Notes from NH Pro-Life Seminar

Here are a few quick items from the New Hampshire Knights of Columbus 2019 Pro-Life Seminar, with a tip of my cap to Ron DiStasio and his organizational team.

St. Gianna’s Place

StGiannaBanquetThree years ago, a dedicated group of Granite Staters began raising money and planning for a southern New Hampshire shelter for pregnant women in need of housing and other services. Last month, volunteers worked to renovate the former St. John parish rectory in Hudson, which is being converted to St. Gianna’s Place. Next month, applications for the first two residents will be considered.

Dennis Pedley of the St. Gianna’s board gave us this long-awaited good news. He also reminded us about the benefit banquet for St. Gianna’s, coming up on May 1 at the Executive Court in Manchester. See stgiannasplace.org for more information.

40 Days for Life

Sheila and Lisa of Manchester 40DFL accepted signups for the last two weeks of the current campaign, with all who accept the 40DFL Statement of Peace welcome to participate. Need signs, prayer partners, or more information? Look up your local campaign at 40daysforlife.com.

40 Days for Life volunteer
Lisa of 40 Days for Life Manchester NH

East Africa Charitable Projects Fund

Nick Monroe, a Knight from Newport, is one of the leaders of this charitable fund, founded in New Hampshire in 2014. Working with partners in Rwanda, Uganda, and Kenya, the fund supports educational, charitable, and faith-based projects. Learn more at  eacpf.wordpress.com.

CareNet of Manchester/Nashua Gets a New Name

CareNet has been serving Manchester and Nashua for many years. The ministry’s name is changing: Real Options is the new label, but it’s still a CareNet affiliate. The Manchester office is moving a block away from its longtime location on Bridge Street, to 25 Lowell Street.

Real Options CareNet newsletter

Save the dates for the Real Options Walks for Life: May 4 at Veteran’s Park in Manchester, and May 11 at Greeley Park in Nashua.

Our Place and “Love Prevails”

For more than 30 years, Karen Munsell has been the force behind Catholic Charities’s Our Place, providing help to pregnant and parenting teens and young adults. She reported that the program is going strong in Nashua and Manchester.

She also gave us news about a newly-published book by Jean Bosco Rutagengwa, “Love Prevails.” The author and his wife (who works at Our Place) are refugees from Rwanda, and the book is subtitled “One Couple’s Story of Faith and Survival in the Rwandan Genocide.” As Karen reminded us, “genocide is a life issue.” I’m looking forward to reading the book, published by Orbis and available on Amazon.

Etc.

This is only a sample of the people providing good information at the seminar. Make a calendar note to look for the 2020 edition next spring.

I got a few minutes of mic time – thank you, Ron – to promote a couple of projects: this blog (which turns seven this month; we need a party!), and something I’m doing with a colleague from Cornerstone Action, Concord 101, a two-hour introduction to New Hampshire government and how citizens can participate most effectively. That initiative will take me to about half a dozen towns over the next few weeks, and I’m looking forward to it.

 

Follow-up to WSMN-AM interview July 9, 2015 with Michelle Levell of School Choice for New Hampshire: learn more at the organization’s Facebook page.  Also discussed on the show: Kirsten Power’s book The Silencing: How the Left is Killing Free Speech; review will follow on this blog shortly.

A good day in court for NH parents and students

When New Hampshire passed an education tax credit law in 2012, I wrote about it because so many of the people I saw standing up for life were also standing up for the right of parents to choose the best educational setting for their children. The law was challenged by several parties, among them Bill Duncan, who was a private citizen when he filed suit but is now on the New Hampshire board of education. The state Supreme Court ruled today that Mr. Duncan and his co-plaintiffs lack standing to bring suit. That means the education tax credit and the scholarship fund that benefits from it are intact for now.

Dominique Vasquez-Vanasse can breathe a sigh of relief. I wrote about her in Educational Opportunity Scholarships: the view from Concord. The many schools that are opening throughout the state can let parents know that educational opportunity scholarships are available. I wrote about them in …The View from Elm Street.

