Governor Sununu Vetoes Ten Bills, Rejecting Democrats' Policy Priorities

Jul 10, 2019

Gov. Chris Sununu has vetoed 23 bills so far this year.
Credit Dan Tuohy / NHPR

Gov. Chris Sununu, a Republican who has found himself at odds with the Democratic-controlled Legislature this year, has vetoed another ten bills, including a few priorities for New Hampshire's Democratic lawmakers.

One bill was designed to identify whether campaign donations from LLC members exceed contribution limits, which allows wealthy donors to skirt campaign finance limits by channeling donations through multiple limited liability corporations.

Another would have expanded the definition of what kind of groups must register as political advocacy organizations. The governor said both of the bills would have stifled free speech. Despite those vetoes, Sununu did sign off on one campaign finance reform — approving new disclosure requirements for inaugural committees.

The bill was a response to the activities of the governor's own inaugural fund, which has paid thousands of dollars to his family members and close political aides.

So far this year, the governor has vetoed 23 bills.

Sununu vetoed a proposal for New Hampshire to allow limited release of certain data in the state's centralized voter registration database, pursuant to a court order when necessary "to protect the right to vote from infringement." 

A trio of vetoes concerned Democrats' priorities to support rights of employees in the workplace - and those seeking jobs. One bill would ban an employer from requiring a prospective employee to disclose their salary history prior to a job offer. A related bill would prohibit employers from using credit history in employment decisions, and another would have allowed a public employee to specify voluntary deductions from wages for any insurance or employee benefit.

There was also a veto for a bill concerning outdoor lighting. That measure sought, in part, to help communities conserve energy with regards to street lighting, and to foster "dark sky policies," AKA light pollution.

Another vetoed bill, which was a request of the state DOT, updated definitions of small, unmanned aircraft. It would also have authorized the DOT commissioner to regulate small, unmanned aircraft systems, according to the bill.

Last month, Sununu vetoed the biggest bill in New Hampshire -- the state budget. He also vetoed Senate Bill 1, the proposed paid family medical leave, which he argues is a back-door income tax. Sununu auctioned off a copy of that veto at a Republican fundraiser last week. 

Signed Into Law

Sununu also announced that he signed 42 bills into law, and he let a 43rd bill become law without his signature. That bill was sponsored by Rep. Gerri Cannon, a Democrat from Somersworth who is a transgender woman. It allows applicants for the licenses or ID cards to indicate their gender as male, female, or other. It also requires that gender identity be included on any card issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles.

The new laws include:

  • A bill on postponement of town, city or school elections in the event of a winter storm, blizzard, or ice storm warning. It also allows any person to vote by absentee ballot in the event of such a warning, if they have concerns for their safety. This issue came up in recent annual town meetings, which Secretary of State Bill Gardner maintained that current law did not provide for "snow days."
  • A bill outline procedures for requirement of restoration of the voting rights of felons. It requires the state corrections commissioner to ensure that probation-parole officers get instruction on current law regarding the rights of those who have attained final discharge of their sentence.

NHPR's Casey McDermott contributed to this story.