Like the start of any good game, formalities are on tap this week as the holiday calm lifts from the State House for the opening of the 162nd General Court. But some lawmakers will be busy even before those begin. House Speaker William O’Brien is re-loading the issue of bearing arms at the State House, and committees are organizing to get the financial house in order.
New Hampshire’s new legislative leaders are getting budget cuts started with their own office staff.
Both Senate President Peter Bragdon (R-Milford) and House Speaker William O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) have made cutting their chambers’ operating and personnel budgets a priority. And we’re not sure if there’s a chicken-egg effect, but a recent study by a Republican-leaning New Hampshire policy center recommends healthy budget cuts for the legislative budget for 2011 and beyond.
House Republicans filled out their leadership roster when newly elected House Majority Leader Rep. D.J. Bettencourt of Salem revealed his 19-member leadership team on Tuesday.
The group includes two former rivals for his position — Rep. Shawn Jasper of Hudson and Rep. Paul Mirski of Enfield — and a mix of experienced lawmakers and relative newcomers who will lead the commanding 297-102 Republican majority in the House when it goes into session Jan. 5.
Allow us to translate Gov. John Lynch’s statements yesterday following the official Republican leadership elections.
The RSVP calls for Organization Day have been made and the State House promises to be a rather crowded place Wednesday. As required by Article 33, Part II of the New Hampshire Constitution, Secretary of State Bill Gardner has “hereby summoned” all the state representatives and senators elected on Nov. 2 for the swearing in and opening session of the 162nd General Court (also known as the State Legislature) at Representatives Hall. It is mandated to take place the first Wednesday of December in an election year, which this year is Dec. 1.
Rep. William O’Brien (R-Mont Vernon) has been chosen as the next Speaker of the N.H. House of Representatives. The 298-member House Republican caucus today nominated O’Brien, a practicing lawyer who is headed into his third term as state representative.
Executive decisions on federal stimulus money and appointments, a parting shot, and three challenges to gay marriage. It’s all in today’s dispatch by Michael McCord.
New lawmakers start their orientation tomorrow, Gov. Lynch and the lame-duck Executive Council meet Wednesday, the next House Speaker will be chosen by Republican House members on Thursday and Lynch’s budget hearings commence Friday. There will be no shortage of activity at the State House this week.
With mid-term election echoes fading fast, the next week of party caucus elections should offer us a sneak preview of the political stresses and tone of what’s guaranteed to be an intriguing 2011 legislative session.
Who will be the next House Speaker? Republicans will likely answer the question, possibly with some fireworks, next Thursday (Nov. 18) at Representatives Hall when they caucus to choose their leader from two main contenders. As the saying goes, there’s no shortage of behind-the-scenes maneuvering in this showdown between old and new Republicanism.
Public campaign financing in New Hampshire will likely be off the table after yesterday’s Republican resurgence at the State House. The Citizen Funded Election Task Force is due to issue its final recommendations Nov. 15. Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D-Portsmouth) and Rep. Jim Splaine (D-Portsmouth), two of the initiative’s most prominent supporters, won’t be around next year to push for any traction.