Sununu vetoes Congress card, letting court take over

CONCORD, NH (AP) — The New Hampshire Supreme Court will redraw the congressional map of the state after the Legislature’s last-ditch effort on Thursday failed to win over Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.

New Hampshire is one of the few states to have finalized new US House districts, as required every 10 years to reflect changing demographics. Democrats currently hold both seats, and although Republicans control the Legislature, they have struggled to pass what Sununu called a “smell test” of fairness.

The House and Senate passed a plan in March that would have given the GOP a strong advantage in the 1st District, but Sununu has vowed to veto it. A House-passed plan that would have consolidated communities along the I-93 corridor later failed in the Senate, leading to a third plan that was approved in both houses Thursday.

“I believe this is the compromise New Hampshire needs for the next 10 years,” said Sen. James Gray, R-Rochester.

Sununu quickly said he would veto the bill, in part because it places the two U.S. Representatives Chris Pappas and Annie Kuster in the 2nd District.

“Citizens of New Hampshire will not accept this card,” he said. “Our races have to be fair, which is why I will veto this card.”

According to the latest plan, the 1st District would have covered the southeast corner of the state and be tilted slightly towards Republicans, while the 2nd District would have covered the western half of the state and the northern half of the country and become slightly more democratic. More than two dozen towns representing almost a third of the state’s population are said to have changed districts, including Manchester.

Instead, the state Supreme Court will intervene. In a ruling this month, the court said it would use existing districts as a benchmark and use a “least change” approach. That could mean the Democrats passing a favored map that would move a single town – Hampstead – from the 1st district to the 2nd.

Senate Minority Leader Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, called the GOP plan one of the most egregious examples of majority extremism.

“Once again they are out of step with their own governor, out of step with the people of New Hampshire,” she said at a press conference ahead of the votes. “It’s probably one of the best reflections of their pewter ear for the people they’ve been elected to serve.”

The plan passed the House by just five votes. By the same narrow margin, the House on Thursday also killed another bill that Sununu had promised to veto.

The bill, modeled after legislation filed in several states, would have given parents greater oversight of their child’s program, club attendance and conversations with staff.

The bill had passed the Senate 14 to 10 along party lines. Sen. Jay Kahn, D-Keene, argued against it, saying teachers were “already looking over their shoulders” thanks to a new law regulating classroom discussions about race and other topics.

“Now we’re going to impose another requirement that challenges whether educators can have a discussion with a student without letting parents know,” he said. “It’s one more icicle added to the chilling effect of our actions on New Hampshire educators.”

Rep. Melissa Blasek, R-Merrimack, pushed back against criticism that the bill would force teachers to “kick” LGBTQ students to potentially violent parents and said she equates parental rights with gun rights .

“There are criminals, yes. And one of the main goals of government is to punish wrongdoing,” she said. “But restricting the rights of parents and law-abiding gun owners does not prevent criminals from participating in criminal activity.”

On firearms, the House also rejected an effort to reintroduce flawed legislation that would have required criminal background checks before the sale of commercial firearms.

Rep. Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham, said there have been dozens of mass shootings across the country since the bill was defeated in March, including the recent grocery store shootings in Buffalo, New York. , a church in Southern California and a school in Uvalde. , Texas.

“It is imperative that we act, and act now to stem the flow of blood flowing towards us,” she said. “We can do difficult things. We can make a change so that we don’t have to live like this.

His remarks were met with boos from some of his colleagues. The mockery turned into applause for Rep. Terry Roy, a Republican from Deerfield who argued that voters don’t want additional gun control.

“We should never, ever use tragedy to advance legislation,” he said.