CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — New Hampshire’s first Democratic House speaker in 84 years announced Monday that she was retiring after leading the chamber for six of the last eight years.
Terie Norelli, 61, of Portsmouth, is stepping down after this session. She was elected speaker after Democrats took charge of the House in 2006 for the first time since 1922. Norelli led the chamber for four years before Republicans took back control in 2010. When Democrats regained a majority in 2012, she was elected speaker again.
“After six years as speaker and 18 years in the legislature, it is time to turn over the gavel to the next generation of leaders. I have tremendous confidence in the membership of the Democratic caucus and believe they will hold the majority and continue to fight for the values we share,” said Norelli, who said she will not seek re-election to the House.
Norelli said she plans to work until the November election to try to retain a Democratic majority in the House and then spend time with her family.
“It’s time to take a step back,” she said.
She is the second woman to serve as speaker. Salem Republican Donna Sytek was the first woman to lead the 400-member House.
Norelli presided over the Legislature as it approved civil unions in 2007 and then gay marriage in 2009. She presided over this year’s House vote to expand Medicaid to cover about 50,000 poor adults until 2017. She is in her ninth term in the House and is the immediate past president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
A native of New Jersey, Norelli holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and taught math at Winnacunnet High School before being elected to the House.
Gov. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat, praised Norelli for making House actions more transparent while ensuring the process was fair.
Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley said Norelli has served with distinction.
“Her legacy will continue on and serve as an example for the next Democratic speaker, which we look forward to welcoming to the floor next session,” Buckley said.
U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen called Norelli “one of the most dedicated and hardworking public servants Concord has ever known and I am lucky to be able to call her a friend.”
GOP Chairwoman Jennifer Horn thanked Norelli for her service.
“Republicans disagree with Speaker Norelli on virtually every major policy issue, but we thank her for her years of service to the State of New Hampshire and wish her the best of luck in the future,” Horn said.
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