The push to have New Hampshire join the rest of New England and pass a recreational marijuana bill began with enthusiasm in the state House and opposition in the state Senate. But when a compromise emerged from the Conference of Committee, it was the House that killed a Senate-passed deal.

“This is how it is with politicians,” House Majority Leader Jason Osborne (R-Auburn) told NHJournal regarding the doomed marijuana vote. “Bitch and bitch until they have the opportunity to actually do something, and then choke.”

Legal weed was just one of several high-profile bills that were pushed through the GOP-controlled Senate only to die in the chaos of a House where the GOP has a “MINO:” Majority In Name Only.

For example, a Republican bill banning sanctuary cities in the Granite State went down in flames on Thursday, as did expanding access to pro-school choice Education Freedom Accounts.

The last day of the 2024 legislative calendar began on a promising note for GOP leaders when the Senate held its final vote on a proposed crackdown on sanctuary cities and voted 14-10 along party lines to advance the measure to the House. Voting results were the same in the Senate for almost every other item on Republicans’ agenda.

Yet the House was where Republican dreams for a successful legislative session went to die, as even legislation in line with GOP Gov. Chris Sununu’s stated requirements (state-run franchise model, regulated by the Liquor Commission, with a 15-store cap) for legalizing marijuana sales was nixed on a 178-173 vote to table the bill.

“House Democrats killed cannabis,” Sen. Daryl Abbas (R-Salem) told NHJournal.

“The House Democrats who campaign on supporting recreational cannabis voted against it so they can continue campaigning on this issue. Clearly, they are not interested in delivering results or being honest with their base.”

Anti-legalization proponents rejoiced over the disfunction.

“Today is a victory for public health and safety, even if New Hampshire legislators were only battling over which legalization model they preferred,” said former Rep. Sue Homola (R-Hollis), New Hampshire chair for the anti-pot advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana. “Commercialization of marijuana will only make New Hampshire’s drug problem worse, and any new drug addiction tax will not help to fund our state.”

Republicans currently hold a slim 200-193 majority in the 400-member House, with two vacancies.

With a razor-thin advantage, attendance is crucial. Thursday saw more Democrats attending than Republicans when contentious bills came up for a vote, including the Senate-amended pro-school choice proposal to expand access to EFAs.

That defeat was particularly painful for EFA supporters in the House. Several members told NHJournal on background they couldn’t believe Senate President Jeb Bradley let his caucus amend the EFA expansion after it miraculously passed the House in February by just one vote.

“It passed, take the win, Jeb!” one frustrated House Republican said. Instead, the Senate changed the EFA income limit from the House-passed 500 percent above the poverty line to 425 percent and sent it back to the House — and its non-existent GOP majority — for another miracle.

They didn’t get it. The House shot it down 168-185.

“The death of EFA expansion lies squarely on the shoulders of Senate Republicans who refused to pass the clean bill we sent them,” Osborne said after the vote.

Democrats were ecstatic.

Izzy Levy, deputy communications director for the Democratic Governors’ Association, took to social media immediately after the vote to slam New Hampshire GOP gubernatorial candidates Kelly Ayotte and Chuck Morse.

“Big L for @KellyAyotte and @ChuckMorseForNH, who both cheered on the expansion of this scheme to bleed more money out of public schools and put more pressure on taxpayers in the midst of a housing affordability crisis,” Levy wrote on X, the site formerly known as Twitter.

The House vote to table a proposal outlawing pro-illegal immigration “sanctuary city” policies in New Hampshire was 192-165. The measure would have directed local police to work with federal agencies to cooperate with immigration detainer orders. A recent NHJournal/Praecones Analytica poll found Granite Staters overwhelmingly oppose sanctuary cities, 56 to 19 percent.

That bill’s defeat was somewhat predictable as the House had previously voted in May to dump the same proposal.

A minor body blow for Republicans occurred when Democrats successfully derailed a proposal to toughen New Hampshire voter ID laws. Currently, anyone lacking proof of residency can vote by signing a legally binding affidavit.

American Civil Liberties Union of New Hampshire celebrated the tabling of HB 1370, denouncing it as “a bill that would have put in place needless barriers to vote in our New Hampshire elections.”

Earlier this spring, however, one Democrat let it slip during a committee hearing that his deceased mother voted in the 2024 presidential primary.

Thursday’s tabling of HB1370 may be moot as nearly identical legislation (HB 1569) is already headed to GOP Gov. Chris Sununu’s desk.