Democrats get unexpected victories on house floor

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NH House of Representatives on Feb. 22, 2023. Photo/Andrew Sylvia

CONCORD, NH – Snow didn’t stop the New Hampshire House of Representatives from meeting on Thursday and it didn’t stop an unexpected string of Democratic successes in the middle of the day on a trio of bills, giving evidence of the almost even split within the chamber between the two parties this term.

Approximately three-and-a-half hours into the day’s session, the House took up HB-430, which requires a child to attend a public school for at least one year before being eligible for education freedom account grants.

An ought-to-pass (OTP) motion on the bill was tied 185-185 last Tuesday and it was tabled by a vote of 186-183.

That bill came back on Thursday and was quickly taken off the table by a vote of 177-169, followed by an inexpedient-to-legislate (ITL) vote that failed 170-175. A motion to then reconsider the OTP motion from last week passed 176-169 and a vote quickly afterward to indefinitely postpone the vote failed 169-176.

During parliamentary inquiry on the bill, Glenn Cordelli (R-Tuftonboro) said that the bill would harm educational freedom account grants and the program should be instead expanded to help kids that are struggling. David Luneau (D-Hopkinton) said that education freedom account grants sent $90 million of taxpayer money to private organizations.

Members of the House applauded when a vote on the OTP motion returned to the floor, finding adoption by another 176-169 margin, followed shortly afterward by chastisement from Assistant Speaker Steven Smith (R-Charlestown) when Lucy Weber (D-Walpole) sought to take another bill off the table.

“Do you think this is the House of Commons? Stop it,” said Smith.

That bill taken off the table at that moment by Weber was HB 234, a bill relating to the “sweeping” of renewable energy certificates or RECs.

J.D. Bernardy (R-South Hampton) noted that RECs are requirements by the state for utilities to fund a certain amount of renewable energy in the state and this bill would limit their ability to impact the method relating to RECs and make utilities more reliant on alternative compliance payments, which in turn he said would add $3 million a year to ratepayers.

Rebecca McWilliams (D-Concord) instead focused on the “sweeping” of RECs, where ratepayers should have the ability to be compensating renewable energy producers, a process that she says has been deemed unconstitutional.

An ITL motion was not adopted, 170-176 and a motion to reconsider the bill was approved 176-169, followed by a recess call by Smith after consternation from the chamber.

“You are all embarrassing yourselves and your colleagues,” he said.

That statement was followed by another individual shouting something.

House Deputy Majority Leader Fred Doucette (R-Salem) blamed the lack of decorum on Democrats, also attacking their votes throughout the day as well.

“Those who serve in this historic hall understand the important job before them and respect the gravity of the job they are here to do. The radical wing of the minority party should take time to emulate their more experienced and measured members who serve the state respectably. The behavior we have seen from those House Democrats today leaves me saddened and disgusted with how they view the privilege of serving in this hallowed hall. Their constituents deserve better,” he said.

After approximately half an hour, an OTP motion on the bill was adopted, 177-167.

The third unexpected win of the day came on HB 111, which would create a study committee on electric charging stations.

An ITL motion on this bill narrowly failed 172-174, followed by an OTP that succeeded 175-172 and then a procedural motion by Josh Adjutant (D-Enfield) to reconsider the motion that he aimed to have intentionally fail, thus preventing another vote on the bill. That reconsideration vote was defeated, 170-177.



About this Author

Andrew Sylvia

Assistant EditorManchester Ink Link

Born and raised in the Granite State, Andrew Sylvia has written approximately 10,000 pieces over his career for outlets across Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. On top of that, he's a licensed notary and licensed to sell property, casualty and life insurance, he's been a USSF trained youth soccer and futsal referee for the past six years and he can name over 60 national flags in under 60 seconds according to that flag game app he has on his phone, which makes sense because he also has a bachelor's degree in geography (like Michael Jordan). He can also type over 100 words a minute on a good day.