Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jackie Cilley's Legislative Action Alert, Week of May 23, 2011


Thought for the Week:  Middle Class & Main Street                                         1
The Week in Brief                                                                                            3
Senate Reads the Tea Leaves  
Senate Floor Action                                                                                          5
            State’s Capital Budget Plan                                                                   5
            Performance Measurement Reviews on Hold                                         6
            Parental Notification Amendment                                                           6
Senate Hearings on Select Bills
            Filming Officers on Duty But Not Legislators                                         6
Kangaroo Court in Our Statehouse                                                                   7
Governor’s Veto Message                                                                                8         

Legislative Action Alert
Week of May 23, 2011
Jackie Cilley

Main Street and the Middle Class
Their Futures Intertwined

I recently asked a restaurateur a simple question:  “If a fellow who received a $6 million windfall ate here how much would he spend?” Looking quizzically at me he theorized maybe he’d buy the most expensive meal, lobster and all the trimmings.  “How many of those would he buy,” I asked.  Clearly wondering where I was going with this, he replied that more than likely our hypothetical jackpot winner would purchase one such meal unless he was a truly big eater.

Taking it a step further, I asked what would happen if 60,000 people in the area had $1,000 more in their pockets each year.  The light bulb was going on.  We had been talking about tax and labor policies.  He was beginning to see how policies he had supported might be harming his business and its future.

It has long puzzled me why so many small business owners support policies that demonstrably harm their long term future prospects. Two weeks ago I discussed the evidence that tax cuts have not led to job creation and, in fact, have contributed to our deficit.  I pointed out jobs are created to fill demand and demand comes from desire and ability to purchase specific products.  It isn’t that someone has more money in their pocket that creates jobs.  It is the fact there is a productive place for money to make more money.  That’s what capitalists do.  Indeed, it’s their rightful role in a capitalistic society.

If demand for one’s product doesn’t exist here or elsewhere, the capitalist finds more productive places for his money – investments in pork bellies, Chinese clean energy technologies, whatever.  What he doesn’t do is create jobs here in the US that serve no useful purpose and don’t give him a return on investment.

It follows that a robust middle class is necessary for a strong Main Street.  Just like the restaurant owner, small businesses can’t rely on one wealthy customer.  They need numerous average folks for a healthy customer base.  Anything that endangers the middle class imperils small businesses as well.

Yet, we’ve accepted policies that imperil both for several decades now.  Whether it’s the debunked trickle down economics shell gameor the notion that busting up unions will lead to greater prosperity (also a demonstrable myth), too many of us have supported policies that hurt our own selves, our families, our community, our small businesses and our overall economy.

Take the Right to Work [for less] legislation that may well pass this week.  Every previous legislature, Republican or Democrat, has defeated this in the past.  They knew RTW produced lower wages ($5,300 less), higher rates of worker injuries, higher work-related death rates (53% higher), lower levels of healthcare coverage (21% lower) and a lower standard of living.  Suddenly, those now in power claim this is just the prescription for businesses wanting to come here with more jobs.  Even if that were the case (and the evidence on this is not fully vetted), what kind of jobs would those be?  More Walmart-style jobs?

Some might say “jobs is jobs.”  Here’s what a Walmart economy looks like:  3 better paying local jobs killed for every two produced by a new Walmart store, 2.7% decline in retail employment “in every county they enter,” 10-40% decline in supermarket and other retailers sales when Walmart enters a market and loss of wages and benefits in the marketplace (southern CA estimates a $2.8 billion loss in wages and benefits from the new Walmart economy in that region).  Walmart costs taxpayers money from the thousands of associates who make below poverty wages and qualify for Medicaid. Only $43 of money spent at Walmart circulates in the local economy while $68 spent at a local business stays local.  And, oh by the way, among these and other sad statistics, Walmart acknowledged that they failed to pay $2.95 billion in taxes owed for 2009.  Is that a bit like misplacing your car keys??

Whether  it’s Walmart’s or other low wage/low benefit companies seeking to locate in a state that offers up its workers for servitude the cycle will likely be the same.  Wages fall forcing more shoppers to low cost alternatives that bring more low cost alternatives into the market driving out locally owned businesses and producing more low wage jobs forcing more shoppers to seek yet lower cost alternatives. 

