2011 Legislative Session Begins

By Cordell A. Johnston

The New Hampshire legislature will begin its 2011 session on January 5, when both the House and Senate will meet. As this issue of New Hampshire Town and City goes to press, committees have been assigned and bills are being printed.

There will be many, many changes at the state house this year. First, Republicans now hold large majorities in both chambers, a reversal of the party split over the last four years. In the House, there are 297 Republicans to 102 Democrats (one seat is vacant), and in the Senate there are 19 Republicans to five Democrats.

Not surprisingly, in light of the party realignment, the number of new legislators is unusually high. In the Senate, 12 of the 24 members are new, although two of them served in the Senate previously and two served several terms in the House. In the House, 188 of the 399 members are new, although a number of those—between 30 and 40, we believe—served previously.

In addition, all committees have new chairs and vice chairs, and some committees have been added or dropped. Of particular interest to municipalities, the House Local and Regulated Revenues Committee has been eliminated; bills that previously would have gone to that committee, often having to do with local property taxes, exemptions and credits, presumably will now go to the Municipal and County Government Committee or the Ways and Means Committee.

Some 1,000 pieces of new legislation have been filed, and committee hearings will begin in early January. All eyes are expected to be on the state budget for much of the session, as legislators search for ways to reduce a looming deficit. Many of the budget decisions have the potential to affect municipalities and other political subdivisions.

There will be plenty of other activity as well. As always, the New Hampshire Municipal Association (NHMA) Government Affairs staff will follow bills of municipal interest, numbering in the hundreds. In addition to the budget, these include a number of bills implementing legislative policies adopted by NHMA’s membership on issues including the New Hampshire Retirement System, collective bargaining and property tax exemptions. Also up for consideration will be bills dealing with planning and zoning, environmental law, elections, local spending caps and many other issues.

The Government Affairs staff will keep members apprised of developments via the Legislative Bulletin, published each Friday during the legislative session. The Bulletin will be distributed to subscribers via email each Friday afternoon and posted online at the LGC website; select “Legislative Bulletin” under the “NH Municipal Association” tab to access current and archived editions.

Cordell Johnston is government affairs counsel for the New Hampshire Municipal Association. Contact government affairs staff at 800.852.3358, ext. 384, or governmentaffairs@nhlgc.org.

2011 Legislative Bulletin e-Edition
NHMA Legislative Bulletin email subscribers will soon see something new in their inboxes. The 2011 Legislative Bulletin will be delivered via an e-newsletter featuring brief summaries of hot topics with links to full stories and additional information. The full Bulletin will continue to be offered in PDF format for easy printing and archiving, and all issues will be posted at the “Legislative Bulletin” page. Contact NHMA staff to become an email subscriber or update your contact information, and watch your inbox for the new e-edition!