The recent New Hampshire House roll call vote on born-alive protection for abortion survivors was largely along party lines, but not entirely. The HB 233 vote was messy, for various reasons. The walkout on the bill (as previously reported on this blog) could leave voters wondering if “Not Voting” next to a rep’s name means opposition or just indifference.
With all those caveats, we can now see how New Hampshire’s state representatives voted on one of the most important bills of the session so far, an act “relative to the right of any infant born alive to medically appropriate and reasonable care and treatment.”
I have a separate post on the session’s other life-issue bill, HB 625, on late-term abortion.
Setting the stage
HB 233 was finally passed 181-49 on a division vote. “Division” means a count was taken, but no names were associated with the votes. We don’t know who voted “ought to pass.” What we do know is who voted “inexpedient to legislate,” which was a separate motion.
A look at the bill’s docket shows that no fewer than eight votes were cast on the bill or the procedures associated with it: one voice vote, three roll calls, and 4 divisions. Throw in the walkout, and we have a sense of the urgency felt by the bill’s opponents trying to derail HB 233 by any means necessary.
Remember, HB 233 is not an abortion bill. It is about protecting children already born.
You can find your own state representatives’ names and contact information on the General Court website. I recommend saying thank-you where appropriate.
The most useful vote
Among those eight votes on HB 233, the clearest and most useful vote for future reference was the roll call vote on the Judiciary Committee’s “inexpedient to legislate” motion. That was basically a simple question: shall we kill this bill? That motion failed, 46-186.
The complete roll call on the ITL motion is here. Because the motion for that roll call was “inexpedient to legislate (ITL),” a Yea vote was a vote to kill the born-alive bill. (If you are looking at the bill’s docket, see vote #40.)
That means 186 representatives went on record against killing the bill. Looks like a double negative, but that’s what happens when the motion is “inexpedient to legislate.”
I mention some party affiliations in order to sketch in the exceptions to what was otherwise a party-line vote, with most Republicans favoring the bill and thus opposing the ITL motion.
Against the party-line tide: Democrats voting against the ITL motion
Three Democrats chose not to walk out and instead go on record opposing the ITL motion. They were Larry Laflamme of Berlin, Cecilia Rich of Somersworth, and Stephen Woodcock of Center Conway.
Against the party-line tide: Republicans supporting ITL
On the other hand, twelve Republicans joined 34 Democrats in supporting the “inexpedient to legislate” motion:
Lex Berezhny (Grafton), Joseph Depalma IV (Littleton), Edward “Ned” Gordon (Bristol; chairman of Judiciary Committee; he joined committee Democrats in the committee’s 11-10 ITL recommendation), John Graham (Bedford), John Hunt (Rindge), Melissa Litchfield (Brentwood), James Mason (Franklin), Russell Ober (Hudson), Diane Pauer (Brookline), Dennis Thompson (Stewartstown), Dan Wolf (Newbury), Josh Yokela (Fremont).
How many reps bailed out on the vote?
The number of representatives listed as “Not Voting” on HB 233 – as opposed to “Excused,” which is a formal advance notification to the House Clerk of absence for cause – was 121. That reflects the walkout.
That’s right: one hundred twenty-one. If your representatives were among them, feel free to ask them why they left. Maybe they had a good reason. Maybe they didn’t. Maybe they were confused about the motion. Don’t assume. Ask.
Party line? Close. Seven Republicans joined 114 Democrats in “Not Voting”: Dennis Acton (Fremont), David Danielson (Bedford), Joseph Guthrie (Hampstead), Mary Ann Kimball (Derry), David Lundgren and Betsy McKinney (both of Londonderry), and Mark Warden (Manchester).
One of my reps (a Democrat) walked out. As she explained on Facebook, “We were hoping to deprive the House of a quorum to vote on it, but it passed anyway.” I appreciate her candor, even if I don’t appreciate her walking out on her job. Perhaps her action was instructive, and someday a bill she supports will fall victim to a quorum call. Who knows?
If you look at the roll call you’ll see there were 44 excused absences, which is on the high side for a session. COVID concerns may have played a role. Given the walkout on HB 233, the bill would have passed anyway, even if all the representatives with excused absences had voted against it.
The next public hearing on HB 233 hasn’t been scheduled yet. We’ll have to wait awhile to see what the bill’s opponents will do next to kill a bill to provide medically appropriate and reasonable care to any infant born alive.
Header photo: Daisy Laparra/Pexels