Week In Review, Days Ahead

Several topics and observations today. Something for everyone, I hope. Copy and forward as you wish.

Tenacity and patience have thus far kept a few important bills going. I expect that both the partial birth ban and fetal homicide bills will be scrutinized anew by House committees on Tuesday. The Senate amended both bills, and the House may choose to concur, requiring no further action except a trip to Governor Lynch’s desk, or request a committee of conference. Concurrence would be the right outcome, since the Senate amendments didn’t gut either bill.

Lynch’s spokesman was finally moved to take note of HB 217 (the fetal homicide) a few days ago, and his remarks were not encouraging.

Keep an eye on the Cornerstone Policy Research Facebook page and @nhcornerstone Twitter feed for Tuesday coverage of House committee votes on these bills.

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Nongermane amendments are nothing new in legislative work, rules or no rules. If leadership wants one, in it goes, productive or not. Such moves always seem like a good idea at the time, at least to the person making the amendment.

The Senate sent a late term abortion ban (HB 1660) to interim study. Not so fast, replied the House last Thursday. The ban was added as an amendment to a bill on pulse oximetry for newborns (SB 348) by a four-vote margin. Less than ten minutes later, the House reversed itself. The sponsor of SB 348, the indisputably pro-life Rep. Lynne Blankenbeker (R-Concord), pleaded for the main bill, stressing that the Senate would kill it if it contained the abortion amendment.

The nongermane amendment in this case resulted in nothing more than two confusing House votes. The proponents of late-term abortions can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that New Hampshire will continue to keep abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy.

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Filing period for the fall elections is coming up June 6-15. Details here. Some good pro-lifers have chosen not to run again, so anyone who wants to step up may find an open seat available.

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Mark your calendar for Friday, June 8th at noon. There will be a Standing Up for Religious Freedom rally outside the federal courthouse in Concord, where a similar rally was held a few months ago. As long as the federal HHS mandate is still part of Obamacare, religious freedom is under attack and no church is safe. See you there – and bring your kids, your neighbors, your minister, and even your state rep. I’ll be one of the speakers. (Please be there anyway.) There was a  Bush II era bumper sticker displayed back in the day by some disaffected voters: “Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” Okay, then. Let’s all be utterly patriotic on June 8th.

About Time: an Alternative to Guttmacher Institute

I note with great pleasure the rollout of the Charlotte Lozier Institute. The Lozier Institute is the education and research arm of the Susan B. Anthony List, which promotes the election of pro-life women and men to Congress. The Lozier Institute looks to me like a breakthrough in policy research.

For years, the Guttmacher Institute has been relied upon by policymakers at all levels for statistical information about abortion and reproductive health care (which are two different things – repeat after me: abortion is not health care). Formerly an arm of Planned Parenthood, the organizations allegedly split in the late 1970s. However formal the split may be in a legal and financial sense, Guttmacher is hand-in-glove with PP on policy.

Guttmacher’s statistics and findings are given entirely too much credence at the State House, as I’ve seen through the years. I have to remind lawmakers from time to time that any “statistics” Guttmacher reports about New Hampshire are based on voluntarily-reported information from abortion providers, since the state of NH does not collect abortion statistics. Most of the NH statistical information reported to Guttmacher about abortions comes from PPNNE. PPNNE then sends its lobbyist to Concord to fight efforts to enact a bill to require the state to collect statistics. PP-reported figures go to Guttmacher, which bases policy research on those numbers, and then the research is used by PP to advance its mission. Fuzzy math, cozy relationship.

I am looking forward to learning what the Lozier Institute is able to do to provide a clearer picture of how abortion is affecting us as individuals and as a community. It’s encouraging to know that the parent organization, SBA List, has been extremely supportive of efforts in NH and elsewhere to require public health authorities to gather accurate information. How many abortions in NH? How old are the mothers? At what gestational age are pregnancies terminated? What about morbidity and mortality for the mothers, both short- and long-term? Who’s doing these procedures? Where?

I recommend supporting the Lozier Institute’s research. It will take time, but I hope legislators and public health officials will soon see that Guttmacher isn’t the only kid on the block.

Week in Review: Hurry Up & Wait

As previously reported, the Senate last Wednesday passed HCR 31, commending pregnancy care centers. This straightforward legislative pat on the back to an invaluable pro-life resource must go to the House for agreement on some changes.

HB 217, fetal homicide, was put off by the Senate until next Wednesday. The amendment printed in the calendar should not create any further delay, but then again, there have already been two delays that caught me and the chief sponsor by surprise.

HCR 41 was killed in the Senate. This resolution asking Congress to scold the feds for funding PPNNE over the objections of the Executive Council would have had no substantive effect but would have sent a message to our Washington representatives.

Legislators annoyed by the financial end-run in PPNNE’s favor should now focus on HB 228. There will be other contract proposals before the Exec Council, and HB 228 sits on the table in the Senate. That’s not a good place for it.

Fate unknown, possibly being taken up this week:

  • HB 1679, partial-birth abortion ban. House & Senate must reconcile language.
  • HB 1653, respecting conscience rights for medical professionals, was tabled by the House months ago and seems unlikely to be taken up.

The legislative session runs through the end of June, but the state budget dominates the last weeks of a session. The life bills are likely to be dealt with soon.

The House will meet next week on Tuesday & Wednesday, and possibly Thursday if the lengthy calendar requires that much time. The Senate will meet Wednesday.

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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