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NH House Committee Pushes ‘Fetal Personhood’ Bill To The House Floor

In an unprecedented move,
House Criminal Justice Committee reopens a retained bill

CONCORD – In an unprecedented move, the NH House Criminal Justice Committee passed SB 66  out of committee by a vote of 12-8. The House Committee previously retained the bill by a margin of 21-1. SB 66, if passed, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law.

SB 66 is a bill that poses serious unintended consequences and threatens women’s rights and health. The bill, as reported out by the House Criminal Justice Committee, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime. In doing so, SB 66 pits the rights of women against the rights of a fetus – threatening to erode the reproductive rights of Granite State women and to advance a larger national agenda to undermine the Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion access.

”In other states that have adopted personhood measures like SB 66, pregnant women have been subjected to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and unwanted medical treatment,” says Devon Chaffee, Executive Director of the ACLU-NH. “SB 66 is inconsistent with existing New Hampshire statutes, and pits women’s rights against fetal rights in a manner that threatens to undermine pregnant women’s status as full persons under the law.”

As amended by the Senate, SB 66 uses medically inaccurate terminology. The Senate amendment to SB 66 removed the term “viability” from the bill and included a definition of “fetus” that is inconsistent with how that term is understood by the medical community.  Additionally, the Senate amendment’s use of a twenty-week marker has no grounding in medicine or law.

Current New Hampshire law recognizes the severe harm resulting from the death of a fetus and provides for an enhanced felony conviction in such cases. A person may be prosecuted for First Degree Assault if that person purposely or knowingly causes injury to another resulting in miscarriage or stillbirth—a class A Felony carrying a sentence of up to 15 years. People who commit violent crimes against pregnant women, especially crimes which result in miscarriage or stillbirth, should be punished and that punishment should recognize the severity of the harm and loss to women and their families. Representative Laura Pantelakos has submitted an amendment to SB 66 that would replace the bill with language that adds enhanced penalties to New Hampshire’s homicide statute. As such, Representative Pantelakos’ amendment would appropriately focus the law on the additional, often devastating injury suffered when a crime against a woman results in the loss of her pregnancy.

Leaders across New Hampshire are speaking out against SB 66 as passed by the Senate and as reported out of the House Criminal Justice Committee. Dalia Vidunas, Executive Director of the Equality Health, wrote in the Concord monitor: “SB 66 would become the first New Hampshire law to recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime. Such measures have been passed in other states to create a tension between women’s rights and fetal rights and provide a framework to overturn Roe v. Wade, which protects a woman’s right to choose.” Read the rest of Vidunas’ letter here.

Reverend Mary Westfall, Community Church of Durham, United Church of Christ wrote in the Portsmouth Herald: “We all agree that those who commit violent acts against pregnant women should be severely punished under the law. SB 66 is not the answer. Instead of providing recourse for tragic fetal loss, this bill is a slippery slope to eroding rights under Roe v. Wade. If the New Hampshire legislature wants to increase penalties for crimes against pregnant women it should do so without threatening women’s rights and in a manner consistent with existing law.” Read the rest of Westfall’s letter here.

Susan Arnold, Chair for the NH Reproductive Rights Advisory Council, wrote in Foster’s Daily Democrat: “SB 66, if passed, would recognize a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time in New Hampshire law…In other states that have adopted personhood measures like SB 66, pregnant women have been subjected to surveillance, arrest, incarceration, and other deprivations of liberty for otherwise legal behavior that may or may not have harmed their fetuses. Justice for women? I think not. Read the rest of Arnold’s letter here.

Another Busy Day In Concord

NH House Acts On A Number Of Bills Including Full Day Kindergarten, Water Testing, Increase Civics Course Requirements, And Action To Censure Rep Fisher.

Yesterday was another very busy day in Concord as the House acted on many of the bills put forth by the Senate earlier in the year.

First, the House restored funding to the amended SB 191, agreeing to spend $14 million dollars to fully fund full day kindergarten.  Because the bill was changed from the one that passed the Senate, it will have to go back to the committee to finalize the details between the two bills.

“The House’s vote today in support of full-day kindergarten is a long-overdue recognition of the value that kindergarten programs provide to the development of our children.  This bill simply provides full funding for kindergarten programs in communities that offer it, finally giving kindergarten the support it deserves,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook).  “The business community recognizes the importance of early childhood education and strongly supports this bill.  I am hopeful that the House Finance Committee will reach the same conclusion in their review of this legislation.”


