HAMPSTEAD – So what’s going on in the state legislature, one might ask? The Hall reps (and alternate facilities in Bedford and Durham) are calm. Few of the committee rooms are occupied. Is it true that nothing is happening.
Not exactly. Two very important things are happening right now.
First, “hold invoices” are processed. Most bills receive committee recommendations and then votes in the House and Senate in the first half of the year, but some bills are retained.
Sometimes that is a way of quietly burying a bill that is very poorly drafted or that is so politically unstable that no one wants to touch it.
More often than not, it is because the bill has merit but it needs a little work, or that we have to wait for something that we know is coming from the federal government or the state.
Some of these successful bills just need a little adjustment, but some of them warrant subcommittee working sessions that can last up to several hours.
Once the work on a selected bill is completed, the entire committee to which the bill is assigned meets in executive session for a recommendation. The committees have until mid-November to hold their executive meetings.
The bills will go to a legislative vote at the start of the new year.
So the work on the withheld invoices is one thing that is happening.
Second, we have just completed the LSR (Legislative Services Requests) filing period. These can be understood as proto-bills, or, in other words, something the tabling legislator hopes will turn into a bill for the legislature to consider. The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) makes sure that invoices are in good shape, that the citations of the laws are correct, etc.
The major invoice sponsors then review what the OLS has issued, suggest any corrections they think need to be made, rush to find co-sponsors, and then sign their LSRs.
This year, there are many bills around the subject either to increase individual freedoms or to enshrine more requirements in law. Needless to say, a lot of them are about masks and vaccines.
Here is a sample of LSR headlines filed by lawmakers whose districts are within the Carriage Towne News delivery area:
“Compared to the rate of the tax on communications services”, by representative Michael Vose of Epping;
“Relative to civics instruction in school” by Representative Deborah Hobson, representing Newton, East Kingston, Kensington, South Hampton;
“With respect to taxing the income of New Hampshire residents when working remotely from an out-of-state employer,” by Representative Peter Torosian, representing Atkinson and Plaistow;
“In relation to the requirement for legislative oversight on the emergency powers of the Department of Health and Social Services”, by me.
We still hope that in the second year of a two-year session, the number of bills will be “reasonable”. It never happens. This year, 849 LSR were tabled, although it is likely that some bills quite similar to others will be combined.
However, the number of bills, each of which requires a long and thorough process by the legislature, is too large.
Perhaps this is the reason why Representative Dennis Green, representing Hampstead and Kingston, filed an LSR “relating to the limitation of the number of invoices that can be filed”. Thanks, Denis.
Over the next few months, these new bills will go to the President’s office to be assigned to an appropriate committee. In January, we start the process again.
(Editor’s Note: State Rep. Mark Pearson, R-Hampstead, represents Atkinson, Hampstead, Kingston and Plaistow. He is Chair of the Health, Social Services and Seniors Committee, Chair of the Oversight Committee legislature of the Department of Health and Human Services and chairman of the New Hampshire Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.)