No matter the outcome of this year’s election, the New Hampshire State Legislature and its nearly 400 members are unlikely to make much progress in 2013 considering the bills filed last week before the early bill request deadline indicate that they will be fighting many of the same issues as the past couple years.
So far, 259 of the early bills have been made public and while only the titles are currently viewable, the information is sufficient to show that the policies which have marred the Granite State since the 2010 Tea Party takeover — namely “Right-to-Work” laws, abortion restrictions, gay marriage bans, business tax reform, and union-busting bills — will be right back on the agenda:
“We are approaching the next session by working hard for Nov. 6, and I think that’s going to make all the difference for us,” said Jay Ward, political director for the State Employees’ Association, which opposes right to work and a reduction in employee health benefits. “We think that the system works best when it’s as close to 50-50 (Republicans and Democrats) as possible because that’s when (lawmakers) really have to build coalitions and compromise instead of jamming through somebody’s wild idea.”
The statehouse is closer to 3-to-1 in favor of Republicans as it stands. Among the anti-labor laws that will receive another round of debate are “Right-to-Work,” the misnamed law that limits the ability of a union to collect dues and protect employees both union and non-union. While it failed to pass last year thanks in part to Governor Lynch’s opposition to it, House Speaker and Tea Party favorite William O’Brien has filed to bring forth yet another vote.
Via the Concord Monitor:
One of O’Brien’s requests would reintroduce right-to-work legislation that failed last year. O’Brien’s proposal would prohibit unions from charging nonmember employees a lesser “agency fee” to cover the cost of negotiating and enforcing contracts. Right now, the State Employees’ Association charges non-members 58 percent of regular dues to cover contract costs, Ward said.
O’Brien has been a champion of right-to-work legislation, and campaign finance filings this fall indicated that hasn’t changed. O’Brien’s House Republican Victory political action committee has received $10,000 from a national right-to-work advocacy group based in Virginia, according to filings with the secretary of state.
Many of the other early bills look to rehash past battles using tired arguments:
Rep. David Hess, a Hooksett Republican, and Rep. Daniel Itse, a Fremont Republican, want another crack at a constitutional amendment that takes control of education, including its funding, from the courts and gives it to the Legislature. That failed this year.
Rep. Lenette Peterson, a Merrimack Republican, has a bill request that would outlaw abortion if the fetus’s heartbeat could be detected. Rep. Keith Murphy, a Bedford Republican, is seeking legislation to prohibit mothers from aborting a fetus because of its gender.
O’Brien and Rep. Jordan Ulery, a Hudson Republican, each filed a bill request to revive this year’s failed constitutional amendment barring a new or increased tax unless it was supported by three-fifths of the Legislature.
This will mark the first legislative year of the last eight in which John Lynch is not Governor. Lynch built a reputation as a bipartisan leader who appointed judges from both parties and looked to achieve compromises in the legislature. The Governor’s race between attorney Ovide Lamontagne and Senate Majority Leader Maggie Hassan is likely to determine the success of the New Hampshire GOP in its attempt to again push through a failed agenda.
Hassan currently has a slight lead in the polls. Lamontagne has proclaimed himself the native son but many who have worked with him in the past have pointed out his partisan bias. The former chairwoman of the state’s Democratic Party recently commented on Lamontagne via the Union Leader.
Ovide says he will be a radically different governor from John Lynch. I believe he means it; and I believe he will be a radically partisan governor.
Ovide is not New Hampshire, as his positions not only put him outside the mainstream of our state, but also place him in the most extreme elements of the new Republican Party. This wing of the Republican Party believes the government established by our forefathers is, well, dangerous. In a recent debate he said, “Every tax, every fee, every time government takes money from you, they are taking away some freedom and liberty from us.”
NOTE: You may have noticed that this is the third time we’ve used the same header image when posting about New Hampshire’s “zombie law” approach. Get it?!