The new year brings new laws for New Hampshire, including an abortion ban that was passed as part of the state budget.
The budget Gov. Chris Sununu signed in June contained a provision prohibiting abortion after 24 weeks of gestation, with exceptions for the mother's life or physical health. It takes effect Jan. 1, and Democrats already have drafted legislation seeking to repeal the new restrictions and to establish state-level protection for abortion access. Some also want to include the right to make reproductive medical decisions a constitutional right.
"Make no mistake, effective January first, the state of New Hampshire will be denying a woman the dignity to make personal, private decisions and instead inserting government into medical choices," Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, said at a news conference earlier this month.
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Other new laws taking effect Jan. 1 include:
TYLER SHAW'S LAW
Judges will be allowed to give longer prison sentences to repeat drunken drivers who kill or cause harm to others under a new law named for a Concord man who died in 2018.
Tyler Shaw was 20 when a repeat drunken driver sped off an exit on I-89 South, went through a stop sign and hit Shaw's truck, killing him.
Under the new law, someone with one previous drunken driving conviction that causes a crash that kills or seriously injures another person can be sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. Those with two or more previous convictions can be sentenced to 15 to 30 years.
Serving their cat, canine and wild critter constituents, lawmakers passed three animal-related bills that take effect Jan. 1.
One makes it a misdemeanor to maliciously remove a tracking collar or microchip from someone else's dog. The bill, which also makes stealing a dog a felony for a second offense, was prompted by what supporters described as a growing problem of "dog flipping" in which people steal dogs to sell for profit.
Another will expand the state's animal cruelty laws and make it illegal to beat, whip, torture or mutilate any wild animal, fish or bird. The third requires drivers who injure or kill cats to notify police or the pets' owners or else face a $1,000 fine, a mandate that has long existed for run-over dogs.
"Even though it's not a big budget item, these things are really, really important," Gov. Chris Sununu said when he signed the bills at an animal shelter in Salem. "We're not gonna just let this stuff pass by, we can really do something about it. Animals are a bipartisan issue."
SEXUAL ASSAULT LAWS
Sex workers who report sexual assault will not be prosecuted for prostitution under a new law aimed at encouraging victims to come forward.
The law establishes a state policy of protecting sex workers from arrest, prosecution and conviction for prostitution if they report that they or someone else has been sexually assaulted.
Another new law taking effect Jan. 1 will increase the penalty for someone who pays to engage in sexual contact with someone under age 16.
Sex assault resources are available at the National Sexual Violence Resources Center and the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 800-656-4673. Since it was first created in 1994, the National Sexual Assault Hotline has helped more than two million people, according to its website.