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Sununu signs gender nondiscrimination bill, vetoes voting legislation

Monitor staff
Published: 8/16/2019 6:07:34 PM
Modified: 8/16/2019 6:07:22 PM

Gov. Chris Sununu signed a bill to expand gender identity protections in New Hampshire and 12 others Friday, as the backlog of legislation heading to his desk finally showed signs of clearing up.

Sununu also vetoed three other pieces of legislation – one of which was a hot-button voting bill – extending his modern gubernatorial record to 53 vetoes total.

In signing House Bill 608, Sununu gave the okay to an effort to build on a landmark gender identity non-discrmination law passed last year, HB 1319. That bill established anti-discrimination protections in housing, employment and public accommodations law and was considered a major step forward for non-binary and transgender people.

But HB 608 made the new provisions apply to all New Hampshire laws, including those governing health insurance, mental health care and sports leagues. In hearings before the legislature, supporters of the bill, including the American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire, argued the bill would cut down on areas of discrimination not often considered. For one person testifying, that included gender markings on medical records.

Opponents such as Cornerstone Action, a conservative group, said the bill would have too many unpredictable side effects and would intrude on religious beliefs.

Sununu also signed HB 651, a bill allowing those running for state office to use campaign funds to cover childcare expenses – an issue that had been championed by younger members of the Legislature earlier this year. And he signed HB 508, allowing physicians to bill patients for direct primary care without being subject to certain insurance laws – a measure that supporters argue could help uninsured people find alternative means for primary care.

The governor vetoed Senate Bill 67, which was a Democratic attempt to pare back changes made to the state’s residency law for voting purposes.

Under HB 1264 in 2018, those who vote in upcoming elections are effectively declaring their residency in New Hampshire and are subject to car registration requirements. SB 67 would have effectively exempted college students, military personnel and part-time workers from those requirements.

Sununu also vetoed HB 582, a bill to rearrange how energy rebates are paid under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which he said was unnecessary, and HB 664, a bill to force car insurance companies to increase payments to repair shops, which he said would raise premiums.

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