Among the plaintiffs’ claims in the case that was dismissed today: the law violates the New Hampshire constitution’s provision barring state funds from going to religious schools. That’s the Blaine Amendment, dating from the 1870s, a time of nativism. Blaine Amendments taint many state constitutions. They are relics of anti-religious bigotry that ought to be obsolete in the 21st century. Look instead at the original language of the New Hampshire constitution, which speaks of a responsibility to “cherish” education, whether public or private.

But the plaintiffs are wrong in another sense, which the court chose not to address today. They hold that the education tax credit is actually a voucher, giving state funds to private schools. Wrong. The tax credit is an incentive for private businesses that choose to donate to a nonprofit scholarship fund to benefit low- and middle-income students in grades K through 12. No public money changes hands. Governor Hassan today issued a fuming statement after the Court’s decision was announced. She clings desperately to the error that the credit is a voucher, even heading her statement with “statement on voucher tax credit ruling.”

I expect more from a literate woman.

Long hence, when the only trace of Hassan’s tenure in office will be a portrait somewhere in the State House, educational opportunity scholarships can still be helping New Hampshire’s children. Let’s hope so. The challenges aren’t over. But today is a good day.

NH Senate Tables HB 370; Education Tax Credit Intact

Republicans in the New Hampshire Senate today derailed an attempt to repeal the state’s education tax credit. On a straight party-line vote, senators voted 13-11 to table HB 370. A two-thirds vote would be required to remove the bill from the table, and further action is unlikely.

I’ve written about the bill and people affected by it here, here, and here. New Hampshire’s education tax credit is available to businesses that donate to a private scholarship fund to benefit students in grades K-12. The scholarships give lower-income families a greater range of educational choices. No state money is given to these families, and the program is therefore not a voucher.

The bill’s docket shows an interesting sequence of events on the Senate floor today, and at this writing the actual roll calls have not yet been linked. The Health, Education, and Human Services committee’s recommendation to kill (ITL) the bill was the motion that drove the day’s debate, but that motion was not acted upon. Instead, after long and emotional debate, Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) moved to table the bill. That motion was adopted 14-10, and I don’t know the name of the lone Democrat who voted with the majority. Sen. Bradley then moved reconsideration, as a parliamentary maneuver, and a second vote on the tabling motion was taken. That was the 13-11 vote that decided the matter.

Senators like Lou D’Allesandro and Molly Kelly who have spoken with passion and eloquence about trusting women and valuing choice when it comes to abortion took a different approach to the education tax credit. “Choose what?” has always been my response to right-to-choose rhetoric. For New Hampshire’s Democratic senators, trusting women to choose apparently finds its limit in education policy. After all, a lot of moms have applied for these education-choice scholarships for their children.

The Network for Educational Opportunity, which administers the scholarship find in New Hampshire, had this post on its Facebook page after the vote: “We want to thank ALL of you wonderful people for your support through this legislative battle. Your calls, emails, letters to the editor of papers, Facebook shares, attendance at hearings, prayers, well wishes, and notes of encouragement all helped us win today.”

Governor Maggie Hassan opposes the tax credit and had promised to sign repeal legislation. Her official statement after the vote today referred to a “misguided voucher program,” despite the fact that the tax credit law has no relation to vouchers.

Senate Committee refuses to back HB 370; full Senate will vote soon

A NH Senate committee yesterday said no to the repeal of New Hampshire’s tax credit for businesses that donate to a scholarship program for the benefit of K-12 students. The school choice measure was enacted January 1 by action of the previous legislature, and its repeal via HB 370 was a priority for the new Democratic majority.

An earlier post (now removed) said that the full Senate had voted. That was incorrect, and I regret the error. The Senate will vote on HB 370 later this month. For now, the bill is one step closer to being killed, and the tax credit for now stays in place.