Another issue that has already hit the wires is the censuring of Rep Fisher for his involvement in the online “Reddit Red Pill”.  The House agreed to send the matter to the Legislative Adminstration committee for review where they will recommend reprimand, censure, expulsion, or no action.

“I was shocked to see a report linking the creation of the ‘Red Pill’ online forum to a New Hampshire State Representative,” said House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “A brief search of the ‘Red Pill’ reveals that it’s central purpose is to train men how to manipulate and dominate women.  Misogynist beliefs about the intelligence of women are prevalent in ‘Red Pill’ discussions.  It is particularly troubling that Representative Fisher has shown no contrition for his actions since being revealed as the creator of this forum.”

“Referring this matter to the Legislative Administration Committee will allow for an investigation into Representative Fisher’s involvement with this forum since his election to the New Hampshire House.  As elected officials it is our duty to act with honor both inside the State House and out, and I am confident that the Legislative Administration Committee will give this serious matter the consideration it deserves,” Shurtleff added.

“The NH GOP is sending a loud message that it will work to provide political cover for individuals like Rep. Fisher who promote rape culture and misogyny,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, Executive Director of Granite State Progress. “There should have been no hesitation in calling out Fisher’s action and no hiding behind false equivalences.”

In an attempt to shield Rep Fisher, the House Majority Leader, Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack), stated there would be a “statute of limitations on the rape culture comments” and the committee would only investigate comments “Fisher made during the current legislative session” even though he founded and contributed to the website Red Pill over the course of many years.

The Republican’s in the House also pushed for similar actions against State Rep Sherry Frost who for making what some deemed inappropriate comments on Twitter earlier this year.  Rep Frost did already apologize for her comment.

“The NH GOP didn’t want to hold Fisher accountable, so they chose instead to target a female legislator who speaks her mind. This is the same playbook that encourages rape culture in the first place – blame the woman,” stated Rice-Hawkins.


The House approved legislation to significantly increase protections for children from lead in paint and drinking water. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord), prime sponsor of the legislation, offered the following comments after the bipartisan House vote:

“Today’s vote is the culmination of many months of bipartisan work by many committed stakeholders. I’m pleased that the House has joined the Senate to make this happen to protect our kids from the lifelong effects of disabling lead exposure.”

“Each year, several hundred children in New Hampshire test positive with dangerous and disabling levels of lead in their blood,” said Senator Feltes.

“SB 247 focuses on lead poisoning prevention by increasing testing, disclosures, and through modernization of our safety standards, addressing both lead in paint and lead in water. This bipartisan effort will save money in the long-run (for every dollar invested in prevention and abatement we save at least $17 dollars), help close the opportunity gap between low-income and upper-income children, and help combat a major public health problem.”

“This victory today is what it’s all about: getting things done for people that make a real difference in their lives, especially our kids.”


In an overwhelming vote of 328-30, the House of Representatives voted today to pass SB 9, which strengthens the Rape Shield Law.  SB 9 ensures that rape shield protections include the victim’s past, and apply throughout the entire criminal justice process.  The bill will now head to Governor Sununu’s desk for signature.

“Today’s vote to strengthen New Hampshire’s Rape Shield Law is critically important for victims of sexual violence.  Only 16% of rapes are currently reported to police, largely because victims fear retaliation and the public scrutiny they would endure by coming forward,” stated House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook). “Ensuring that victims’ privacy rights are protected will allow people to come forward and seek justice without fear of their private life being broadcast to the world.”

“The strength shown by the Marriott family in their advocacy will ensure that other families are not forced to endure uncertainty, fear, and denial of rights as they seek justice.”


The House unanimously passed SB 45, legislation to increase civics course requirements for high school students. Senator Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester), prime sponsor of the bill, offered the following comments after passage:

“I’ve been advocating for more robust civics education in New Hampshire’s schools for years,” said Senator D’Allesandro. “Today’s students are graduating with limited knowledge of the systems and processes of the society they live and work in and without grasping their powers and responsibilities within that system. The key to increasing citizen participation and resolving some of the frustration with government that we’re seeing lately is to give people the knowledge they need to participate.  I’m glad we’ve taken this step to elevate the importance of civics education for our students.”

SB 45 creates a uniform framework for the administration of civics courses to include instruction on the U.S. Constitution, the New Hampshire Constitution, the structures and functions of federal government and how those branches interact with state and local government, opportunities and responsibilities for civic involvement and the skills to be an effective citizen.


