Committee votes against recommendation for sexual abuse recording bill

Sign Up For Our FREE Daily eNews!

DSC 5378
Jennifer Rhodes (R-Winchester) on Jan. 19, 2023 Photo/Andrew Sylvia

CONCORD, N.H. – The New Hampshire House of Representatives Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety met on Thursday, here is a recap of the bills they discussed.

HB 143

This bill is intended to allow victims of sexual abuse to record audio or video of sexual abuse without consent. The bill also would allow that video or audio to be used as evidence in court proceedings.

The bill’s only sponsor, Dave Testerman (R-Franklin), was not present to testify, with Committee Vice Chair Jennifer Rhodes (R-Winchester) providing preliminary details about the bill on Testerman’s behalf.

Several other individuals testified with concerns over vagueness regarding the bill, including that it could theoretically harm victims of sexual abuse if recordings were taken out of context. However, there was a general consensus that it was well-intentioned toward helping victims of sexual abuse.

Currently under New Hampshire law, all parties within an audio or video recording must consent to being recorded under most circumstances.

Committee Chair Terry Roy (R-Deering) agreed with several individuals who testified believing that the matter should be vetted first by the Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence before the concept could be recommended.

An impromptu executive session brought back a 19-1 vote considering this bill inexpedient to legislate. John Sytek (R-Salem) was the only vote in opposition to the motion, but did not oppose the bill heading to the house’s consent calendar.

DSC 5393
Dan Hynes (R-Bedford) on Jan. 19, 2023 Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 160

This bill prohibits municipalities from making local ordinances prohibiting people from showing their nipples or chest in public. Currently under New Hampshire law, people are prohibited from exposing their genitals in public places, but not their nipples or chest. However, towns such as Milford and Laconia have made ordinances banning women from going topless in public.

Dan Hynes (R-Bedford), the prime sponsor of this bill, shared experiences as an attorney representing clients who were penalized under these local laws. The New Hampshire Supreme Court uphold the local laws and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the case.

As a Dillon Rule state, Hynes felt that the fact that it was not illegal at the state level should be honored. Following questions from Loren Selig (D-Durham), Hynes also noted that he felt the local laws were discriminatory since they applied to women, but not men.

He also noted that the law in Laconia was intended to protect women from harassment at Bike Week, but felt it would have been more appropriate directly laws toward those harassing women rather than the women themselves.

Rhodes asked if this law were in effect if all female members could attend sessions of the House of Representatives topless. Hynes said that the House has its own rules and attending session topless may violate those rules, but would not violate the law.

Jodi Newell (D-Keene) asked if this propopsed law would prohibit businesses from requiring people to wear shirts to obtain service and Ray Newman (D-Nashua) asked if this would prohibit private property owners from requiring people on their property to wear shirts. In both cases, Hynes said it would only impact public places.

Hynes also responded to a question from Sytek stating that this was a situation where local control was harmful.

DSC 5398
Laura Telerski (D-Nashua) on Jan. 19, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 201

This bill allows individuals driving without a license to receive a violation rather than a Class B misdemeanor unless they drive without a license twice in a one-year period.

Laura Telerski (D-Nashua), one of the bill’s sponsors, told the committee that many families struggle paying for licenses given the rising costs of every day items. She added that the bill would also help younger drivers who make poor decisions and new Americans who have difficulty getting licenses.

Another one of the sponsors, Daniel Veilleux (D-Amherst), and New Hampshire American Friends Service Committee Director Maggie Fogarty added these misdemeanors disproportionately impact poorer New Hampshire residents.

Following a question from Roy, Telerski confirmed that the bill would not impact those driving without a license if their license was suspended. Roy also added that operators not in possession of a license already can face hardships related to the increased car insurance rates if found driving without a license.

David Meuse (D-Portsmouth), added that under current state law, the penalties can be waived if a license is produced within 48 hours of the offense. This bill does not impact that portion of state law.

Sytek asked why this was needed given that misdemeanors can be expunged after two years, with Telerski stating that getting a court to expunge a misdemeanor can be a stressful and confusing process for many.

Sytek still disagreed, believing that consequences should be more strict for those driving without licenses given that cars can be lethal weapons if used improperly.

DSC 5413 2
Keith Murphy (R-Manchester) on Jan. 19, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

HB 291

The final bill hearing of the day was introduced by Will Infantine (R-Manchester) on behalf of State Senator Keith Murphy (R-Manchester).

This bill would make it a class A misdemeanor to knowingly file a false complaint against a liquor licensee.

According to Murphy, Infantine felt compelled to file the bill after Murphy said he was accused of various false violations related to his restaurant in Manchester by his ex-wife after their divorce.

Although Murphy was not immediately aware that his ex-wife filed the complaints, he later learned this fact and said all of the complaints were baseless and expended significant resources that could have otherwise been used to improve his restaurant.

Murphy also said that he felt it was improper to file legislation based on personal experiences, but testified due to the fact that Infantine could not attend the hearing.

Roy allowed the public hearing to be held open until a future date, allowing Infantine to speak on the bill.

Newell asked how it would be possible to prove the difference between someone that knows a complaint is false and files it anyway and someone who files a complaint that they may believe is true, but is not. Murphy said in this situation, intent was made clear by multiple complaints, implying intent.

Amanda Bouldin (D-Manchester) asked if there were other forms of remedy for the damage done by the false complaints, with Murphy responding that he would have been unaware of who filed the complaints if he did not learn indirectly from his ex-wife that she had filed the complaints.

He added that there are generally no penalties for false complaints given to the New Hampshire Liquor Commission right now other than that they begin to take complaints less seriously if they are done repeatedly after no violations are initially found.


About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.