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That’s My Bill: N.H. suffragist Marilla Marks Ricker could get State House portrait

Rep. Renny Cushing thinks Marilla Marks Ricker deserves a place in the State House.

“If you walk through the State House, you can’t help but notice that most of the portraits look like me: old white guys,” said Cushing, a Hampton Democrat. “And Marilla Ricker is someone that everyone should know.”

Ricker, a New Durham native, was a lawyer who fought for the right of women to vote, paying her property taxes only under protest and attempting to run for governor in 1910. (The secretary of state said since she wasn’t a voter, she couldn’t be a candidate.)

The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified in 1920; that year, shortly before her death, Ricker cast her first ballot.

Now, Cushing has introduced a bill “directing the Joint Legislative Historical Committee to acquire and display a portrait of suffragist Marilla Marks Ricker.” Rep. Rebecca Emerson-Brown, a Portsmouth Democrat, has signed on as a co-sponsor.

Cushing said the historical committee has an annual budget of $10,000, and it’s long past time for Ricker to be recognized somewhere in the State House complex. After all, the governor-elect, the speaker of the House, the Senate minority leader, the entire congressional delegation, and the chief justices of both the state Superior and Supreme courts are all women.

“Really,” he said, “they’re daughters of Marilla Ricker.”

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