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N.H. House Republicans Make Move That Could Block Any Legislation This Year

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Democrats hold majorities in both the New Hampshire House and Senate, but Republicans could make it impossible for state lawmakers to pass any legislation this year, as State House leaders attempt to finish business amid COVID-19 closures.

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Republicans in the House took the first step Tuesday to essentially grind legislative activity to a halt by voting to not change looming House deadlines. If it stands, that vote by the House Republican caucus would effectively block lawmakers from taking up any bills in the current legislative session.

House Republican Leader Dick Hinch said the vote, which is without recent precedent, was a response to what he termed a “one-party decision making process.”

In a statement, House Speaker Steve Shurtleff said Republican lawmakers were abandoning their work during a pandemic, and called Hinch’s claims that Democratic leaders hadn’t been in regular communication with top Republicans “preposterous and an outright lie."

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This partisan flare-up comes as the House and Senate prepare to meet in session early next month, while also observing social distancing guidelines: The Senate in Representatives Hall at the State House, the House at UNH’s Whittemore Center. It would be the first time either chamber has met since COVID-19 prompted leaders to close the State House in March.

Dozens of bills – including many election year priorities for Democrats – will die without a deal. Shurtleff said Democrats will attempt to meet on June 11 regardless.

Senate Republicans, meanwhile, said they are backing their House colleagues and accused Democrats of using a crisis to try to “pass a wish of list radical proposals they could never get adopted under normal circumstances.”

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.
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