2021 legislation coming into focus

The New Hampshire State House remains closed to the public, but legislative business is underway with live-streamed sessions and Zoom hearings. Proposed legislation includes several life-issue and conscience-rights bills that are awaiting scheduling.

I should illustrate this post with a photo of a laptop screen instead of the State House. The screen is as close as we’ll get to the committees, until someone in COVID-19 authority declares otherwise.

A partial list

Here’s a partial list of bills, with legislation still being developed. Hearings are not yet scheduled for these measures.

Number of bill or legislative service request (LSR; that’s a bill-in-formation), title or analysis as printed in the bill, sponsors’ name/town with chief sponsor listed first:

  • LSR 146, prohibiting public funding of abortions and establishing the New Hampshire foster care and adoption initiative fund. (Rep. Fred Plett, Goffstown)
  • HB 233-FN, relative to the right of any infant born alive to medically appropriate and reasonable care and treatment. (Reps. Jordan Ulery, Hudson, and Walter Stapleton, Claremont)
  • LSR 541, relative to the protection of fetal life. (Reps. Beth Folsom, Wentworth; Jeanine Notter, Merrimack; Linda Gould, Bedford; Katherine Prudhomme-O’Brien, Derry; Maureen Mooney, Merrimack; Walter Stapleton, Claremont; Sens. Regina Birdsell, Hampstead; Ruth Ward, Stoddard)
  • HB 430, repealing the prohibition on entering or remaining on a public way or sidewalk adjacent to a reproductive health facility. This would repeal the unenforced “buffer zone” law. (Reps. Niki Kelsey, Bedford; Jeanine Notter, Merrimack; Linda Gould, Bedford; Maureen Mooney, Merrimack; Walter Stapleton, Claremont; Mark Pearson, Hampstead; Hershel Nuñez, Pelham; Matthew Simon, Littleton; Vanessa Sheehan, Milford; Tim Baxter, Seabrook; Sens. Jeb Bradley, Wolfeboro; Gary Daniels, Milford; Regina Birdsell, Hampstead; Kevin Avard, Nashua; Denise Ricciardi, Bedford)
  • HB 434, prohibiting the use of public funds for abortions. (Reps. Vanessa Sheehan, Milford; Maureen Mooney, Merrimack; Kimberly Rice, Hudson; Debra DeSimone, Atkinson; Linda Gould, Bedford; Mark Pearson, Hampstead; Matthew Simon, Littleton; Bill King, Milford; Diane Pauer, Brookline; Jim Creighton, Antrim; Sens. Denise Ricciardi, Bedford; Ruth Ward, Stoddard; Gary Daniels, Milford)
  • HCR 4, a resolution recognizing the authority of states to enact laws protecting the lives of the unborn and calling for a Constitutional Convention to propose a human life amendment to the Constitution. (Rep. Max Abramson, Seabrook)
  • LSR 791, protecting nascent human life as a reasonable and valid state interest. (Reps. Walter Stapleton, Claremont; Bill Nelson, Brookfield; Mark Pearson, Hampstead; Max Abramson, Seabrook)

A few notes

While the House and Senate have Republican majorities, I haven’t heard any chatter about giving these bills high priority within the GOP caucus. I expect COVID-19 policy, education choice, and the state budget to predominate.

Speaking at a Business and Industry Association online event earlier this week, Speaker of the House Sherman Packard said “all testimony will be virtual” – he meant online. While House committees might meet at the State House in modified hearing rooms (air filters are being installed, among other COVID accommodations), the public will participate electronically for now.

Senate committees are meeting online via the Zoom platform, which allows for public participation. As with the House, there is currently no provision for the public to be physically present with legislators during testimony.

The Senate has announced that it will allow “omnibus” bills this year. That’s one of the worst ideas held over from last year’s pandemic disruptions. Multiple bills will be bundled together in each omnibus, with a single hearing for each bundle. While that may be appropriate in an emergency, let’s hope the emergency doesn’t extend beyond this session. Making omnibus bills routine gives rise to a we-have-to-pass-it-to-find-out-what’s-in-it mentality.

There are more than 800 bills in the works, covering a myriad of topics including human trafficking, religious liberty, and allocation of state resources. Most will be dealt with by the end of May, with June to be dedicated to finalizing the state budget for the next fiscal biennium which begins on July 1.

PP Supports Abortion Insurance Mandate Bill

Here’s a report on SB 486 in Seacoast Online includes this quote from a Planned Parenthood spokeswoman regarding the bill to mandate abortion coverage within any health insurance policy that covers maternity care. Public hearing is February 18 in the Senate Commerce Committee, room 100, at the State House in Concord.

“The Reproductive Health Parity Act builds on the progress New Hampshire has made in recent years to ensure that Granite Staters’ insurance covers the health care they need, including abortion care,” said Sabrina Dunlap, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. “For those facing an unintended pregnancy, or changed circumstances during a planned pregnancy, access to timely, affordable and respectful abortion care is an essential component of reproductive health care. Passage of SB 486 will continue New Hampshire’s long history of protecting the right for patients to make their own health care decisions.”

