Bills to combat voter fraud, consider fetus victims in violent crimes sent to NH governor
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire Senate accepted the House's changes to bills on voter registration, fetal homicide and school choice on Thursday and sent them to Gov. Chris Sununu, who said he will sign them.
Thursday was the deadline for House and Senate lawmaker to accept each others' amendments to proposed legislation or set up committees of conference to settle differences between the bodies, and both sides made quick work of that task with little or no debate.
The Republican-controlled Senate voted 14-9 along party lines to send Sununu a bill that would require voters who move to the state within 30 days of an election to provide proof that they intend to stay in New Hampshire. Those who can't provide proof, such as a driver's license or lease, would still be allowed to vote. However, if they don't follow up with elections officials within 10 to 30 days, authorities could go their homes to investigate, and voters could be removed from voter rolls for future elections.
"This legislation helps protect the integrity of New Hampshire electoral process. As host of the first in the nation primary, New Hampshire has the obligation to ensure our system in beyond reproach," Sununu said in a statement.
"This bill does exactly that and as such, I look forward to signing this legislation when it reaches my desk."
The vote was the same on a bill that would permit certain school districts to send students to private schools using taxpayer dollars and another that would allow murder charges against those who cause the death of a fetus.
The education bill would affect a handful of small towns that do not operate middle or high schools and instead send their children to schools in neighboring towns. Among them is the town of Croydon, which got in a court battle with the state in 2015 after using public dollars to send some students to a Montessori school. The fate of one of Sununu's top education priorities — full-day kindergarten — remains uncertain, as the Senate voted to negotiate with the House on a bill that would use revenue from the Keno lottery game to fund the program.
The fetal homicide bill, similar to laws in nearly 40 other states, would allow fetuses that have reached 20 weeks after conception to be considered victims of murder, manslaughter, negligent homicide or assisted suicide. Among those arguing unsuccessfully against the bill was Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, who said had the law been in effect when she was pregnant 20 years ago, she could have been charged.
Hennessey, a Hanover Democrat, said she was about 21 weeks pregnant when she jumped off a chairlift while skiing with her young nephew to help him after he was hit by the chair and broke his leg. Had her baby not survived, "under this bill I would've been seen as negligent," she said.
Supporters of the bill said it provides justice for women whose choice to have a baby is ended by someone else.