By the time you read this, the NH Legislature will be a little more than halfway done with one of the oddest sessions that one can remember. Typically we would be talking about crossover when bills move from the House to the Senate and vice versa and all the action that occurs around that. More importantly, we would be sharing pictures of our annual Legislative Crossover event where we host legislators after a long day or two of work to wind down and have a few bites, drinks, and some great comradery in Concord.
Both Chambers in the legislature are working remotely for the most part. The House of Representatives has only met in person for two days. It was done indoors at a 50,000 square foot sports complex in Bedford to provide for social distancing. The Senate is meeting frequently, but only over Zoom. The House will be meeting once again in Bedford over a three-day span in early April to complete their bill crossover and, importantly, hand the Senate their attempt at crafting the next two-year budget. The Senate will then have their turn at the budget before they meet in June in conference to finalize the details and pass it on to the Governor.
Because the regular session days of the House of Representatives are so few and complex in their organization, Committees have done their best to limit bills that will make it to the full body for a vote. They have done this by taking the approach that if a bill is slightly controversial and/or would require much debate, they will retain (or hold in committee) the bill and tackle it in the fall in committee work sessions.
This is the exact fate that NHADA’s highest priority bill faced. Rep. Peter Torosian (R-Atkinson) filed a bill (HB 522) that would have exempted all new vehicles under warranty from an annual inspection and had them receive one every two years. HB 522, a highly flawed bill both technically and conceptually, was retained by the House Transportation Committee. At the bill’s initial hearing, many NHADA members attended the hearing in opposition or spoke against the bill. Others, who were constituents of Committee members, emailed their Representatives and let them know how they felt about this bad public safety bill. Our message of opposition to HB 522 was loud and clear, and we feel that the bill would not have passed a vote in the committee. Unfortunately, it was retained. There were a small number of committee members that felt that the concept had merit. We will continue to work on the bill and the issue. Over the next few months and the fall, we will work to educate and prove them wrong. Your voice and expertise in this will be critical. When we reach out to ask for your help on our grassroots effort, please be ready to lend a hand.
For questions on this or any other legislative matter, contact me at email@example.com or 603-224-2369.
Interesting facts on the makeup of the current NH legislature:
“You ask, we answer: with five people not reporting, the average age this session is 61 (same as the last session). Oldest member 94, youngest 19. The age group with the most members is 60-69 (same as last) with 126 members (down from 157 last time). 310 of 398 members are over 50.” New Hampshire House Clerk.