Laws in NH’s budget are balanced

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I’m responding to a Your Turn column titled “Republicans Slipped Damaging Laws Into NH Budget,” by Rep. Kate Murry in Seacoast Sunday November 28th. I’ll start by agreeing with her that the use of HB2, the bill at the end of the biennial budget, has gotten out of hand. Now in my 12th year as a member of the House, I have seen more and more non-budget items added in HB2 by the controlling party and by the House and Senate. My concern about this has been expressed to the leaders of both parties. That said, let’s focus on the three political issues she raised: the accounts of educational freedom, abortion limitations, and critical race theory.

Following: Rep. Murray: Laws undermining freedom of speech, women’s health and education have crept into NH’s budget

First, she claims that education freedom accounts drain money from public schools. Many financially able people send their children to private schools, including denominational schools. When this happens, state funding for that child no longer goes to their district’s school (the district receives less money). All this section of HB2 did was even the playground for the poorest families (with required tests) who wish to send their children to a private school, allowing for state funding (using its number $ 4,600, although this varies) to follow the child to help offset tuition at the alternative school. In either case, the school district is relieved of the responsibility of having to educate these children, thus reducing costs, while these parents continue to pay property taxes of which 79% (Stratham percentages) are the local school tax and l statewide school tax. The same argument, “this will be the end of public schools” has been used against the education tax credit program, promulgated several times, which allows tax credits on business taxes and interest / dividends for donations to a scholarship program. Several years ago the Democrats tried to end this program, but when the bill went to my Ways and Means Committee, where compelling child after child testimony has explained how they thrive in their lives. Alternative schools through this program and how they had failed in their one size fits all public schools, even some Democrats on my committee got cold feet and voted with Republicans to preserve this program. Simply put, the Freedom of Education Accounts put the unique needs of students as a top priority in a way that does not undermine public education.

Second, she claims there was an objective of limiting women’s access to health care. This is a false statement. All he did was bring NH into line with Roe v. Wade. As a reminder, this decision of the Supreme Court of the United States did two things. The Court said that the United States Constitution provides for a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a woman’s right to have an abortion. But this right to abortion is not absolute. It must be weighed against government interests in protecting women’s health and prenatal (baby) life. The Court created a framework, to balance the interests of the state and the best interests of women, by defining the rights of each party by dividing pregnancy into three 12-week trimesters: 1st trimester – a state cannot regulate l abortion (other than the procedure must be performed by a licensed physician under medically safe conditions); 2nd trimester – a state may regulate abortion if the regulations are reasonably related to the health of the mother; 3rd trimester – the state’s interest in protecting the potential human life (of the baby) outweighs a woman’s right to privacy (unless the abortion is necessary to save the life or health of the the mother). Before this provision in HB2 was passed, NH was one of seven states with no restrictions on abortion. All the legislature did was reflect Massachusetts’ limitation on not having an abortion after the gestational age of 24 weeks, which is consistent with Roe v. Wade. We became the 5th state with such a restriction. However, 16 states have a 22 week limit, 1 state has a 20 week limit, and 3 states have lower limits. Then there are 19 states that have fetal viability limits that range from 24 to 28 weeks. The polls overwhelmingly show that some restrictions should be in place. The law that was passed reflects that sentiment.

Finally, she claims that this bill prohibits freedom of expression. This is absolutely wrong. All this part of HB2 does is add a section to the State Commission on Human Rights; Right to be free from discrimination in public workplaces and in education and adds a section to the statutes of education. Each status change has four similar points, but let’s focus on the first point of the education status change which says: pretending your age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, beliefs , color, marital status, marital status, mental or physical disability, religion or natural origin are superior to people of another age, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, creed, color, status marital status, family situation, mental or physical disability, religion or national origin. This flies in the face of the Critical Race Theory (CRT) claim. The lawmaker simply acted to prevent white college students from believing they are inherently racist, which is based on an unproven theory. Please read the full text of the amended statutes before drawing any conclusions. Go to RSA354-A: 29-34 and RSA193: 40. Yes, there were issues with the original language. This became clear from the testimony of the Business and Industry Association and others. This resulted in the language being changed, although most of the arguments against, as in this case, are based on the original language. Much of the changed wording was drafted by retired NH Supreme Court Chief Justice Bob Lynn, and now a Windham State representative, to ensure that these updated statutes would pass the constitutional rally. . The changed language ensures that there are no restrictions on the teaching of good and evil that has happened throughout American history or on how people of all races have been instrumental in doing of this largest nation in the world. School districts have adapted quite well to these rules which preserve free speech, while not placing students in the oppressor and oppressed categories, which promotes continued harmony in the classroom.

I wrote this piece so that both sides of the argument can be heard, which is sometimes lacking in our speech today.

Stratham Republican Pat Abrami is a member of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.


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