New Hampshire is one of only three states with a split legislature: Republicans control the Senate, Democrats the House of Representatives. The two bodies have shown an ability to work together on some issues this session, including business tax credits and limits on lead fishing tackle.
But with the end of the legislative year fast approaching, inter-chamber gamesmanship is on the rise. It can start simple enough. A routine legislative procedure on the House floor.
It's committee season at the State House, as the legislative year nears its end. In the next couple of weeks, the budget will be getting the most attention, with some contention over Medicaid expansion, school building aid, charter schools, and personnel cuts. Other bills to watch for include medical marijuana and voter ID. US Senator Kelly Ayotte announces she supports a bipartisan immigration bill.
The NH Senate will be voting on its budget this Thursday; their plan calls for $10.7 billion in spending over two years, coming just under the House's budget, which calls for $11b, but doing it with large policy differences. One of those differences is Medicaid expansion, which the Governor and House favor. Looking forward to the 2014 US Senate election, in which incumbent Jeanne Shaheen is expected to run for re-election, Jim Rubens has been added to the list of possible Republican contenders, along with Jeb Bradley, Frank Guinta, and Scott Brown.
The New Hampshire House makes its first key vote as the casino bill is voted on by a supercommittee comprised of the House Finance and Ways & Means Committees; various amendments will be considered on Tuesday, with a committee vote and recommendation coming Wednesday. The New Hampshire Senate, meanwhile, continues to work on its budget, and the Senate Finance Committee prepares to hear from some of the larger state agencies - Health & Human Services, Transportation, and Environmental Services - on their budget needs.
With April being a big month for state revenue, New Hampshire could end the biennium in the black; things are looking tougher for the casino proposal, as the legislature continues to work on the budget; Senator Ayotte held a handful of town halls meetings last week, getting questions and a bit of backlash on her gun control positions.
Senator Kelly Ayotte has been in the news for her opposition to expanded background checks for gun sales; the NH Senate set to vote on a number of bills this week, with a number of them expected not to pass; one bill that may find bipartisan support is the proposed freeze of the Voter ID law, which would mean that more stringent requirements set to go into effect in September would be put on hold.
In the wake of the bombings in Boston, NH Senator Kelly Ayotte and other lawmakers are arguing for treating the remaining suspect as an enemy combatant, which would break new legal ground; the national gun bill fails to pass, with Senator Ayotte being the lone New England Senator to oppose the bill; the casino bill backed by Governor Hassan and the NH Senate is now being examined by the NH House Finance and Ways & Means committees; both branches of the NH Legislature continue to work on their budgets.
A New Hampshire lawmaker is apologizing for referring to women as "vaginas" in an email to his House colleagues during a debate over repealing a law allowing people to use deadly force to defend themselves.
The House passes their budget, which does not include gambling, but funds some of Governor Hassan's priorities, such as mental health and higher education; the budget-writing process now moves to the Senate, where it is likely to see numerous changes; the Senate hears several high-profile bills this week, including a reinstatement of the state minimum wage; Scott Brown announces he "would not rule out" a Senate run in NH.