SESSION NOTICE

September 16, 2020 at 10:00 a.m.
at the Whittemore Center, UNH

CAUCUS NOTICE

No in-person caucus of Republican members is scheduled at this time. Republican members may receive information for conference call caucus by email.

House Republican Leader Applauds Veto of HB1247

Concord, NH- House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) released the following statement in response to Governor Sununu’s veto of HB1247, relative to mortgage defaults and nonpayments of rent during the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak state of emergency.

“Governor Sununu’s continuing response to our citizens’ rent and mortgage situations during this pandemic is thorough and appropriate, and has ensured people have the protections they needed in these unprecedented times. 

“In addition to existing protections, there has been money flowing to folks to help them meet their financial obligations. The governor established the New Hampshire Housing Relief Program using CARES Act funds to issue one-time assistance grants up to $2500 to assist households who fell behind on rent, or household related expenses that if not paid impact the ability to maintain housing. This grant program on top of extended unemployment, federal stimulus payments, and enhanced federal unemployment payment amounts makes this bill completely unnecessary.”

“We shouldn’t be enacting permenant new laws just for the sake of a political party taking credit, nor should we be passing laws to add to the resume of “do nothing” candidates seeking higher office to make them seem effective and relevant. The governor’s veto was appropriate, and you can expect House Republicans to be united in their vote to sustain it.”

Republican Leader Praises Governor Sununu Veto of Income Tax

CONCORD- House Republican Leader Dick Hinch released the following statement after Governor Sununu vetoed HB712-FN, relative to a family and medical leave insurance program. This bill would create a mandatory family and medical leave insurance program funded by a 0.5% tax on wages. 

“Well, it’s Groundhog Day…again. For the second year in a row, Democrats in the State House have given their full support to a family medical leave plan funded by an income tax. Fortunately, Governor Sununu has once again vetoed this ill-advised attempt at an income tax, and House Republicans stand united in his defense of the New Hampshire Advantage. Republican actions last year made it clear that we will not support this plan, and Democrats sending a nearly identical bill to the Governor’s desk shows they were not serious about getting something passed.”, Hinch said. 

“If Democrats are determined to pass an income tax, which they have repeatedly demonstrated, House Republicans are united in our vehement opposition and more than happy to stand in their way.”

House Republican Leader Reacts to Democrats Support of Minimum Wage Hike

DURHAM-House Republican Leader Dick Hinch issued the following statement after the House voted 198-124 to concur on HB731, relative to the state minimum hourly rate. 

“Apparently Democrats in Concord would rather check boxes on their progressive wish-list than assist New Hampshire’s economic recovery. Passing a 65% mandatory wage hike in these times is particularly burdensome and cruel,” said Hinch. “This bill would disproportionately affect our already struggling small businesses, and would no doubt cause a number to close their doors.”

“New Hampshire’s employers have proven they know what it takes when it comes to attracting, retaining, and compensating their employees properly. Rather than focusing on creating a climate where New Hampshire’s economy can fully recover, they would rather legislate how companies do business and endanger people’s livelihoods.”

House Republicans Believe HB1672 Puts NH Election Integrity at Risk

Durham, NH – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) released the following statement in response to the House voting to concur with HB1672, relative to absentee voting, on a vote of 195-130. Following today’s vote, the bill will be sent to the governor.

“HB1672 is a democrat wishlist of partisan political agenda items masked as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Attorney General and Secretary of State have already issued guidance allowing absentee balloting in the primary and general election for those who have concerns voting in person due to COVID-19 ensuring all New Hampshire citizens are able to vote in the 2020 elections.”

“Spending CARES Act funds for brand new programs, such as online voter registration, is unacceptable and puts our state’s reputation of having clean and fair elections at risk. I am dismayed that House Democrats saw this as a valid use of CARES Act funds, and it is my hope Governor Sununu vetoes this bill.”

House Republicans Decry Democrats’ Lack of Transparency, Legislative Log Jam

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement relative to the June 30th House session during which the session agenda included dozens of omnibus bills containing subject matter that the House did not have time to thoroughly vet. In some cases dozens of Senate bills that had not yet received a public hearing or committee work in the House were attached to or completely replaced the content of House bills.