N.H. House Votes Approaching

Update: a heavy House agenda and a session-shortening snowstorm have moved the votes on these bills to Wednesday, March 21, 2018. This will be the second delay for the vote. The deadline for the House to act on the bill is close of the business day on March 22.

Tuesday, March 6, begins what might be a three-day session for the New Hampshire House. The representatives have an agenda that’s about 150 pages long. And yes, there’s a snowstorm in the forecast, as if the schedule weren’t already dicey enough.

Among the bills to be voted on are HB 1680, the Viable Fetus Protection Act; HB 1787, conscience rights for medical professionals; HB 1707, abortion information/informed consent; HB 1721, a ban on coerced abortions.

No, it’s not too late to email your reps. Many of them have smartphones that they use to to check email and text messages during the House session.

Today’s civics lesson: Find your state representatives’ email address via this link on the General Court (legislature) web site. There are phone numbers for each rep as well; some are cell numbers and some are landlines. If you recognize a cell number, use it for a text message Tuesday morning, March 6. Don’t call at unsocial hours (some people have to be reminded of that).

Send a separate message for each bill. In an email, pack the basic message into the subject line in case that’s all the rep has time to read. When writing to your own district’s reps, be sure to mention your town. A subject line might be “Yes on HB 1680, from a [town name] resident.” Keep the message short and courteous (again, some people need to be reminded; present company excepted, I’m sure).

I’ll be monitoring the House session online, and you can, too, if you’re so inclined. Look for the Streaming Media link on the General Court web site.

Nuns sued = War on Women

I thought we were done with this, but government officials want the Little Sisters of the Poor to pay for other peoples’ birth control. In October, the feds bowed out of that asinine battle for the time being*, via a rule that is still open for public comment. Now, state-level harassment takes the stage as the Attorneys General of Pennsylvania and California – both men, as it happens – seek to force the Sisters to knuckle under.

The Sisters minister to elderly people living in poverty. Litigation is not their specialty. Fortunately, the Sisters have good legal representation. Too bad they need it.

See “For the love of God, why can’t Democrats leave the Little Sisters of the Poor alone?” by Nicole Russell in the November 26 Washington Examiner.

Challengers to conscience rights aren’t done, and those challenges are going to go beyond contraception. Anyone who wants to force you to pay for other peoples’ contraception will just as readily work to overturn or prevent abortion-funding restrictions.

Anyone who says “health care” and means “you pay for my contraception” is debasing the language.

Anyone who sues nuns to force them to pay for contraception is waging war on women.

Anyone who thinks contraception is “preventive health care” is asserting that women are broken and need to be fixed.

We’ll see how the two offending states fare in their effort.

 

* From the web site of the Becket Fund, a public-interest law firm defending the Little Sisters of the Poor: “On October 6, 2017, the government issued a new rule with a broader religious exemption. The rule may be changed after the government considers the comments it receives. Becket attorney Mark Rienzi stated, ‘It should be easy for the courts to finalize this issue now that the government admits it broke the law. For months, we have been waiting for Department of Justice lawyers to honestly admit that fact, like the President did in the Rose Garden five months ago. Now that the agencies admit the mandate was illegal, we expect the leadership of the Department of Justice will cooperate in getting a final court resolution.'”

A concerned Republican & Sununu’s reply

I got an email yesterday that would have gone straight into the trash file if not for the name of the sender. The subject line: “Why conservatives should vote for Chris Sununu for Governor.” I’m a pro-life voter, not necessarily a conservative or a party’s member. Then I saw the name of the sender: Ovide Lamontagne.

Ovide Lamontagne speaking to Manchester 40DFL volunteers
Ovide Lamontagne speaking to Manchester 40DFL volunteers

I have the utmost respect for Ovide. He’s a New Hampshire neighbor and a longtime pro-life advocate. He’s also a high-profile Republican. He is not a fan of the recent ad by GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Sununu.  He had a conversation with Sununu about it, resulting in the correspondence below, which as you will see was meant to be made public.

Here are two messages which must be read together for full effect. Make of them what you will.  They might not change your view of candidate Sununu – I remain unmoved – but I think enough of Ovide to share his message. I also think Sununu’s reply should be kept handy for future reference.

I’m trying hard not to editorialize here, but the following points drown out my best intentions.

  • Sununu’s reassurances are preceded by his claim that he has always opposed taxpayer funding of abortion. He apparently thinks funding abortion providers is something different. Again, make of that what you will.
  • The gubernatorial campaign of underdog Max Abramson goes unmentioned in this correspondence save for one oblique reference in Chris Sununu’s statement.
  • I’m a firm believer in defensive elections. I’ve voted for candidates just because they’re less awful than their opponents. It riles me, though, when a candidate hands my money to abortion providers and then basically tells me that he’s my only logical choice at the polls.
  • The GOP/Dem and conservative/liberal frame of reference does not resonate with this pro-life voter. I’ve spent too much time at the State House watching “conservatives” kill pro-life legislation and grant contracts to abortion providers.

