CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s House must take up three vetoed bills before the 2014 legislative session can convene Jan. 8.
The House will vote whether to override bills on absentee ballots, the economic development advisory council, and living wills. If any pass the House by a two-thirds vote, the Senate would then vote on them before the session can convene that same day.
Gov. Maggie Hassan vetoed a bill dealing with absentee ballots because it changed the time they are counted from after 1 p.m. on Election Day to a time decided by poll workers with no advance notice to the public. The bill also said the process could not begin until polls had been open at least two hours.
“Maintaining confidence in our elections through a transparent and straightforward system for processing ballots is essential to the ongoing health of our democracy,” Hassan said in her veto message.
Bill supporters said the idea was to let election officials take advantage of slow times to count the ballots rather than try to get them all done in the afternoon.
Hassan objected to another bill that changed the duties and reduced the membership on the economic development advisory council. She said the bill eliminated important viewpoints by excluding key groups, especially those representing workers, and did not include enough people with a role in economic development to advise the state.
The bill reduces the council membership from 26 to 16, including removing a representative from labor. It also reduces member’s terms from three years to two years.
Supporters said the council’s size is unwieldy, but Hassan said a diverse group is needed to promote economic development.
“Creating jobs and spurring innovative economic growth are among our highest priorities, but to do so effectively we must ensure that the voices of all stakeholders, from businesses to local communities to our workers are represented at the table,” she said in her veto message.
The governor noted that when the council was established in 2008, the goal was to ensure diverse voices were included to advise the state.
The third bill proposed studying end-of-life decisions, such as a terminally ill person’s wishes regarding life support or measures such as hydration and nutrition. The bill originally established a commission to study “death with dignity” which drew criticism even after its purpose and title was changed to studying end-of-life decisions. Critics feared the committee would focus on euthanasia and not the broader issues.
Hassan said she saw no need for the study because she said the state has approached the issue thoughtfully and sought the input of doctors, patients and advocates for the elderly and those who experience chronic conditions or disabilities.
She said the state has produced important laws, including a statute that she noted seeks input from the medical community, patients, advocates and the religious community.