HAMPSTEAD —So what’s happening in the State Legislature, one might ask? Representatives Hall (and the substitute facilities in Bedford and Durham) are quiet. Few committee rooms are occupied. Is it true that nothing is happening.
Not exactly. Two very important things are happening right now.
First, “retained bills” are being addressed. Most bills get committee recommendations and then votes in the House and Senate in the first half of the year, but some bills are retained.
Occasionally this is a way to bury quietly a bill that is very badly written or is so politically volatile no one wants to touch it.
More often it is because the bill has merit but either needs quite a bit of work on it, or else needs to wait for something we know is forthcoming from the federal or state government.
Some of these retained bills just need a little tweaking, but some of them warrant subcommittee work sessions lasting up to several hours.
Once work on a retained bill is completed, the entire committee to which the bill is assigned meets in executive session for a recommendation. Committees have until the middle of November to hold their executive sessions.
The bills will come to a legislative vote early in the new year.
So work on retained bills is one thing that is happening.
Secondly, we’ve just completed the period to file LSRs (Legislative Services Requests). These can be understood as proto-bills, or, in other words, something the filing legislator hopes will turn into a bill for the legislature to consider. The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) makes sure the bills are in the proper form, that citations of statues are correct and so on.
The Prime Sponsors of the bills then looks over what OLS has issued, suggests any corrections that they think should be made, scurries about to get co-sponsors, and then signs off on their LSRs.
This year, there are numerous bills around the subject of either increasing individual freedoms or putting into law more requirements. Needless to say, many of these are about masks and vaccines.
Here’s a sampling of LSR titles filed by legislators whose districts are within the Carriage Towne News delivery area:
“Relative to the rate of the communications services tax,” by Rep. Michael Vose of Epping;
“Relative to civics instruction in school” by Rep. Deborah Hobson, representing Newton, East Kingston, Kensington, South Hampton;
“Relative to taxation of income of New Hampshire residents when working remotely from an out of state employer,” by Rep. Peter Torosian, representing Atkinson and Plaistow;
“Relative to requiring legislative oversight over the emergency powers of the department of health and human services,” by me.
It is ever hoped that in the second year of a two-year session the number of bills will be “reasonable” in number. This never happens. This year there were 849 LSRs filed, although it is likely that some bills quite similar to other ones will be combined.
Nevertheless, the number of bills, each one of which requiring lengthy and thorough process through the legislature, is too large.
Maybe that’s why Representative Dennis Green, representing Hampstead and Kingston, filed an LSR “relative to limiting the number of bills that may be filed.” Thank you, Dennis.
During the next few months these new bills will go to the Speaker’s office to be assigned to an appropriate committee. Come January, we begin the process again.
(Editor’s note: State Rep. Mark Pearson, R-Hampstead, represents Atkinson, Hampstead, Kingston and Plaistow. He is chairman of the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee, chairman of the Department of Health and Human Services Legislative Oversight Committee and chairman of the New Hampshire Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.)