Despite Calls for Bipartisanship During N.H. 'State of the State,' Partisan Obstacles Remain

Feb 13, 2020

Gov. Chris Sununu talked up the economy, touted improvements to New Hampshire's mental health system, and promoted new protections for drinking water during his annual "State of the State" address.

Speaking inside Representatives Hall to a joint session of New Hampshire lawmakers on Thursday, Sununu asked Republicans and Democrats to come together, and avoid Washington-style gridlock.

"We don't spend countless days in gridlock. We roll up our sleeves and we get it done. We have a lot more to do. We have a lot more to accomplish. Let’s put our heads down and get this thing done."

But top Democrats say they haven't forgotten the 57 vetoes Sununu handed down last year, a modern record.

House Speaker Steve Shurtleff and Senate President Donna Soucy respond to Governor Sununu's State of the State address.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

During a press conference after the address, House Speaker Steve Shurtleff recounted a conversation he had with the governor.

“I said, Governor, if you see something in bills that you don't like that can be changed, we’d be glad to work with you and make it a compromise...but we've never heard from either the governor or his staff. So, it’s a two-way street."

As they did last year, Democrats are poised to pass bills raising the minimum wage, as well as enacting a statewide paid family medical leave program, which both face likely vetoes.

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Sununu touted his own version of a paid family leave program during his address. Democrats say it would leave out the lower-income workers who need the program most. 

But on one thing there was complete agreement: when the governor praised election officials including Secretary of State Bill Gardner for a smooth presidential primary, he earned a standing ovation.