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Mar 19, 2015 8:20 PM

NH Rep. Groen defends comments on 4th-graders' bill


CONCORD - State Rep. Warren Groen, R-Rochester, stands by his comments made while discussing a bill proposed by 9-and-10-year-olds.

Fourth grade students from Lincoln Akerman school in Hampton Falls were learning how a bill becomes a law. They went through the legislative process with their idea to make the Red Tail Hawk the New Hampshire "State Raptor."

Rep. Groen appealed to his colleagues to vote down the bill. He described the bird as an predator that "grasps [its prey] with its tallons and then uses its razor sharp beak to rip its victims to shreds. I guess the shame about making it the state bird is it would serve as a much better mascot for Planned Parenthood," Groen said.

Should the N.H. Legislature debate bills proposed by students?

The story has gone viral. Many are upset with Groen's Planned Parenthood comment. NH1 asked him if he thought it was appropriate to say in front of children.

"Every time we're in session, the gallery is open and there are children in the gallery. So I don't know, should we limit free speech? Or should we limit who goes in the gallery?" Groen said.

The students' teacher, James Cutting, says it was an educational process for the students, but isn't happy with all of the comments made by lawmakers.

"Some were just really inappropriate given that there was a fourth grade class in the audience there in the gallery along with their families. They were hoping that day their bill would be passed," Cutting said.

House Bill 373 was voted down 133-160.

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