Important Updates from Catholic Citizenship News
I hope you were able to rest and enjoy your summer and have had time to enjoy this beautiful fall weather!
As many of you know, the session for the New Hampshire Legislature runs from January to June. This year, due to a number of bills retained for further study, many legislators have been working hard and meeting several times in the late summer and early fall on bills of interest to you. I wanted to send you a note to update you on three bills with committee votes in the coming weeks and provide you with registration information for our exciting 9th annual Catholics in the Public Square event to be held on November 18 at the Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College. More information about each of these topics can be found below.
And in no time at all, we will be alerting you to the new bills ahead for the 2018 session. At this time, only the titles of bills filed are available, but we do know a bill to establish a commission to study end-of-life choices has been filed. As you may know, in the past, a bill to study “end-of-life choices” always has included the study of doctor-prescribed suicide. We will update you on this and other legislation as bills continue to be filed and as text becomes available.
Grateful for all you do,
Meredith P. Cook, Esq.
Director, Office of Public Policy
In this Issue
We often hear about a “War on Women” any time access to birth control or abortion is limited, or even perceived to be limited. Register today and learn why Catholic teaching is authentically pro-woman . . . and how the Church supports men and families, too.
On November 18, join Bishop Peter Libasci and others from around the state at the Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm College for the 9th annual Catholics in the Public Square event. We are excited to welcome our dynamic keynote speaker, Gloria Purvis, creator of the EWTN television series Authentically Free at Last and host of EWTN Radio’s Morning Glory. And if you have not yet met her, you will have an opportunity to hear from Dr. Sarah Bascle of the Catholic Medical Center Women’s Wellness & Fertility Center of New England, a Natural Family Planning Medical Consultant trained in NaPro TECHNOLOGY.
Sponsored by the Diocese of Manchester and Catholic Medical Center
This event is free of charge, but advance registration is required. Register today while space is available for this event.
Download flyer (pdf)
SB 193 would create an “education savings account” program to help families choose the education setting that best meets the needs of each child in the family. The money for the accounts would be funded by the State, and the current amount for each student would be over $3,000 per year (over $1,700 per year for children attending kindergarten). Families then would be able to use the money in the account to pay for certain approved education expenses for their children, including tuition at Catholic or other private schools.
Students eligible for the ESA program must be between age 5 and 20 and have not graduated from high school. Students also must be either leaving a public school or entering kindergarten or first grade.
SB 193 passed the Senate earlier this year and was retained by the House Education Committee. A subcommittee of the House Education Committee worked hard over the late summer and early fall, meeting several times to revise the bill to address concerns raised by members of the public and the committee. The subcommittee voted 6-3 to urge the full committee to recommend the House pass SB 193. The House Education Committee will vote on November 8.
If the ESA program would help your family, please consider sharing your story by writing a letter to the editor in your local newspaper before the November 8 vote. You typically will find information about how to submit a letter to the editor on the website of your local newspaper under the “Opinion” section. When writing, remember that an effective letter is brief and stays within the word count required of your paper and that your own personal story is always most compelling. Lastly, a positive message will be most effective. We suggest you remind readers that parents should have the opportunity to determine the school that best meets the needs of their children, whether that school is public or private.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is currently considering HB 656 to legalize and regulate the recreational use of marijuana for those over 21 years old. Passing this measure is not in the best interests of the people of New Hampshire, both present and future, and we must act now to preserve the best future for the Granite State. As we all know, we are facing a grave crisis of drug misuse in our state and in our country. While the main public focus is on opioids, any hope of a solution to this problem must extend beyond any one class of drugs. To legalize recreational marijuana is to implicitly sanction its use and, therefore, directly contradicts our efforts to adequately address the broader drug crisis. Moreover, marijuana use directly impacts the most vulnerable among us, including the health and well-being of our youth and also our citizens in poverty. In those states that have taken the path of marijuana legalization, marijuana distributors are disproportionately located in low income neighborhoods and contribute to an increased sale of illegal marijuana and expansion of criminal drug markets. In these states, marijuana use unsurprisingly increases after legalization and there is also a rise in car accidents and fatalities. Is this the New Hampshire we want for ourselves or for our children and grandchildren? Instead, we should focus our efforts and resources on preventing the misuse of all drugs and on legislation that protects and cares.
The House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will vote on this bill on November 14. Contact the members of the committee today to urge them to oppose HB 656.
Currently, New Hampshire is one of only two states in the country that does not collect statistics about abortions. HB 471 was introduced to require the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services to publish an annual report based on an aggregate summary of the information obtained about abortions performed in New Hampshire. The bill specifically includes safeguards to maintain privacy of individual information. Last session, a bipartisan group devoted significant time working on an abortion statistics bill and agreed on language that would collect the data and protect individual information, but it was defeated in the Senate. Even though the bill proposed this year includes the privacy protection language, the House Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee retained the bill in committee.
The full committee voted 12-8 to recommend the House pass HB 471, and the House will vote on this bill as early as the first week of January. Contact your representatives and urge them to support HB 471.