We learned that it took us a full day from 9am to 7pm to get through 51 House bills recommended as Ought To Pass (OTP) by their respective committees. They were from Criminal Justice (5), Education (12), Election Law (10), Executive Departments and Administration (8), Health Human and Elderly Services (8), and Judiciary (8).
We learned that House Democrats continued their complaining that House Republicans wanted to expand their “culture of guns” as a result of passing HB334, allowing loaded firearms on OHRVs and snowmobiles. They expressed all sorts of fears that firearms in these vehicles will somehow lead to more gun deaths, accidental discharges, and injured children. They also felt that minor spats between riders out in the country side will lead to shoot outs that would put people in homes nearby in danger. Yup, that was all in their floor debate. It was a roll called vote which ended in 223-145 to accept the committee report of OTP. The remaining 4 bills from Criminal Justice were passed via voice vote.
We learned that several Education bills passed which House Democrats were not in favor of. They were items such as allowing schools to display the national motto, “In God We Trust” (HB69, 204-169), an anti-bullying bill which allows parents to take private action regarding the bullying of their child (HB140, 207-169), allowing transfer of credits for coursework from other schools (HB182, 208-169), allowing school districts to use unused municipal facilities for charter schools (HB278, 190-185), mandating university and community college students pass a CIVICS test in order to graduate (HB319, 188-187) and a few other good ones. The bill that got tabled was the one that would have eliminated an unconstitutional unfunded mandate of providing menstrual products in all middle schools and high schools (HB 458, 192-184). This just goes to prove that while everyone complains of unfunded mandates, no one truly wants to do anything about them. Fun fact: The NH School Board Association supported it.
We learned that Election Integrity was well served as we passed several bills addressing places in our election process that needed to be cleaned up. Of course, the day before, we passed the bill that would authorize the audit of the Windham election from November 2020 (SB43). But today, we required town clerks to provide electronic notification daily regarding people who file to run for office (HB77, 212-158), changed the date of our NH primary elections from 2nd Tuesday in September to the 4th Tuesday in June and move the filing periods as well (HB98, 195-174), allowed for expanded access to absentee ballot requests (HB223-202-169), improved maintenance of voter checklists in order to remove invalid voters (HB285, 199-172) and we passed a few other bills that address absentee voter lists, cleans up the absentee ballot verification process and makes some changes to campaign finance laws.
We learned that the House liked the idea of using Atlantic Standard time in NH, but we now would have to wait to see if Maine and Massachusetts will also come along (HB85, 250-117). It remains to be seen if the Senate and Governor will also agree.
We learned that the House wants to get rid of licensing statutes having to do with “hawkers, peddlers, and itinerant vendors” (HB218, 202-165). That being said, we voted to require licensing of wild mushroom harvesters (HB345, 194-174) and allow people to cut hair, trim nails and beards, without remuneration and without fear of being fined for it (HB606, 200-166). There was also a bill that passed which allows licensing in cosmetology and esthetics via school training or apprenticeships (HB575,203-160). Apparently asking for state permission just got easier for some.
We learned that an overwhelming number of House members voted to pass restricting the powers of the Governor during a State of Emergency (HB417, 328-14). The Governor should note, this is a clear mandate and a veto proof majority. The House is sending him a very clear message. We hope he is listening. The House also voted similarly on a bill concerning the 50th anniversary of the passage of the 26th amendment (HB273, 330-33). Perhaps all of these young voters, courtesy of the 26th amendment, may also hope that the Governor is listening.
We learned that the Divisive concepts bill, which would ban the propagation of Critical race Theory in NH, was tabled (HB544, 347-18). That language is also in the budget bill, so there’s that. The tabling debate on the Divisive Concepts bill actually was quite divisive.
We learned that the House Tabled the bill relative to takings of private property in an emergency (HB402, 169-168) after the OTP failed by 171-166. This was unfortunate as this would have enhanced the protections guaranteed by the NH Constitution by requiring a super-majority vote of the legislature prior to takings under a state of emergency (see RSA 4:46). Many were surprised that this failed to pass the committee OTP recommendation, but it was very late in the day and people were beginning to leave.
Finally, we learned that the House Democrats didn’t like it much when House Republicans throughout the day did not yield to House Democrat questions during debates. They complained bitterly and even said they had no chance to clear up the “lies” they felt were being spoken. I suppose they are just used to their “Fact checkers” on Facebook. In truth, House Republicans really only wanted to limit our time at the microphone and keep things moving. Interestingly enough, they actually did that to House Republicans for the past 2 years, and we too complained. It seems to me “Turn about is fair play”. More to come on Friday’s shenanigans.