The House passed SB 157, legislation to make clear all substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy, and that carriers properly notify consumers of their rights, including the right to appeal and the right to access services out-of-network at the same cost as in-network. Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord) offered the following comments after the bill was passed by unanimous consent:

“To make progress on our opioid and mental health crises, it is critically important that the New Hampshire Insurance Department finish its network adequacy rules, and promptly complete and make public its analysis of insurance carrier treatment of persons with mental health impairments,” said Senator Feltes, prime sponsor of the bill. “In the meantime, SB 157 makes it abundantly clear that substance use disorder services shall be considered as part of network adequacy analyses.  It also helps make sure consumers and their families know where to turn to for help, including when critical services are not available in their network. The first number many folks call when struggling to find mental health or substance use disorder services is the number on the back of their insurance card. SB 157 ensures that the right information is provided at the right time.”

Kuster Introduces Bill to Encourage STEM Education, Prepare Students for Jobs of Tomorrow

 (Washington, DC)Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) introduced legislation to provide new resources for STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) subjects in early childhood education. The Early STEM Achievement Act would create a competitive grant program within the Department of Education to assist early childhood STEM programs and train educators to teach STEM subjects, helping prepare children for the workforce of tomorrow.  

“We need to prepare young people for the jobs of the future that will drive economic growth in New Hampshire and nationwide,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Unfortunately, we are not doing enough to train students in the skills they need. We must ensure all students have access to STEM programs so they are prepared to compete in the 21st century economy. I will continue to work to provide students in the Granite State with STEM education opportunities that will inspire and prepare them for success.

Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of quality early childhood education. For example, research has shown there are lower high-school dropout rates among children who participate in early childhood education programs, demonstrating that the positive results continue for many years. Additionally, STEM lessons support skills like resourcefulness, persistence, and problem-solving ability—all crucial to the 21st century workforce. Kuster is committed to increasing funding for STEM education and other efforts to help students gain the 21stcentury skills they need.

The New Book, Nation On The Take, Shows The Real Corruption In Washington

The New Book Show Just How Corrupt Washington Has Become, How Corporations Are Fleecing American Taxpayers, And What We Must Do To Take Our Democracy Back.

Our system of government has been corrupted by money. This corruption goes much deeper than just funneling millions of dollars into election campaigns from Super PACs and billionaires like the Koch Brothers.

A new book, “Nation on the Take,” takes an in-depth look at how big money has stolen our democracy.

The real corruption lies in how legislation gets tanked or amended by Congressmen at the will of the corporations.

nation-on-the-take-issue-oneThis could be something as simple as, naming a specific manufacturer in the proposed legislation, thereby guaranteeing that all the money from the government contract goes directly to them.

Or, it could be something much larger.

Lobbyists convinced Congress (with campaign donations) to include language in the Affordable Care Act that would prevent Medicare from negotiating prescription drug prices. This small amendment to the ACA allows Big Parma to continue to price gouge the American taxpayer for years to come.

In 2013, the U.S. paid “40% more than Canada” on prescription drugs and “twice as much as many European countries including France and Germany.”

Healthcare is not area of the government that lobbyist have bought and paid for legislation to protect their profits or steamroll the American people.

Wendell Potter and Nick Penniman, the authors of Nation on the Take, show examples ranging from Wall Street reform, climate change, and EPA health regulations.

“This marriage of great wealth and political influence has strangled the political process, leaving us unable to address our most pressing problems as a nation, from climate change to the wealth gap. It defines the terms of our daily concerns: from the cars we drive to the air we breathe, even to the bodies we occupy.”

Just when you have read enough to take the book and toss it across the room in disgust, Potter & Penniman sweep in with solutions on how we can take our government back.

Republicans, Democrats, and Independents all agree that our government has been hijacked by Big Money and it is time for us to take it back. It is not going to be easy but nothing worth doing is ever easy. It will take time and dedication if we want to take back our democracy.

 

You can read an excerpt and pick up, Nation on the Take: How big money corrupts our democracy,  by going here.

 

NH Senate Passes HB1697 To Better Regulate On-Demand Ridesharing Services

Last week, we talked about how companies like Uber and Lyft are examples of corporations taking us in the wrong direction. They exploit workers and put our safety at risk.

Uber skirts around taxi industry regulations that were implemented to protect workers and to protect the safety of the passengers.  In New Hampshire, that could be about to change.

Today, the New Hampshire Senate passed HB 1697, relative to the operation and insurance of transportation network companies, that would impose much needed regulations on this fast growing industry.  HB 1697 is a laundry list of regulations that bring the new on-demand taxi service in line with current taxi cab regulations. 

