Three animal protection bills were signed into law on Wednesday. (Dave Cummings | New Hampshire Bulletin)
There’s a long road between introducing a bill and that bill being signed into law.
In a Thursday session, the House killed several pieces of legislation, unable to reach agreement with the Senate as final deadlines approach to either agree on bills that will be sent to the governor or hash out the differences in committees of conference.
A few of the proposals that died in the Thursday session had to do with campaign finance and election law. Others addressed topics such as virtual meetings and renewable energy funding. The House also killed a housekeeping bill on legislative study commissions and committees, opting to put those measures off until the next session.
The House killed House Bill 391, which the Senate had tweaked so that it would create a study commission to look at campaign finance laws. Rep. Paul Bergeron, a Nashua Democrat, spoke in support of keeping the measure.
“A comprehensive review of campaign finance laws would be a better alternative than the isolated, piecemeal approach often taken toward amending existing campaign finance laws,” he said.
The majority of the House disagreed, and the bill died, 192-166.
Omnibus legislation on elections, Senate Bill 83, shared the same fate. The bill had sections addressing campaign finance and recount fees. Those in favor of killing the bill said those issues could easily be taken up in the upcoming session. Initially, the bill also contained language on a proposed election information portal, but lawmakers deemed that they didn’t have the time or capacity to complete it and the portal had already been removed by the time the bill made it back to the House on Thursday.
The House also did away with a housekeeping bill addressing legislative study commissions and committees, House Bill 186.
Rep. Gregory Hill, a Northfield Republican, who called the legislation “a housekeeping bill on steroids,” said two of the studies in question had been passed in other bills so it would be redundant to address them in this legislation. The third study, addressing land density and workforce housing, are issues of local control not requiring state intervention, Hill said.
He also said addressing outdated and defunct committees wasn’t urgent, and the House can take that issue up in the next session.
Rep. Karen Ebel, a New London Democrat, spoke in support of the bill, calling it a worthwhile effort and the culmination of more than two years of extended work.
“Going to the committee of conference process to try to resolve our differences is a worthwhile attempt to save lots of time and get rid of legislative commissions that serve no purpose,” she said.
But there’s no committee of conference in sight for House Bill 186, which was ultimately killed, 194-167.
Senate Bill 95, which contained a study committee to look at virtual meetings, was also voted down.
“Given the fact that we are in the circumstance we are, we are saying that there’s no need for a further study at this time,” said Rep. Edward Gordon, a Bristol Republican. At one point, the bill had included language that would have extended remote meetings into 2022, but that section of the bill had already been deleted by the House.
And the House also nixed Senate Bill 78, which contained language to continually appropriate the renewable energy fund. That proposal would have also clarified the renewable energy classification of hydrogen derived from water.
Rep. Michael Vose, an Epping Republican, said that while the House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee didn’t initially oppose the underlying motive of the bill, the language in it would apply only to a rare situation where a budget was vetoed or not passed by the Legislature.
He said the proposal would change language deemed essential by the Finance Committee, “so we refuse to proceed.”
The motion to kill the bill was then approved.
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