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Abortion Provision Could Block Hope for Democrat Support for State Budget

New Hampshire's legislative budget writers have until Thursday to reach agreement on a spending plan so the full House and Senate can vote next week. They have lots more work to do, but a decision that doesn’t involve money could shape the trajectory of this debate.

It was a brief moment in a long afternoon full of policy details. House Finance Chairman Neal Kurk announced the House was letting the Senate get its way on at least one point.

“The House accedes to the Senate on section 213.”

This was a move the Finance Committee’s ranking Democrat, Mary Jane Wallner, was quick to protest.

"Mr. Chair, I object to the House acceding on that."

At issue was how the state awards family planning contracts. This provision would require they be competitively bid.

It also refers to the federal Hyde-amendment, which outlaws spending public money on abortions.

If these policies remain in the budget, the likelihood of the plan winning Democratic support will be slim. And that could be a big deal, because attracting at least some Democratic votes – particularly in the House – would be one path to get the budget passed.

The House budget process broke down earlier this year when some conservatives rejected the plan backed by GOP-leaders over concerns it spent too much money. But the moves on family planning Monday could be one step towards attracting conservative support.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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