Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Tuesday
Jun052012

Sanborn Resignations Could Have Consequences

Filing period for all state offices begins tomorrow.  That's why Representative Laurie Sanborn and her husband Senator Andy Sanborn have resigned effective today.  To file in Bedford, they have to have abandoned their Merrimack County address by the start of the filing period.

If the vote of CACR is razor thin, that's one less vote in favor, but 237 votes will still be required in the House (394 House members times 60 percent equal 236.4--round up to 237).

Senator Sanborn's resignation could have ramifications later on the Senate side.  The CACR needed 15 votes before (24 times 60 percent equals 14.4--round up to 15), but it now only needs 14 (23 times 60 percent equals 13.8--round up to 14).   However, the Senate vote is not expected to be close on the amendments.

The Sanborn resignation would also change numbers for veto overrides.  Currently, 16 of 24 would be required to get to two-thirds for over-rides.  With 23 senators, 16 votes would still be necessary (23 times 2/3 equals 15.34--round up to 16).  Thus, the defection of three rather than four Republican senators could provide victory for the governor on a veto.  The number of Republican senators, with Sanborn's departure, is down to 18.  This could be bad news for those of us who support medical marijuana, especially since Senator Sanborn must have been considered among those who would have voted to over-ride an expected Lynch veto. 

It's too soon to tell whether or not the Sanborn resignation will come into play on other over-ride votes, but conceivably it could on such issues as the school voucher bill.

Wir werden sehen!

Tuesday
Jun052012

Expect Voter ID Bill To Get Vetoproof Margin

The photo ID for voting bill (SB 289)will certainly pass the House and Senate tomorrow, and my guess is that the margin will be vetoproof with room to spare.

This doesn't mean we've heard the last of the photo ID concept because my guess is that if Democrats achieve a working majority next year, they will attempt to repeal the entire process, and that just might happen.  We've noted that time and again on election law issues the past few years.  Republican initiatives were overturned by Democrats when they assumed power in 2007 only to have Republicans put back many of their ideas the past two years.

There's no reason to expect the photo ID bill will be any different, especially since the committee of conference version delays the more onerous provisions of the bill out beyond this election cycle.  In other words, those of us who might have some concerns about the bill can vote for it with the understanding that it really doesn't kick in until after the time when it could be repealed.

I will vote for the bill with that in mind.  As Secretary of State William Gardner, the man I respect most in the state, has stated, passage of the bill in its current form will allow us to see just how many people show up without photo IDs at the polls.  Is it one percent or ten percent?  Or something in between?

Since we're initiating the control during a Presidential election, we can assume the percentages will be less in other election cycles.  Why?  Because we get the most people out to vote during a Presidential year.  In other words, we get people who are less interested in voting coming out in off year elections like 2014.  Logic would dictate that those who are less interested would be more likely not to have proper ID.  If it sounds confusing, just take my word for it...better yet, take Bill Gardner's word for it.

I didn't expect he'd give me a yes or no answer when I asked him if he supported the bill before us tomorrow.  He didn't, but his, "I can live with it" is good enough for me.

I too can live with it, and we'll see what those elected this November decide to do for the 2014 election.

It truly pains me to have to agree with Rep. David Bates, who worked overtime along with Paul Mirski to get redistricting totally wrong, but as always, issues (not personalities) matter most.

By the way, the redistricting arguments are schduled for 9 a.m. across Concord at the Supreme Court building Wednesday morning.  They should be wrapped up prior to the House meeting at 10 a.m.

