NH State Representative Tom Cormen

My votes in the NH House session
of March 28, 2024

As you can see in the table below, it was a mixed day. We had some unfortunate losses, mostly bills tabled by Republicans. Toward the end of the day, the numbers had shifted, and we were able to win some votes, including taking off the table a bill (HB 546-FN-LOCAL) that had been tabled on January 3 and then passing it.

Two bills that were important to me passed. I wrote HB 1688-FN and was the prime sponsor. This bill, limiting what our state agencies are allowed to do with artificial intelligence (AI) and deepfakes, was assigned to the Executive Departments & Administration Committee. I later suggested some amendments, as did the committee chair, Rep. Carol McGuire. The amended version got a 20-0 vote for OTPA in committee, and it passed on the consent calendar.

The other important bill was HB 1596-FN, which bans political deepfakes during election season. The prime sponsor, Rep. Angela Brennan (keep an eye out for her, because she is going places), turned around an uncertain fate for the bill. At first, it appeared that the Election Law committee would recommend OTPA. But when the committee voted on it in executive session, it came out with a partisan split, 10-10, and so it came to the floor without recommendation. As a cosponsor of this bill, I asked Rep. Brennan what I could to do help it pass, up to and including speaking on the floor of the House. She suggested that I write an op-ed to be published in the Granite Post. I had very little time, but in 20 minutes I banged out this op-ed, sent it to her, and she got it posted. Meanwhile, Rep. Brennan did some work behind the scenes and got an agreement that not only would the bill pass, but that it would pass on a voice vote. Which it did.

Along with HB 1432 from the Judiciary Committee, these bills form the first package of AI-related bills to pass the House. I helped to coordinate all three bills to use the same definitions of AI, generative AI, and deepfakes. I also helped to amend them so that they did not conflict in what they covered. I consider my contributions to these bills to be my most significant legislative accomplishment in my first term in the House. As I write this, these bills have yet to be heard in the Senate, and so their fate is still unknown.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
HB 1365 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1366-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1539-FN OTP Roll call Yea OTP 283-80
HB 1713-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA Table motion failed on division vote 112-256; I voted Nay
HB 1014 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1015-FN OTPA Division Yea OTPA 365-9
HB 1084 Table Roll call Nay Table 196-179
HB 1087 Table Voice Yea Table
HB 1683 Table Voice Yea Table See discussion below
HB 1093 OTPA Roll call Nay OTPA 187-184
HB 1287-FN ITL Voice Yea ITL OTP motion failed on roll call 179-193; I voted Nay
HB 1383 Interim Study Voice Yea Interim Study OTPA motion failed on division vote 185-188; I voted Nay
HB 1452-FN Table Division Nay Table 193-182
HB 1453 Table Division Nay Table 190-184
HB 1476-FN Table Division Nay Table 192-182
HB 1481 Interim Study Voice Yea Interim Study OTP motion failed on division vote 186-188; I voted Nay
HB 1592-FN-LOCAL Table Roll call Nay Table 191-186
HB 1616 OTPA Division Nay OTPA 190-187
HB 1353 Remove from Table Division Nay 183-194 Bill remained on the Table
HB 1642 Interim Study Voice Yea Interim Study OTP motion failed on division vote 185-189; I voted Nay
HB 1091 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1596-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1102-FN Table Roll call Nay Table 232-140
HB 1145-FN OTPA Roll call Yea OTPA 208-162
HB 1059 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1190-FN OTP Voice Yea OTP Table motion failed on division vote 181-192, ITL motion failed on roll call 175-200; I voted Nay on both
HB 1222 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1271 Interim Study Roll call Yea Interim Study 195-181
HB 1545 Table Roll call Nay Table 190-185
HB 1279-FN-LOCAL OTP Voice Yea OTP Table motion failed on roll call 182-192, ITL motion failed on roll call 178-194; I voted Nay on both
HB 1323-FN-A OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1280 OTP Roll call Nay OTP 189-181
HB 1568-FN OTP Division Yea OTP 237-136
HB 1607 OTPA Roll call Yea OTPA 372-1 See discussion below
HB 1181 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1223 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 2024 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA See discussion below
HB 1113 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1121 OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
HB 1301 Table Division Nay Table 196-172
HB 1390 Table Division Nay Table 190-178 Later motion to Remove from Table failed on division vote 165-188; I voted Yea
HB 1291 OTPA Roll call Yea OTPA 220-143 Table motion failed on roll call 87-277; I voted Nay
HB 1399 OTPA Roll call Yea OTPA 220-140
HR 31 Table Voice Yea Table
HB 546 OTP Roll call Yea OTP 182-178 Followed motion to Remove from Table which passed on roll call 182-179; I voted Yea
HB 1273-FN Interim Study Voice Yea Interim Study
HB 1711-FN OTPA Roll call Yea OTPA 204-149
HB 1637 OTPA Division Yea OTPA 349-6

