We learned that the 50,000 sq ft. Sportsplex in Bedford, with its climate control and astroturf, is a great place to stretch out comfortably and safely accommodates 400 State Reps, much to the dismay of the Democrat Caucus.
Many of them did stay away claiming they felt “unsafe” in a place where one can easily social distance, where air exchangers were purifying the air, where seats were 10 feet apart and where PPE was readily available to all. It even came with lunch.
The Democrat caucus continues to complain bitterly about House leadership not moving to remote sessions for the sake of those who have “medical issues.” Of course that could mean anyone who can lay claim some sort of ailment. You know that would mean the majority of people in the Democrat Caucus.
All they want to see is remote sessions for all the work done in the NH House. They even tried to change House rules two more times today to allow remote House Sessions, after losing votes on the issue in a prior session.
It used to be that if you were medically unable to attend House Sessions to do your job as a legislator then you stayed home and got a medical excuse, and if your health was really bad you simply resigned your position. The members of the Democrat Caucus seem to forget that being a House Rep was a job which they ran for (during a pandemic) fully understanding the demands of the job.
The people who voted for them expected them to be healthy enough to represent them and come to Concord to do their work. The fact is the concept of doing House remote sessions has been investigated already. For 400 State Reps, the Democrat Caucus does not seem to grasp the concept that it is unmanageable, unrealistic, unsuitable for how the House operates, and just not a good way to do the business of the people of NH.
We learned was that the Democrat caucus is not at all happy with the prospect of being in the minority. There was a lot of unhappiness about being on the losing side of many votes today. Perhaps they were upset that we could not hear them stamping their feet in protest due to the astroturf on the ground.
We learned that the House decided to undo the penalties for Emergency Order violations by passing HB63. The bill forgives any violations of the EO’s when the State of Emergency is over; return any revoked or suspended licenses, refund any fines collected, annul any criminal charges, and make history inadmissible in future licensing decisions. A win for NH businesses!
We learned that finally many good bills got passed and many bad bills got killed with a Republican Majority in the House. It was funny how many bills the Democrat caucus claimed they “agreed with on principle” but could not pass as presented. Things like helping schools with Special Education funding (HB613), and decreasing fees on filing petitions for declaratory rulings on certain SEC projects (HB624), or lowering liquor license fees (HB591); those were just not things they could bring themselves to vote YES on.
We learned that the Democrat Caucus supported a bill that would have eliminated paper billing fees (HB76). Those fees were first put into place to encourage people to pay online or by automatic bank account deductions in order to save paper, trees and the environment. That bill was killed by the House Republicans to help businesses, plus it was simply a badly written bill, and we helped the environment too!
We learned that one bill we could all agree on was HB187, which added oversight to the use of emergency powers of the commissioner of health and human services during a pandemic. That passed 333-6.
We learned that pro-life bills (HB625 and HB233) were passed in the House banning third trimester abortions (after 24 weeks) and allowing babies who are born alive after a botched abortion to receive proper care instead of being left to die. The Democrat Caucus tried many delaying tactics and parliamentary motions to slow down the process and frustrate the passage of these bills.
In fact, when we were done with the 1st part of the 2 day calendar, House members moved to bring HB233 to a vote. The time was around 5:00 PM and we had the Sportsplex until 6:00 PM. The Democrat Caucus wanted to leave and go home, but the Republican Caucus wanted to continue to work until 6:00 PM. The Democrat caucus was so angry at the thought of staying on and working on the born alive infant protection act (HB233), which was being special ordered to come before other bills in the calendar, that most of them got up and stared to leave.
House Minority Leader, Rep. Cushing, declared, “Mr. Speaker, the Democrats are going to go home now, we’ll be back in morning at 9” and a mad dash for the door ensued. This prompted the Speaker to ask the Sergeant at Arms to lock the doors to prevent House members from leaving, which he is allowed to do.
After taking a quorum vote we found that there were still 218 members in the House, which was enough to continue to do our work. Those Democrat House members who remained then wasted 45 minutes with all kinds of parliamentary motions and maneuvers to delay the vote. The bill finally passed 181-49 and the House was adjourned.
Finally, we learned that through it all our House Clerk and staff, and House leadership held up very well despite the protestations of the Democrat caucus. Thursday should be another contentious day where our colleagues across the aisle will try anything and everything to delay votes on bills, and continue to disrupt and complain. This, of course, is coming to us from the party of “unity”.