Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed four more bills Friday, including one that would have allowed guns to be taken from people who present a danger to themselves or others.
The batch of rejected bills also included one that would have required insurance plans that cover maternity benefits to also provide coverage for abortions, another that would have created a process for forcing companies to pay for testing of those who've been exposed to harmful substances and a third that included several measures related to labor unions, workers' compensation and public employee benefits.
Related story: NHPR's Veto Tracker
The so-called “red flag” bill would have allowed relatives or police to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms. Supporters argued it was needed in a state where the suicide rate is rising faster than elsewhere and would be used only in cases of extreme risk, but opponents argued it violated not only the right to own firearms, but also other constitutional guarantees, such as the right to due legal process.
“I will continue to prioritize suicide prevention and mental health as there is much work yet to be done in New Hampshire, but that work cannot come at the expense of the constitutional rights of our citizens,” he said in his veto message.
Sen. Martha Hennessey, a Hanover Democrat, said the bill would have saved lives.
“The intention is not, as the opposition has wrongfully argued, to take away guns from their lawful owners," she said in a statement. "The intention is to give concerned family members and law enforcement the proper tools to request assistance from our courts in protecting someone who may be a danger to themselves and others.”
Kayla Montgomery of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England said Sununu's veto of the abortion coverage bill endangers access to health care just as economic insecurity has been heightened by the coronavirus pandemic and “harms the communities that have the greatest barriers to reproductive health care access, including lower-income communities and communities of color.” But Sununu said the vast majority of commercial insurance plans already cover abortion services and that the legislation would have jeopardized federal funding.
“This bill would risk the state's federal healthcare funding in the middle of a pandemic, take away the freedom of choice for those employees and employers who object to being forced to partake in or provide abortion services, and expose the state to expensive litigation,” he said.
The Legislature will meet next month to take up the vetoed bills.