Category Archives: New Hampshire legislature

Fetal homicide: nudge the committee

If you want to see fetal homicide legislation pass in New Hampshire this year, you might want to send a friendly emailed nudge to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Brief, polite, nothing cut-and-pasted: recommend Ought to Pass on SB 66, without weakening the bill’s language. You’ll certainly want to send an email if one of your own reps is on the committee (see the table below).

The committee earlier this year voted to retain HB 156, one of two 2017 versions of the legislation. “Retain” means the committee will have to make a recommendation one way or another to the House next January. In short, “retain” is a delay. (Here’s a reminder of what happens without fetal homicide legislation.)

Now the same committee has to decide what to recommend with the other fetal homicide bill, SB 66. The hearing is past. The committee vote has yet to be taken. Today, in a comment on someone’s Facebook post, a member of the Criminal Justice committee made an alarming observation.

“You ca[n]’t believe the number of emails I get from people that are opposed to the pre-born (fetal) homicide bill.”

I am willing to bet that most opposition isn’t coming from people concerned about the point in pregnancy when such a law could be used: 20 weeks in SB 66, 8 weeks in HB 156. Opposition is coming from people who hate the very idea of fetal homicide laws.

Opponents are pushing for an Inexpedient to Legislate vote from the committee. Sounds like they’re generating a serious number of emails.

Perhaps the members of the Criminal Justice committee need some more emails, this time from people saying “YES” to SB 66. This will be good practice for when the bill gets to the House floor, as it will unless the committee goes for another “retain” vote.

Here are the names of committee members. I’ve included party identification and the towns in each district, along with email addresses as listed on the House web site. The committee as a whole can be reached at HouseCriminalJusticeandPublicSafety@leg.state.nh.us. If you see your own rep’s name below, though, send a customized email and identify yourself as a constituent.  Be sure you view the entire table; there are 21 names.

nametowns representedemail address
Beth Rodd (D)Bradford, HennikerBeth.Rodd@leg.state.nh.us
Bonnie Ham (R)Lincoln, Livermore, Waterville Valley, Woodstockbdham@roadrunner.com
Carolyn Gargasz (R)Holliscarolyn.gargasz@leg.state.nh.us
Dave Testerman (R)Franklin wards 1& 2, and Hilldave@sanbornhall.net
David Welch (R)Hampstead, Kingstonv-chcj@outlook.com
Delmar Burridge (D)Keene wards 1-5dburridge@ne.rr.com
Dennis Fields (R)Sanbornton, Tiltondennis.fields@leg.state.nh.us
Dennis Green (R)Hampstead, KingstonDennis.Green@leg.state.nh.us
Frank Sapareto (R)Derrysapareto@comcast.net
Jody McNally (R)Rochester ward 3mcnally_jody_usmc@yahoo.com
John Burt (R)Deering, Goffstown, Wearejohn.burt@leg.state.nh.us
Kate Murray (D)New Castle, RyeKate.Murray@leg.state.nh.us
Larry Gagne (R)Manchester ward 6lgagne25@comcast.net
Laura Pantelakos (D)Portsmouth ward 1lcpantelakos@comcast.net
Linn Opderbecke (D)Dover ward 3no email listed; phone 742-4119
Richard O'Leary (D)Manchester ward 6no email listed; phone 668-0069
Robert "Renny" Cushing (D)Hamptonrenny.cushing@leg.state.nh.us
Robert Fesh (R)Derryrmfesh@comcast.net
Roger Berube (D)Somersworth wards 1, 3, 4, 5, and Rollinsfordrogerrberube@hotmail.com
Scott Wallace (R)Brentwood, Danville, FremontScott.Wallace@leg.state.nh.us
Shannon Chandley (D)AmherstShannon.Chandley.NH@aol.com

 


 

N.H. House Nixes Death Penalty Expansion

A day before rejecting limitations on post-viability abortions, the New Hampshire House quietly and decisively rejected expansion of the death penalty. HB 351 was killed on an Inexpedient to Legislate motion, 305-46.

The death penalty vote is good news. I’m just sorry that it was a division vote, not a roll call. We don’t know the names of the people who rejected that particular form of state-sponsored violence. I’d like to thank them.

I’d also like to compare that list to the roster of reps who support unrestricted abortion. The numbers tell me there must be overlap.

There are legislators in Concord who in the space of thirty hours said no to one constitutionally-sanctioned method of taking human life and then effectively said yes to another.

I refuse to believe the discordance will be permanent.


Post image by ccPixs.com under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0

 

N.H. House rejects post-viability limit on abortion

All nine months: that’s how far into pregnancy abortion is legal in New Hampshire. Viable, non-viable, with or without “anomalies”: all irrelevant. What’s more, any abortion-minded woman in New Hampshire is entitled to a dead baby, not merely a terminated pregnancy.

Rep. Keith Murphy and ten co-sponsors brought forward HB 578 in an effort to push back against that bit of barbarity. Murphy took Justice Blackmun at his word as expressed in Roe v. Wade: the state may assert an interest in the preborn child once that child is viable.

The New Hampshire House had a chance to stand with Murphy. The House refused.


