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N.H. lawmakers fail to override Gov. Sununu vetoes

The N.H. House convened Jan. 5 at a function center in Manchester, while the Senate met in House chambers to start the 2022 session.
Dan Tuohy
The N.H. House convened Jan. 5 at a function center in Manchester, while the Senate met in House chambers to start the 2022 session.

The New Hampshire Legislature began its 2022 session today.

In their first official business of 2022, state lawmakers on Wednesday failed to override any of the six vetoes issued last year by Gov. Chris Sununu.

Among the bills Sununu rejected were a proposal to move the state’s primary election day from September to June, and legislation to end the state’s gun background check system and to expressly permit people to carry loaded firearms on snowmobiles and ATVs.

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Sununu also vetoed bills to add “financial literacy” to the definition of an adequate education, and to permit medical marijuana dispensaries to operate as for-profit businesses.

The state Senate did muster the needed two-thirds vote to overturn the vetoed marijuana bill, but the vote in the House fell short.

Also falling short were lawmakers’ efforts to overturn Sununu’s rejection of a bill to extend the statute of limitations in assault cases involving minors. Sununu said the bill, as written, ran the risk of compromising victims’ rights.

Also on Wednesday, the Republican-led House defeated efforts, again, by Democrats to permit more remote participation — by lawmakers and the public — in the work of the Legislature.

The vote to reject a rule change to allow for remote participation in House sessions and committee work fell along party lines. Republican Deputy House Speaker Steve Smith said it was premature to consider remote participation and stressed that two years of trying to legislate during a pandemic has corroded House norms.

“There is more animosity, less collegiality, and we’ve got to get back to that,” Smith told fellow lawmakers.

Democrats have pushed House leaders to be flexible during the pandemic. They sued in federal court to try to win access for medically-frail lawmakers to attend House sessions remotely. Walpole Rep. Lucy Weber said safety was one concern, but so is accountability.

“It is a provision that increases public participation, public comment and public observation, rather than decreasing it,” Weber said.

Lawmakers did easily pass a separate proposal backed by GOP leaders to allow lawmakers to collect mileage for travel to sessions held outside the State House.

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