NH State Representative Tom Cormen

My votes in the NH House session
of February 22, 2024

We were told to expect a long day, as all the early bills (bills going to a second committee) had to be disposed by today. Session started at 9:00 am (with party caucuses meeting at 8:00), and we were told that we might be working as late as 9:00 or 10:00 pm. But most members kept their floor speeches short, and several motions went to voice vote, so we were done before 6:00 pm. Still, it was an intense day.

The numbers favored the Republicans today, and we lost many votes. We had some big wins, however, especially defeating HB 1377-FN, the so-called “Right to Work” bill. More on that, and several other bills, below.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
HB 154 Reconsider Roll call Nay 162-201
HB 1111-FN OTPA Roll call Nay OTPA 199-179
HB 1282-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1425-FN ITL Voice Yea ITL
HB 1564-FN OTP Voice Yea OTP
HB 1573-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1595-FN OTP Division Nay OTP 219-162
HB 1633-FN-A OTPA Division Yea OTPA 239-141
HB 1649-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1674-FN Interim Study Voice Yea Interim Study
HB 1050-FN Indefinitely Postpone Division Nay Indefinitely Postpone 204-177
HB 1186-FN OTPA Roll call Nay OTPA 203-174
HB 1330-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1339-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1128-FN Indefinitely Postpone Roll call Nay Indefinitely Postpone 191-187
HB 1288-FN OTPA Roll call Nay OTPA 192-185
HB 1517-FN OTP Roll call Nay OTP 196-184
HB 1583-FN-A OTPA Division Yea OTPA 228-150
HB 1675-FN-A-LOCAL ITL Voice Yea ITL
HB 1686-FN Table Division Nay Table 193-181
HB 1426-FN-A Indefinitely Postpone Roll call Nay Indefinitely Postpone 192-186
HB 1577-FN OTPA Roll call Nay OTPA 193-182
HB 1184-FN-A ITL Voice Nay ITL OTP failed on division vote 185-187; I voted Yea
HB 1630-FN ITL Division Nay ITL 199-176
HB 1680-FN ITL Roll call Yea ITL 260-117
HB 1307-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1394-FN-A OTPA Roll call Yea OTPA 194-186
HB 1466-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1647-FN-A OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1689-FN Interim Study Voice Yea Interim Study
HB 1303-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1593-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1669-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1178-FN OTPA Division Yea OTPA 198-180
HB 1322-FN Indefinitely Postpone Division Nay Indefinitely Postpone 193-187 OTP failed on roll call vote 187-192; I voted Yea
HB 1377-FN Indefinitely Postpone Roll call Yea Indefinitely Postpone 212-168
HB 1522-FN Table Voice Yea Table
HB 232 Remove from Table Division Yea 182-186
HB 1468-FN-A OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1423-FN Indefinitely Postpone Roll call Yea Indefinitely Postpone 228-141
HB 1709-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1465-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1472-FN ITL Voice Nay ITL OTP failed on roll call vote 187-192; I voted Yea
HB 1697-FN OTPA Division Yea OTPA 356-10
HB 1611-FN OTPA Division Yea OTPA 195-169
HB 1644-FN Table Voice Yea Table

HB 154

I wrote about HB 154 on February 15. We knew in advance that there would be a motion to Reconsider this bill at today’s session. I was planning to vote to Reconsider, since the vote to Concur with the Senate’s changes on February 15 was with little information provided to us. We were told in caucus, however, that the original version of HB 154 wasn’t what we wanted, and the Senate changed the bill to add content about electronic ballot counting machines. Both the chair and ranking member of the House Election Law Committee concurred with the Senate’s changes, and there was a time element to the bill so that new ballot counting machines could be purchased by town meeting day. Rather than voting to Reconsider on the principle that we hadn’t had time to review the changes, I voted Nay because it was what was needed.

HB 1633-FN-A

This year’s cannabis bill. It was designed to answer the concerns of the governor, who so far has not supported legalized cannabis.

