New Hampshire lawmakers told to keep pets away from virtual hearings

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New Hampshire isn’t kitten around.

Lawmakers in the Granite State say they have been ordered to keep their pets out of the room when they log on for remote hearings.

Rep. Anita Burroughs’ two cats, Yoshi and Jack, have often vied for FaceTime during recent House Commerce and Consumer Affairs Committee hearings.

The Democrat said she hadn’t received any complaints about her politically-active pets but after a hearing Wednesday — when Yoshi’s fluffy black-and-white face partially obscured her own — a colleague told her that the committee chair had enacted a pet prohibition.

“The chair talked to her and said no animals in the room,” Burroughs said. “I can try to keep the cats off the screen. Keeping them out of the room is going to be impossible.”

However, Committee Chair Rep. John Hunt, a Republican, denied that he had outright forbid felines from government work.

“I simply asked the ranking Democrat: Do we really want to have cats parading in front of the legislator’s computer? Let alone stopping and getting petted so that someone may assume the cat is sitting in for the legislator?” he said in an email Thursday night.

Burroughs said the hearing also featured brief appearances from other lawmaker’s cats, dogs and children.

“That’s part of the life we’re living right now, and pets are part of it, too,” she said. “For me personally, it’s just calming having my animals sit next to me so I can pet them, and it doesn’t distract me in any way. I’m fully attentive to what’s going on.”

Lawmakers in the state have largely conducted business remotely due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In December, the speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives died from COVID-19 just a week after being sworn in.

With Post wires

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