Category Archives: New Hampshire politics

House and Senate Approve SB 66 Amendment

Update to recent post: In the final legislative session of 2017, the New Hampshire House and Senate accepted an amendment to SB 66 to correct a drafting error. The bill still has the 20-week provision that drew the ire this month of some pro-life activists.

Barring yet another unexpected detour, the next stop for the fetal homicide bill should be Governor Sununu’s desk. Given his expression of support for such legislation, signing this one ought to be easy. I’ll certainly encourage him to do so. His office phone number is 603-271-2121.

 

 

Council Okays Contracts

Update to earlier post: the New Hampshire Executive Council has voted 4-1 to grant contracts to two abortion providers. Concord’s Equality Center and Planned Parenthood of Northern New England were awarded the contracts for anti-HIV work.

The vote was 4-1, with District 5 Councilor David Wheeler casting the lone vote in defense of taxpayers who want to keep healthcare funds away from abortion providers. The contracts were supported by Councilors Joe Kenney, Andru Volinsky, Russell Prescott, and Chris Pappas.

Planned Parenthood’s half-billion dollars in annual taxpayer funding, calculated from all grants to PP affiliates including PPNNE, has just been augmented by $275,000.

PP Contract Coming to Executive Council Wednesday, June 21

You may or may not be surprised to learn that New Hampshire’s abortion providers bid on contracts other than the familiar Title X family planning business. Supporters of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and the Equality Center will be at the New Hampshire Executive Council meeting on Wednesday, June 21 to watch the Councilors vote on HIV prevention contracts with the two agencies.

The contracts total $440,000, with 17% of those funds coming from federal sources and the rest coming from “other,” meaning state-level sources.

To view the contract letter, go to the Council’s June 21 agenda and click on item #50. 

From the contract letter: the request for proposal for this HIV prevention work elicited proposals only from PPNNE and the Equality Center. No abortion-free bidders applied.

Also in the contract letter is a warning that if the contracts are denied, individuals might lose access to HIV testing and referrals for care, “which may increase the transmission of disease throughout New Hampshire.” I guess that means that denying the contracts would not prompt PPNNE to shift any of its public policy funds to HIV prevention.

You can contact your Councilor about the contract vote if you are so moved. The June 21 meeting (10 a.m.) is open to the public at the Executive Council chamber on the second floor of the State House.


 

Dispute Over Fetal Homicide Bill

Five months after its introduction and first hearing, four months after its passage in the New Hampshire Senate, three months after its House hearing, and days after its House passage, language has been discovered in a fetal homicide bill that allegedly would permit assisted suicide and allow pregnant women to get away with murder.

House and Senate are scheduled to vote on a “fix” for that drafting error on Thursday, June 22. [Update, 6/22: both chambers voted to correct the error.]

New Hampshire Right to Life has made its objections to the bill public, based on other grounds: the fact that this fetal homicide bill would apply only in cases of pregnancies at or after the 20th week.

I have not heard any comment on either point from the bereaved families who have promoted fetal homicide legislation. [Update: see comment below from the grandfather of Griffin Donald Kenison.]

Anyone who wants SB 66 to be a personhood bill and is dissatisfied with the 20-week language now has another crack at House and Senate before June 22. In the event that SB 66 is killed, the retained HB 156 would remain open for further work and a 2018 vote on fetal homicide policy.

Whatever happens, I hope one question finds its way into the conversation: would SB 66 have allowed the New Hampshire Supreme Court in its 2009 Lamy decision to have upheld the defendant’s homicide conviction in the death of Dominick Emmons? The Court has the right to issue an advisory opinion on that.*

If SB 66 fails to address Lamy, then somehow the sponsors and the grieving families  have been wrong all this time about the bill’s purpose.

I don’t believe they’ve been wrong. Assuming no new news breaks abut the bill between now and June 22, I’m going to ask my reps to vote “yes” on correction to the drafting error in SB 66,** and to send the bill to the Governor’s desk.


*From the New Hampshire Constitution, under “Judiciary Power”:

[Art.] 74. [Judges to Give Opinions, When.] Each branch of the legislature as well as the governor and council shall have authority to require the opinions of the justices of the supreme court upon important questions of law and upon solemn occasions.

** Statement by Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper, from the House Calendar (vol. 39, #29) for the June 22 session, boldface added:

“Also in this House Calendar is an enrolled bills amendment that the full House will vote on during session. An enrolled bills amendment is a legislative device that we use in New Hampshire to clean up errors in the legislative drafting process. We typically adopt these amendments when the House is in recess by having the Clerk meet with two members and having a session where a member fills in ‘the chair’ and another member moves and adopts the amendment. (We also introduce bills, form committees of conference, and read enrolled bills reports in these sessions.) SB 66 had a drafting error that did not express the intent of the General Court when both bodies passed the bill, and as such (and as is proper) an enrolled bills amendment to clarify the intent has been drafted. Because of the rather political nature of this bill (SB 66, including a fetus in the definition of ‘another’ for purposes of certain criminal offenses), I have decided that the full House will take up the amendment in session this coming week.”

