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Jan 6, 2016 6:47 PM

Landrigan: NH House speaker's plea to play nice over 'Nipple Bill' sparks outrage from some

CONCORD - The 2016 NH Legislative session started with outrage over House Speaker Shawn Jasper’s plea for decorum - touching off a bitter feud over a bill to outlaw women bearing their breasts in public.

"We can privately and sincerely and politely speak to our colleagues when they step out of line and go beyond the bounds of decency and respect,’’ Jasper said, adding that the "eyes of the nation are on us" in this presidential primary season.

Strong talk follows after the speaker tried to block the nipple bill from coming in.

"You want to know something? That’s his opinion, what he considers - calls bad behavior - some of us believe it is freedom of speech," Rep. Dan Tamburello, R-Londonderry said.

"I believe it is an incredible irony for us to be here and lectured as if we were a bunch of third graders by our speaker."

NH1 was the first New Hampshire media outlet to report on attacks against Amanda Bouldin, the Manchester Democrat who called the bill unconstitutional and unnecessary.

"So we felt it was best to eliminate that bill from our session,’’ said House Majority Leader Dick Hinch, R-Merrimack.

But the House voted, 186-160, to turn Jasper down and keep the nipple bill in play.

The bill includes an exception to allow women to continue to breastfeed in public.

And one of Bouldin’s chief critics is not backing down.

"My comments to a colleague is 'I don’t want to see any of my colleagues’ breasts,' and I stand behind that; no apologies whatsoever,’’ Rep. Al Baldasaro, R-Londonderry, said.

The top House Democrat came to Jasper’s defense, though.

"This body has heard from members in such a way as to bring disgrace on this chamber and Mr. Speaker if I applaud you for the remarks you made this morning,’’ House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff, of Concord, said.

The vote means the nipple bill remains alive and will face a public hearing - likely later this month.

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