Tag Archives: SB 66

Dispute Over Fetal Homicide Bill

Five months after its introduction and first hearing, four months after its passage in the New Hampshire Senate, three months after its House hearing, and days after its House passage, language has been discovered in a fetal homicide bill that allegedly would permit assisted suicide and allow pregnant women to get away with murder.

House and Senate are scheduled to vote on a “fix” for that drafting error on Thursday, June 22. [Update, 6/22: both chambers voted to correct the error.]

New Hampshire Right to Life has made its objections to the bill public, based on other grounds: the fact that this fetal homicide bill would apply only in cases of pregnancies at or after the 20th week.

I have not heard any comment on either point from the bereaved families who have promoted fetal homicide legislation. [Update: see comment below from the grandfather of Griffin Donald Kenison.]

Anyone who wants SB 66 to be a personhood bill and is dissatisfied with the 20-week language now has another crack at House and Senate before June 22. In the event that SB 66 is killed, the retained HB 156 would remain open for further work and a 2018 vote on fetal homicide policy.

Whatever happens, I hope one question finds its way into the conversation: would SB 66 have allowed the New Hampshire Supreme Court in its 2009 Lamy decision to have upheld the defendant’s homicide conviction in the death of Dominick Emmons? The Court has the right to issue an advisory opinion on that.*

If SB 66 fails to address Lamy, then somehow the sponsors and the grieving families  have been wrong all this time about the bill’s purpose.

I don’t believe they’ve been wrong. Assuming no new news breaks abut the bill between now and June 22, I’m going to ask my reps to vote “yes” on correction to the drafting error in SB 66,** and to send the bill to the Governor’s desk.


*From the New Hampshire Constitution, under “Judiciary Power”:

[Art.] 74. [Judges to Give Opinions, When.] Each branch of the legislature as well as the governor and council shall have authority to require the opinions of the justices of the supreme court upon important questions of law and upon solemn occasions.

** Statement by Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper, from the House Calendar (vol. 39, #29) for the June 22 session, boldface added:

“Also in this House Calendar is an enrolled bills amendment that the full House will vote on during session. An enrolled bills amendment is a legislative device that we use in New Hampshire to clean up errors in the legislative drafting process. We typically adopt these amendments when the House is in recess by having the Clerk meet with two members and having a session where a member fills in ‘the chair’ and another member moves and adopts the amendment. (We also introduce bills, form committees of conference, and read enrolled bills reports in these sessions.) SB 66 had a drafting error that did not express the intent of the General Court when both bodies passed the bill, and as such (and as is proper) an enrolled bills amendment to clarify the intent has been drafted. Because of the rather political nature of this bill (SB 66, including a fetus in the definition of ‘another’ for purposes of certain criminal offenses), I have decided that the full House will take up the amendment in session this coming week.”

Postscript to House vote on SB 66: the Naysayers

Steve MacDonald over at Granite Grok was blunter than I after the SB 66 vote in the House: “NH Democrats Defend the Right to End a Woman’s Pregnancy Against Her Will.” That’s harsh, but tough to refute, especially in view of all of the day’s roll calls on the bill – not just the main one.

As promised in my report on the SB 66 vote in the New Hampshire House, here’s the list of state representatives who made it clear that they want no part of anyone’s fetal homicide bill.  Two Republicans and one Libertarian are on the list along with 141 Democrats.

One can argue that there was no single “clean” vote among any of the six roll calls on the bill. Using all six, though, it’s fair to assess opposition to the concept of fetal homicide in general and SB 66 in particular. Each of these reps:

The representatives are listed below by county. All are Democrats except for Libertarian Joseph Stallcop and Republicans Carolyn Gargasz and Neal Kurk.

Belknap County

David Huot.

Carroll County

Thomas Buco, Edward Butler, Jerry Knirk.

Cheshire County

Michael Abbott, Richard Ames, Paul Berch, John Bordenet, Daniel Eaton, Barry Faulkner, Donovan Fenton, Cathryn Harvey, Douglas Ley, John Mann, David Meader, Henry Parkhurst, William Pearson, Marjorie Shepardson, Joseph Stallcop, Bruce Tatro, Lucy Weber.

Coos County

Larry Laflamme, Wayne Moynihan, Yvonne Thomas, Edith Tucker.

Grafton County

Susan Almy, Polly Campion, Roger Dontonville, Patricia Higgins, Timothy Josephson, Kevin Maes, Mary Jane Mulligan, Sharon Nordgren, Steven Rand, Suzanne Smith, George Sykes, Andrew White.

Hillsborough County

Jessica Ayala, Robert Backus, Jane Beaulieu, Amanda Bouldin, Shannon Chandley, Skip Cleaver, Patricia Cornell, David Cote, Daniel Sullivan, Linda DiSilvestro, Joel Elber, Armand Forest, Mary Freitas, Carolyn Gargasz, Ken Gidge, Jeff Goley, Suzanne Harvey, Mary Heath, Christopher Herbert, Janice Schmidt, Marty Jack, Amelia Keane, Mark King, Patricia Klee, Neal Kurk, Peter Leishman, David Lisle, Mark MacKenzie, Latha Mangipudi, Jonathan Manley, Joelle Martin, Richard McNamara, Michael O’Brien, Richard O’Leary, Patrick Long, Marjorie Porter, Carol Roberts, Cindy Rosenwald, Kendall Snow, Catherine Sofikitis, Timothy Smith, Robert Walsh, Connie Van Houten, Kermit Williams.

