicates that there was a roll call, but the results had not been linked at the time of this posting.

A New Hampshire House committee last week retained another fetal homicide bill, HB 156, which bars further action on the House version for now. The House bill would have made fetal homicide charges possible for deaths of preborn children at 8 weeks’ gestation or later. It is likely that the Senate bill will now go to the same House committee that retained HB 156.