Published DateCONCORD — The 18 state representatives from Belknap County divided along strict party lines on two controversial bills before the House of Representatives last week.
House Bill 483, sponsored by Representative Jane Cormier (R-Alton) would have required a 24-hour waiting period during which women seeking an abortion would be provided with information before granting their informed consent to the procedure. The Senate scuttled a nearly identical bill a year ago. The House Judiciary Committee recommended against the bill by a vote of 13 to 6 and after 30 minutes of debate the House followed suit by a vote of 229 to 121 as 35 Republicans joined the majority and 24 Democrats joined the minority.
Four of the five Democrats among the county delegation — Lisa DiMartino of Gilford, Ruth Gulick of New Hampton, David Huot of Laconia and Ian Raymond of Sanbornton — voted against the bill while the fifth, Beth Arsenault of Laconia did not vote. Eleven of the 15 Republicans voted for the bill — Richard Burchell of Gilmanton, Guy Comtois of Barnstead, Cormier and Stephen Holmes of Alton, Dennis Fields of Sanbornton, Chuck Fink of Belmont, Don Flanders and Frank Tilton of Laconia, Bob Greemore, and Herb Vadney and Colette Worsman of Meredith. Bob Luther of Laconia and Michael Sylvia of Belmont did not vote.
The representatives also split over House Bill 501 restored the state minimum wage, which was originally introduced in 1949 but repealed in 2011, leaving New Hampshire the only northern state without a minimum wage and subject to the federal minimum wage by default. Originally the bill set the minimum wage at $8.25 per hour, a dollar above the current federal standard, but it was amended to match the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.
The bill carried the House by a vote of 200 to 133. Again four of the five Democrats — DiMartino, Gulick, Huot and Raymond — voted with the majority while Arsenault was absent. Ten of the 13 Republicans — Burchell, Fields, Fink, Flanders, Greemore, Holmes, Sylvia, Tilton, Vadney and Worsman — voted against the bill while Comtois, Cormier and Luther did not vote.