Concord, NH - In a desperate attempt to make New Hamsphire a right to work state, Republicans are now promising state Representatives opposed to the job killing bill a "plum" district in 2012, after redistricting. Speaker O'Brien has even gone so far as to refuse moving a potential vote on the highly unpopular issue to allow state lawmakers to attend the funeral of former Republican Governor Walter Peterson.
"This is beyond shameful. It is a new low even for O'Brien and his out of control legislative bullies," said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hamsphire Democratic Party. "There needs to be an immediate ethics investigation into exactly who is offering legislators safe races in 2012 after redistricting, and if the Speaker authorized this disgusting behavior or had any knowledge of it."
One GOP Rep described it as, "the lowest thing I've ever seen."
More details are available below from the Portsmouth Herald.
By Michael McCord
June 08, 2011
House Republican leaders have continued their intense lobbying efforts to convince wayward Republicans to support the override of the so-called Right to Work bill vetoed last month by Gov. John Lynch.
One of those efforts includes a request for at least one Republican lawmaker who won't change her mind to attend the funeral of former Gov. Walter Peterson in Peterborough on Wednesday afternoon - while the House is in session at the same time and an override vote could take place.
Rep. Susan Emerson, R-Rindge, was a close friend to Peterson. She told the Portsmouth Herald she has received various inducements from Republican House leaders - including a "plum" legislative district when redistricting takes place and reinstatement to her former committee seat - to change her opposition to House Bill 474. She was very disappointed that House Speaker William O' Brien, R-Mont Vernon, did not reschedule the session earlier in the day or cancel it altogether so a number of lawmakers could attend Peterson's funeral.
"(Peterson) and I were very close, and though it was tempting, I will be in Concord to sustain the veto if it comes up," Emerson said. "I told them (House leadership) that everyone would know I sold out to them if I changed my vote."
She said, despite O'Brien's strong lobbying effort, he does not have the votes necessary to reach the two-thirds threshold to override Lynch's veto of House Bill 474. (Calls seeking comment to O'Brien's office were not returned.)
The political battle over the Right to Work bill has led to the most contentious veto fight in years and a most public battle of political wills between O'Brien and Lynch. Emerson said in more than 10 years of serving in the House, she's never seen the level of intensity and disrespect for different opinions that she sees now. O'Brien and House leadership have targeted dozens of Republicans who either voted against the bill or did not vote on May 4 when the revised Senate bill passed 225-140. The override vote was originally scheduled for May 25, before it was withdrawn for June 1 - and it may be brought up at the last minute today.
Sponsored by Rep. Will Smith, R-New Castle, the legislation would, among many provisions, prohibit unions from collecting dues from nonmembers who are part of a collective bargaining agreement and prevent unions from forcing workers to join them. Supporters such as Business and Industry Association President Jim Roche said, "Employers in New Hampshire and around the country support a Right to Work law and, in fact, use it as a factor in making business decisions about where to expand."
But opponents such as Rep. Tim Copeland, R-Stratham, have derided the bill as "right to work for less" and a thinly disguised attempt at union busting that would that would lead to lower wages and benefits for all workers. In his veto message, Lynch disputed the need for the bill. "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."
If passed, New Hampshire would become the 23rd state to have Right to Work provisions and would be the only state north of Virginia along the Eastern seaboard. A poll released by WMUR TV-9 and the University of New Hampshire Survey Center earlier this month found that more than 60 percent of state residents who responded support the right of public and private employees to organize unions and collectively bargain for wages and benefits.
In an e-mail message sent last month to Republicans a few days before the scheduled May 25 session, O'Brien said "the issue of a veto override is no longer just about Right to Work. Very simply, the issue is about whether the policy of the state of New Hampshire will be set by a Republican supermajority or by a Democrat(ic) governor."
Rep. Marshall "Lee" Quandt, R-Exeter, is one of a handful of Seacoast region Republicans who plan to vote to sustain Lynch's veto. Quandt has been a vocal critic of O'Brien and Republican House leaders for months. He called the arm-twisting on the override vote "maniacal" and said attempting to persuade lawmakers such as Emerson to forgo a potential vote to attend Peterson's funeral was troubling.
"It's the lowest thing I've ever seen and shows they want to win at any cost," said Quandt, who will be in Concord today. "They have no parameters of decency."