The legislative 2020 year was certainly a strange one. Knowing that the corona virus was going to disrupt legislative work for a while, but not knowing exactly how or how long, the NH House met for a marathon session in March. The session went from 9:00am March 12th until 4:00am Friday 13th. I remember driving back to the Seacoast after that in a horrendous rain storm. I thought of staying over in Concord but I had already stayed over two nights because of other long meetings, and I just wanted to get home to New Castle.
We got a lot of work done during the 19 hour session which was fortuitous as many of us started to self-isolate that following weekend due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We met twice in June to finish the session and what follows here is an abbreviated list of important legislation that was accomplished as well as some important legislation that was blocked by the Republicans.
The first meeting in June was to deal with legislation that the House Legislature still had on the docket. Because this was past the usual deadline, a ⅔ vote was needed to suspend the rules in order to take up these bills.
Unfortunately, even though many Republican representatives agreed with the provisions in these bills, Republican house leadership demanded that their party members vote against allowing us to have those discussions and moving these bills forward, in order to prevent “Democrats” from accomplishing anything. These bills would have been wins for all NH’s citizens, and this type of partisan obstructionism reflects very poorly on those who are responsible for it.
In the end we were unable to pass legislation that:
- Addressed racial profiling and unconscious bias.
- Would have allowed some municipalities to become energy self-sufficient.
- Would have broadened the range of services to Granite State children at risk, especially needed during this pandemic.
In the second session in June, we were responsible for dealing with legislation that came to us from the NH Senate. Because these bills only required concurrence on the part of the NH House and only a simple majority vote, we were able to pass significant legislation. These bills:
- Set contaminate levels for perfluorochemicals in drinking water into statute.
- Deal directly with the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting and supporting our health care workers and first responders.
- Provide for a higher minimum wage for our low wage workers, many of whom are health care workers serving the needs of our elderly and disabled.
- Will make voting easier during the time of COVID-19 by making it easier to vote through absentee ballots.
- Expand protections for sexual assault and domestice violence survivors.
- Address prescription affordability and health care access.
- Include comprehensive criminal justice and police reform programs.
- Create an independent redistricting commission to avoid the gerrymandering we have seen so often in New Hampshire.
It is heartening that good work was accomplished during this pandemic. Much more could have been achieved had the Republicans been willing to work with Democrats on solutions to problems instead of throwing up roadblocks.
I hope to return to the NH House for another term, working with all who are willing to work for the betterment of NH through these difficult times.
Posted on 04 Jul 2020, 10:05 - Category: NH Legislature