- Associated Press - Sunday, December 25, 2016

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - Republican House Speaker Shawn Jasper has named his committee chairs and leadership team for the upcoming session.

Rep. Neal Kurk of Weare is leading the Finance Committee, the chief committee tasked with writing the House’s version of the next two-year state budget. Kurk is a veteran budget writer who is known for his fiscal austerity. The Ways and Means Committee, which sets revenue estimates that determine how much the state can spend, will be chaired by Rep. Norm Major. He’s held that role previously.

Jasper is largely maintaining his leadership team from last session, with longtime Rep. Gene Chandler serving as deputy speaker, Rep. Dick Hinch in the role of majority leader and Rep. Sher Packard as speaker pro tempore.

The House has a total of 19 standing committees, including education, transportation, criminal justice and election law. Committees do the core policy work throughout the session. They hear testimony on bills from members of the public, amend those bills and make recommendations on whether the full House should pass or kill legislation. Committees in New Hampshire cannot outright kill legislation but they can influence it.

Jasper is facing criticism from Democrats for appointing GOP Rep. Frank Sapareto to be vice chair of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. Sapareto has been previously convicted of simple assault, but he did not serve jail time.

Jasper did not name any Democrats to lead committees.

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