Even as the hearing on House Bill 370, the effort to repeal last year's voucher bill for religious schools, heads into hour number four (and counting as I write this), this issue has been decided.
Senator Nancy Stiles, R-Hampton, was the second person to speak. She stated that although she opposed the voucher bill when it passed, it hasn't had enough time to ascertain the impact, so she will not vote to repeal it.
Senator Andy Sanborn, R-Bedford, as expected, also spoke against appeal, but that was expected.
The Stiles vote was necessary to get to a 13-11 margin in the Senate. Without her, the best repeal proponents (and I am proudly one of them) can do is a 1-12 tie after the bill passes the House which it most assuredly will.
Had Stiles not made up her mind or even had she been leaning against repeal, she could have remained silent. The fact she chose to speak out means that she is very likely to revert to opposition now.
However, I'll try to change her mind. If you really believe that the voucher violates not one but two sections of the Constitution, then you could not possibly think of keeping it on the books for even a single day.
In my testimony, I pointed to both sections of the Constitution and read two paragraphs from recent editorials, one from the Monitor, one from the Telegraph. All committee members received copies; as soon as I finish this, I'll hand deliver copies to Senator Stiles.
Part 2, Article 83 (the same article which gives us the word "cherish" by the way), states, "No money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination."
The voucher bill, not matter how the money is laundered, provides just such a grant.
Part first (The Bill of Rights); Article 6 states, "No person shall ever be compelled to pay toward the support of the schools of any sect or denomination."
The voucher bill would compel such payment.
As the Telegraph noted, the House and Senate were urged to seek a legal opinion on this legislation before enacting it. They both failed to seek such an opinion, I testified, because they knew the answer would be that it is indeed illegal. They also knew they could not procure enough votes, so they opted for an ends justifies the means strategy, ends being vouchers; means being an unconstitutional approach.
Senator Stiles in her heart of hearts must know that.
The Telegraph states, 'The state and other private groups defending the tax credit program make a tortured arguments that somehow the tax credits are not tax dollars. This is absurd on its face because the state would not be in a position to give credits unless it was owed taxes. No taxes, no credits. No credits, no voucher program."
Senate Stiles in her heart of hearts must know that.
The Monitor states, "The tax credit would effectively allow a government subsidy for schools that teach religion and discriminate based on religion in their hiring practices. It is the pea under the shells manipulated by legal sleight of hand."
Senator Stiles in her heart of heart must know that.
Pea under the shell?
Pardon my German, but as I've often explained on the House floor (but not yet this session so far; something to look forward to for sure), that's Hutchenspiel from Hut the German word for hat and Hutchen thus little hat, and spiel for game or to play.
To play the little hat game. On the streets of Berlin, various law breakers would rook unsuspecting tourists (and undoubtedly a few natives) into playing Hutchenspiel. A pea under three shells. The hand being quicker than the eye, playing Hutchenspiel was (and is) a losing proposition.
The Monitor and The Telegraph have figured that out.
You know what's truly sad? That Republicans, supposedly the party of law and order, would break the law in an ends justifies the means strategy. What's really sad is that those who pound away at the Constitution when they believe (often falsely) it is to their benefit to do so...those are the very same people who would ignore the Constitution when it clearly prevents their tomfoolery, their hutchenspielery.
Senator Stiles in her heart of hearts surely must know this.
But she says she will not vote for repeal. Thus the bill passes the House and fails with a 12-12 vote in the Senate.
Where am I wrong here?