By Rep. Dave Testerman
In my opinion, one of the more important hearings last week was for HB 1739, addressing Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).
The mountain of testimony was not pleasant, but it was necessary for the committee to hear about this barbarous practice. Some cultures moving into New Hampshire want to continue practices from their home country that are not acceptable in America. It is important for each state to establish laws to reflect this.
FGM is a cultural practice of violence against girls and has nothing to do with religion. This painful procedure is performed on a young female child who is restrained and a knife or razor blade is used to remove most of the clitoris and/or labia and/or the vagina is sewn partially closed usually without anesthesia.
It is practiced to assure male dominance and protect virginity. A practice that a 1996 Federal law and 26 states prohibit. It is estimated that 500,000 minors are at risk in the United States with approximately 400 in New Hampshire.
And a Federal case in Michigan revealed that the practice is trafficked across state lines.
With the support of the ACLU some women on the Criminal Justice Committee think that the horrendous painful violent act of FGM is actually acceptable. But rather than openly support violence against little girls, they express their opposition by supporting a study to let HB 1739 die a slow death.
We must pass HB 1739 to protect young female immigrants in New Hampshire.
Last Thursday, several bills to reduce penalties for various drug offenses in a variety of methods were heard. While we can’t depend on jails to solve our drug problem in New Hampshire, easing penalties for drug offenses in the middle a crisis does not make sense.
I was deeply concerned about this situation.
As legislators, we are required to declare a conflict of interest if we have a vested interest in the case before us. But in the case where lawyers are involved a conflict is rarely declared. In other words, all the laws we pass as legislators may affect a situation where the client of the lawyer-legislator is impacted.
There are several practicing lawyers who are also legislators. This week I asked the legislator who was a practicing attorney if he thought he had a conflict of interest when he was introducing bills to reduce drug penalties that would impact clients he would be defending as a lawyer. I was ruled out of order. Do you agree?
If you want to talk about these or other issues call me at (603) 320-9524 or you email me at email@example.com. Have a great week and I’ll be reporting to you again soon.
Dave Testerman, Representative for Hill and Franklin
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