CONCORD — Gun control, election law, the death penalty and family medical leave — all contentious issues in the last session of the New Hampshire Legislature — will be back in 2019.
Democrats, with new majorities in both House and Senate, have already filed bills on those hot-button topics, despite knowing that they are likely in many cases to face vetoes by Gov. Chris Sununu.
Republicans, undaunted by their minority status, have filed bills to ban sanctuary cities and require new record-keeping on abortions.
When Alexander Pope wrote “Hope springs eternal,” he could have been talking about the hundreds of bills filed each year, most of which will never become law. With a Republican governor and Democratic Legislature, the bar is higher than ever.
That hasn’t dissuaded lawmakers, however, who at last check filed 890 House or Senate bills with two weeks left in the filing season. House members have until Jan. 18.
At least three gun control bills will be debated, two of which have already been drafted.
HB 101 would allow a school district to adopt and enforce gun-free zones. Current state law gives the state Legislature exclusive control over gun-related legislation and restrictions, forbidding any local ordinances on the subject.
HB 101 would carve out an exemption from that law for school districts, administrative units or chartered public schools.
Sen. Martha Hennessey, D-Hanover, tried unsuccessfully to introduce such a bill last year, in the wake of the Parkland, Fla., school shooting, but failed in party-line votes.
HB 109, which includes Hennessey as a Senate sponsor, would require background checks for all commercial firearms sales, including gun shows, in an attempt to close the so-called “gun show loophole.”
A third gun-related bill, yet to be disclosed, calls for a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearm.
One new election law passed by Republicans is still being challenged in the courts, while another still hasn’t taken effect, but Democrats hope to overturn both.
Under HB 1264, college students who declare New Hampshire residency for voting purposes would be required to obtain a New Hampshire driver’s license and motor vehicle registration.
Democrats have also filed HB 105, which would essentially reverse the voter verification measures imposed last year by SB 3, now being challenged in the courts. It also removes the requirement that the Secretary of State conduct post-election voter registration investigations.
Bills have also been filed repealing the authority of the Secretary of State to share voter information or data with other states or websites, and one regarding the postponement of town meetings and local elections.
Local government officials would like to have the authority to postpone local elections due to dangerous weather conditions, and a bill has been filed by Rep. Marjorie Porter, D-Hillsborough, to do just that.
Lawmakers will also debate House bills regarding the relationship between employers and employees. One (HB 211) would prohibit an employer from requiring a prospective employee to disclose his or her salary history prior to a job offer.
The other (HB 253) would prohibit employers from asking job applicants about criminal history prior to an interview, with exceptions for certain fields like law enforcement or bonded positions.
Early requests for legislative lawyers to draft new legislation show that Democratic state Rep. Renny Cushing will partner with Republican senators John Reagan and Bob Giuda on another attempt to repeal the state’s capital punishment statute.
Repeal passed last year, but did not survive a veto by Gov. Chris Sununu.
A new bill on family and medical leave insurance is coming from a host of Democratic sponsors, although it has yet to be drafted.
HB 232, with 11 Republican co-sponsors, would create the “Anti-Sanctuary Act,” requiring all state and local government entities to comply with federal immigration detainer requests and prohibit any local or state policies that “restrict or discourage the enforcement of federal immigration law.”
HB 158, also with several Republican co-sponsors, requires the Department of Health and Human Services to publish an annual report on “all induced terminations of pregnancy performed in New Hampshire.”
A similar bill failed in the House last year.