NH State Representative Tom Cormen

My votes in the NH House session
of June 29, 2023

This final session day of 2023 was dedicated to voting whether to adopt Committee of Conference reports. The only bills that we voted on were those that had been unanimously approved in a Committee of Conference. Bills that did not receive a unanimous vote in the Committee of Conference died at that point.

Bill Motion Type of vote My vote Result of vote Notes
SB 61 Adopt Division Nay 134-238
SB 207 Adopt Voice Yea Adopt
HB 75 Adopt Division Nay Adopt 186-185 Motion to adopt occurred after motion to table failed, 185-186
HB 275-LOCAL Adopt Division Nay Adopt 187-185 See my comments from March 22-23.
HB 315 Adopt Division Yea Adopt 271-98
HB 409-FN Adopt Voice Yea Adopt
HB 536 Adopt Division Nay Adopt 186-185
HB 611-FN Adopt Voice Yea Adopt
HB 221 Adopt Voice Yea Adopt
HB 281 Adopt Division Nay Adopt 250-121

SB 61

This was a controversial bill about how to site landfills when they are near surface water. Although Democratic leadership had recommended that we support the Committee of Conferene report, two reasons not to came to light very late. First, Casella Waste Systems, which wants to build a landfill in the North Country, was revealed to have written large portions of the bill. Second, we heard from people in the North Country that this bill would be harmful to them. Therefore, I and several other Democrats voted against adopting the committee report. The vote against adopting was not close.

HB 75

This bill, which passed by just one vote, will carve up Strafford County into three districts for the purpose of voting for county commissioners. Strafford is the only county in the state with a single district for county commissioners. Although I’m not opposed in principle to Strafford joining the other nine counties in having separate districts, redistricting should be occurring only on the usual schedule following a decennial census. If Strafford County can be redistricted at an off-time, then what else can be?

HB 315

Once again, this bill prohibits the so-called “gay panic defense.” The Committee of Conference clarified some language, and the bill passed easily.

HB 536

Another one that we lost by one vote. This bill allows a school district to sell off an unused building for as little as $1. Now the Commissioner of Education determines the fair market value of a building and can force a sale against the will of the local school board.

HB 281

Saving the worst for last. You can read the details about this bill from June 15. Democrats from Nashua and Keene were lobbied by their mayors to support the bill because it would expand the ability of these cities for municipal net metering. Other groups that are normally Democratic allies, such as Clean Energy New Hampshire, also supported the bill for the same reason. Even some of the ST&E Democrats ended up voting for it, figuring that we should take the win on net metering, as including it with the bad parts (especially eliminating least-cost integrated resource planning) would be the only way to get Governor Sununu to sign off on expanding any form of net metering. (I should add that I received quite a few emails opposing the bill because of the changes it makes to the site evaluation process.)

Yet I, and a few other ST&E Democrats held onto the position that the bad in this bill outweighed the good. Rep. Lucius Parshall gave the floor speech against the bill, and I gave the parliamentary inquiry. I knew it was a lost cause, however. I figured that about a quarter of the Democratic caucus would vote for the bill and that it would end up with about 250 votes in favor. My only misjudgment was the word “about,” as there were exactly 250 votes in favor.

Our Republican friends have promised that they will work with us to reconstitute the good parts of the items that were eliminated in the bill. I hope that they are sincere.