"Why are you spending so much time in Concord? I thought the session ended in June." – A local constituent
The New Hampshire Constitution states that the legislature "shall assemble annually on the first Tuesday following the first Wednesday in January" and "shall dissolve….at 12:01 A.M. on the first Wednesday of December in even numbered years and shall be styled The General Court of New Hampshire." Thus, by constitution, the legislature is in session over a span of two years.
However, the constitution goes on to say that, although legislators are to receive mileage for daily attendance, no mileage is to be paid for sessions after the first day of July unless a special session is called by the governor or two-thirds of the members of both bodies. For that reason, the effective ending of House and Senate sessions is the end of June. But it further states that "Nothing herein shall prevent the payment of additional mileage to members attending committee meetings or other legislative business on nonlegislative days."
The above is confusing but it all boils down to the fact that the legislature ends its formal sessions, or meetings of the full House, on or before June 30th of each year. After that date, only committee meetings are held in the second half of the year. These meetings are held for a number of different reasons.
Some committees meet at least monthly throughout the year by statute. One example is a House and Senate committee that oversees the rulemaking authority granted to various departments and agencies. I am a member of that committee.
Another example is the study of retained bills. House committees may retain bills for more study, discussion, and recommendations to the full House in the following year. My committee overseeing the executive departments of the state has retained a number of bills that fall into this category. Subcommittees are formed to delve into the provisions of various laws in order to improve, ratify or recommend repeal of those laws. After passage by the full committee, these recommendations are submitted to the full House in the following year.
Finally, a number of committees are formed after the close of the regular sessions as a result of bills passed to form those committees. A bill to eliminate a particular agency, for instance, may have been amended to study that issue rather than to implement it. A committee is formed to complete the study and send a recommendation to the full House in the following year.
Although I had a heavy load of three committees during the regular session year, the Speaker assigned me to two additional House and Senate Joint committees for the summer and fall that were formed as part of the budget process. One committee is to study the implementation of a defined contribution plan for public pensions as opposed to our current defined benefit plan. The other was to review the process we use under RSA 273-A to conduct our collective bargaining agreement with the state employee unions.
It’s been a busy summer.
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Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")