Detailed Updates on NH Bills that Should Concern Good Women and Men

We’ll attempt to keep track of bills of concern as they pass or are not passed through the full New Hampshire house or committees and post that information here.

Most bills are voted on in the house by “voice vote” which means that there is no actual roll-call.  Unless its clear that there is difficulty in determining support or non-support through volume of voice-call outs, then a roll-call may be requested by a representative for further clarification and accuracy.  This is time consuming of course so often unless a vote is close, its not necessary (a few shouts over a full cacophony is pretty easy to judge).

But the roll-call is also used as an accounting method of record for political purposes as well.  How a rep votes on a bill can often be influenced by roll-call demands.  A rep who feels a particular way or feels that they must protect their relationship with a certain constituency may waver on whether to support a bill if their name is attached to their resulting vote.  Often they know a vote may come back to haunt them.  Conversely, many reps want their vote recorded and known as a badge of their loyalty to an issue or constituency.

Either way, usually bland or non-contentious bills don’t get a roll call, but when I roll-call occurs we will publish a link (provided by the NH General Court website) to the roll-call list.  This enables you the voter, to see where your representative voted on an issue and most importantly, to see who is blocking an issue near and dear to you.

For more information on how a bill becomes law, please refer to the link here, How a Bill Becomes Law
For even more information, please refer to the downloadable .pdf file of the booklet given to new representatives and available upon request to the public, Legislative Handbook.  There’s a list at the end of the publication of other resources about how the legislative process operates in New Hampshire.

So without further ado, let us continue:

HB 194 was defeated in the full house.   It was first in the Judiciary Committee where it was voted as “Inexpedient to Legislate” (ITL) which means the committee sees the bill as not fit to be put into law for whatever reason.  Don’t expect this issue to die — this is a perennial favorite of the anti-choice folks and is proposed every session in one form or another.

So a “yea” vote meant agreement with the committee recommendation of “ITL” and a “nay” vote meant support for the bill and against the committees recommendation.

Roll call results HB 194

HB 168 – relative to removing no-fault divorce in proceedings where either party may have minor children.   Voted with House Children and Family Law as ITL by voice vote.  Bill effectively killed.

HB 560 – relative to determining the fetus as a person in criminal cases  – still in committee, House Justice and Public Safety, refer to the list linked on the committee name title and call or email reps to let them know to stop this bill.  Another perennial favorite that will probably be proposed next session if it fails.

HB 403 – relative to buffer zones around women’s health clinics  – still in committee, House Judiciary Committee A bad bill designed by the anti-choicers who wish to have the “right” to harass women as they enter reproductive care clinics.

HB – 654 –  relative to removing funding for domestic violence intervention services — still in committee, House Finance Commitee  UPDATE!  News has it that this bill has just left the Judiciary Committee with a vote of 24-1 of ITL.  Will be up for a vote next week before the full house.  The battle is not won yet! Call and email your rep to let them know they must kill this bill!

Some other bills we failed to cover at length:

HB 677 –  UPDATE! The Judiciary Committee voted 14-3 to effectively “kill” this bill as ITL, the bill goes to the house for a full house vote on Wednesday.  Call your reps and let them know to vote to KILL this misleading bill that will endanger people’s lives! 

While the language of the summary reads thusly: “prohibiting the use of public funds for abortion services”  This language is intentionally misleading.  Since the Henry Hyde bill passed in the late 80’s that restricted all government funding from abortion services, those services have not been covered by public monies.  Yet the anti-women, anti-choice crowd continues to tell the public that in fact public funds are covering abortions.  This is patently false.

