May 23 was a radical day at the State House. Senate Bill (SB) 417 was amended by the House of Representatives to protect families. Current law say that in a case of child abuse the non-offending parent (the parent that the Department of Children Youth and Families [DCYF] has not accused of child abuse) must go to court to prove they are not a danger to their children. They are guilty until proven innocent.

SB 417 as introduced amended current law to ensure that children who are in out-of-home placement are placed in-treatment in New Hampshire whenever possible, and in settings as familiar to them as possible (in their town, with extended family, or adults familiar to them). The House passed a similar Bill (HB1573) earlier this year.  SB 417 then went a step further, making it more difficult for non-offending parents to get custody, including the home must be “safe” without further qualification. Additionally the bill hires two additional attorneys, two additional parole and probation officers, and eight protective social workers. This is on top of the staff additions in the budget passed last year. There must be plans for a lot more interventions.

Then the House amended SB417 with a radical new idea. Non-offending parents would be innocent until proven guilty. Literally stating that non-offending parents would be deemed fit parents which DCYF could challenge in court. Then the House went one step further adding that simply owning firearms does not make a home unsafe. What do you think?

The Senate reacted quickly. They amended HB1573 removing the Bill passed by the House, and replacing it with the original SB417. The message is clear, when it comes to your children and child abuse, the New Hampshire Senate believes you should be guilty until proven innocent. What do you believe? Apparently, the Senate also believes that simply owning guns makes your home dangerous to your children. What does that tell you?

Now truth be told, RSA 490-D:3 constructs the Family Courts so that everyone, parents in abuse and neglect, respondents in divorce are not innocent until proven guilty. They have to prove their innocence. The amendment to SB417 carved out one little group, a parent in a family where DCYF had done an investigation, and not accused them of child abuse, and deemed them fit parents. But this was too much for the Senate; too radical. They like you guilty until proven innocent. It makes you easier to control.

You need to defend yourselves. You need to call your senator and tell them to concur with the House Amendment to SB417.  One small step for you, the beginning of a giant step for New Hampshire; restoring innocent until proven guilty in all cases.