In the May 15th House Calendar, the Speaker of the House announced that the House will next meet in session on June 11th at the Whittemore Center Arena at the University of New Hampshire. The House last met on March 13th, a marathon-like session that began at 9:00 am on March 12th and ended close to 3:30 am on March 13th. Legislative activities have been shut down since the Governor issued stay-at-home orders due to COVID-19. In announcing the location for the next meeting of the NH House of Representatives, the Speaker issued a statement in the House Calendar that said, in part, “We need a place that is large enough to allow us to socially distance while not being so large as to create its own logistical problems….Our meeting in the Whittemore Center will be an historic event as it will be the second time in the history of the House of Representatives we will be meeting outside of Representatives Hall….Please know we will be taking all available precautions for your safety. Each member will have their temperature taken prior to entering the facility and per UNH guidelines, each member will be given a surgical mask which they will have to wear inside the arena. These precautions will help to ensure everyone is safe.”
A very small number of House Legislative Committee meetings have been held virtually (e.g., Finance), prior to the release of the May 15th Calendars, but other committees are gearing up to conduct work sessions this week and next, including Judiciary, Ways and Means, Criminal Justice and Public Safety, and Finance.
Meanwhile, Senate President Donna Soucy announced that the Senate will hold its upcoming sessions in Representatives Hall. A date for the Senate’s first session has not been announced, and no committee public hearings or work sessions are scheduled in the current Senate Calendar.
In a joint statement, the Senate President and House Speaker issued the following comments: “While some legislative activities, including Committee and Commission meetings, have resumed work remotely, we understand it is important for the Legislature to resume session to complete the work that the people of New Hampshire elected us to do as well as provide important checks and balances to the state government during this crisis. We are committed to returning in a manner that ensures public access to the process and above all adheres to public health recommendations, which is why when the House and Senate come back into session next month we will be meeting outside of our respective chambers for the first time since the Civil War. In the coming weeks, we will release additional information about the policies and procedures for reconvening the Legislature. Meanwhile, we appreciate everyone’s cooperation, understanding, and of course the continued hard work of House, Senate, and Joint staff who make this all possible.”