Legislative Update June 10

Week of June 8-12, 2020

After a 12-week hiatus due to COVID-19, the House is meeting on June 11 to resume this year’s legislative session and the Senate resumes committee hearings.  

Senate Hearing June 11 on Bill Amended to Require Some Health Insurance Policies Offering Maternity Benefits to Cover Abortions

In March, The New Hampshire Senate passed SB 486-FN, to mandate abortion coverage in certain health insurance policies. The House has not yet scheduled a hearing on the bill.

Some senators want to hedge their bets. They are trying to create a second bill to do the exact same thing by taking HB 685-FN, a bill that has already passed in the House pertaining to insurance coverage for ambulance services, removing its entire text and subject matter, and substituting in its place the same language found in SB 486, using amendment #1364s.

This tactic is an attempt by abortion extremists to give legislators TWO chances to force abortion coverage into places it doesn’t belong by housing its content in an unrelated bill. Cornerstone does not endorse tactics like these that attempt to circumvent an open and transparent process regardless of party or objective.

WHEN: The Senate Commerce Committee will have a hearing on Thursday, June 11, at 10:35 a.m. on HB 685 as introduced, followed immediately at 10:40 a.m. by a hearing on the proposed abortion insurance amendment #1364s.

CORNERSTONE POSITION: Cornerstone OPPOSES amendment #1364s. Our position is consistent with our opposition to SB 486-FN.

WHY: Mandating abortion coverage in health insurance policies both a religious liberty and life issue. By coercing any insurer or business owners (and their employees and customers) to provide direct material support for abortion regardless of their personal or moral convictions, the bill clearly crosses a line by violating constitutionally protected religious freedom and conscience rights.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Contact the Senate Commerce Committee and urge members to vote NO on amendment #1364s to HB 685. The Senate has already passed a similar bill, and they shouldn’t compound their error now. The committee could vote on the altered bill immediately after the hearing, so please send your message promptly.

The hearing will be open to the public online via Zoom and YouTube.

  1. To sign-in and/or speak in support or opposition, please register in advance by using this link: https://www.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_croAzCD-TXuZDPa4hQt2XQ
  2. To submit your testimony to the committee, please send all documents via email to remotesenate@leg.state.nh.us
  3. To listen via telephone: Dial (for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):
    1-301-715-8592, or 1-312-626-6799, or 1-929-205-6099, or 1-253-215-8782, or 1-346- 248-7799, or 1-669-900-6833
  4. Or iPhone one-tap: 13017158592,,94072646718# or 13126266799,,94072646718#
  5. Webinar ID: 940 7264 6718
  6. To view/listen to this hearing on YouTube, use this link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjBZdtrjRnQdmg-2MPMiWrA
    The following email will be monitored throughout the meeting by someone who can assist with and alert the committee to any technical issues: remotesenate@leg.state.nh.us or call (603-271-3043).

HB 1162, relative to adoption and parentage

WHEN: The New Hampshire Senate Judiciary Committee had a hearing on HB 1162 and proposed amendments on June 9. A committee vote is pending. 

CORNERSTONE POSITION: Cornerstone cannot support HB 1162. At best, it requires more study. It does not appear to serve the best interests of children. 

WHY: One supporter of the bill said it was about letting unmarried couples adopt. The text of the bill as introduced would apply not only to “unmarried couples” – the word “couples” implies an ongoing relationship – but to any two adults. When a member of the committee asked a supporter of the bill about this, the answer was “we left that to the courts to assess.” 

There is also a serious potential flaw in the procedure being used for HB 1162. If the committee accepts proposed amendments to the bill, HB 1162 will suddenly include many other bills. This will make thoughtful consideration of HB 1162 by legislators impossible. See “Bill Numbers in Senate: More Than Meets the Eye” elsewhere in this update.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Contact the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee and let them know that adoption policy is too important to rush, especially when it is rolled into unrelated legislation. Please do not pass HB 1162. 

Bill Numbers in Senate: More Than Meets the Eye

The New Hampshire Senate calendar for this week is an astonishing 292 pages long. Here’s why: some senators are trying to amend bills in such a way that many bills will be included in one piece of legislation, also known as an “omnibus bill.”

Omnibus bills, because of their size and topic diversity are well-known as a tactic to limit scrutiny and debate. Compounding the issue is that this is being done with less than one week’s notice to the public. It is a confusing procedure to accommodate an unnecessary self-imposed deadline, since any of the bundled bills could be re-introduced next year and get its own fair public hearing.

Take HB 1162, described elsewhere in this update. It is relative to adoption and parentage, and it would legalize adoption by any adult couple regardless of whether or not the two people are legally related. The bill, along with two proposed amendments, had a hearing on June 9 in the Senate Judiciary Committee. One of the amendments adds ten other bills to HB 1162, changing the legal description of HB 1162 to the following:

“…relative to adoption and parentage; the office of the child advocate; reimbursement of court ordered services for juveniles; the legal representation of children in the juvenile justice system; the best interest of the child under RSA 169-C and the duties of the oversight commission on children’s services; insurance coverage for children’s early intervention services; expanding the family-centered early supports and services (FCESS) program to children under the age of 3 who are born substance-exposed; the child abuse and neglect central registry; establishing a kinship navigator program in the department of health and human services; and relative to missing children.”

This is no way to create public policy. Bill-bundling via creating omnibus bills is unfortunately a common tactic in Washington, but it clearly has no place here. This is New Hampshire, and Granite State voters expect clarity and fairness when legislation is considered. A ten-in-one bill fails that test.We’ll be watching to see what the Judiciary Committee decides to do with HB 1162 and other bundled bills.

House to Meet June 11 at UNH; Public May Monitor Session Via Livestream

The New Hampshire House will meet on June 11, at the Whittemore Center at the University of New Hampshire in Durham. No Cornerstone bills are on the agenda. The public may tune in to the livestream of the session beginning at 10:00 a.m. at http://nhhouse.edifymultimedia.com.