“Our log jam agenda today reflects the fact that Democrats refused to compromise one iota with Republicans. They chose to shortchange the legislative process, skip steps, and rush through these massive bills rather than work in a bipartisan manner with House Republicans,” Hinch said. “Democrats even abandoned the usual protocol of committees of conference, and placed us in this all-or-nothing position, having to vote against bills that may have parts we like, but too many parts we don’t like. It is a bad way to do things, it sets a terrible precedent, and our state deserves better.”

House Republicans Still Awaiting Outreach from House Speaker, Democrats on Bipartisan Agreement

House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack), Deputy House Republican Leader Sherm Packard (R-Londonderry) and House Republican Policy Leader, Rep. Kim Rice (R-Hudson) confirmed today that no contact from House Speaker Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord) or any member of his leadership team has been received since the House session one week ago on Thursday, June 11th. Republicans had hoped that they would have a change of heart.

“Our mantra in recent weeks has been that Republicans are eager to finish our work, and do our jobs as legislators, but we can’t move forward if we are excluded from the planning process,” House Republican Leader Dick Hinch said. “In the newspapers last week, and during last week’s House session, we made it clear that we are awaiting that phone call from the Speaker or his team acknowledging that it’s time that they fulfill their end of the agreement we made in March, and that we would work together. Our phones have not rang with such a call. We continue to know nothing.”

“The ball is in their court,” Rep. Sherm Packard (R-Londonderry) added. “It’s unfortunate that the Democrats have dug in on their position to not have Republican input on how the House should complete our work for the term. We eagerly signed on to the concept of the Speaker’s Committee on Legislative Continuity, but our one phone call meeting in March doesn’t cut it.”

“I can’t believe it has been 7 days with no outreach from the Speaker on this,” Rep. Kim Rice said. “Republicans believe there is a huge opportunity to work this out, but Democrats seem to have given up on the process, or any bipartisan agreement.”

Rep. Hinch concluded, “Democrats had a chance to mend fences. They had a chance to come into this unprecedented period with an open mind and inclusive process. Instead, they unfairly denied us the opportunity to have an up or down vote on a meaningful proposal to provide business tax relief. They’ve stuck to their rushed and flawed scheduling plan that shortchanges the legislative process without taking a moment to work with us on something we could all agree on. Their highly partisan form of governing is pushing aside the spirit of cooperation we thought we had in March.”

Background:

The House could not act on a number of bills on Thursday, June 11th after a vote to adopt new deadlines failed to achieve the necessary ⅔ majority vote. The House is also precluded from taking up several Senate bills without similar deadlines. Action on those bills can still occur if new deadlines are adopted on June 30th. Since June 11th, Speaker Shurtleff has not proposed an alternate schedule for House Republicans to consider. If an agreement was reached, a vote could be taken on June 30th to adopt a schedule of deadlines, and House business could proceed. The House has until the end of the term, or until the Speaker adjourns from this year’s session, to complete the legislative process.

Reps. Hinch, Packard, and Rice were appointed by the House Speaker to serve on the Speaker’s Committee on Legislative Continuity. On Tuesday, March 17th each received an email from the House chief of staff explaining the duties of the committee, which were to “investigate any necessary legislation, changes in House Rules or possible constitutional amendment,” with regard to ongoing House business.

The committee met once, briefly, over the phone. A subsequent meeting was cancelled, and no other meetings have occurred.

House Republican Leader Reacts to Democrat Vote Against Prevention of Business Tax Increase

DURHAM – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued the following statement after the House voted to not allow late drafting and introduction of legislation that would prevent a 12.5% tax increase on New Hampshire’s businesses. The motion to suspend rules failed 154-174. 

“By rejecting this simple modification to our tax law, Democrats are saying that they are OK with increased taxes on our struggling small businesses during a global pandemic and economic recovery.”


“This is not a dramatic change in policy. The time is now to act on this urgent need for our businesses to know their taxes will not go up and they can get our citizens back to work. Piling tax increases on top of a difficult recovery will drag out our recovery even longer.”

“Democrats have stated they’d rather ask businesses to ‘wait and see’ if the legislature does something in 7 months. That doesn’t make sense. The January 1 rate hike is affecting their decision making now, this year. 7 months of uncertainty is not what we were elected to deliver, but that’s what Democrats voted for today.”

House Republican Leader Comments on House Vote on Rules Process, Deadlines

DURHAM – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) issued a statement following the House vote on a House Rules amendment sponsored by House Speaker Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord) that would have established deadlines for House business that rushed and skipped steps in the legislative process. The amendment was not developed in consultation with Republicans in the House.

