2012 NH Republican Women’s Summit Live Blog

Phyllis Woods on State House Plaza, Concord (E. Kolb photo)
Phyllis Woods on State House Plaza, Concord (E. Kolb photo)

Today, I’m a guest at “This One’s For the Girls”, a 2012 Women’s Summit organized by former New Hampshire state representative and GOP national committeewoman  I am in debt to Phyllis for welcoming me as representative of Cornerstone Action, even though I’m not a Republican. Call me a lapsed Republican.

After prayer and pledge, program begins with a greeting from NHGOP chairman Wayne MacDonald followed by an RNC video on the history of American women’s suffrage. Let it not be forgotten that women’s history is not the exclusive province of the Democratic party.

I can’t thank Phyllis enough. Her service to NH through the years has been remarkable, and her friendship and mentoring to me means a great deal. This event is happening thanks to her.

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Rep. Pam Tucker, Deputy Speaker of the NH House, on women in the legislature: interesting that until 1998, GOP women outnumbered Democratic women in the NH House. Thanks to the 2010 GOP landslide, there are now 58 GOP women in the House and three in the Senate. “Can you imagine if we had a Republican majority of women in the House?” Says “there is a massive support system in the House & Senate” for women.

As for “women’s issues”, “we are making a difference to the future of the state.” She goes on to list those issues: education; strong economy; strong families; public safety; environment; embracing new technology; health care.

(My comment: I give Rep. Tucker full marks for staying on message. Abortion and the life issues are being supported but not stressed by House leadership. Of course, we all know that Republican does not necessarily mean pro-life or conservative. One must vet one’s candidates. I could add this to every post today, but I won’t.)

“You will be a role model, whether you like it or not” if you’re elected. True enough. In my opinion, that’s why it’s so heartbreaking when an elected Republican woman votes against things like parental notification and informed consent. On the other hand, it’s good to see so many pro-life GOP reps here today. May their tribe increase.

Next speaker: Susie Hudson, Vermont’s GOP National Committeewoman, on the Republican National Committee: she rightly starts with thanks & recognition to Phyllis Woods, who has just stepped down as NH’s committeewoman. She notes that RNC has a rule that chair and co-chair must be of opposite genders. (Affirmative action? You decide.)  She gets applause when she says she’d like to get rid of that gender rule completely (Good!), but an attempt to change that rule has thus far not gained sufficient support. Hudson goes on to encourage involvement in party leadership on the state level, and RNC is developing training programs to make that easier.

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Next up: panel with Sen. Nancy Stiles, Rep. Laurie Sanborn, and Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker, discussing how they decided to run and what it’s like being in office.

NS: three terms in House before being elected to Senate in 2010. Her work with her professional association brought her to Concord to testify as a member of the public, and she found herself facing committees “full of men” who were not particularly responsive. Result: running for office. She serves on the Senate Education committee. In the Senate, “you look at all the stakeholders in the room, and ask ‘can you all live with the language in this bill?’ If so, we tend to support it.”  Unlike the House, the Senate does not have time to “get down into the weeds”  on bills. She plans to run for re-election.

LS: Never considered herself politically active until about four years ago. The LLC tax passed a few years ago (“an income tax on small businesses”) galvanized her and her husband (now-Sen. Andy Sanborn) into running. She challenged an 18-year incumbent, and “never thought in a million years I could win” in a college town, “but I did it.” Useful piece of advice she got: “be an expert on something,” which in her case is business. She looked around for a coalition of like-minded legislators, and when she couldn’t find one, she started one. Praises House Republican Alliance for its support. “Women have a special bond … we can do great things together.” Will run again, but she’s moving from Henniker to Bedford and so will have a new district in which to campaign.

LB: A nurse and naval officer by profession (recently returned from Afghanistan); went to law school “to build credibility” as she advocated for veterans. Working for former Congressman & NH Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas in his law/lobbying practice exposed her to day-to-day legislative work. Watching a parental notification vote from the gallery one day when the Democrats were in control, she was livid to see so many seats empty on the House floor. “I wanted to be part of the solution… I had no idea how hard this (campaigning) would be.” She gets applause when she says how parental notification was eventually passed. She recommends the Vesta Roy program for GOP NH women, which she thinks would have helped her as a candidate. Won her House seat in a special election by 17 votes, and then won a regular election by 40 votes – no mean feat in Concord! Does not plan to seek re-election; she has been recalled to Afghanistan. “Step up,” she concludes. She also gives a shout-out to homeschoolers for the effective way they tend to communicate with legislators – no canned emails.

In the Q&A, Rep. Laurie Pettengill asks “do you think about the GOP platform when you vote?” Stiles: yes, “but I also think about the people I represent. ” Sanborn: “absolutely, and I also look at my palm card” to be reminded of her promises. Blankenbeker: “The first thing I look at is constitutionality … [then] does this align with our party values … [then] liberty … and constituency.”