HB 1539-FN

With it looking like the state is about to legalize cannabis, this bill annuls certain cannabis possession offenses and dismisses certain pending cases for possession of small amounts.

HB 1713-FN

In response to Adam Montgomery refusing to appear at the verdict and sentencing of his trial for the murder of his daughter, Harmony Montgomery, Rep. Steve Shurtleff (former House Speaker) introduced this bill, which requires defendants charged with crimes punishable by 15 years to life in prison to appear in court.

HB 1084

You would like to think that the Commissioner of Education must meet certain minimum requirements, such as certification as an educator and some experience in public school teaching or administration. This bill calls for just that. And the Republicans tabled it, even though it would apply only to future commissioners and not the current commissioner, Frank Edelblut, who is attempting to dismantle public education.

HB 1683

On March 21, the House tabled this bill, which would end Medicaid support for circumcisions that are not medically necessary. The Republicans voted to remove this bill from the table on a roll call vote 189-188 (I voted Nay). What ensued was a strange sequence of motions and votes. An ITL motion failed on a roll call 185-188 (I voted Yea). A motion to Reconsider the OTPA vote from March 21 passed on a roll call 188-186 (I voted Nay). It looked like the OTPA motion would pass, but it, too, failed on a roll call 184-191 (I voted Nay). At that point, Rep. Lucy Weber, our Democratic floor leader, moved to put the bill back on a table, and a voice vote did just that.

HB 1093

This bill prohibits mandatory face mask policies in public schools. Instead of the local school district deciding on mask policies, the state decides for everyone: no masking.

HB 1452-FN

Along with HB 1084, this bill would have set minimum standards for public school superintendents and business administrators. Nope, as the Republicans tabled it.


Article 6 of the New Hampshire Constitution includes

But no person shall ever be compelled to pay towards the support of the schools of any sect or denomination.

So you would think that a bill prohibiting public taxpayer money (Education Freedom Accounts) from going to religious schools would be a no-brainer, right? It turns out that the Constitution-loving Republicans apparently love only the part of the Constitution that doesn’t prohibit public money from going to religious schools.

HB 1102-FN

This bill would have added to the animal cruelty codes the selling and breeding of an animal with a birth deformity that causes suffering. One such deformity is brachycephaly, which is endemic in short-faced dogs. These dogs often have trouble breathing, among other problems. The choice was between motions for Inexpedient to Legislate and Interim Study. I would have voted against ITL and for Interim Study, but the bill was tabled.

HB 1145-FN

This bill prohibits private ownership of landfills, so that any future landfills in the state would have to be owned by the state or a municipality. A state-owned landfill could be contracted out to a private operator, but ultimately controlled by the state. Why do we need this bill? Because a huge amount of trash in our landfills comes from out of state, and this bill provides a way for the state to control it.

HB 1059

This bill updates the state building codes, except for the latest energy codes. There was much conflicting information about the cost of complying with the latest energy codes, and a floor amendment that would have required them failed.

