NH State Representative Tom Cormen

My votes in the NH House session
of May 18, 2023

There were relatively few bills on the calendar for this session day, but two of them were very high profile: SB 272, the “Parental Bill of Rights,” and SB 263, which would make Medicaid expansion permanent (technically, it would remove the sunsetting provision).

It was a huge day for the House Democrats. After the assistant clerk announced the excused absences, I saw a tweet from Adam Sexton of WMUR where he listed the names and party affiliations of those excused. Seven were Republicans and only two were Democrats, which meant that we nominally had a 194-193 advantage. Of course, there could be some unexcused absences, and not everyone is in the room for every vote, but it looked like we had a good chance of rolling up a few wins.

And we did. There were 70 votes altogether (71 if you include voting on the consent calendar), and we were on the losing side in just one of them, on SB 120-FN. In particular, we not only defeated SB 272, but we also voted to indefinitely postpone it, which means that it cannot come up again until 2025 at the earliest. We also defeated every amendment to the Medicaid expansion bill and passed it as it came from the Senate. Over the course of the afternoon, the other side tried to wear us down, but they did not succeed. If anything, our margins of victory in votes grew.

A note about roll call votes. So far into the year, I can recall only one time when the Democrats requested a roll call vote. We request division votes frequently so that we know the numbers, but it’s the Republicans who want names recorded with votes. It appears to be more important to Republicans to know who voted against the party’s recommendation than it is to Democrats. There are two ways (that I know of) to request a roll call vote. One way is in advance, by filling out a request form and having ten House members sign it. The other way is when a member shouts “Roll call!” and the speaker asks whether it is sufficiently seconded. If ten seated members stand, then it is sufficiently seconded. Most of the roll calls happen in this second way, and we usually see well in excess of ten Republicans stand to second a roll call request. As you’ll see below, there were many, many amendments that we voted on before we voted on SB 263, and they all had roll call votes. It was getting late in the afternoon, and with no debate going on and votes coming fast and furious, there was no time to get up and move around, much less take a bathroom or snack break. Since we knew that there would be plenty of Republican support for roll call requests, many Democrats (including me) stood to second the roll call requests, if for no other reason than to stretch. And it was fun. A few Democrats even did The Wave. (Not me. I did the wave when it was first a thing at Oakland A’s games back in the early 1980s. It’s passé now.)

First, we had five bills that had passed the House but were amended in the Senate, where we were asked to concur with the Senate’s amendments. We concurred on all five.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
HB 252 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 72 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 111 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 137 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 268 Concur Voice Yea Concur

Then a few bills before we got to SB 272. Amendments precede the bills that they amend.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
Amendment 1676h Adopt Division Nay 182-201
SB 128-FN OTP Roll call Yea OTP 207-177
SB 258 ITL Voice Yea ITL
SB 164-FN-LOCAL Table Voice Yea Table
Amendment 1577h Adopt Voice Yea Adopted
SB 120-FN OTPA Division Nay OTPA 202-182

Then on to the amendments to SB 272, followed by the motion by Minority Leader Matt Wilhelm to Indefinitely Postpone. More on SB 272 below.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
Amendment 1818h Adopt Roll call Yea Adopted 196-188
Amendment 1819h Adopt Roll call Yea Adopted 196-189
Amendment 1836h Adopt Roll call Yea Adopted 198-187
Amendment 1675h Adopt Roll call Yea Adopted 201-184 Motion to Reconsider failed on roll call 184-201; I voted Nay
Amendment 1886h Adopt Roll call Yea Adopted 198-187
Amendment 1907h Adopt Roll call Yea Adopted 198-187
SB 272 Table Roll call Nay 186-199
SB 272 Indefinitely Postpone Roll call Yea Indefinitely Postponed, 195-190

After lunch, a few more Senate bills before SB 263.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
Amendment 1685h Adopt Voice Yea Adopted
SB 267-FN OTPA Division Yea OTPA 302-77
Amendment 1727h Adopt Voice Yea Adopted
SB 195-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
Amendment 1833h Adopt Division Nay 152-230
SB 32-FN OTP Voice Yea OTP
SB 85-FN-A OTP Division Yea OTP 271-112 First an ITL motion failed, 159-223; I voted Nay
Amendment 1457h Adopt Voice Yea Adopted
SB 127-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA
Amendment 1568h Adopt Voice Yea Adopted
Amendment 1583h Adopt Division Nay 105-275
SB 200 OTPA Division Yea OTPA 239-141
Amendment 1754h Adopt Division Yea Adopted 249-127
Amendment 1861h Adopt Division Yea Adopted 359-18
SB 239-FN OTPA Voice Yea OTPA