Tuesday
Jun052012

Guest Commentary--Bedford Rep Opposes CACR12

With less than 24 hours to go before the vote on CACR 12 (the education funding amendment), emails continue to fly back and forth.  I am not going to share two extremely lengthy treatises here, one in favor of the measure from Libertarian-minded Steve Winter, one opposed from equally Libertarian-minded J.R. Hoell (Seth Cohn has also weighed in against).  I will share a shorter note in opposition from Bedford Rep Keith Murphy who voted for last year's incarnation of the bill.  With the loss of people like JR, Seth, and Keith, Republican leadership will most likely need upwards of 380-390 Reps in their seats to come up with the 237 votes needed for passage.  I would increase my odds of it going down from 40-60 to two to one today against, but as I learned with the seven Mancheter serpents on redistricting, people are capable of any unimaginable degrees of treachery.  Certainly high paid House legal counsel/lobbyist/gendarme did not help the Speaker's cause today when he referred to Republican Liberty Caucus opposition as a "bunch of bunk", but then Mosca has never been known for his tact.  Chances are he never graduated from the Dale Carnegie School of how to win friends and influence people but then he just might have alenated some leaners with his intemperate remarks.  If O'Brien is really serious about passing this ill-conceived amendment, he better muzzle Mosca for another day!

I was a bit confused by a reference in today's Concord Monitor story.  It mentioned that Dan McGuire and Paul Mirski are on the liberty caucus board of directors, but didn't actually say they intend to vote against the CACR.  If in fact they are against it, not even a full House will get this thing passed because they are two of canaries in the coal mine according to my analysis.  If these canaries die (figuratively speaking of course), the poisonous fumes will overwhelm more than just a few.

Here's Rep. Murphy's response to GOP leadership.

Pete and Fellow Republicans,

On March 16 of last year I voted for CACR 12, but that was when the first line said:

"...the legislature shall have full power and authority and the responsibility to define reasonable standards for elementary and secondary public education..."

The version we are voting on tomorrow has replaced that line with:

"...the legislature shall have the responsibility to maintain a system of public elementary and secondary education...."

This is a tremendous change. There is currently no Constitutional requirement that the state maintain a system of public education, and this amendment would create one. I understand that the Supreme Court believes there is already such a requirement, but I can read plain English as well as elderly lawyers, and I know there is not. The court insisting that 2 + 2 = 5 does not make it so, and I will not take part in affirming this delusion.

I want very badly to address the Claremont problem, which is why I voted for CACR 12 the first time. Unfortunately, the senate lacks the backbone to deal with it in a forthright, clear, and concise manner, and instead has insisted on adding a requirement that the state maintain public education in perpetuity. I cannot in good conscience vote for an amendment to our Constitution that adds this requirement. When this amendment fails tomorrow, if it should fail, the blame will not fall on those of us voting our conscience, it will fall on those in the senate who are more concerned with their own re-election by appearing to be moderate than with keeping their oath to the Constitution and acting to further our party's basic principles. They will have wasted this opportunity, not the members of the House, who have already passed a clear and well-written amendment.

Some have said that a purist amendment would never pass the people, but that is simply not true. A simply-worded amendment that makes clear that "cherish" does not mean "fund" is so commonsensical that I can't believe the majority of NH residents would not vote for it. I look forward to the opportunity to vote on an amendment that will solve the Claremont problem without adding confusing language and new Constitutional burdens to our state government.

Sincerely,

Keith Murphy

(BTW, I changed your subject line; hope you don't mind.)
Monday
Jun042012

The Week In Polls--June 4--Wisconsin Numbers A Test For PPP

            Tomorrow’s Wisconsin balloting can now be seen as not merely a test for Republican versus Democratic strength (Romney vs. Obama) come November, but with new polling data out today, it can be seen as a test of polling authenticity, and yes as even a test of the validity of those who average polls.

            PPP, that Democratic propaganda machine which masquerades as a polling company, has incumbent Republican Governor Scott Walker up only three points (50-47) on the very same day We Ask American has Walker up no less than 12 points (54-42).

            Huffington Pollster (yes, that would be a left leaning group) went so far as to headline today’s story “Eleventh Hour Poll Shows Walker With Slim Lead” and revealed its average of polls showing Walker up only 3.8 points (50.4-46.6).

            Meanwhile, over at Realclearpolitics.com, the average of polls shows Walker ahead by 6.7 points (51.5-44.8).

            That’s nearly a three point difference not in polls mind you, but in the average of polls!

            Go figure.

            My guess is that RCP has it about right, that Walker should win by six points or so.  You know what; Barack Obama believes that as well; he’s avoided a trip to Wisconsin because he knows the Democratic candidate (gosh, I’ve even forgotten his name) has virtually no chance of pulling this one out.