Merrimack County

Caroletta Alicea, Christy Bartlett, Clyde Carson, David Doherty, Karen Ebel, Mary Gile, Howard Moffett, Paul Henle, James MacKay, Linda Kenison, David Luneau, Mel Myler, Chip Rice, Beth Rodd, Katherine Rogers, Dianne Schuett, Steve Shurtleff,  Alan Turcotte, Mary Beth Walz, David Woolpert.

Rockingham County

Debra Altschiller, Skip Berrien, Michael Cahill, Jacqueline Cali-Pitts, Renny Cushing, Charlotte DiLorenzo, Michael Edgar, Paula Francese, Tamara Le, Dennis Malloy, Rebecca McBeath, Mindi Messmer, Kate Murray, Pamela Gordon, Ellen Read, Peter Somssich, Gerald Ward.

Strafford County

Peter Bixby, Wayne Burton, Jacalyn Cilley, Donna Ellis, Isaac Epstein, Sherry Frost, Chuck Grassie, Timothy Horrigan, Sandra Keans, Hamilton Krans, Marjorie Smith, Lin Opderbecke, Peter Schmidt, Jeff Salloway, Catt Sandler, Judith Spang, Dale Sprague, Kenneth Vincent, Janet Wall.

Sullivan County

John Cloutier, Raymond Gagnon, Suzanne Gottling, Virginia Irwin, Lee Oxenham, Andrew Schmidt, Linda Tanner.


N.H. House Approves Fetal Homicide Bill, SB 66

After lengthy debate and four preliminary roll call votes, the New Hampshire House on June 1 voted 186-170 to approve fetal homicide legislation. SB 66 now goes back to the Senate for expected concurrence with a House amendment. From there, the Governor’s desk awaits.

Roll call on SB 66, main motion of Ought to Pass with Amendment

I need to write some thank-yous to my reps. Maybe you do, too.  Continue reading N.H. House Approves Fetal Homicide Bill, SB 66

Bipartisan error: House committee rejects fetal homicide bill, then sets it aside

Rep. John Burt of the New Hampshire House Criminal Justice committee reported from the State House today that the committee “retained” SB 66, joining HB 156 in the pile of bills kicked aside for a vote in 2018.

Before the vote to retain, Burt moved “ought to pass with amendment” on SB 66. His motion failed, 10-11. Two Republicans, Carolyn Gargasz of Hollis and Scott Wallace of Danville, joined the committee’s Democrats in opposing the “ought to pass” motion.

Rep. John Burt photo of House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee vote on SB 66. Motion was Ought to Pass as Amended.

 

Rep. Wallace is a first-term representative. Rep. Gargasz is serving her 9th term.

The bill, whose chief sponsor was Sen. Regina Birdsell, had passed the Senate 14-10 before moving to the House.

What does “retain” mean?


The immediate effect is to prevent the bill from coming to a House vote this year, giving the committee (or a subcommittee named by the chairman) time to look at the bill and study it some more. A House vote will come in 2018.

In practice, a vote to retain means whatever the committee wants to mean. The “study” could be serious or it could be a joke.  A subcommittee might meet once, or not. The intention might be to strengthen the bill or it might be to shove the bill under the rug.

Post-study, the committee will then take vote later this year – possibly as late as late fall – to recommend Ought to Pass or Inexpedient to Legislate for House action in January 2018.

Note that both of this year’s fetal homicide bills were retained. It is likely that a study, if seriously undertaken, would look at both bills at the same time.

Another missed opportunity

This is the fourth full legislative biennium since the New Hampshire Supreme Court’s 2009 Lamy decision. In 2012, a fetal homicide bill actually made it to Governor Lynch’s desk, where he vetoed it. An override attempt failed.

So far, that’s the high-water mark for fetal homicide legislation in New Hampshire.

This is the fourth legislative biennium when House and Senate have refused to ask the state Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on a fetal homicide bill. Whether leadership has been Democrat or Republican, all have failed to seek that opinion.

Governor Sununu announced before last year’s election that he would support a fetal homicide bill.  It remains to be seen whether that support will extend to reaching out to legislators studying the retained bills.

The Crucitti family may have to keep telling the story of their daughter. The Kenisons may have to keep speaking out about Griffin.

All the while, the Lamy decision rests in dusty pages and a seldom-used URL, after it served to overturn a conviction of a drunk driver who injured a pregnant woman, prompted cesarean delivery of her child, and left that child with injuries that caused his death two weeks later.

The Justice who wrote the decision noted that the current state of New Hampshire law left the court with no other choice. “Should the legislature find the result in this case as unfortunate as we do, it should follow the lead of many other states and revisit the homicide statutes as they pertain to a fetus.”

Since 2009, one legislator after another has decided no, I don’t find the outcome as unfortunate as the Justices did. Eleven of those legislators prevailed today.

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

 


 

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.