Finally, a string of amendments and tabling motions before voting on SB 263.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
Amendment 1910h Adopt Roll call Nay 184-192
Amendment 1864h Adopt Roll call Nay 181-199
Amendment 1749h Adopt Roll call Nay 186-193
SB 263-FN Table Division Nay 185-196
Amendment 1869h Adopt Roll call Nay 184-195
SB 263-FN Table Division Nay 185-194
Amendment 1841h Adopt Roll call Nay 175-199
SB 263-FN Table Division Nay 182-192
Amendment 1890h Adopt Roll call Nay 175-194
Amendment 1750h Adopt Roll call Nay 169-192
SB 263-FN Move the previous question Roll call Yea Motion adopted 196-169 See the discussion below
Amendment 1860h Adopt Roll call Nay 175-194
Amendment 1748h Adopt Roll call Nay 173-195
Amendment 1881h Adopt Roll call Nay 176-193
Amendment 1747h Adopt Roll call Nay 173-194
Amendment 1832h Adopt Roll call Nay 168-193
Amendment 1857h Adopt Roll call Nay 170-191
Amendment 1859h Adopt Roll call Nay 169-196
Amendment 1867h Adopt Roll call Nay 174-190
Amendment 1868h Adopt Roll call Nay 169-190
Amendment 1870h Adopt Roll call Nay 166-194
Amendment 1871h Adopt Roll call Nay 162-191
Amendment 1872h Adopt Roll call Nay 166-191
Amendment 1873h Adopt Roll call Nay 164-183
Amendment 1897h Adopt Roll call Nay 164-190
Amendment 1901h Adopt Roll call Nay 167-193
Amendment 1909h Adopt Roll call Nay 163-191
Amendment 1922h Adopt Roll call Nay 160-187
Amendment 1923h Adopt Roll call Nay 156-198
Amendment 1929h Adopt Roll call Nay 166-190
Amendment 1789h Adopt Roll call Nay 118-241
SB 263-FN OTP Roll call Yea OTP 193-166
Print Remarks OTP Division Nay 172-178

SB 120-FN

The vote on this bill was the only vote of the day in which I was on the losing side. The bill raises the maximum bet at a charitable gaming location from $10 to $50. Democrats wanted a $25 cap, feeling that a 5X increase was too sudden.

SB 272-FN

The “Parental Bill of Rights.” We had already tabled the House version of this bill, HB 10. As you might imagine, there was heavy lobbying from both sides on SB 272. Many of the “rights” in this bill were already in statute. The controversial part of the bill was the provision that if a student confided in any employee of a school around issues of their gender or sexuality, that employee would be mandated to report it to the student’s parents. Ideally, such a scenario would end well. But it does not always. If a student is afraid to discuss these issues with their parents, there is usually a reason. All three transgender members of the House were against this bill. I tweeted out a few times in the preceding days that I would vote against it.

The Democrats did support the amendments. Had the main bill passed, the amendments would have made it less bad. In particular, Amendment 1675h would have removed the sections that deal specifically with LGBTQ+ identity.

Once we had voted on the amendments, the Republicans supporting the bill could see that it was headed to defeat. They moved to table the bill, but that motion failed. Matt Wilhelm had actually tried to move to Indefinitely Postpone before we even started on the amendments, but that motion was out of order. (It’s a motion of lower priority than a motion to amend, or just about any other motion.) After the tabling motion failed, Wilhelm again moved to Indefinitely Postpone. (Listen to Majority Leader Jason Osborne’s unhinged parliamentary inquiry here.) This time, the motion was in order and it passed. Had we voted for ITL instead, the bill could come back next year. Because we voted to Indefinitely Postpone, it cannot come back this biennium, so that the soonest it could return would be 2025. I can only hope that by then, folks will realize that our LGBTQ+ friends pose no threat.

SB 195-FN

I wrote about this bill on May 4. Rep. Carol McGuire, seen here, spoke about an amendment:

The amendment is because a very sharp-eyed legislator actually read the bill without being familiar with it and noticed that between the bottom of page 1 and the top of page 2 a line had been left out. This amendment puts the line back in.

This “very sharp-eyed legislator” represents Ward 3 of Lebanon.

SB 263-FN

This bill extends the Granite Advantage program, i.e., Medicaid expansion, by removing the sunset provision that had been scheduled for 2023. The Republican proposal was to sunset in 2025, giving a two-year extension. Once the Republicans heard that the Democrats were unwilling to go along, they softened and suggested a six-year extension through 2029. No dice on our end. We wanted to hold out for no sunsetting at all.

Altogether, 32 floor amendments for this bill were filed. Of the 32, we voted on 28 of them. All 28 amendments were defeated, including the amendment that would extend the sunset until 2029. The Republicans moved to table the bill three times, as they could see that things were not going to work out for them. They gave reasons such as so that we could all get out because streets were going to be blocked off for a road race. We were assured that we would be able to get out. All three tabling motions were defeated.

Our floor leader, Rep. Lucy Weber, spoke against the amendments and made all the parliamentary inquiries. She was a rock. After we had voted down the first seven amendments and the three tabling motions went down, Rep. Weber asked to “move the previous question.” It turned out that she wasn’t quite sure what that would accomplish, expecting it to close off considering the remaining amendments and get right to a vote on the main bill. The clerk informed us that it wasn’t quite that way. Instead, each amendment would be voted on, but with parliamentary inquiries only and no debate. And we continued on, voting on 21 more amendments, all by roll call (and the proto-Wave). As the afternoon wore on, the margins against the amendments held steady. The final amendment, 1789h, would have wrapped cannabis legalization into the bill. It was defeated by a larger margin than any of the other amendments.

The thirty-second motion on the bill was the OTP motion, not OTPA since all the amendments had been defeated. The OTP motion passed, 193-166. There was then a motion from the other side to print all the remarks on all the amendments, because apparently not enough trees are being killed. Fortunately, that motion was defeated.

The “-FN” in the bill’s number means that it now goes to the Finance Committee. Once they get through with it, we’ll see it again. So the saga of Medicaid expansion is not quite over.

We had other bills yet to go, bills that had been removed from the consent calendar. One such bill, SB 54, is one for which I was on a working subcommittee. The bill as amended missed one bipartisan change that we wanted, and so it was removed from the consent calendar so that it could be amended further. After the hours of dealing with SB 263, nobody was in any mood to stick around any longer, especially with the roads being blocked off for the race, and the bills removed from consent will have to wait until our next session day on June 8.