“I am pleased that HB 1697 passed with bipartisan support,” said Senator Donna Soucy. “Companies like Uber and Lyft are only going to keep growing in New Hampshire and the state needed to take action to provide uniform standards and regulations that protects consumers.” 

“A fine balance was struck between protecting New Hampshire’s small taxi businesses while allowing ride sharing companies like Uber to operate in our state. I am happy that HB 1697 was passed with bipartisan support and that a New Hampshire solution was created for the regulation of ride sharing companies,” Soucy added. 

Governor Hassan remains optimistic the House and Senate will come to an agreement on the newly passed legislation.

“It is critical that we continue to support our people and our businesses in adapting to the changing economy of the 21st century so that we can keep New Hampshire moving forward and ensure that our vibrant communities remain destinations for families, visitors and young people,” Governor Hassan said. “House Bill 1697 builds on those efforts by helping to ensure that Uber and other ridesharing companies have a permanent home here in New Hampshire, helping to make our state more attractive for students, young professionals, entrepreneurs and visitors alike.”

 “I hope that the Senate and the House can quickly agree on a final version of this bipartisan bill so that I can sign it into law. I remain committed to working with members from both parties to ensure that this is a bill that works for our innovative businesses, that ensures the safety of passengers, and that does not take away the rights of our workers,” added Hassan.

 Nobody wants to see Uber or Lyft destroyed. Many just want to enjoy the benefits of their service while knowing that workers and consumers are protected. This bill will move us in that direction. 

NH House Kills 9 Bills Attacking Women’s Health

Ten Bills Voted on Today, Nine defeated by the NH House that Formed a Broad Agenda to Ban Abortion

Planned_Parenthood_logo.svgConcord, NH — Today the New Hampshire House voted to oppose dangerous changes in the landscape of reproductive health. Ten bills, an unprecedented number of attacks on women’s health, were voted on. One bill, a repeal of New Hampshire’s voluntary Buffer Zone law, was passed and will go to the Senate for further consideration.

“On behalf of New Hampshire’s women and families I applaud the New Hampshire House today for rejecting a package of legislation that would devastate reproductive health in the Granite State. Today’s proposed legislation was part of a broad agenda to ban abortion and eliminate reproductive care. We are pleased that a majority of Representatives stood up to extreme legislators and stood with New Hampshire’s women and families,” stated Jennifer Frizzell VP for Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

Ten Separate Bills were voted on today

Extreme anti-women’s health lawmakers attempted today to pass legislation that would make the constitutional protections of safe and legal abortion under Roe v. Wade, established more than 40 years ago, meaningless for New Hampshire women and families. The vast majority of these dangerous bills were stopped, including bills to ban abortion later in pregnancy, a bill to ban fetal tissue donation for medical research, and a bill that would deny family planning (Title X) funding to New Hampshire which provides preventative care like birth control, well women exams, and STI screenings.
The majority of the New Hampshire House agreed with their constituents. Support for access to safe, legal abortion is higher in New Hampshire than any other state in the country and that more Republicans here consider themselves pro-choice than pro-life on issues like abortion and funding for Planned Parenthood.

New Hampshire has a strong tradition of respecting women and doctors, not politicians, to make personal, private decisions about pregnancy and childbearing, and today the House respected that tradition. New Hampshire currently has some of the best public health outcomes in the country for women, including the lowest teen pregnancy rate, and the best perinatal and maternal health outcomes. The proposed anti-women’s health legislative package would have dramatically jeopardized care for New Hampshire women and reduce access for New Hampshire communities.

Despite the views and values of their constituents, a handful of extreme Republicans continue their assault on women’s health care. At the beginning of the 2016 session, they introduced a legislative package consisting of 16 bills that aimed at dismantling women’s preventive care and ending access to safe, legal abortion.

“Planned Parenthood of Northern New England knows that ruthless attacks from extreme politicians will continue. However, we won’t let these politicians take us backwards and make it impossible to get safe and legal abortion, putting women’s lives and health in danger. Today’s successes show that the majority of New Hampshire’s Representatives understand the importance of fighting from preventing these dangerous bills from becoming the law. The stakes for women’s health and rights have never been higher, and our doors will always remain open,” stated Jennifer Frizzell, VP for Public Policy at the Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund.

Ten Bills Voted on Today:

HB 1662: relative to abortion-inducing drugs.

CACR 19: relating to the taking of human life. Providing that the general court shall not appropriate nor authorize any expenditure to benefit any corporation having as its object the taking of innocent human life.

