NH State Representative Tom Cormen

My votes in the NH House session
of June 15, 2023

This was the day in which the House had to decide what to do about bills that passed both the House and Senate, but with different versions. If the Senate amended a bill passed by the House, we had three choices:

When one chamber requests a Committee of Conference, the other chamber either accedes to the request or does not. In the latter case, the bill dies.

When a bill goes to a Committee of Conference, a committee of three senators and four representatives attempts to iron out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. They must agree unanimously, and if they fail to agree, then the bill dies. If they do agree, then both chambers must approve.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
HB 584 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 46-FN Non-concur Voice Yea Non-concur
HB 97-FN Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 287-FN Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 421 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 349 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 492-FN Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 244 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 337-FN Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 384-FN-A Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 238 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 408 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 642-FN Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 308 Concur Division Yea Concur 271-98
HB 321-FN-LOCAL Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 75 Non-concur/req CofC Division Nay Non-concur/req CofC 188-186 Followed failed division votes on Concur, Non-concur, and Table; I voted against Concur, for Non-concur, for Table
HB 83 Concur Division Yea Concur 301-69
HB 25-A Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 296 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 139 Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 233-FN Concur Voice Yea Concur
HB 251 Non-concur Division Yea Non-concur 189-186 Followed division vote on Concur which failed 185-189; I voted Nay
HB 275-LOCAL Non-concur/req CofC Division Yea Non-concur/req CofC 363-12
HB 315 Non-concur/req CofC Division Nay Non-concur/req CofC 199-175
HB 610-FN Non-concur/req CofC Division Nay Non-concur/req CofC 194-175
HB 467-FN Concur Voice Yea Concur Followed roll call vote on Non-concur/req CofC which failed 161-199; I voted Nay
HB 281 Non-concur/req CofC Division Nay Non-concur/req CofC 179-178 Followed division vote on Concur which failed 176-180; I voted Nay
SB 70 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 157 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 61 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 147 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 203 Refuse to accede Voice Yea Refuse to accede
SB 207 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 14 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 15 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 47 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 78 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 88 Accede Voice Yea Accede
SB 166 Accede Voice Yea Accede

HB 75

Strafford County is the only county that elects its county commissioners at large, rather than by district. This bill attempts create county commissioner districts in Strafford County so that they can be gerrymandered after redistricting has already occurred. We (the Democrats) wanted to non-concur and kill the bill. The vote to concur failed, but so did the vote to non-concur as well as an attempt to table the bill. In the end, it went to a Committee of Conference.

HB 139

This bill was originally about expanded municipal net metering. I gave the parliamentary inquiry about it on March 23. The Senate moved the entire content of the bill into HB 281 (see below) and replaced it with a bill about hydrogen energy storage, establishing a hydrogen advisory committee and defining green hydrogen.

I am not completely sold on hydrogen as an energy storage medium. It’s notoriously difficult to store, because the H2 molecules are so small that they can permeate almost any container. As anyone in Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937 can attest, hydrogen is a bit flammable. I don’t rule it out yet, however, because we are going to need a way to store energy produced at off-peak times so that we can use it at peak times. In particular, once off-shore wind is producing energy, it will need to be stored.

HB 251

This bill originally passed the House on the bad day that the Democrats had on March 9. It would have each utility include on the December bill the cost of complying with the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). There are two problems with this particular implementation. First, there would be no information about the benefits of the RPS (more renewable energy, less money going out of state, less natural gas so that it’s not so bad when the price fluctuates, environmental benefits)—just the cost. Second, the cost would be based on an average use of 625 kWh per month. That’s great if your average use is exactly 625 kWh per month. Your average use is very unlikely to be exactly 625 kWh per month, so that the number you would see on your bill has nothing to do with your use.

