How NH’s Secretary of State Could Affect Abortion Statistics

Former Executive Councilor Colin “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” Van Ostern is campaigning to replace New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner. The vote will be taken on December 5 by the newly-elected House and Senate in Concord. The result will have implications for an important pro-life policy goal.

[Update, 12/6/18: Secretary of State Gardner narrowly won re-election over Mr. Van Ostern.]

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From June 2016: then-Executive Councilors Chris Sununu and Colin Van Ostern before voting Yes on contracts with abortion providers.

New Hampshire is one of very few states that does not report abortion statistics to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) as a public health measure. If – excuse me, when – New Hampshire finally puts women’s health ahead of lesser concerns, two state departments will be involved in any statistics program: the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which oversees public health issues, and the Department of State, which oversees the Division of Vital Records.

That’s why it matters who holds the position of New Hampshire Secretary of State. The administrative framework for carrying out any statistics-collection program will be handled by the team in the vital records office. If that office answers to a pro-abortion Secretary of State, I don’t believe cooperation with an abortion statistics law will be forthcoming.

In past discussions to which I’ve been a party regarding proposed abortion-statistics legislation, a representative of the vital records office has been present. At every point, that representative has been scrupulously neutral on abortion, assuring policymakers that the division can find and implement any necessary software and procedures to collect abortion statistics in a manner that respects the privacy of all individuals.

Whenever a legislative policy committee has had a hearing on abortion and has requested input from the vital records office, that has been the essence of the office’s message: you tell us what you want collected – and since this is information other states are already collecting and reporting to the CDC, we’re not talking rocket science here – and we’ll get the job done.

That’s been the policy under Bill Gardner. Mr. Gardner is a Democrat, but at no point in his tenure as Secretary of State has that made a difference to him. He has carried out every aspect of his job in a nonpartisan manner. Andrew Cline of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy summed it up:

…Gardner gave his loyalty to the office, never to a party or person. Being his friend, as many legislators have been, was no help if your race was close. Being a member of his political party was no help, either. And everyone knew it.

Gardner always understood that the survival of a democratic republic requires trust in its institutions. If the state’s top election official showed even hints of favoritism, trust in the system would erode. And that would undermine our whole experiment in republican government.

Newly-elected Democrats in the New Hampshire House held a straw poll not long ago. Van Ostern won in a landslide. Since then, many New Hampshire officials – including Democrats former Gov. John Lynch and current Sen. Lou D’Allesandro – have spoken up about why they support Gardner for Secretary of State. Will their endorsements make a difference? We’ll find out on December 5.

That’s when the New Hampshire House and Senate will meet in joint session. First order of business will be swearing in the victors of November’s election. Democrats will be in the majority. Then comes the vote for Secretary of State.

The result is going to matter.

Tracking N.H. General Court’s 2018 Votes and Preparing for Next Election

As April draws to a close, most of 2018’s life-issue bills in Concord have been settled one way or another. Below, you’ll find links to the votes so you can see how each of your state representatives voted.

vote checkmarkAccountability isn’t the only reason to keep an eye on voting records. The filing period for next fall’s state elections runs from June 6 to June 15. That’s only a few weeks away. Have you ever thought of running for office, or encouraging a friend to do so? Has one of your state representatives decided not to run again? Does someone need a challenge who didn’t get one in 2016? Continue reading “Tracking N.H. General Court’s 2018 Votes and Preparing for Next Election”

Down for the Count: Life-Issue Bills in N.H. House

The twice-delayed vote on a bill to prevent abortion of viable pre-born children finally came on March 21. HB 1680 was tabled in the New Hampshire House on a 170-163 vote. A committee’s recommendation of “ought to pass” on HB 1680 was never debated. The roll call for the tabling motion is thus what we have to go by, to figure out where state representatives stood on the bill.

A vote in favor of the tabling motion was effectively a vote to kill HB 1680. Tabling meant no debate, aside from the speeches masquerading as “parliamentary inquiries.” An attempt to remove the bill from the table and open it up for debate failed later in the day.

You can look up your reps and how they voted on HB 1680. Keep in mind that a “Yea” vote was a vote in favor of the tabling motion, not a vote in favor of the bill.

On the same day, the Abortion Information Act (HB 1707) was voted to Interim Study.  Translation: it’s dead. Voice vote, no roll call. The bill on coerced abortion (HB 1721) was killed on an Inexpedient to Legislate motion, 237-100.

Three bills, three different motions, same results. Put these on the spike along with conscience protection (Inexpedient to Legislate, 218-109 on March 15) and abortion statistics (ITL, 200-154 on January 3).

This is all spreadsheet material, and I’ll compile it before the filing period in June. That’s when people who want to run for state representative later this year will pay their two bucks to the town clerk to make it official.

Notes on the HB 1680 vote

Opposing the tabling motion were 158 Republicans, joined by two Libertarians (Caleb Dyer and Brandon Phinney) and three Democrats (Roger Berube, Jesse Martineau, and Barbara Shaw).

Joining 148 Democrats in voting to table the bill were one Libertarian (Joseph Stallcop) and 21 Republicans: Francis Chase, Chris Christensen, Karel Crawford, Stephen Darrow, Carolyn Gargasz, John Graham, James Grenier, Bonnie Ham, Peter Hansen, Erin Hennessey, Phyllis Katsakiores, John Lewicke, Betsy McKinney, Russell Ober, Mark Proulx, Andrew Prout, Skip Rollins, Frank Sapareto, Franklin Sterling, Robert Theberge, and Brenda Willis.

Speaker Gene Chandler was present during the day but was absent for the HB 1680 vote, turning the gavel over to Deputy Speaker Sherman Packard.

Absences: there were 38 “excused” absences, according to the House roll call, and 20 “Not Voting.”  The latter indicates an unexcused absence. It could mean a rep simply took a walk rather than go on record. Those 58 missing reps loom large in the context of a 170-163 vote.