Buffer zone repeal falls victim to crossover deadline

Faced with a deadline for vacating its borrowed venue, the New Hampshire House ended crossover day by effectively tabling a number of bills including HB 430, buffer zone repeal.

The House met on April 7, 8, and 9 at NH Sportsplex in Bedford, allowing for seating spaced according to current COVID protocols. Friday the 9th was crossover day, the deadline for all bills originating in the House this year to be disposed of one way or another. Leaders in both parties knew in advance that the Sportsplex needed the House to adjourn by early Friday evening in order to accommodate other users of the facility.

The deadline came, with many bills still unaddressed. Result: in the absence of a vote, the unaddressed bills – including buffer zone repeal – will not advance in 2021.

At this writing, the docket for HB 430 lists its status as “miscellaneous.” That’s one way to put it.

To my knowledge, there is nothing to prevent these deferred bills from coming back in 2022, since that will be part of the same legislative biennium.

This isn’t over. Repeal bills will keep popping up, year after year. There ought not be room in New Hampshire law for a statute that allows a private entity to bar the presence of peaceful people from a public space.

New Hampshire’s buffer zone law permits managers of abortion facilities to determine where and when the public may be present on public property within “up to 25 feet” of a facility.

The buffer zone law was signed by then-Governor Maggie Hassan in 2014 with support from abortion lobbyists, despite the McCullen v. Coakley decision issued by the U.S. Supreme Court the same month striking down a similar Massachusetts law.

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