Jan 1, 2015 9:02 AM
Kevin Landrigan: New 2015 laws effective today, offer new protections
Ringing in 2015 also means new, important laws in New Hampshire take effect today creating the new crime of domestic violence, blocking the parental rights of rapists and ensuring equal pay.
Jan. 1 is typically a landmark day as the Legislature traditionally makes the first day of the year an effective start for all criminal law.
The equal pay act was a crowning and final achievement for retiring Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen. The change makes it against the law for an employer to prevent employees from discussing wages.
Larsen said this would help deter gender discrimination as women are often paid less than men for the same job, but are unable to know that at workplaces where that communications about salaries is not allowed.
For the first time, domestic violence is classified as a separate crime in New Hampshire. The law honors the memory of Joshua Savyon, the 9-year-old shot and killed by his father during a court-supervised visit at the Manchester YWCA in 2013.
Joshua's mother, Becky Ranes, of Amherst, became the lead promoter of the new law.
Advocates say the change will make it easier for them to quantify domestic violence in the state and distinguish it from other assaults such as a barroom fight between two adult males.
Nashua Democratic state Sen. Bette Lasky championed the change that give courts greater powers to eliminate the parental rights of a rapist.
The rapist can lose those rights even if he or she is not criminally convicted if a judge finds during a fact-finding hearing that the child was conceived through rape.
Previously, a conviction was required for a victim to seek terminating those rights.
A few weeks ago, Gov. Maggie Hassan publicly celebrated a new law starting today that gives state and county prosecutors more powers to go after those who financially exploit the elderly.
Hikers can now purchase a new voluntary safe card that exempts them from having to pay for any costs to rescue them as long as the state fails to find reckless behavior.
The new session officially kicks off next Wednesday.