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Sununu to lay out agenda in fourth inaugural speech, as NH lawmakers open new session

Paige Sutherland/NHPR

When Gov. Chris Sununu delivers his fourth inaugural address Thursday before a joint session of the New Hampshire Legislature, he’ll likely touch on some of the immediate tasks facing policy makers in Concord: crafting a new state budget, re-authorizing Medicaid expansion, and dealing with issues ranging from mental health to the state’s housing crunch.

But Sununu’s speech will also be a chance for him to continue his ongoing effort to raise his national profile ahead of the 2024 elections. Sununu has said he may seek a fifth term in the governor's office, but hasn’t ruled out a run for president.

READ: Governor Sununu's inaugural address, as prepared for delivery

This speech — and the budget address he’ll deliver next month — will give Sununu a chance to set an agenda for the coming year that he’s left largely unstated since winning re-election in November. But with a nearly evenly divided State House in 2023, he may have to work differently to achieve policy goals involving lawmakers. The partisan parity in the New Hampshire House was on display in its first session of the year Wednesday, as lawmakers took a series of close votes over House rules.

Republicans currently hold a four-seat edge in the House, and they mostly got their way on new House rules. Some were aimed at smoothing operations in a session where simple attendance on voting days will be pivotal.

But Republicans failed to pass one rule they wanted: A change to allow committee chairs — who are all Republicans this year — to decide the first motion on the House floor in the event of a tied committee vote. Many deadlocked votes are expected this year due to equal partisan membership on committees.

The House also rejected rule changes proposed by Democrats, including a provision to allow lawmakers unable to be in Concord due to illness to cast votes via proxy. Lawmakers also rejected a separate rule that would have given the House speaker express power to permit all remote sessions or remote participation in committee work.

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