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.