What public funds do cover are important healthcare services provided by Planned Parenthood to all women regardless of income or social status.  These services are vital to the health of not only the women themselves, but to their families and to their potential offspring.  Such services that Planned Parenthood provides to women and men nationwide are:

– screenings for sexually transmitted diseases
– sex education and information to couples and individuals
– general welfare and health check-ups for women, related to the health of their reproductive systems, such as cancer screenings for both breast, cervical and uterine cancers and other diseases.  Diseases of the reproductive organs can spread through the community and most importantly throw families into disarray and poverty if not found and treated quickly.
– providing important data and statistical information on populations at risk such as sex workers, homeless folks and people in extreme poverty
– providing education for and the means for birth control and family planning for couples and individuals
– providing sometimes first intervention in cases of rape or domestic violence and providing proper referrals and support in the community

But the people that wish to defund Planned Parenthood don’t care about these facts and the crucial role Planned Parenthood performs in communities.  All they care about is imposing their fanatical religious views of the world onto everyone else by every means possible, if even that means legislative trickery and public dishonesty.

This bill is currently in executive session in the House Judiciary Committee, we urge people to get in touch with the members of this committee via, telephone or email to let them know to stop this attack on women’s health.

HB 207 – relative to “defining probable cause or reasonable ground for the purpose of arrest without a warrant”  –

Those who work hard against domestic violence and advocate for victims say this bill sets a dangerous limit on the amount of process required of an officer in cases where they may be called on a domestic violence issue.  Currently, if an officer determines by their own standards of judgment that domestic violence has occurred, the officer can make an immediate arrest to remove the potential offender from the victim.

That is currently how the law works in domestic violence cases, allowing officers to override the commonly occurring denials of the victim (they deny abuse for fear of catching more from the abuser later).  In many cases across the country, when evidence of abuse seems to have taken place in a home where a call was made, the police may hesitate to make an arrest.  Thus, in many cases, once the police leave, the abuser then continues the abuse, often escalating it due to the victim calling for police intervention.  Many times this has resulted in the death of a victim who police leave with the abuser instead of making an arrest based on the victims statements or appearance alone.

While there is a disturbing increase in the number of arrests made by officers under very shaky grounds of reasonable suspicion, the domestic violence aspect of reasonable suspicion must be held at a different standard considering the circumstances of the crime.

We see this bill as wrong-headed and possibly in the interest of redefining legal boundaries for police interacting with the public and determining arrests, as the bill exists now, the language would effectively undo years of protection for victims of domestic violence.

We recommend that this bill be voted down or ITL until such time as the sponsors can come up with a suitable means to protect victims of domestic violence and respect the role the law enforcement can often play in saving lives.

The bill is currently in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee

NH 367 – relative to redefining physical assault.  This bill removes pertinent language that defines assault as “unprivileged physical contact” and replaces that language with a longer descriptive that leaves out the idea of “unprivileged” entirely and replaces it with “nature of the contact is such that the actor knows or a reasonable person should know that the other person will regard the contact as offensive, threatening, or provocative

The New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic Violence pointed out that this language would then exclude by the nature of the language, assault upon children, especially “grooming” behavior:

This bill attempts to amend New Hampshire’s simple assault law. Currently, law enforcement can use the crime of “simple assault” to charge abusers in dating situations who assault their victims. Simple assault is also the crime that routinely allows victims of domestic violence to qualify for a restraining order.  If enacted, this bill would make it more difficult for victims of domestic violence to receive the protection they need under the law.

 Under HB 367 if an abuser pinches, pushes, slaps, or spits on a victim but does not leave a visible injury, a law enforcement officer will have to determine whether a reasonable person would find that conduct offensive, threatening or provocative before arresting the offender. This complicates and potentially delays an arrest and civil relief in cases that pose imminent danger to victims.

 This bill would also legalize seemingly innocuous grooming behavior by sex offenders. For example, if a man goes to a City park and tickles small children he does not know, the children might not find this conduct “offensive”, “threatening” or “provocative.” Note: there was a case of this in Concord. 

We urge folks to consider the potential bad effects of this bill.  Again, a bill that seems driven more by ideology than good thinking.  We also wonder who in fact the sponsors of this bill meant to protect with this change.  In our culture where certain individuals, namely women and children, had little defense against unwanted advances and “teasing” behavior that usually leads to assault, this bill seems to move our society back a step to the time when victims of this behavior were given short shrift if they complained.  Again, who does this bill protect? We’re concerned.

This bill currently still sits in the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, please urge the members of that committee to vote this bad bill ITL.


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