HB 1328: limiting pregnancy terminations to pregnancies of 20 weeks or less.

HB 1399: requiring licensure of outpatient abortion clinics.

HB 1570:  repealing the law governing access to reproductive health care facilities (Buffer Zone Repeal). *bill passed 160-152

HB 1623:  prohibiting an abortion based on genetic abnormalities.

HB 1625: relative to banning abortion after viability.

HB 1636: prohibiting abortions once an unborn child can feel pain.

HB 1663:  prohibiting buying, selling, and experimenting on unborn infants or bodily remains resulting from abortion.

HB 1684: prohibiting the use of public funds, employees, and facilities in assisting or performing abortions.


Planned Parenthood New Hampshire Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in New Hampshire. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including legislative education, grassroots organizing, and advocacy. Follow us on Twitter.

Very Active Day In The NH Legislature: Round Up Of Legislation Moved Today

NH House-2Today a ton of bills were passed and killed in the NH House and Senate.  They range in topics but all have an impact on the future of our state.  Below are press releases on a variety of bills that had votes today.


 

Senator Bette Lasky Applauds Senate Passage of Online Voter Registration

Concord, NH –Today, the NH Senate passed SB 507, authorizing online voter registration on a voice vote. Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), the prime sponsor of SB 507 released the following comments after the Senate vote:

“Making the process of registering to vote and casting your ballot more consistent and accessible is something we can all agree on and I’m pleased that my Senate colleagues supported this important legislation,” said Senator Lasky. “Allowing our citizens to register to vote online would help create a more accessible system and increase the number of citizens exercising one of their most important rights. As the First-In-The-Nation Presidential Primary state, New Hampshire needs to continually move forward as technology advances and be an example to the rest of the country.”

23 states have already implemented online voter registration and 5 more states will be added to that list this year. Research has also shown in these states that online voter registration has sustained or increased voter registration.  

“New Hampshire has built a strong reputation for voter participation, but we can always do more to help busy Granite Staters take part in our elections. I thank my Senate colleagues for their support and for creating a more effective and efficient election process for our Granite State citizens.”


Statement from Governor Hassan on House Passage of Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan 

CONCORD – Governor Maggie Hassan issued the following statement on the Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan passed today by the New Hampshire House of Representatives: 

“A solid and modern transportation infrastructure is critical to the success of our people and businesses, and the Ten-Year Transportation Improvement Plan passed by the House today advances a number of critical transportation goals that will help build on our bipartisan progress over the last several years. This includes maintaining and preserving our roads and bridges, completing the widening of Interstate 93, accelerating construction of Exit 4A in Londonderry and Derry and the first phase of widening the portion of Route 106 critical for access to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

“However, I am disappointed that the leveraging of federal funds for the environmental and engineering work necessary to bring commuter rail from Boston to Nashua and Manchester was removed. The business community continues to call on us to take action because commuter rail will improve access to the entire region, provide new housing and transportation opportunities, spur economic development and create jobs. I remain committed to working with members from both parties, local communities, the federal government, our businesses and Massachusetts to find a consensus and make this vital project a reality.”


Senator Bette Lasky Praises Passage of Public-Private Partnerships for Intermodal Infrastructure and Transportation Projects

CONCORD- Today, the NH Senate pass SB 549, which would allow the state to enter into agreements with private entities in order to fund intermodal infrastructure and transportation projects. After the vote, Senator Bette Lasky (D-Nashua), prime sponsor of SB 549, released the following comments: 

“Enabling public-private partnerships (P3s) is an important step toward meeting our infrastructure needs with limited financial resources from the state and I thank the Senate for their support,” said Senator Lasky. “Improving our transportation infrastructure benefits all Granite Staters and by enabling the state to work with private funders, our state can access additional funding opportunities with greater efficiencies, which will save the state money.”

SB 549 was developed through the work of a public-private partnership (P3s) study committee and the committee’s recommendation that New Hampshire pursue this funding option. According to the study committee’s report, 33 other states already have laws authorizing P3s for highway and bridge projects. 

“A strong and dynamic transportation infrastructure helps sustain our families and businesses. Finding creative and innovative solutions to help finance transportation projects when state funds are unavailable is essential to not only expanding economic growth, but expanding opportunity for all Granite Staters. I am happy that the Senate moved this legislation forward so that we can sustain and promote the growth of our state’s businesses and economy, while protecting taxpayer dollars and minimizing the financial risk to our state.”


