CONCORD — Gov. Chris Sununu on Tuesday vetoed an omnibus bill, including legislation to establish the Lakes Region Development Authority to guide the buildout of the former State School property in Laconia.
“While I understand the unusual and unprecedented circumstances created by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is extremely unfortunate that the legislature decided to manage their workload by merging nearly 40 previously separate pieces of legislation into this one 77 page omnibus bill,” Sununu said.
“I am concerned that significant portions of this legislation have not had a chance to go through the public hearing process in the House of Representatives. Finally, most of the bills in the omnibus amendment do not relate to one another, making it more perplexing that they would send all of these proposals in a single package.”
Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, criticized the governor:
“Despite a global pandemic, the Legislature worked hard to complete the people’s work and to ensure public transparency throughout the entirety of our remote legislative activities. Every bill passed – including HB 1234 – was printed in the Senate calendar, had a public hearing and committee vote, and was voted on by the full Senate and House. For the Governor to suggest otherwise is inaccurate and frankly offensive.
“HB 1234 was not a partisan bill; its contents were administrative bills essential to continuity of government. In vetoing it, Governor Sununu struck down requests from his own department heads in addition to prime sponsored legislation from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Morse, House Minority Leader Dick Hinch, and House and Senate Republican leaders Jeb Bradley and Sherm Packard.”
Last month, Sununu said he opposed putting a lot of state money into efforts to develop the Laconia State School property.
He also said he opposed the bill which would transition the present commission into a development authority because it would create an agency that would exist indefinitely — similar to the Pease Redevelopment Authority. He called creation of the authority "a terrible idea."
The language of the bill, however, would have abolished the Lakes Region Development Authority after six years unless another bill was passed to keep it going.
Lakeshore Commission Vice Chairman Robert Cheney said the commission’s focus has been to obtain grant funding to pay for initial work to rebuild the water and sewer infrastructure, which the commission considers critical to attracting private development.
The commission has applied for a $1 million grant from the Northern Border Regional Commission, which, Cheney said, Sununu supports.
The bill to create the authority would have permitted it to award grants totaling $1 million and float up to $5 million in state-backed bonds for capital improvements.