Concord, NH - Today, the Keene Sentinel editorial board took House Republican Speaker Bill O'Brien to task for his reckless disregard for the New Hampshire Constitution. O'Brien told two State House reporters "the governor cannot function as a third branch of the Legislature."
Clearly O'Brien is having trouble reading the New Hamsphire Constitution, Part II, Article 44 outlines the Governor's veto power. Additionally, according to the latest UNH poll while the overwhelming majority of New Hampshire citizens continue approve of Governor Lynch's leadership, Emperor O'Brien and legislative Republicans were named one of the top three most serious problems in the state.
"The truth on O'Brien is out, the Emperor has no clothes," said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "His unwillingness to focus policies that would actually create jobs and blatant disregard for the New Hampshire constitution is rapidly making O'Brien and Republicans supporting his reckless agenda the most unpopular elected officials in New Hampshire."
Full text of the Keene Sentinel editorial is below.
William O'Brien, the Speaker of the New Hampshire House from Mont Vernon, brought much to Concord this year, including a negative slant on government spending on human services, a heavy handed management style and an apparent discomfort with the democratic concept of the balance of powers.
This last attribute came to light Tuesday in the Statehouse hallway, when two reporters asked O'Brien about Governor John Lynch's promised veto of a so-called right-to-work bill. The bill would prohibit collective bargaining agreements from requiring partial dues (commonly called agency fees) from covered workers who are not union members.
The Speaker was variously quoted as saying, "the governor cannot function as a third branch of the Legislature. The Senate and the House have spoken with very strong majorities that right-to-work is what the people of New Hampshire want."
Putting aside the fact that labor law reform was barely mentioned during the political campaigns last fall, and also the fact that Lynch was returned to office with huge voter support, the state Constitution is pretty clear about the veto process.
Article 44 states, in part: "Every bill which shall have passed both houses of the general court, shall, before it becomes a law, be presented to the governor, if he approves, he shall sign it, but if not, he shall return it, with his objections, to that house in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the objections at large on their journal, and proceed to reconsider it; if after such reconsideration, two-thirds of that house shall agree to pass the bill, it shall be sent, together with such objections, to the other house, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and, if approved by two-thirds of that house, it shall become a law."
O'Brien, who was educated as a lawyer, is surely familiar with all this and is probably just unhappy with it, in the manner that some drivers are unhappy with parking laws and some citizens are unhappy with having to pay taxes.
If so, he has grounds for unhappiness: Enough House Republicans voted against House Bill 229 to deny its sponsors a sure two-thirds majority to override Lynch's veto, which came Wednesday. Those 47 Republicans refused to go along with what is principally an out-of-state drive to do in unions around the country, and they may have been influenced in part by the fact that Lynch, a former business executive, sees no reason to change the law, and that state labor officials recall hearing no complaints from New Hampshire businesses about the current system.
We share their thinking on the right-to-work bill, the alleged economic-growth benefits of which are fantasy.
We also happen to respect the Constitution's arrangement for vetoes, even though some bills we liked in the past failed to survive the process. This is, after all, a state of laws, not of carping ideology.