N.H. Lawmakers Vote to Keep House Committee on Children & Family Law

Jan 4, 2017

An effort to get rid of the legislature's Committee on Children and Family Law fell flat in the House Wednesday. Lawmakers rejected the proposal, 172 votes to 196.

The House's Children and Family Law Committee is one of more than 20 committees that consider bills before they move to the full House. 

The debate Wednesday over whether to eliminate that committee lasted roughly an hour with most lawmakers speaking in opposition to the idea.

Many pointed to a recent outside review which found that the state was mishandling cases of child neglect and abuse. Here's Rep. Mary Beth Walz of Bow.

“Here we are at the time of crisis and what are we going to do? We are going to abolish the committee that can deal with the crisis and we are going to disperse the expertise throughout the body – we are not going to leave it concentrated," Walz told the House Chamber.

Some lawmakers, like Rep. Gene Chandler, who proposed eliminating it, say the committee has become dysfunctional and has been hard to fill. 

"I want to assure everyone - it isn't like the bills that would have gone to this committee will go away, they're going to be broken up and assigned to the appropriate other policy committees, which in most cases would deal with any bills in children and family law as a a second committee anyway," Chandler told lawmakers. If the motion passed, bills related to children and family law would have been spread amongst the Judiciary, Criminal Justice and Public Safety and Health and Human Services committees.

House Speaker Shawn Jasper said a special joint-committee will be assigned to address concerns brought forth in the recent report on the state's child protection policies.