Until Main Street businesses understand their fate is tied to that of the workers in their marketplace, the $6 million man will eat his $30 meal of lobster and 60,000 potential customers with their potential $10 meal will slip silently away.


Thought for the Week:  Middle Class & Main Street                                         1
The Week in Brief                                                                                            3
Senate Reads the Tea Leaves  
Senate Floor Action                                                                                          5
            State’s Capital Budget Plan                                                                   5
            Performance Measurement Reviews on Hold                                        6
            Parental Notification Amendment                                                          6
Senate Hearings on Select Bills
            Filming Officers on Duty But Not Legislators                                        6
Kangaroo Court in Our Statehouse                                                                  7
Governor’s Veto Message                                                                               8         


The Week in Brief

The upcoming week will be the final week of hearings and Senate committees’ final actions on House bills with the exception of the biennial budget bill.  The full Senate chamber will vote on committee recommendations on 23 bills, while two committees will hear the final three House bills on their docket.

As the Senate meets in session on Wednesday, May 25, the House will meet to take up 23 bills, 13 on the consent calendar (these are voted on as a block due to unanimous consent on the recommendation of the committee) and 10 on the regular calendar.  No new hearings are scheduled.

The most noteworthy legislation to be taken up will undoubtedly include the attempted override of the Governor’s veto on HB 474, the Right to Work Act, (see the Governor’s veto message at the end of the Alert), the Senate’s shunning of a priority nullification bill pushed by Free Staters and extreme libertarians, parental notification, and a bill to bar utilities from applying eminent domain when no public benefit is evident.  Then, there will also be the sad display of the redress of grievance committee, a must read on p. 7.

For the full details of House and Senate calendars, please visit the General Court website at  You may also want to download the Journals from that same site for each chamber.  In those you can read the remarks made by legislators during debates on legislation – always good nighttime reading entertainment!  Additionally, the Journals contain the roll call votes of each legislator.  You will be able to see how your legislator voted on any bill of importance to you.

Senate Reads the Tea Leaves

Of particular interest over the past week is the impact upon the Senate of the Hillsborough District 4 special election.  On Tuesday, May 17 a special election was held for the communities of Mount VernonTemple, New Boston, Wilton and Lyndeborough between Republican Peter Kucmas and Democrat Jennifer Daler.  When the final votes were counted, Daler emerged as the newest State Representative with an impressive 58% to 42% win.  Hillsborough District 4 includes Speaker Bill O’Brien’s home town of Mount Vernon who had noted that the results of the election would be “a referendum” on the agenda of the legislature.   Daler won Mount Vernon by a margin of 278 to 188.

The lopsided win for the Democrats appears to have had an immediate and profound impact upon the Senate’s action on core House bills that House leadership put considerable muscle behind passing.  As Sen. Gary Lambert told Kevin Landrigan of the Nashua Telegraph “We all need to ask ourselves what are the voters saying in that election in the speaker’s district.

Consequently, despite Senate committee recommendations for ought to pass on several Tea Party/Free Stater-sponsored prime bills, the Senate tabled each.  These bills include HCR 6, requiring the Congress to reaffirm its adherence to the US Constitution regarding international agreements and treaties, HCR 11 urging Congress to withdraw from the United Nations, HCR 12 urging Congress to withdraw the US from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and HB 590 declaring federal grants unconstitutional and establishing a committee to review all such grants.

Assuming there is no intention to remove the bills from the table (an action that can be made if there are sufficient votes for passage until Thursday, June 2 the deadline for any action on House bills), the bills will be effectively killed.  One may reasonably ask, if there is no intention to pass a bill why not kill it outright?  Tabling preserves the ability to bring a bill up in the next legislative year.  If a bill is voted ITL (inexpedient to legislate/kill the bill) House and Senate rules presumably prevent the same subject matter from being brought forth in the second year of the biennium.

