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NH House Roundup: In resolution, House calls for AG task force on hate crimes

By Dave Solomon
State House Bureau

February 15. 2018 9:10PM

CONCORD — A bipartisan resolution condemning hate crimes and urging aggressive prosecution by law enforcement passed the state House of Representatives on Thursday after debate that alluded to the attempted lynching of a biracial boy in Claremont and other recent incidents in New Hampshire.

The resolution, approved 234-69, calls on the attorney general to deploy a task force to “detect and deter hate crimes and discrimination in order to protect minority communities.”

It also urges the Governor and Executive Council to offer state assistance to victims of hate crimes, and to enhance security measures at religious institutions, places of worship and other likely targets due to affiliation with particular religious, racial or ethnic minorities in the state.

Democratic Rep. John Cloutier of Claremont, now serving his 13th term in the House, said he never thought he’d be speaking on behalf of such a resolution in New Hampshire.

“The Claremont situation reminds us that even though we are 96 percent white, we have some racial problems and problems with hate,” he said. “We appreciate the strong leadership of Gov. Sununu in the creation of a civil rights unit in the Department of Justice, and now it’s the turn of this Legislature to exercise strong leadership and pass this resolution.”

Rep. Latha Mangipudi, D-Nashua, a native of India, said she has recently experienced harassment she never thought possible, and is now being approached by constituents asking if it is safe to have their family from India visit this country.

“I never expected in my 30 years of living in New Hampshire that I would have to speak up for fairness and justice,” she said. “In just the last year, a number of times, I have faced comments from people who don’t know me who have said, ‘Go back to where you came from.’”

Those who spoke in opposition to the measure (HCR 13) referred to a resolution the House passed just last week — a succinct declaration “that the Senate and the House of Representatives reject hate, bigotry, and violence in all their forms, and call on all Americans to unite against hate, bigotry, and violence and strive each day to live up to the principle that all people are created equal.”

Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, said the shorter statement was a “more direct and to the point resolution,” and expressed a concern that HCR 13 “although well-intended only brings more division among the citizens of New Hampshire.”

The resolution now goes to the Senate.

The House also:

• Defeated a bill (HB 1566) that would prohibit open carry of firearms in public places like bars, medical offices and churches in 194-126 vote.

“It is against the constitution to tell private bars, doctor’s offices and churches that open carrying of a firearm is prohibited,” said Burt. “Those businesses and churches have the right to ban open carrying of a firearm if they wish. This bill is not needed.”

• Passed a bill (HB 114) reducing state goals for wind and solar energy from 15 percent of energy supply by 2025 to 6 percent, citing cost concerns.

The close 167-164 vote in the full House reflected a divided vote of 11-10 in the House Committee on Science, Technology and Energy, where the minority expressed the concern that “any mechanism to lower our commitment to renewable energy is unneeded and unwise.”

• Defeated a proposal to videotape and web post all House committee hearings and deliberations (HB 1557) in a lopsided 236-96 vote.

Representatives expressed concerns about the logistics and high cost of monitoring 21 standing House committees and 165 legislatively created study committees, some of which don’t always meet in the State House complex.

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