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What to expect from the NH State House’s 2024 session

What to expect from the NH State House’s 2024 session

As bills for the 2024 legislative session have begun to be posted online, many have become the subject of rabid speculation among lawmakers and staff in Concord. (AP Photo/Holly Ramer)

By Colin Booth

December 14, 2023

With 400 members (when in full attendance), lawmakers in the New Hampshire State House are well known for filing an ideologically wide range of bills that drive headlines, priorities, and politics—especially in the weeks before each year’s legislative session begins.

As those filings have begun to be made publicly available since November 28, some bills have become the basis for national headlines and network TV segments, while others have become the subject of rabid speculation among lawmakers and staff in Concord.

Here are five areas of legislation filed so far likely to be hot topics in the New Hampshire political scene in 2024:

15 Day Abortion Ban — HB 1248

No surprise here. This bill has already made the rounds in Rolling Stone, NBC News, the Boston Globe, Teen Vogue, and so on.

One of the most extreme abortion bills in the country, HB 1248 was sponsored by New Hampshire’s latest far right conservative champion Sen. Carrie Gendreau. She is well known for her recent attacks on the LGBTQ+ community and floating the possibility of a public art ban in Littleton,where she serves as a member of the select board.

Republican Governor Chris Sununu and a bipartisan chorus in the House have cast doubt on this bill’s passage, but similar bills in the past have managed to garner support from 100+ members of the Republican caucus. 

Even if this bill dies on the house floor or in committee, its death could be a loud, ugly one, and it’s introduction is likely to live a long life in campaign ads deep into 2024.

Having New Hampshire Separate from the United States — LSR 2024-2792

Republicans in the House have made major headlines in their past attempts to have New Hampshire secede from the United States, , and the movement only seems to be gaining followers among the increasingly fractured New Hampshire Republican base.

While the endeavor to have the state secede from the rest of the country may seem politically fringe, it has gained significant support among members of the Free State Project, the Republican-aligned group with significant influence in the House, counting even House Republican Leader Jason Osborne among its members.

RELATED: NH House Dems want to let voters decide abortion rights under state constitution

If the past is any predictor, this latest attempt by Rep. Jason Gerhard with LSR 2024-2792 will garner significant headlines and debate both in committee and on the floor of the House.

Cannabis Legalization in NH— LSR 2024-2804

Gov. Sununu torpedoed the work of the state’s cannabis commission earlier this year when he swooped in at the 11th hour to insist on previously unspecified requirements to any cannabis bill before he would sign it.

Despite Sununu’s efforts to delay the legislation and the notorious political intransigence around legalized marijuana in the state — which has kept New Hampshire an island within New England as the only state without full legalization — the allure of being the first state leader to take credit for legalizing marijuana here may overpower the turgid resistance seen thus far.

This makes marijuana legalization the biggest wild card of 2024.

While the text of LSR 2024-2804 is not yet available, the bill has some bipartisan support, and could represent just the first in a series of bills that may move the issue over the finish line in 2024.

Book Bans — HB 1419

State Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut — who was just revealed as having personally pushed for multiple book bans in the Dover school district — has made his brand of personal politics a priority for schools across New Hampshire since his appointment by Sununu in 2017.

With his allies in the State House, along with the ascent of groups like Moms for Liberty, we’re likely to see a raft of new bills hitting the floor that seek to classify books about LGBTQ identities and communities as pornography, like Rep. Glenn Cordelli’s HB 1419, a bill that seeks to prohibit “obscene or harmful sexual materials in schools”, labels conservative legislators often assigned to LGBTQ+ content in books.

As one of the most densely college educated states in the country, New Hampshire has responded strongly against book bans in the past, and this bill is likely to make a splash if it makes it to the floor of the State House.

Kangaroos — HB 1325 & LSR 2024-2579

There are not one, but TWO bills about kangaroos coming before the New Hampshire House in 2024. One about having them as pets. One about eating them.

Those bills are, HB1325, an act that seeks to allow private ownership of small tailed monkeys, raccoons, foxes, otters, skunks, and kangaroos; and LSR 2024-2579, a bill relative to the sale of kangaroo and caribou meat.

Kangaroos are not native to New Hampshire, and as such, few laws about their legal status exist here. Expect significant coverage of these bills just on novelty alone, which will likely outweigh any impact their passage might cause.

Author

  • Colin Booth

    Based in Epsom, Colin Booth is Granite Post's political correspondent. A Granite State native and veteran political professional with a deep background in journalism, he's worked on campaigns and programs in battleground states across the country, ranging from New Hampshire, Texas, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C.

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