The Senate made a tiny change to the bill, giving us another chance to kill it when it came back for concurrence. And kill it we did. ST&E colleague Rep. Ned Raynolds gave a solid floor speech about the problems with the bill. Raynolds was supposed to also give the parliamentary inquiry against the bill, but he went to his seat after his floor speech. Our ranking member on ST&E, Rep. Kat McGhee, sits just two seats away from me and asked if I would go up and do the PI. So I did, completely ad lib. And we won the vote to non-concur, killing the bill. Except that it got folded into HB 281 as well. HB 251: The Rasputin Bill.

HB 315

This bill prohibits provocation based on the defendent’s religion, race, creed, sexual orientation, national origin, political beliefs, sex, or gender identity. We liked the Senate’s version of the bill and wanted to concur. Rep. Bob Lynn, former Chief Justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court, gave a strange speech asking for a Committee of Conference in which he laid out a scenario involving three transgender people and a murder of passion. Apparently, Lynn persuaded enough Democrats because the bill is going to a Committee of Conference.

HB 610-FN

The House version of this bill was about the theraputic cannabis program. The Senate’s amendment tacked on a bail reform bill that was retained within the Criminal Justice Committee. We wanted to just non-concur to kill the bill and bring it back, unamended, in the fall. But the vote to non-concur and request a Committee of Conference passed.

HB 467-FN

Following a long debate on the merits of various playground surfaces, we voted to concur with the Senate.

HB 281

The Frankenstein bill.

This bill started out as just eliminating least-cost integrated resource planning (LCIRP) by the utilities. That was bad enough, but then the Senate rolled in three more House bills and parts of a fourth. The sweetener was that the original version of HB 139, expanding municipal net metering, was included. On the downside, so were HB 251 (that RPS compliance bill) and HB 622, which would eliminate the Energy Efficiency and Sustainable Energy (EESE) Board. Rep. Kat McGhee sits on the EESE Board and tells me that it’s been doing good work. Finally, pieces of HB 609, which change the membership and procedures of the Site Evaluation Committee, were added in. I’m actually OK with the parts of HB 609 that were included, as they do streamline the process. If we want more energy in New Hampshire, the facilities have to go somewhere. However, both HB 622 and HB 609 were retained in the ST&E Committee, so that the full House never voted on them.

The Democrats on ST&E weighed the pros and cons of this Frankenstein bill, and we agreed that the cons (eliminating LCIRP, including the pseudo RPS compliance cost on the December bill, and eliminating the EESE Board) outweighed the pros (expanded municipal net metering and streamlining site evaluation). Some clean energy groups lobbied for the bill, focused on expanding municipal net metering. The ST&E Democrats were hoping to vote to non-concur with no Committee of Conference.

The Chair of ST&E, Rep. Michael Vose, gave the floor speech in favor of the Frankenstein bill, going into a surprising amount of detail. Kat McGhee gave the floor speech against, keeping it at a high level. I gave the PI against the bill, half pre-written and half ad-libbed based on Vose’s speech. The vote to concur failed. Rep. Lucy Weber, the Democratic Floor Leader went up to move to non-concur just slightly before Vose went up to move for a Committee of Conference. The Speaker recognized Vose, and the vote for a Committee of Conference passed by one vote.

The Committee of Conference met on June 21 and recommended “That the House recede from its position of nonconcurrence with the Senate amendment, and concur with the Senate amendment, and That the Senate and House each pass the bill as amended by the Senate.” Some compromise! One other ST&E member and I might be speaking against concurring at the final House session on June 29.

SB 166

This bill is about preparing to modernize the electric grid. Here, the House acceded to the Senate’s request for a Committee of Conference. I was the lone Democratic House member on the committee, as Chair Vose requested that I be on it. I was prepared for a new experience, but it turned out to be anticlimactic. Senator David Watters, the bill’s sponsor, was the lone Democratic Senate member on the committee. He devised an amendment before the committee met and vetted it with all the stakeholders. We were in and out within a few minutes. I didn’t time how long the meeting took, but I’ll just say that it took me longer to eat a cup of chili from the State House cafeteria beforehand than the meeting took.