In a similar snub to the House this week and purportedly driven by the same concerns, the Senate Committee on Internal Affairs has shelved one of the most important bills to the libertarian wing of the GOP supermajority.  HCR 19, a bill that would allow the NH Legislature to nullify any federal law not to its liking, was passed overwhelmingly by 242 to 109 on a roll call vote of the House.  This same legislation introduced in the previous legislature was the impetus for instituting the weapons ban in the Statehouse. 

Two years ago when this legislation was put forward, angry supporters of the bill created a commotion in the House gallery when it appeared that the bill would go down in defeat.  At the time of the outburst there were visiting fourth graders in the gallery as well and concern was expressed by several parents and teachers over the emotional agitation of visitors who were visibly well-armed.  That incident lead to the joint facilities committee instituting a weapons ban in the Statehouse which was subsequently overturned as the first act of the new legislature.

The Senate Internal Affairs committee has recommended that HCR 19 be re-referred to committee by a 5-0 vote.  Bills that are re-referred to committee are sometimes studied further, but as often are held for a more propitious time for passage or a time when it might be less noticeable that a piece of legislation is killed. This bill and others that have been re-referred to committees will need to come to the floor eventually.  InNew Hampshire no bills can die in committee.  Each needs to receive a full vote of at least one chamber.  It will be interesting to see if the NullifyNow crowd shows up sporting plenty of fire power and screaming at the Senate members as they try to slide this bill back under the rug the way that they did when it came up under the previous administration.

Detailed below is a selection of noteworthy bills to be voted on by the full Senate as well as those being heard in committee.  For a comprehensive list of floor action and committee hearings please go to

Bills on the Senate Floor in the Upcoming Week 

One bill that has received only secondary attention to the biennial budget bill is HB 25 containing the legislature’s priorities for capital expenditures.  HB 25 is sent to the Senate floor with a 6-0 recommendation of OTP by the Capital Budget Committee.  The committee is recommending $87 million of new borrowing and a $218 million overall spending plan for repairs, renovations and new construction. This figure includes bonding against future tax revenues, highway and federal funds.

Two bills that may have moved the state toward the ability to measure the effectiveness of programs have been re-referred to committee. HB 508 would have established a performance measurement system for state agencies.  Such a process would begin with establishing goals for any state program and end with the ability to measure whether such goals were being met.  Many businesses use such an approach in order to make timely and cost-effective adjustments in order to obtain desired outcomes.  Similarly, HB 520 would require that every legislative bill with an attached fiscal note (this details the costs of a proposed bill) would also contain details of anticipated outcomes associated with the bill.

For the second time the NH Senate has passed a parental notification bill.  HB 329 requires that parents be notified before an abortion is performed on a minor in cases other than an emergency.  The bill does offer an alternative to parental notification through the courts and makes the lack of notification a misdemeanor crime.  An amendment to HB 329 is being proposed that will allow a young woman to consult with her physician as opposed to a judge that will protect the patient and address concerns of those young women who cannot go to their parents.  The amendment will allow for these decisions to be made precisely where they ought to be, between a doctor and his/her patient, and will protect the health and safety of that patient.  Please contact your Senator and ask that s/he vote down HB 329 and vote for the amended language.

Senate Committee Hearings

Of the three bills to be heard in the upcoming week, the most controversial is likely to be HB 145 permitting the audio and video recording of a law enforcement officer while in the course of his or her official duties. Bills of this nature have been before the legislature before but have been defeated due to concerns over possibilities of videotaping innocent bystanders during law enforcement actions.  This year’s bill passed the House by a roll call vote of 215 – 151, suggesting that the bill has only moderate support even in the originating chamber.  HB 145 will be heard before the Senate Judiciary Committee in Rm. 101 of the LOB (Legislative Office Building) at 1:15 p.m.

Ironically, our protectors of transparency and freedom are working to ensure a bright spotlight on any officer pulling over an erratic driver, but are becoming increasingly edgy about being transparent themselves.  Folks who have been filming hearing at the Statehouse have been quizzed about why they are taping the sessions. Dah?  Might it be that there’s simply no other way to capture the full, animated absurdity of what is happening in our Statehouse than to capture it live??