Senator David Pierce Statement on Tabling of SB 531 (Senate version of the Medicaid Expansion)

CONCORD – Today, the State Senate agreed to table SB 531, which would have reauthorized the NH Health Protection Program, in order to take up the reauthorization in HB 1696, which passed the House yesterday on a bipartisan vote. After the conclusion of the Senate session, SB 531 prime sponsor Sen. David Pierce (D-Lebanon) released the following statement: 

“While Senate Democrats would have preferred to reauthorize the NH Health Protection Program as drafted in SB 531, we are committed to finding a solution on reauthorization that has broad, bipartisan support and agreed to table our bill. Just as we did two years ago, we need to come together, across party and ideological lines to ensure that 48,000 hard working Granite Staters continue to have access to quality, affordable health care the health and financial security that comes with it.” 

“There’s no question that the NH Health Protection Program has been a success and met the goals we set out to achieve when we passed SB 413 in 2014. Our hospitals have seen a significant decline in inpatient, outpatient and emergency room visits by uninsured Granite Staters, leading to a decrease in uncompensated care, which is a hidden tax on us all. By reducing uncompensated care, we also reduce the healthcare cost-shifting onto our people and businesses.”

“Continuing the program is also essential as we continue to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic. Thousands of Granite Staters have accessed substance abuse and behavioral health services through coverage under expansion and reauthorizing the program is critical to increasing treatment capacity in New Hampshire.” 

“HB 1696, which was passed by a strong bipartisan vote in the House yesterday, will ensure that we continue this critical program that strengthens the health of our workforce and boosts our economy. I, along with my Senate Democratic colleagues, stand ready to renew this important program and we look forward to working with our Republican colleagues in the Senate to get this critical legislation to the Governor’s desk as soon as possible.”


Senator Martha Fuller Clark Praises Senate Passage of Legislation to Protect Children from Illegal Adoptions

Concord, NH –Today, the Senate passed SB 543, which prohibits unauthorized advertising for adoptions and ensures that all adoptions follow state guidelines. Senator Martha Fuller Clark (D-District 21), prime sponsor of SB 543, released the following comments after today’s Senate session:  

“SB 543 addresses a gap in our current law that we could have never thought about just a few years ago: advertising children for sale or adoption online. While this problem may seem outrageous, at the public hearing, we heard examples from other states where babies and children were being offered for sale or trade on websites.” 

“In our ever-changing world, we must make sure to protect our children and SB 543 ensures that if a parent decides to make the difficult decision to give a child up for adoption, it is done so through a safe and regulated process. I thank the Senate for unanimously supporting the passage of this much needed important legislation.”


Governor Hassan on House Vote to Pass Net Metering Legislation 

CONCORD – Following a bipartisan vote by the New Hampshire House of Representatives to pass House Bill 1116, relative to net energy metering, Governor Maggie Hassan issued this statement:

“The solar industry is a critical part of our growing clean energy economy in New Hampshire, which recently ranked New Hampshire as one of the top five states for renewable energy and is creating good-paying, high-quality jobs, spurring economic development and helping combat climate change. Businesses and families across the state are utilizing solar to lower their energy bills and to increase their energy independence, contributing to the diverse and reliable energy supply that is critical to a more affordable and more innovative energy future.

“Lifting the cap on net metering is essential to the continued success of New Hampshire’s solar industry, and I applaud the House for its bipartisan vote to pass this critical measure. The Senate has already supported this legislation, and I urge them to concur with the version passed by the House and send this bill to my desk as quickly as possible so that we can lift the cap on net metering.”


Senator Woodburn Praises Addition of Biodiesel to List of Renewable Energy Sources 

CONCORD – Today, the NH Senate passed SB 386, which adds biodiesel producers to renewable energy classes in order to incentivize more biodiesel production. After the vote, North Country Senator Jeff Woodburn released the following comments: 

“Encouraging the production and use of local renewable fuels like biodiesel not only makes sense for our environment, but helps boost our local economy. Innovative companies like White Mountain Biodiesel in the North Country are already using biodiesel to power the Mount Washington Cog Railway and passage of SB 386 helps to encourage more companies to do the same. As a co-sponsor of this bill, I was very proud to support not only expanding the use of domestically-produced renewable fuels, but I was proud to stand up for our North Country businesses.”


