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.”
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.