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Now In Majority, Republican Lawmakers Weigh Reopening N.H. State House For Business

Allegra Boverman for NHPR

Republicans and Democrats in the New Hampshire House of Representatives will choose their parties' leaders this week.

A key early question for those elected will be how to conduct business during the ongoing pandemic. The State House has been largely closed to lawmakers since March.

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Governor Sununu said last week it would be a "really bad idea" for lawmakers to return to traditional sessions in Concord. But Merrimack Representative Dick Hinch, the Republican expected to become the next House Speaker, says plans are in the works for lawmakers to conduct more business in Concord.

Hinch told WMUR that that includes in person public hearings.

"We are evaluating the HVAC system, and we have someone who is going to help us navigate through that. So that we can reoccupy the legislative office building," Hinch said.

Hinch has served as House minority leader since 2018. He's expected to win the support of the GOP caucus to become speaker when it meets Friday. House Democrats will choose their leader Thursday.

Outgoing Speaker Steve Shurtleff announced he wouldn't seek a leadership post after Democrats lost their House majority.

Meanwhile, the state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that the New Hampshire House of Representatives can meet virtually, as long as a quorum can be verified. House leadership had asked the court to rule on whether virtual meetings violated the constitution, which requires members to be “present.”

According to the court’s unanimous ruling, as long as the number or representatives is “present,” either in person or virtually, the constitutional requirement is satisfied.

Josh has worked at NHPR since 2000.

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