Senator Woodburn Praises Passage of Legislation to Protect Victims of Unauthorized Disclosure of Sexually Explicit Images

CONCORD – Following the bipartisan passage of SB 465, which closes a loophole in current law in order to protect victims of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images, Sen. Jeff Woodburn released the following statement:

“Disclosure of sexually explicit material without consent and for no legitimate purpose causes immediate, devastating, and potentially irreversible harm to victims of this crime,” said Senator Woodburn. “Unfortunately, rapid advances in technology have created a loophole in our state laws that prevent prosecution of this crime. SB 465 closes this loophole and establishes a penalty for this devastating crime.”

Twenty-six other states have enacted similar laws to deal with the unauthorized disclosure of sexually explicit materials. 

“The ability of people to gain access to and distribute private, sexually explicit material has raised all sorts of issues that we could have never imagined even just a few years ago. Police and prosecutors are seeing an increase in these types of crimes, but need the tools to protect victims of this crime. I thank my Senate colleagues, especially the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee who worked to make this a better bill, for their support.”

New England Senators Introduce Sexual Assault Survivors Rights Legislation in the Senate

Woman in Tunnel (Blondinrikard Fröberg FLIKR)

Woman in Tunnel (Blondinrikard Fröberg FLIKR)

The Sexual Assault Survivors Act will improve the care and treatment of sexual assault survivors, and empower them to pursue justice

(Washington, DC)—Today, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and the Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT), introduced legislation that codifies basic rights for survivors of sexual assault. The Sexual Assault Survivors Act builds on the success of the Crime Victims’ Rights Act to address unique challenges faced by sexual assault survivors, particularly regarding notice, access, and preservation of sexual assault evidence collection kits.  The bill would empower survivors to make more informed decisions throughout the criminal justice process by supporting state efforts to better notify survivors of available resources as well as applicable state rights and policies.  Finally, the bill would establish a joint Department of Justice and Health and Human Services working group to more effectively implement best practices regarding the care and treatment of survivors across the country.

Currently, depending on the jurisdiction, sexual assault survivors often experience a complex and cryptic maze of policies that deter them from pursuing justice. The authors of this legislation worked closely with Rise, a national nonprofit, led by Amanda Nguyen, a sexual assault survivor who has bravely shared her harrowing experience with the criminal justice system.

“Without a clear set of rights articulated in the law, it’s difficult for even the best law enforcement professionals to ensure that survivors receive fair, effective, consistent treatment, particularly across counties and states,” said Shaheen. “We have to do better.  Our goal with this legislation is to change the culture around how sexual assault survivors are treated in our criminal justice system.  We have to create an environment where survivors feel like the system is working for them, not against.  Amanda and other brave survivors like her, have worked hard to put these issues on the nation’s agenda and now it’s time for Congress to take action.” 

“When a survivor of sexual assault engages the criminal justice system, she must be secure in her rights and empowered to make informed decisions,” Blumenthal said. “Reporting sexual assault requires incredible courage — and the system must be worthy of that bravery. Too often, survivors are not told what is happening in their cases, find that vital evidence was destroyed without their consent, or encounter byzantine procedural barriers to justice. This bill represents an important step toward a system that mirrors unsparing prosecution of people who commit these heinous offenses with sensitive, consistent, and fair treatment of survivors.”

“Too often, survivors of sexual assault feel abandoned by our criminal justice system,” said Leahy. “Time and again we have seen how their cases are not taken seriously, how evidence is not preserved or tested in their cases. This is unacceptable. I am proud of the work we have done to ensure their voices are heard through the Debbie Smith Act, the Leahy-Crapo Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act and now the Sexual Assault Survivors Rights Act.  Survivors of sexual assault must be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

“Justice for sexual assault survivors should not depend on geography,” said Amanda Nguyen, founder and president of Rise. “This federal Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which brings together common sense best practices, is the first step to having uniform basic rights for survivors across the country.” 

Some key rights established by the bill include:

  • The right to have a sexual assault evidence collection kit preserved for the entire relevant statute of limitations.
  • The right to be notified in writing 60 days prior to the destruction of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
  • The right to request further preservation of a sexual assault evidence collection kit.
  • The right to be informed of important results of a sexual assault forensic examination.

The bill has been endorsed by RAINN, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), International Association of Forensic Nurses (IAFN), Consortium of Forensic Science Organizations (CFSO), NH Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and the VT Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. 

The bill text is available here.