Kangaroo Court

Of all the absurdity that has been on display at what was once our stately and honored Capital perhaps the most disturbing can be seen in the retrogressive Redress of Grievances Committee.  You may recall last week’s story about Chairman Ingrebretson’s recusal from hearings related to one David Johnson’s petition for redress related to his long-standing custody battle and the judge involved.  As the story went, Chairman Ingrebretson sat through an entire morning’s worth of the hearing without divulging to the committee that he knew Mr. Johnson and that he had, indeed, been supervising child visitations between said Johnson and his child for a total of 200 hours over the past year.  It was only after a complaint alleging a conflict of interest that the Chair saw fit to share this information with his committee members.

After ‘fessing up about knowing Johnson for a lengthy period of time, Ingrebretson told the committee that he had checked with the Speaker who did not feel there was a conflict of interest, then he put it to a vote of his committee to poll their feelings.  Shockingly, only one member of the committee said she was disturbed by the revelation.  Ingrebretson went on to continue chairing the proceedings and several days later after negative news coverage he finally made the decision to step down. 

However, these details were far from the full story.  What Ingrebretson failed to tell his committee is that he had already gone through staged redress proceedings with Mr. Johnson some two years ago in June 2009. Ingrebretson knew full well what Mr. Johnson would present, including the full range of public accusations about his ex-wife’s alleged behaviors because he had heard it all during play acting as a redress committee in 2009.  Moreover, he was not alone in the mock proceedings.  Joining him in role playing at political campaign offices across from the Statehouse were numerous members of current leadership, including Speaker O’Brien (recall he cleared Ingrebetson of any conflict of interest!), Chief of Staff Bob Mead, Rep. Carol McGuire, Rep. Warren Groen, Rep. Al Baldassaro and others. The full tapes of the hearings can be found below a discussion of “Subversive Government” on a Free State-related website at

All of this would have been problematic enough for those who care about a democratic process, but truly egregious was the public testimony in an open room about the ex-wife of Mr. Johnson who was accused of all manner of things.  Ingrebretson hadn’t seen fit to invite the former Mrs. Johnson or to allow her to hear the accusations or to respond to them.  For these constitution-thumping defenders of liberty, one might question how much liberty they are protecting for this woman and her child.  The Redress of Grievance Committee will meet at 10 a.m. in Rm. 205, LOB on Thursday, May 26.  This one could use witnesses, folks!

Governor Lynch’s Veto Message on HB 474

Press Release
For Immediate Release
May 11, 2011
Communications Director
Office of the Governor

Governor Lynch's Veto Message Regarding HB 474
By the authority vested in me, pursuant to part II, Article 44 of the New Hampshire Constitution, on May 11, 2011, I vetoed HB 474.
States should not interfere with the rights of businesses and their employees to freely negotiate contracts. That is unless there is a compelling public interest, and there is no compelling public interest in passing this legislation.
There is no evidence that this legislation will offer any benefits to New Hampshire's economy or workers.
As I have said repeatedly, New Hampshire has an economic strategy that is working. New Hampshire has one of the strongest and fastest-growing economies in the nation. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates and one of the highest median incomes in the nation. We are considered one of the safest states and one of the healthiest states, and a high percentage of our citizens have private health insurance.
New Hampshire has a lower unemployment rate and a stronger economy than most states with so-called right-to-work laws. In states with a right-to-work law, workers on average have a lower standard of living, bringing home less in their paychecks and going without health insurance more frequently.
In my time as a CEO, in my years spent in the private sector turning around companies, and in my seven years as Governor, I have never seen the so-called right-to-work law serve as a valuable economic development tool.
In the last seven years of recruiting businesses to move to New Hampshire, not one business leader has ever even asked me if New Hampshire had a right-to-work law, let alone suggested it was a factor in the company's location decision. No New Hampshire business leaders have ever told me that the lack of a so-called right-to-work law prevented them from expanding or hiring new workers here in New Hampshire. And no New Hampshire workers have ever told me they couldn't get a job because New Hampshire doesn't have a so-called right-to-work law.
The debate over the so-called right-to-work bill in New Hampshire appears to be largely driven by national outside interest groups, and is not a result of problems facing New Hampshire businesses or workers.
There is no justification in this case for state government to interfere with the right of private businesses to freely negotiate and enter into contracts with their employees. Therefore, I am vetoing HB 474.

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