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Steve Winter
State Representative
District 3

June 18, 2011
"Committees of Conference"

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).

"The supreme legislative power within this state shall be vested in the Senate and House of Representatives, each of which shall have a negative on the other." 
- NH Constitution Part II, Article 2 (1784).

All bills passed by the House must go to the Senate and vice versa. If the Senate kills a House bill, there is no further action on it. The bill is dead. The House has the same power over Senate bills. If the second body passes the bill without amendment, it goes to the governor for signature. However, if a bill is amended in the second body, it must come back to the originating body for evaluation of the new amendment.

Letís look at a House bill. After it is passed, it goes to the Senate. If the Senate amends the bill, it is no longer in its original form. It must come back to the House for review. The House then has three choices: (1) It can agree to the amended bill and it goes on to the governor, (2) it can non-concur with that amendment and the bill is dead; or (3) it can non-concur and ask for a Committee of Conference. The CofC is where the differences between the two versions are negotiated jointly by members of both bodies, usually three Senators and four House Members.


In my first term in the House 10 years ago, it was virtually unheard of for freshmen legislators to be named to a CofC. Speaker Bill OíBrien, however, has included many freshmen in his CofC appointments. Since my first term, I had not been a House member for a few years so now I am technically a freshman. Nevertheless, I have been appointed to six of the 41 Committees formed, including one as the chairman.

CofC rules are very strict. The task is to produce an amendment to the bill that will resolve the differences and be acceptable to all. The resulting amendment must be agreed to unanimously by all House and Senate members of the conference committee. It is then again sent to both bodies for approval. If either body fails to approve, the bill is dead. If approved by both bodies, the bill proceeds to the governor.

After the bill arrives on the governorís desk, he has three choices. He can: (1) sign the bill and it becomes law; or (2) he can veto the bill which returns it to the legislature for an opportunity to override the veto; or (3) he can allow the bill to become law without his signature. How does that happen? Part II, Article 44 of our constitution says that the governor has five days to sign or veto a bill. If he does not do so, the bill becomes law. If he vetoes a bill, he must send the legislature a reason.

The governor has vetoed two bills thus far: HB474, the right to work, and HB 133, tying the minimum wage to the federal scale. It requires a two-thirds vote in both bodies of the legislature to override the governorís veto.


Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire 

Telephone:  603-271- 3125 and 271-3319

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