House Republican Alliance suspended from State House

  • Speaker of the House Shawn Jasper listens as he is endorsed after announcing his plans to seek re-election to Speaker at a news conference Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2016, in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Jim Cole) Jim Cole

Monitor staff
Thursday, April 13, 2017

The infighting over the House’s failure to pass a budget continued Wednesday with Republican Speaker Shawn Jasper suspending a GOP organization’s use of the State House complex.

Jasper said the House Republican Alliance has failed to draft bylaws that govern its actions. But leaders of the legislative group questioned his motives.

“The Speaker is trying to provide himself with political cover after failing to pass a budget, something that hasn’t happened in New Hampshire since 1969,” said Bedford Rep. Laurie Sanborn, an HRA co-chair. “Since we haven’t seen him demand bylaws from numerous other caucuses at the State House, it appears that he is discriminating against us based on our political beliefs.”

Last week, Democrats and conservative representatives banded together to overwhelmingly defeat the $11.9 billion budget proposal put forward by Republican House leaders. Unable to reach any compromise, the spending plan ultimately tanked.

The membership of the HRA is not published, but the group’s three leaders voted against the budget amendment last Wednesday, records show. HRA Co-Chair Glenn Cordelli said the organization recommended its members “vote their conscience.”

Jasper said the HRA developed the position based on the opinion of its three leaders, not its entire membership, who he said had initially voiced support in a meeting for approving the budget amendment.

“This is an advocacy group. There is no process in place as to how they are actually making their recommendations,” Jasper said Thursday. “I am not trying to dictate to them what their rules be, just that everyone can understand what their rules are.”

Jasper’s office suspended the organization’s use of the State House or Legislative Office Building for meetings or other activities in a letter sent by House Chief of Staff Terry Pfaff.

The HRA was formed in 1997 and evaluates bills based on the constitution and Republican party platform, according to its website. It’s not clear whether other groups of representatives have had to create bylaws. Jasper said he is seeking them because the HRA operates differently than others, because it “sends out sheets making recommendations on legislation.”

During the recent debate, conservatives argued the budget spent too much money, but laid out few areas for cuts. The newly formed House Freedom Caucus also opposed the budget.

The state Senate is now crafting its own version using the spending proposal initially put forward by Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

(Allie Morris can be reached at 369-3307 or amorris@cmonitor.com.)