By NANCY WEST, InDepthNH.org
CONCORD – State Rep. Gary Hopper suggested at the end of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee hearing Wednesday that the state’s victims’ compensation fund be funded by selling the organs of people who profit from human trafficking.
Hopper, a ninth-term Republican representing Weare and Deering, said he couldn’t make the next meeting next Wednesday after HB 576, which would amend the fund to allow claims based on sexual abuse or human trafficking to be filed at any time, was retained by the committee along party lines in an 11 to 10 vote.
“Seeing that I won’t be here, if we take this previous bill back up could somebody amend it so that we finance that fund by selling the organs of the perpetrators who profit in human trafficking. We need to sell their organs,” Hopper said.
The remark appeared on the video of the meeting to startle Rep. Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth, the longest serving member in her 20th term. And brought the gavel down from committee chairman Rep. Daryl Abbas, R-Salem.
“My God almighty,” said Pantelakos, one of the bill’s sponsors.
Abbas told Hopper: “That really wasn’t necessary.”
Pantelakos asked the other committee members if she had heard Hopper correctly and was told that she had.
The video of the hearing is here at about the 6:55 number near the end: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9zTzDmXhSE
There appeared on the video some confusion as to whether the meeting was over.
“I don’t know,” Pantelakos said. “They don’t tell us much.”
The House committee meetings can be viewed on YouTube. The public can sign up for reminders when the various House committee meetings will go live and how many people are watching as well: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxqjz56akoWRL_5vyaQDtvQ
Monday Meeting Controversy
The meeting of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee meeting Monday included a controversial ending as well when state Rep. Dick Marston, R-Manchester, referred to the LGBTQ+ community with the words “deviant sexuality.”
Chairman Abbas told him no member could refer to deviant sexuality in the discussion of House Bill 238, which on Wednesday was voted retained by the committee, again along party lines.
HB 238 would ban what is called the “Gay Panic Defense” used to justify the murder of LGBTQ+ people.
“I’m just saying we don’t want to have special privileges for special people. We’re all the same group,” Marston told the committee Monday. “We’re all the same people. If you kill somebody you should be charged with murder and should be tried on it and there’s no way in heck that you’re going to be able to say it’s because he or she was some deviant sexuality that I’m not.”
Rep. Nicole Klein-Knight, D-Manchester, criticized Marston’s comments on Twitter.
Youtube: Rep. Dick Marston’s comments are near the end of the meeting at 8:20: https://youtu.be/4bvIbrYV6uM
The NH House GOP Pac tweeted: that Klein-Knight “was using a cannabis product, while in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee Executive Session today.” https://youtu.be/E8DOP6ByAUQ
Klein-Knight explained that she has a prescription for medical cannabis for arthritis.
House Speaker Sherman Packard, R-Londonderry, on Wednesday announced the names of the people who will serve on the Speaker’s Advisory Group for 2021-2022 to sort through complaints from residents about members of the House of Representatives.
His spokesman said naming the committee was coincidental and not in response to some controversial remarks and social media postings by House members viewed as racist, sexist, anti-Semitic and homophobic.
The following Representatives have agreed to serve on this bipartisan Advisory Group: Co-chairs: Patrick Long, D-Manchester and Maureen Mooney, R-Merrimack and members Peter Leishman, D-Peterborough, Wayne MacDonald, R-Derry, Barbara Shaw, D-Manchester, and David Welch, R-Kingston.
The Speaker’s Advisory Group was formed during the 2019-2020 biennium under the direction of former Democratic House Speaker Stephen Shurtleff, according to a news release from Packard’s office.
This group is an oversight committee that reviews complaints and issues submitted by New Hampshire residents that are escalated to the Speaker’s office. After an independent review, any following recommendations are then submitted to the Speaker of the House for consideration, the news release said.
“My priority is to ensure that all Representatives conduct themselves in a manner that upholds the integrity of the office for which they were chosen to represent,” Packard said. He continued, “Under this group of bright and capable members, all issues brought forth will be dealt with in a fair, bipartisan way. This group is a great example of how we can work through difficult challenges as they arise, together.”
Co-chairs will call an initial meeting in the next week to include member introductions, overview of the group’s mission and to cover guidelines for handling issues.