After more than an hour of debate on the floor of the New Hampshire House, the repeal of last year's voucher bill for religious schools passed pretty much as expected. In fact, only seven Republicans (including I; see other blog for my speech) voted for the bill, and only five Democrats voted against it in the final vote of 188-151.
The bill now faces an uphill fight in the Senate where all 11 Democrats and Republican Bob O'Dell are expected to support repeal, but that would still leave a 12-12 tie (and defeat) since Hampton Republican Nancy Stiles, a long-time opponent of vouchers, has tipped her hand and promised to vote to keep the vouchers in place.
Governor Maggie Hassan does not fund the voucher program in her budget, and without a doubt, the House will follow suit which should set up the final showdown in a committee of conference battle come June.
Start asking (and wagering on) whether Senate Republicans are so enamored of this unconstitutional plan as to jeopardize the entire state budget?
My guess is they'll back away from this...if in fact the entire thing isn't struck down in court before then.
The seven Republicans voting for the bill were: Gargasz and Vaillancourt (co-sponsors), Lockwood, Copeland, Oligny, Sytek, and Grenier. New London Republican David Kidder, surprisingly, voted with his party.
The four Democrats were the three usual suspects--Winters, Garcia, and O'Flaherty (I like all three but simply don't agree with them on this issue); Jean Jeudy of Manchester (most likely for religious reasons); and Kris Roberts, of Keene, who spoke against the bill and managed to get into racial comments about it (that's as far as I plan to go here).
Democrats lead among House members was reduced by two with the resignation earlier in the day of Tom Donovan of Claremont and Roland LaPlante of Nashua. Unlike yesterday's special election won by a Democrat in a highly Democratic Nashua ward, Republicans would either be favored or given an even chance in the two special elections to fill vacant seats announced today, especially if popular Joe Osgood runs in Claremont. Another upcoming special election, in Ward 2 in Manchester, should be considered a pure toss-up. Ward 2 is a classic swing ward, and former Republican Rep Win Hutchinson will not to face the shadow of Obama at the top of the ticket.
When the new Nashua seat is filled, the Democratic advantage will be down to 218-179.
However, note that on a given day, more Democrats tend to be absent than Republicans, including of course the always absent Manchester No Shows led by the Katsiantoni and Pat Garrity.
Of 56 Representatives absent for today's voucher vote, 31 were Democrats, 25 Republicans.
Of the 56, eight were from Manchester, including seven Democrats--the Katsiantoni, Garrity, Boisvert, McCloskey, Williams, Palanagas (and Martel). Once again, the Manchester absentee rate was twice the state average.
See if you read that in any of the main stream media!