Murphy’s clean bill, the one he introduced, was weakened in committee. The clean bill never came up today. The question before the House was whether to adopt the committee amendment, which while inferior to the original bill, kept alive (you’ll pardon the expression) the idea that aborting children at eight or nine months’ gestation is something to be more-or-less avoided.

The amendment was defeated , 170-189.  After that, the bill itself was swiftly tabled.

Somewhere, Kermit Gosnell is smiling. If his life sentence is ever somehow shortened, he can come set up shop in New Hampshire. Among the Pennsylvania laws he violated was one barring abortion beyond a certain point in pregnancy. In New Hampshire, there’s no such limit to ignore.

Both Murphy’s bill and the committee amendment left the determination of viability to the abortionist. That’s quite a concession.

Not enough for the abortion advocates, though. I sat in the gallery today and listened to one of them, Rep. Ebel of New London, condemn both the underlying bill and the proposed amendment, saying they “roll back existing rights” and would interfere with “private medical decisions.”

Murphy’s bill called for a second doctor to be present at the abortion of a viable fetus so that if such a fetus were to survive the attempted abortion, the little one could be cared for, provided that doing so would not endanger the life of the mother. The committee amendment dispensed with that provision, and it still didn’t pass.

That would have “roll[ed] back existing rights”…the right to a dead child, I guess, not merely a terminated pregnancy.

Rep. Claire Rouillard, whose name was on the committee amendment, calmly yet forcefully argued for its adoption. She should give lessons in legislative deportment. Her amendment would have okayed post-viability abortion for “anomalies incompatible with life,” among several other reasons.

Would an abortionist declare a child with “anomalies incompatible with life” to be viable in the first place? Absurd, but it apparently made sense to a majority of people on the Judiciary Committee, which gives me pause. Someone in there thought the bill stood a better chance of passage with the amendment.

Bit of a miscalculation, that.


I love my state deeply. At the same time – and probably because I love my state – I’m ashamed that we’re one of seven states where Kermit Gosnell would feel right at home.

I hope Rep. Murphy will forgive me for quoting extensively from a public Facebook post he made following the tabling of his bill. He is disheartened. (I sympathize.) He started his post by naming the thirty or so Republicans, plus one Libertarian, who joined Democrats in opposing the amendment.

In a later comment on his post, he acknowledged that two Democrats bucked their colleagues on this one: Raymond Gagnon and Jean Jeudy. Good for them.

Murphy acknowledged that a few of those GOP reps might have opposed the amendment because it weakened the original, but he knows better than to give that much credit to all of them.

Most simply opposed the state protecting the lives of unborn children at any moment prior to birth, even when those children could survive outside the womb.

[Update: Rep. Murphy revised his post within four days to indicate five Republicans who voted against the amendment but supported the underlying bill. Those reps are Anne Copp, David Danielson, Jess Edwards, Robert L’Heureux, and Kurt Wuelper.]

Murphy has a touching faith in the GOP platform, which supports the right to life even if some Republican officeholders don’t. And he has something to say to pro-life activists, even if it makes them indignant.

I will not sponsor this bill again until and unless there is both a solid majority of real Republicans who will support it and a commitment by the pro-life community to drum up support and educate the public about the fact that late term abortions are legal in our state. Ultimately those Republicans who find nothing wrong with abortions at 34 weeks need to be defeated in their next primary and replaced with people true to our platform.

…I appreciate the work that several reps put into the bill, and those of you that did try to get emails out to the representatives about the issue….This was the bill I cared about most this year. It was the most consequential bill I filed, and I worked for it. I’m pretty disappointed with the outcome; I truly believe lives hung in the balance and because of the above [GOP] representatives those lives are lost.

Other representatives may yet pick up the banner this year, if parliamentary procedure permits. We shall see. The man who moved to table the bill following rejection of the amendment was Rep. Joe Hagan, chairman of Judiciary, who in very hasty remarks indicated that he thought the bill was salvageable.

Perhaps some of the 280 reps who voted to table the bill agreed with him. Others were probably whistling “Another One Bites the Dust” under their breath.


 

Update: abortion stats bill retained

New Hampshire House Bill 471, abortion statistics, has been retained in committee and will not get a vote in the full House until 2018.  This is a step sideways, but it keeps the bill alive.


A subcommittee is likely to work on the bill between now and January. I’ll watch for those work session dates.

This is 2015 all over again, when the last statistics bill (HB 629) was retained. A subcommittee assigned to work on the bill had six work sessions between May and October 2015. They produced what I thought was an improved bill that enjoyed bipartisan support. The full House passed the resulting version of HB 629 on a voice vote in January 2016.

Then the state Department of Health and Human Services got a new commissioner, who yanked the Department’s participation in crafting the bill. Planned Parenthood, whose representative had attended the work sessions (I know because I attended them as well), refused to support the amended bill. That was enough to prompt a pair of Republican senators to join ten Democrats in voting against HB 629. That tied the vote at 12-12 in the Senate in May 2016, and the bill then died after being tabled. 

That was then; this is now. Under House rules for retained bills, HB 471 must come back for a House vote next year. Last time around, the House did its job: careful study with involvement from a variety of stakeholders, yielding a bipartisan bill so strong it passed without debate. I expect no less from them this time with HB 471. The Senate will then have a chance to redeem itself from 2016’s fiasco.

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.


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.