We learned that House Minority Republicans have stamina and wisdom. They made certain that the work of the NH House got done for the people of NH and for the constituents that they serve. They corrected the course of mismanagement of time and workload that was dealt to us by the House Majority Democrats who control the schedule and committee work. House Minority Republicans made sure that the 150 or so bills before the House were voted on and not pushed off to another date, even if it meant staying up all night until 4:00 in the morning the next day. We adhered by the House Rules by which the House Majority Democrats hold us accountable, even as they themselves seek to change them, or ignore them, as it suits them.
We learned that House Majority Democrats cannot be trusted with their word. They asked us to agree to a House Rule change which would accommodate the need to change upcoming House deadlines as a result of COVID-19 [new rule 65 (b)] with the promise that they would not invoke that rule for this evening’s bills and deadline, and yet by 11 PM they decided to invoke this new rule. I cannot tell you the absolute feeling of betrayal that we all felt when a member of the Democrat caucus pushed to have that rule brought up even as we had a mountain of work to complete. With no assurance that we could come together again in the near future as a result of unknown COVID-19 quarantines, the House Minority Republicans declared that we were all here now and ready to get the work done before any other unseen circumstances prevented us from doing so. They could not muster the 2/3 vote required to use of this new rule to kick the legislative can down the road. This speech by Rep. Verville was superb.
We learned that the House Majority Democrats were willing to inconvenience House members by asking them to suspend the rules and vote to “come back another day” to do our work. Legislators had already cleared their calendar with their family and employers to work on this pile of bills for the people of NH on this day. The House Majority Democrats did not care that postponement would cost the taxpayers more money in paid mileage and administrative scheduling. Instead, the Republican Caucus held their feet to the fire and told them to get this work done now. We stayed until 4:00 am… 4 hours past a midnight deadline; 4 hours which coincidentally equaled the amount of time the House Majority Democrats wasted on silly reprimands in a previous session!
We learned that while we argued about bills dealing with solid waste landfills (HB1319 and HB1422) the same people who would place great restrictions to these NH landfills were happily filling up trash bins with snack wrappers, plastic cups and plastic water bottles. Yes, through the course of our all night session, snacks were provided and were gratefully devoured. As with many bills passed, much trash was created.
We learned that if the Senate passes much of the tax incurring, gun restricting, onerous rule creating, anti-business and anti-freedom bills that were passed in this House session, then the Governor will have many more bills to veto this year. Some of these bills we have already seen last year and have returned for another round of red ink.
We learned that Rep. Long (D), Chair of the Children and Family Law Committee, placed a bill (HB1637-FN) which had a significant fiscal note impact ($215K +) on the consent calendar, which is against House Rule 51. This bill passed, and has to do with establishing a kinship navigator program in NH. Rep. Lucy Weber defended her colleague, saying these were federal funds anyway. There was a vote to reprimand this chairman. The reprimand motion was defeated, 196-80, and the request to have all remarks about this printed in the permanent journal was also defeated. We are still wondering why the chair got away with clearly violating House Rules when other members of the House have not.
We learned that the House Majority Democrats passed a bill that would repeal voluntary recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in school (HB1306) but killed a bill that would have mandated a moment of silence during the school day (HB1334). They also killed a bill (HB1148) that would allow school boards to provide posters with the national motto “In God We Trust” for their schools. It is clear they don’t want anyone thinking or discussing anything that mentions God in school, even if it might be part of a lesson. They also killed legislation (HB1251) that would have saved female sports in school by making sure that only biological females compete with one another. Now we will just have men’s sports and co-ed sports. All gains made by Title IX have been erased.
We learned that the House Majority Democrats refused to special order a bill regarding charitable gaming (HB1646) so that it could be heard while charities were present in the Gallery. They ultimately tabled the bill in the wee hours of the morning. I guess they weren’t feeling too charitable.
We learned that the same election law bills that were vetoed last year, were now presented and passed again. The House Majority Democrats repealed election laws defining residency (HB1279 and HB1653) and passed the bill regarding creating an independent redistricting commission (HB1665). Here is a case where the House Majority Democrats clearly do not understand that NO means NO.
We learned that House Majority Democrats added more licensing today by adding Music Therapists to the growing list of fields now requiring licensure. With only 33 Music Therapists in all of NH, now they will no doubt be seeking their services to be covered by health insurance, further increasing the cost of everyone’s coverage. We’re not sure if “unqualified” Music Therapists are a huge problem in NH so this bill really hit a sour note.
Speaking of sour notes … we learned that the House Majority Democrats killed the bill that would have prohibited towns from requiring vendor licenses for lemonade stands (HB1147). The kids will just have to take their chances without statutory protection.
We learned that House Majority Democrats wanted minors to get HIV/AIDS diagnosis and treatment without parental consent (HB1404) as well as abortions (HB1640). They also do not believe that babies born alive after an abortion attempt should be cared for (HB1675). Even with the debates we heard I really don’t understand how anyone can be OK with any of this.
We learned that House Majority Democrats still think that if they call a tax “a fee” that it makes charging $2 extra for a hotel room per night acceptable (HB1160). This bill is another returning vetoed bill. Maybe this time they should have tried calling it a “Tourist Toll” to see if that would have made a difference.
We learned that House Majority Democrats also want to mandate that you wear your seat belt (HB1622) because NH is the only state in the union to not have a seat belt law for adults. Apparently, as with a lot of the legislation that we have seen these past few days, they do not believe adults can take care of themselves and need Democrat supervision.
Finally, we learned that the House felt it of importance to set Climate Change Awareness Day (HB1228) for April 22nd and Solar Eclipse Day (HB1382) for April 8, 2024. After 4:00 in the morning I say we just call it a day.
There were many more bills I could discuss here but I could only highlight some of the things we had to deal with in the 18 hours we spent in chambers. There were many good bills that died and many bad bills that survived. We made it through them all and now it will be up to the Senate and the Governor to decide on these. May the odds be ever in our favor.
Upcoming sessions are on hold as a result of COVID-19. Perhaps it is a blessing that we will not be passing any more bills for awhile.