But enough commentary. The following correspondence is unedited.


Email from Ovide Lamontagne, November 4, 2016

Dear Friends:

I hope this email finds you well.

Like many of you, I approach the next few days leading into the November 8th general election with great anticipation and energy.  It is fair to say that our Primary process has led to the nomination of an interesting slate of federal and state candidates.  I firmly believe that, on balance, the Republican ticket holds the best chance of advancing an agenda which more closely reflects our values and the best interests of New Hampshire and the Nation.

Regarding the campaign for Governor, I encourage New Hampshire conservatives to vote for Chris Sununu.  Like many of my conservative friends, I was angry and disillusioned when Chris changed his position and voted to fund Planned Parenthood this past Summer.  There is simply no justification in my mind for allowing one cent of taxpayer money to be contributed to an abortion provider, especially one as notorious and as sinister as Planned Parenthood.

Even though he knew how I felt about his vote and his stated position on Life, shortly after winning his Primary, Chris called me to discuss his views on a host of conservative issues and specifically asked me to help him understand what pro-life initiatives I thought he could support.  As we discussed a number of these issues, he explained his opposition to late term and partial birth abortion; his support of conscience rights for health care workers; his view that the buffer zone law should be repealed; and his belief that abortion providers should be held to the same health and safety standards applicable to healthcare facilities such as ambulatory surgical centers and providers.  While he supports a women’s ability to have an abortion during the earlier stages of pregnancy, he said he strongly disagrees with the extremist views of Colin Van Ostern who has the full-throated endorsement of Planned Parenthood’s New Hampshire Action Fund.  Among other things, Van Ostern supports abortion through all 9 months of pregnancy for any reason; opposes common sense health and safety standards for abortion clinics; and given the chance, I believe he would support taxpayer funding of abortion, the official position of Planned Parenthood nationally (i.e., they want to repeal the Hyde Amendment).

I asked Chris to memorialize his support for some of the common sense measures we discussed since the Primary.  Please find attached a copy of a letter he recently sent me setting forth the pro-life initiatives he would support as Governor.  While I strongly disagree with Chris on his vote to fund Planned Parenthood and his pro-choice position, I do believe that if elected Chris will indeed advance a constitutional and common-sense pro-life agenda, something that hasn’t happened in NH from the Corner Office in years.

On other issues, Chris is where we need the next Governor to be:  he supports Right to Work and designing a NH solution regarding expanding healthcare coverage, not a Washington-mandated “permanent” Medicaid expansion program; he opposes Common Core and the federal government’s overreach in elementary and secondary education; and he opposes the establishment of a job-killing state minimum wage and rejects the false promise of taxpayer-funded commuter rail.  He’ll bring conservative leaders into his administration and I believe he will create an environment for robust economic development, reversing almost 20 years of liberal Governors presiding over economic stagnation in the Granite State.

When I consider what is at stake in this election — and despite my disagreements with Chris Sununu on some issues which are very important to me, and I know are important to you — I believe that conservatives and all NH citizens will still be much better served with Chris in the Corner Office than Colin Van Ostern.  This is not even a close call.

Please let me know if you have any questions or observations about supporting Chris Sununu for Governor.  I hope you will join me in voting for Chris so that together we can begin to set New Hampshire on the right track.

If you are inclined to do so, I would also ask you to forward this email and the attached letter to your email lists and/or to publish both through social media.

All the best,

Ovide


From Chris Sununu, attached to Lamontagne email as a PDF on campaign letterhead, undated

Dear Ovide,

[gview file=”https://leavenfortheloaf.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/8476516_1.pdf”]Thank you for your support and assistance in trying to get New Hampshire back on the right track. I appreciate our recent conversations discussing my ad response to the Democrats’ multimillion dollar media campaign accusing me of being against Medicaid funding of cancer screenings for women and pre-natal care. Their ads are blatantly dishonest.

As you know, I have always opposed taxpayer funding of abortions. It is important for conservative voters to know that I too support many of the common sense platform initiatives that they want to see passed including:

1. Fetal Homicide Bill

2. Women’s Health Protection Act

3. Healthcare Freedom of Conscience Act

4. Late Term Abortion Ban

5. NH Buffer Zone Repeal

I know that my winning the race for Governor will be our best chance to get this important work done.

It is important to remind people that there are only two real choices in this race. By voting for me the voters can undo the liberal left-wing agenda that Democrats have imposed on New Hampshire over the past twenty years. Thank you again for your advice, your guidance and your support.

/s/ Chris

Christopher T. Sununu