Then again, you might recall that last year, neither did I. I voted against all the cannabis bills. To summarize my two reasons: there is no roadside test for cannabis, and when I and my friends smoked a lot of pot back in my Santa Cruz days, it made us stupid—and today’s products are so much more potent.

Yet, I voted for the bill this time. Why the turnaround? Two reasons. First, it’s clear that the people of New Hampshire want legalized cannabis. Second, legalized, controlled cannabis won’t be tainted with harmful substances such as fentanyl.

You can read the bill here. It’s long, and other than that it cannot address the concerns that caused me to vote against it last year, I think it’s a good bill. And it’s about time that New Hampshire joined the rest of New England in legalizing cannabis.

HB 1649-FN

You have almost certainly heard of PFAS and the damage it causes. The town of Merrimack is PFAS central, and cancer rates there are very high. This bill bans the sale of consumer products containing PFAS starting in July 2028 (which will give time to pull products containing PFAS from the market). It was good to see this bill pass on a voice vote.

HB 1050-FN

This bill, which was defeated, would have allowed anyone to voluntarily waive their right to purchase firearms. In our state, close to 90% of all gun deaths are suicides. People who feel that they are at risk of committing suicide might want to put themselves on a “do not sell” list so that they don’t kill themselves in a moment of weakness. The bill contains a provision for someone to remove themself from the list. Even though everything would be voluntary, our Second Amendment zealots on the other side decided that nobody should even be able to put themself on a “do not sell” list.

HB 1128-FN

Another EFA bill, but this time from the Democrats. EFAs are administered by a nonprofit based in New York, which administers similar programs in other states. They keep about 10% in administrative expenses. This bill would have required EFAs to be administered in New Hampshire, so that this money stays in state and to increase accountability. Alas, it was Indefinitely Postponed, so we won’t be seeing it again until at least next year.

HB 1517-FN

This bill reduces the Statewide Education Property Tax (SWEPT) by using whatever revenue comes in from lottery games of chance above $6,600,000. (That is, the first $6,600,000 does not reduce SWEPT. Only the amount exceeding $6,600,000 does.) Unfortunately, we have already seen that reducing SWEPT just places a heavy burden on other taxes. The OTP motion passed, but we don’t expect it to help much.

HB 1583-FN-A

This bipartisan bill raises the base cost of an “adequate education” from $4204 per pupil to $4404. It’s still nowhere near enough, but at least we got the amount raised.

HB 1426-FN-A

This bill would have established an independent redistricting commission. Not suprisingly, Republicans don’t want it. They like the idea of whichever party wins in a year ending in 0 getting to draw the election maps. Instead, we could have had an independent commission draw the maps, which would still have been subject to legislative approval. But no, we are going to be stuck with gerrymandering for the time being.

HB 1322-FN

The minimum wage in New Hampshire remains stuck at the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. The other five New England states have minimum wages of at least $13 per hour. This bill was Indefinitely Postponed, as apparently the Republicans favor keeping us as North Mississippi.

HB 1377-FN

The so-called “Right to Work” bill. If only some of the workers at a company are union members, the non-members also pay a fee to cover the expense of collective bargaining and contract maintenance. On the face of it, that might seem unfair: why should someone not in a union pay for the union? The answer is that they are receiving the benefits of being in the union.

This bill would have made it so that non-members don’t pay a fee, so that they would be free riders. The online numbers were telling: 50 people supported this bill, and 1419 opposed it.

Rep. Dan LeClerc delivered a terrific floor speech against the bill, which was Indefinitely Postponed 212-168. Even some Republicans voted against it. Speaker Packard, before revealing the result of the vote, asked everyone in the chamber, including the gallery, to restrain themselves verbally when the result was shown. So instead of everyone cheering, we waved at the gallery, and they waved back.

HB 1472-FN

This bill would have put “cash on the hood” as a rebate for new and used electric vehicles. I knew that it wasn’t going to pass, but it came close. In the meantime, EVs will be hard to find at New Hampshire dealerships.