“In March, Republicans agreed to a process proposed by Democrats that would have produced a bipartisan roadmap forward,” Hinch said. “Democrats did not hold up their end of the bargain. Republicans don’t believe they should support a plan that they had no input on, and shortchanges the legislative process.”

Hinch continued, “My Republican colleagues and I are genuinely eager to complete the work we were elected to do. It’s time for the Speaker to fulfill his duty of representing the entire House of Representatives, not just take orders from his partisan leadership team. There is still time to work collaboratively, and Republicans have the will to do so.”

The House voted on Thursday 199-143 to adopt an amendment to House Rules that would have modified deadlines allowing the House to move forward on leftover House bills and allow committee work and action on Senate bills. It failed to reach the ⅔ majority needed to pass the amendment.

Republicans Urge Bipartisan Cooperation, Democrats Rush Bad Policies

by Rep. Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack)

On March 12th, the NH House of Representatives voted to amend the Rules which govern our body and the way we do business, to include a provision that would allow for modification of our schedule given the emerging public health threat of COVID-19. The rule change (65b) required concurrence of leadership of both parties. A true bipartisan agreement had emerged after a winter of partisan wrangling.

That day, the Speaker of the House, Steve Shurtleff, announced that he would be forming a bipartisan committee to oversee the processes involved in keeping the House operational during the public health crisis. Members of both parties would serve on the committee. On Tuesday, March 17, an email was delivered from the Speaker’s chief of staff with the details for the “Committee on Legislative Continuity”. The duties of the committee were to “investigate any necessary legislation, changes in House Rules or possible constitutional amendment.”

The committee met once, briefly, over the phone. A subsequent meeting was cancelled, and no other meetings have occurred since March. Republican leaders received one-on-one phone calls from time to time from the Speaker, but that fell short of our expectations, to say the least. 

read more…

House Democrats Decline Bipartisan Input on Process, Reject Republican Business Tax Proposal

CONCORD – House Republican Leader Dick Hinch (R-Merrimack) offered statements following House Rules Committee Action on Wednesday where House Democrats denied the ability for a Republican bill to come forward that would eliminate the possibility of business tax increases in the coming year. The committee also voted along party lines for a Democrat supported timeline for completion of House business, which Republicans said lacked clarity and bipartisan input.

On disagreements on a timeline moving forward, Hinch offered the following assessment.

“Republicans have a roadmap forward. We have a realistic and comprehensive set of dates for deadlines that we believe meets the needs of a thorough legislative process,” Hinch said. “We are not here to obstruct and we agree that the people’s work needs to be addressed. But we are here to ensure the spirit of bipartisan cooperation, the spirit of the rule the House adopted in March, is not pushed aside during this pandemic.”

Hinch continued, “Republicans have a number of concerns about the proposed schedule in the Democrat plan, such as a very quick time frame for public hearings on Senate bills, when the House has little experience in running virtual public hearings. The House held its first remote public hearing on a bill yesterday, and there were several concerns brought to my attention about its function and execution. Asking us to process dozens of bills on this platform in a matter of a week or two seems like it would cause problems. In addition it skips long established steps in the process including committees of conference.”

Pertaining to Democrats’ rejection of Republicans’ business tax relief proposal Hinch offered the following remarks.

“By not allowing this simple modification to have an up or down vote by the House is the same thing as Democrats saying that they are OK with increasing taxes on our struggling small businesses by as much as 12.5% during a global pandemic and economic recovery,” Hinch said. “By rejecting this proposal, Democrats may have decreased our economy’s ability to bounce back quickly, and prolonged the time it will take for our small businesses to recover.”

“The Speaker and Majority Leader said that they believe this is not urgent, and can wait until 20201. My message is that we cannot wait. Our businesses cannot wait, “ Hinch continued. “The rate is scheduled to change on January 1, well before legislation could be fast-tracked through the House and Senate. Businesses are making decisions now and will be through the rest of this year based on the prospect of that rate change. This affects their hiring decisions this year. This affects their ability to purchase capital equipment this year. To ask businesses to ‘wait and see’ if the legislature does something in 7 months doesn’t make sense,” Hinch concluded.

“Democrats love taxes. This is a demonstration that they are willing to pursue higher taxes even in the worst of times for many businesses. It’s like kicking them when they’re down.”

The motion to recommend the Democrats’ schedule passed by a party line vote of 5-4.

The motion to deny introduction of Republicans’ business tax relief proposal passed by a party line vote of 6-4.