 

Sen. David Pierce Introduces Legislation to Protect Reproductive Health Service Providers

Legislation would create a criminal penalty for targeting health care facility that provides reproductive health services 

Concord, NH – Today, Senator David Pierce (D-Lebanon) introduced SB 542, which creates a penalty for criminal interference with health services. After the Senate Health and Human Services Committee public hearing on SB 542, Sen. Pierce released the following comments: 

“Targeted attacks on health care facilities because they provide reproductive health services are attacks on the fundamental right of our citizens to access health care,” said Sen. Pierce. “It is time to end extreme attempts to block access to critical health services and SB 542 makes clear that if someone targets a reproductive health care facility because of the services they provide, they will be held accountable for their acts.”

Across the country, health care facilities that provide reproductive health services have been increasingly targeted for violence and vandalism, including the fatal shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic in November. New Hampshire has also seen its health care facilities targeted, including last October’s targeted vandalism at the Claremont Planned Parenthood clinic, which was forced to close for 6 weeks in order to repair the damage.

“The families of Claremont region were without access to critical primary and preventative health care services for weeks last fall and this type of targeted violence should be strongly condemned by all, regardless of how one feels about the reproductive choice issue. I urge the Senate Health and Human Services Committee to support SB 542 and stand up against those who would interfere with a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions.”

 

Governor Hassan Urges House Committee to Oppose Legislation Prohibiting State Implementation of Clean Power Plan

CONCORD – Continuing her efforts to protect the environment and to ensure that New Hampshire remains a leader in combating climate change, Governor Maggie Hassan today sent a letter to the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee in opposition to House Bill 1659, relative to the implementation of the clean power state implementation plan, which would prohibit a state implementation plan. 

“New Hampshire has long been a leader in combating climate change and cutting carbon emissions,” Governor Hassan wrote. “Through programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), our state and region have reduced harmful emissions, created jobs, and encouraged innovation across our clean energy economy. The Clean Power Plan is an important step forward at the national level to address carbon emissions and climate change, and it is equally important that New Hampshire develop its own plan that meets our state’s needs, as opposed to having a plan imposed on us by the federal government.” 

As a State Senator, Governor Hassan sponsored New Hampshire’s original Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) legislation, which has brought numerous benefits to the Granite State, including reducing harmful emissions and helping to reduce energy costs, create jobs and encourage innovation in the state’s clean-energy economy. She also helped enact the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) law and consistently fights for clean air and water.

As Governor, she has signed bipartisan legislation to help maximize the benefits of RGGI for New Hampshire ratepayers, to update the RPS law and to establish a long-term New Hampshire Energy Strategy. New Hampshire also joined the Under 2 MOU in October 2015, a global compact among cities, states and provinces worldwide that supports the state’s efforts to combat climate change. 

“At a time when we need to continue the progress we have made to reduce power plant emissions, to reduce our energy usage, and to reduce risks and prepare for the impacts of climate change, this legislation would pull us backward,” Governor Hassan wrote. “Instead, we should focus on creating a robust state implementation plan that will continue our important work to combat climate change, and keep the planning process in the State’s hands.” 

In November 2015, the New Hampshire Attorney General’s Office joined 24 states, cities and counties in filing a motion to intervene to defend the Clean Power Plan.

The full text of the Governor’s letter to the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee is below.


February 2, 2016

The Honorable Robert Introne

Chairman, House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee

Legislative Office Building, Room 304

Concord, New Hampshire 03301

 

Dear Chairman Introne and Members of the Committee:

I write to you today in opposition to HB1659, a bill that would prohibit the Department of Environmental Services from expending funds to develop or implement a state implementation plan under the Clean Power Plan.

New Hampshire has long been a leader in combating climate change and cutting carbon emissions. Through programs like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI), our state and region have reduced harmful emissions, created jobs, and encouraged innovation across our clean energy economy. The Clean Power Plan is an important step forward at the national level to address carbon emissions and climate change, and it is equally important that New Hampshire develop its own plan that meets our state’s needs, as opposed to having a plan imposed on us by the federal government.

At a time when we need to continue the progress we have made to reduce power plant emissions, to reduce our energy usage, and to reduce risks and prepare for the impacts of climate change, this legislation would pull us backward. Instead, we should focus on creating a robust state implementation plan that will continue our important work to combat climate change, and keep the planning process in the State’s hands.

From our mountains to our lakes to our beautiful seacoast, New Hampshire’s natural resources are critical to our economy and define us as a state. Addressing climate change and the harmful impacts of carbon emissions are economic imperatives. We must continue to work to address these issues while ensuring that we have the tools to invest in new energy resources as we develop our own plan to implement the Clean Power Plan.

I respectfully urge you to vote this legislation inexpedient to legislate. Thank you for your consideration.

With every good wish,

Margaret Wood Hassan

Governor

 

 

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