HB 1222

This bill changes requirements for physician assistants (PAs). A floor amendment proposed by Rep. Katelyn Kuttab (who happens to serve with me on the steering committee of the Granite Bridge Legislative Alliance) cut through the Gordian knot of this bill so that it passed by voice vote. The primary change is that PAs with under 8000 hours of clinical practice and are in a practice lacking a licensed physician must have a written collaboration agreement with a licensed physician who practices in a similar area.

HB 1607

Existing law allows a parent to surrender an infant within seven days of birth directly to a person at a hospital, police station, fire station, or to an EMT. This bill would expand the time to surrender to 61 and allow the baby to be placed in a safe-haven baby box at a continuously attended location. The bill allowed for the exclusion of all evidence of abuse or neglect gathered as a result of a parent surrendering a child in this way from being used as evidence in a criminal or civil trial. Although some representatives viewed this provision as a necessary condition for abusive parents to give up their children, others were unwilling to allow a parent to abuse a child for up to two months and suffer no consequences. There was hot debate over this provision until Rep. J. R. Hoell asked the Speaker whether the bill could be divided. In other words, could the section of the bill allowing exclusion of evidence of abuse or neglect be divided out from the rest of the bill, and the two parts of the bill be voted on separately. A motion to Divide was allowed, and it passed by division vote 290-82 (I voted Yea). The uncontroversial sections of the bill squeaked by on a roll call 372-1 (I was not the 1), and the controversial section failed on a roll call 185-188 (I voted Nay). I do not often agree with Rep. Hoell, but I give him credit for this one. It solved the problem.

HB 2024

This is the state’s 10-year transportation plan. It would have been uncontroversial, except that it transfers ownership of Continental Blvd. in Merrimack to the town from the state turnpike system. That would save the state some money, but cost Merrimack more to pave the road than its entire paving budget. The representatives from Merrimack, both Republican and Democrat, asserted that Merrimack never asked for this road to be built and cannot afford to maintain it. Others said that Merrimack could have had tollbooths at their exits off Route 3 to pay for the road, but declined. A floor amendment would have removed the transfer of Continental Blvd. from the plan. I voted for this amendment, mainly because with the problems that Merrimack is having with PFAS, they don’t need this added expense. The floor amendment failed on a division vote 172-195.

HB 1301 and HB 1390

These bills would have restricted wakeboats and wakesurfing. We received many emails about these bills, both supporting and opposing. I would have voted for these bills, but they were tabled.

HB 1291 and HB 1399

These bills came out of the Special Committee on Housing. HB 1291 allows by right a second accessory dwelling unit (ADU) on certain properties. HB 1399 allows owners to expand an existing single-family home into a duplex.

I voted against HB 44 last year. That bill would have allowed up to four ADUs on a lot. I was concerned that Lebanon would bear the bulk of development in the Upper Valley. I would like to see other Upper Valley communities step up and build more housing, especially workforce housing (cough Hanover cough). I’d like to think that HB 1291 and HB 1399 would have a lesser impact in Lebanon than HB 44 would have. In the 13 months that passed since I voted against HB 44, I gained a deeper understanding of the housing problem we have in the state, and so I voted for the two bills this time.

HB 546

As people left late in the day, the numbers were on our side. HB 546 had been tabled on January 3, but Rep. David Luneau moved to remove it from the table, and the motion passed, as did the OTP motion on the bill. The bill sets a minimum of $50 million for school building aid and makes the fund nonlapsing (so that money unspent at the end of the fiscal year remains in the fund, rather than transferring to the general fund).

HB 1711-FN

This was another bill that was hotly debated. It authorizes the state to report mental health data for firearms background checks to the federal database. It is bipartisan legislation drafted after the murder of Chief Bradley Haas at New Hampshire Hospital. Rep. J. R. Hoell tried to block it and amend it, but it passed.

HB 1283-FN

We knew that a motion to reconsider HB 1283-FN was in the works. I voted for the bill, which allowes Medical Aid in Dying, and I did not want to reconsider it. This vote came late in a very long day, and we were told that almost a dozen speakers were lined up for the debate, should the motion to reconsider pass. Fortuantely, reconsideration failed, and the bill will go to the Senate.