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Pregnancy Care Resolution Gets NH Senate OK

Midday report from the NH Senate: HCR 31, the resolution commending pregnancy care centers, passed on a voice vote. I heard Sen. Larsen say “no” quietly; other opponents were either quieter or silent. It will go back to the House for concurrence on a Senate amendment, which should NOT be complicated, but then again nothing going on between the chambers is uncomplicated nowadays.

HCR 41, the resolution calling on Congress to declare the end-run grant to PPNNE “unconstitutional and void”, went down to defeat on a 20-4 inexpedient-to-legislate vote. My thanks to Sens. Forrester, Forsythe, Barnes, & DeBlois for resisting the ITL.

Next up: HB 217, fetal homicide. Tune in again after 1:30 this afternoon.

Week In Review: bills in Senate; odds ‘n’ ends

The fetal homicide bill about which I wrote last week, HB 217, is on Wednesday’s NH Senate calendar after being put off a week. Last-minute objections regarding the bill’s potential unintended effect on the practice of in vitro fertilization have apparently been addressed to the GOP leadership’s satisfaction. I’ll be in the gallery to watch this vote. If the bill passes, and it should, it will be the culmination of twenty years of work stretching from the late Rep. Carolyn Brady (R-Manchester) to current Rep. Kathy Souza (R-Manchester). If the bill for some reason does not pass or is shelved, it will be the second time since 2009 that legislators have refused to act on the state Supreme Court’s request in the Lamy case to “re-visit” homicide laws as they pertain to a fetus.

The Senate will also take up the resolution commending pregnancy care centers, HCR 31 (subject of another blog post last week). I expect this to pass on party lines, although I wouldn’t be shocked if Sens. Odell & Stiles voted no. Why on earth should anyone vote no? But some legislators see threats to Roe the way three-year-olds see monsters in the closet: the monsters aren’t there, but there’s no reasoning with the three-year-old’s imagination.

I don’t see HCR 41 passing. That’s the resolution calling the federal grant to PPNNE “unconstitutional and void.” At the committee hearing last week, the resolution got a 4-1 “inexpedient to legislate” vote, and Sen. Molly Kelly (D-Keene) will present the report to the full Senate. The Senate does not seem to share the outrage in the House about the federal side-step of a NH decision.

A couple of items not NH-based, but of interest:

  • Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law late last week a bill to de-fund abortion providers in her state. The legislation she signed is similar to New Hampshire’s HB 228, which the Senate recently tabled over concerns that the bill might lead to litigation and loss of federal funds. Thank God there are legislators and governors willing to take on these threats. We should be standing with them. In Texas, a de-funding law was taken to court by Planned Parenthood affiliates, and a lower court granted PP an injunction in April which was promptly overturned by a higher court. That litigation will continue.
  • The Family Research Council, based in Washington, DC, will have a webcast on Wednesday called “Pregnancy Resource Centers: Celebrating Mother’s Day Every Day.” Details here.

Thumbs Up to Pregnancy Care Centers, I Hope

The NH Senate HHS committee held its hearing on HCR 31 today and approved it 4-1. This resolution commending the work of pregnancy care centers (PCCs) called forth the usual naysayers, but they were far outshone this afternoon by three outstanding advocates.

In case “pregnancy care center” is ambiguous – poor Sen. Kelly couldn’t quite come to terms with it – let me explain: it is a place where pregnant women in crisis can come for anything except abortion. Anyone can come through the door for information, counseling, and practical assistance, whether pregnant or not, whether male or female. CareNet is the most famous example of a pregnancy care center, with several CareNets operating in NH. Most services are free, and in NH, CareNet relies on private donations and an extensive volunteer network. Medical professionals assist with ultrasounds, and referrals to obstetric care are available.

Kathleen Molway of Concord CareNet and Katherine Anderson, RN, of the Pregnancy Resource Center of the Monadnock Region told the senators about the work they do and the women they serve. Jeanneane Maxon, AUL’s VP of External Affairs and a former general counsel to CareNet, offered information about PCC policies and support nationwide. By the time these three women were finished giving their calm and straightforward testimony, opponents of the resolution sounded pathetic. Terms like “anti-choice” and “deceptive” rang pretty hollow once Kathleen, Katherine, & Jeanneane had spoken.

HCR 31 had ten co-sponsors, led by Rep. Kathy Lauer-Rago (R-Franklin).  Full Senate action will come sometime later this month. In the meantime, I recommend writing a check to your local PCC, Birthright, or even Americans United for Life. You’ll be doing some good and you’ll be annoying all the right people.