Attempt to override buffer zone veto coming on September 15

Don’t let this get lost in the pile of messages you’re receiving about the primary election: The New Hampshire House will meet on September 15 for “Veto Day,” taking up the eight bills vetoed by Gov. Chris Sununu this year. Among them is HB 1625, repeal of the unenforced “buffer zone” law designed to restrict the First Amendment rights of peaceful pro-life witnesses outside abortion facilities.

A two-thirds majority is required to overturn a veto. If the House overturns the veto, the Senate will then attempt an override. Both chambers are meeting at 1 p.m. on September 15.

Note that Veto Day comes two days after the state’s primary election. If your representative happens to be defeated that day, he or she will still be in office until next December and will therefore be able to vote on Veto Day.

Look up your representatives’ names and contact information: http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/members/

When you send your message to OVERTURN the veto of HB 1625, remember that your reps will be hearing from many people. Keep it short and to the point. If you email your rep, make sure your subject line has the relevant information, since that might be all that gets read. For example: “From a constituent: overturn HB 1625 veto.”

HB 1625 passed the House narrowly last March, 168-162, with every Democrat present voting against the bill and all but ten Republicans voting for it.

Governor Sununu in his veto message said, “In the eight years since this law was originally enacted, we know of no instance where an individual or group has been harmed by it. As a result, I am not looking to make any changes at
this time.” He has no problem with keeping on the books a law that’s based on one overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Update: The House sustained the Governor’s veto. The vote to override the veto failed, 145-175. The 152 Democrats who cast a vote all voted to sustain the veto; they were joined by 23 Republicans.

An earlier post about HB 1625: Three reasons for Governor Sununu to sign buffer zone repeal (still relevant as reasons to override his veto). I had a few things to say after the veto, too.

Fetal Life Protection Act now has an exception

In the Governor’s Friday afternoon news dump just before Memorial Day weekend, we learned that he has quietly signed HB 1609, which adds an exception for “fetal anomalies incompatible with life” – i.e. a eugenic exception – to New Hampshire’s 24-week abortion limitation, the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA).

The bill also includes clarification of FLPA’s ultrasound language. That particular provision was already passed via Governor Sununu’s recent signing of HB 1673, however, making that part of HB 1609 superfluous.

Take a moment to revisit this blog’s post “A door that shouldn’t be opened” in which I quoted the public policy director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester: “This would be the first time New Hampshire would designate a particular category of children to be liable for abortion, and that’s a door we don’t think the state should open.”

He was right, even if his words fell on deaf ears.

Governor Sununu gets one right

I take Governor Chris Sununu to task now and again, and he seems determined to keep giving me ample material. When he gets something right, I ought to give him a nod.

Without ceremony, he recently signed a pile of more than fifty bills. Somewhere in that pile was HB 576, expanding eligibility for access to the New Hampshire Attorney General’s victims’ compensation fund. Now, survivors of juvenile sex trafficking will be allowed an extended period of time to make a claim on the fund.

I wrote recently about Darlene Pawlik’s testimony in favor of the bill. A survivor herself, she urged legislators to get behind the measure. “Having access to the victims compensation fund could be more than just a way for a young person to have expenses paid for….It is the fact that people cared enough to set up such a fund which really makes a difference.”

The bill was held over from the 2021 legislative session. The six sponsors, led by Rep. Linda Massimilla (D-Littleton), had to keep this one on their colleague’s radar in the middle of 2022’s new crush of bills. Persistence paid off.

The final legislative report on HB 576 was written by Sen. Sharon Carson (R-Londonderry): “This bill will amend the provisions of the Victims’ Compensation Fund by permitting claims for victims of human trafficking to be filed at anytime and eliminating the consideration of contributory negligence in claims based on sexual abuse or human trafficking. The passage of this bill will recognize the long-term victimization and ramifications that occur as a result of this type of abuse, giving victims the time they need to come to terms with their trauma without. deadline for claims looming over their recovery.”

Quick passage of HB 576 should have been a no-brainer, but sometimes the legislative process creaks a bit. Seeing this bill get over the finish line is immensely satisfying. I had the pleasure of playing a small role by working with the bill’s chief sponsor, with whom I may never again agree politically – but whose advocacy for trafficked kids comes straight from the heart.

Anticipating Senate vote, Sununu says he’d veto buffer zone repeal

According to Union Leader State House reporter Kevin Landrigan, Governor Chris Sununu has said he would veto the buffer-zone repeal bill if it reaches his desk. That bill, HB 1625, is scheduled for a Senate vote on Thursday, May 5. I’ll be watching to see if normally pro-life and pro-First-Amendment senators vote against the bill after they’ve heard the veto threat.

The report follows Sununu’s remarks earlier this week in the wake of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft opinion in the Dobbs case that he remains “pro-choice.” On his official website, he has posted the following statement: “As a pro-choice governor, I am committed to upholding Roe v. Wade, which is why I am proud of the bipartisan bill headed to my desk this year that expands access. So long as I am governor, these health care services for women will remain safe and legal.”

The “bipartisan” bill to which Sununu was referring is HB 1609, which adds a eugenics exception to the Fetal Life Protection Act (FLPA), New Hampshire’s recently-enacted 24-week abortion limitation.

Sununu victory, GOP legislature: what’s ahead?

New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu, a Republican, has won a third term. The same election flipped the House and Senate from Democrat to Republican majorities, subject to a few Senate recounts.

Will this yield any pro-life legislation?

You may recall that when Sununu ran for Governor the first time, he ran an ad touting his “pro-choice” position, but later said that he supported certain common-sense measures: fetal homicide legislation, Women’s Health Protection Act (standards for operation of abortion facilities), healthcare freedom of conscience, a late-term abortion ban, and buffer zone repeal.

(From 2016: A concerned Republican and Sununu’s reply)

After two terms, he has signed a fetal homicide law. None of the other measures he mentioned has even made it to his desk. It’s possible that a Republican majority in House and Senate will make a difference. After all, the Republican majority during Sununu’s first term did manage to pass that fetal homicide law, with the help of four Democrats and one Libertarian.

“Pro-life” isn’t spelled G-O-P. Neither is “First Amendment,” for that matter, as I recall repeated failures to repeal the buffer zone law. Even so, maybe some of those common-sense measures mentioned by the Governor might have a chance in 2021.