Situational Personhood

During the debate preceding the recent vote on the fetal homicide bill, one New Hampshire state representative made her way to the House gallery to hand me a thick bundle of stapled papers. She pointed out the top page to me, and then left without further comment to take her seat on the House floor.

The bundle was an amendment to a Commerce bill that had just been voted on. The topic was trusts, basically property, and the protection and conveyance thereof. Check out the words that pass without controversy when the subject is trusts.

Unborn person.
Ironically, at the moment I read that, a representative was making a speech cautioning that a fetal homicide law would confer personhood on the fetus. No word on whether she takes issue with the term “unborn person” as it applies to trust law.

Legislation addressing unborn victims of violence is not personhood legislation. If it were, with nearly 40 states and the federal government having one or another form of a fetal homicide law, Roe v. Wade would have been kicked to the curb long ago.

The irony meter jumped up another notch as the omigosh-not-personhood politician at the microphone switched between “fetus” and “baby” as she spoke against the bill.

I’d like to think she’s teetering on the edge of a revelation, for all her thus-far adamant abortion advocacy.

 

Postscript to House vote on SB 66: the Naysayers

Steve MacDonald over at Granite Grok was blunter than I after the SB 66 vote in the House: “NH Democrats Defend the Right to End a Woman’s Pregnancy Against Her Will.” That’s harsh, but tough to refute, especially in view of all of the day’s roll calls on the bill – not just the main one.

As promised in my report on the SB 66 vote in the New Hampshire House, here’s the list of state representatives who made it clear that they want no part of anyone’s fetal homicide bill.  Two Republicans and one Libertarian are on the list along with 141 Democrats.

One can argue that there was no single “clean” vote among any of the six roll calls on the bill. Using all six, though, it’s fair to assess opposition to the concept of fetal homicide in general and SB 66 in particular. Each of these reps:

The representatives are listed below by county. All are Democrats except for Libertarian Joseph Stallcop and Republicans Carolyn Gargasz and Neal Kurk.

Belknap County

David Huot.

Carroll County

Thomas Buco, Edward Butler, Jerry Knirk.

Cheshire County

Michael Abbott, Richard Ames, Paul Berch, John Bordenet, Daniel Eaton, Barry Faulkner, Donovan Fenton, Cathryn Harvey, Douglas Ley, John Mann, David Meader, Henry Parkhurst, William Pearson, Marjorie Shepardson, Joseph Stallcop, Bruce Tatro, Lucy Weber.

Coos County

Larry Laflamme, Wayne Moynihan, Yvonne Thomas, Edith Tucker.

Grafton County

Susan Almy, Polly Campion, Roger Dontonville, Patricia Higgins, Timothy Josephson, Kevin Maes, Mary Jane Mulligan, Sharon Nordgren, Steven Rand, Suzanne Smith, George Sykes, Andrew White.

Hillsborough County

Jessica Ayala, Robert Backus, Jane Beaulieu, Amanda Bouldin, Shannon Chandley, Skip Cleaver, Patricia Cornell, David Cote, Daniel Sullivan, Linda DiSilvestro, Joel Elber, Armand Forest, Mary Freitas, Carolyn Gargasz, Ken Gidge, Jeff Goley, Suzanne Harvey, Mary Heath, Christopher Herbert, Janice Schmidt, Marty Jack, Amelia Keane, Mark King, Patricia Klee, Neal Kurk, Peter Leishman, David Lisle, Mark MacKenzie, Latha Mangipudi, Jonathan Manley, Joelle Martin, Richard McNamara, Michael O’Brien, Richard O’Leary, Patrick Long, Marjorie Porter, Carol Roberts, Cindy Rosenwald, Kendall Snow, Catherine Sofikitis, Timothy Smith, Robert Walsh, Connie Van Houten, Kermit Williams.

Merrimack County

Caroletta Alicea, Christy Bartlett, Clyde Carson, David Doherty, Karen Ebel, Mary Gile, Howard Moffett, Paul Henle, James MacKay, Linda Kenison, David Luneau, Mel Myler, Chip Rice, Beth Rodd, Katherine Rogers, Dianne Schuett, Steve Shurtleff,  Alan Turcotte, Mary Beth Walz, David Woolpert.

Rockingham County

Debra Altschiller, Skip Berrien, Michael Cahill, Jacqueline Cali-Pitts, Renny Cushing, Charlotte DiLorenzo, Michael Edgar, Paula Francese, Tamara Le, Dennis Malloy, Rebecca McBeath, Mindi Messmer, Kate Murray, Pamela Gordon, Ellen Read, Peter Somssich, Gerald Ward.

Strafford County

Peter Bixby, Wayne Burton, Jacalyn Cilley, Donna Ellis, Isaac Epstein, Sherry Frost, Chuck Grassie, Timothy Horrigan, Sandra Keans, Hamilton Krans, Marjorie Smith, Lin Opderbecke, Peter Schmidt, Jeff Salloway, Catt Sandler, Judith Spang, Dale Sprague, Kenneth Vincent, Janet Wall.

Sullivan County

John Cloutier, Raymond Gagnon, Suzanne Gottling, Virginia Irwin, Lee Oxenham, Andrew Schmidt, Linda Tanner.