            National Democrats appear to be sorry that their Wisconsin unionists ever pushed this to the point of recall because a Walker win in the six point vicinity would mean this state, which Obama won handily in 2008, is very much in play.  Marquette University had Walker up seven points (52-45) late last week.

            Following last Friday’s dismal jobs report, Obama has taken a hit of only about a point in approval ratings.  RCP has him at only -0.4 (47.8-48.2) while pollster has him at -1.3 (48.5-47.2).  Rasmussen has it -5 (47-52) while Gallup has it plus two (47-45).

            Intriguingly, both have the President slightly extending his nationwide lead over Romney (2.6 points with RCP and 1.5 with Pollster) at the same time that Romney is pulling even or ahead in some single state polling (lagging indicators).

            For example, look at three states which Obama won in 2008 and seemed to be heading for wins again this year, at least until NBC News/Marist came out with new numbers Thursday.  It’s now dead even 44-44 in Iowa, and Obama leads by only one (46-45) in Colorado and only two (48-46) in Nevada which I was about ready to write off to the anointed one.

            Romney has also pulled slightly ahead in the averages in Florida.  Rasmussen had him up two (46-44) in Ohio last week and today has him even (47-47) in Virginia.

            It’s so bad that Pollster, which had him up to 270 electoral votes, has had to scale that back to 257-181 (RCP Obama ahead only 237-170).

            While RCP has New Hampshire as a toss-up, Pollster continues to show it as not merely slightly for Obama (light blue) but in the safe Obama (dark blue) category.

            Similarly, pollster has not moved Wisconsin to toss-up while RCP has.

            In fact, pollster lists only Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Ohio, and Missouri as toss-ups.  I’d certainly place Missouri in the leans Romney column (even PPP has Obama up only one point, 45-44).

            It’s further evidence that you have to take not only polls, but polling averages and projections, with a grain of salt.

            Look at this data out of Massachusetts for example.  We all know Obama will carry the state, but the question is by how much. The Boston Globe today has Romney only trailing by 12 and failing to hit 50 percent (46-34) while Western New England today has the margin at 22 points (56-34).  Given those numbers, the Senate race should not be surprising.  The Globe has Scott Brown up two (39-37) while WNE has Elizabeth The Liar Warren up two (45-43).

            Oh by the way, did anyone notice what Massachusetts Democrats, who like New Hampshire Democrats seem so dead set against photo ID for voting requirements, required for voting at their state convention over the weekend?

            If you said—a photo ID—you would be correct, a fact which most certainly come up when the New Hampshire House debates a photo ID bill Wednesday.

            You just can’t this stuff up.

            But I digress.  This column is supposed to be devoted exclusively to polls.

            No apologies, however.  Digressions are part of life.

            Micah Cohen, in fivethirtyeight.com, last week noted, albeit somewhat skeptically, improved support for gay marriage among African Americans since Obama came out in favor of the equality measure.

            According to Pew Research, black support of gay marriage was negative ten (39-49) prior to Obama’s statement.  ABC News now finds 59 percent of blacks support gay marriage. PPP found opposition at 44-51 percent in North Carolina has now turned to 55-39 positive.  That’s an amazing 23 point swing since Obama’s declaration, and while I don’t trust PPP’s overall numbers, I always find it valid for comparison purposes.

            Similarly, PPP finds a flip in Maryland, from 39 to 55 percent in favor while opposition has dropped from 56 to 36.

            Long Live Lady Liberty!

            Obama has set his people free!

            As for the generic congressional ballot, Rasmussen has the Republican lead up to seven points (44-37) today, but CNN had Democrats up three (49-46) last week--prior to the dismal jobs report, it should be noted..

           

Monday
Jun042012

Guest Commentary--Six Reasons To Oppose CACR 12

With the vote on the education funding amendment (CACR 12) two days away, emails are flying back and forth.  Apparently, the Republican Liberty Alliance has come out against the amendment, sending Majority Leader Peter Principle Silva into full panic mode.  I agree with the Liberty caucus, and an equally fine argument was made in this email from Bill Duncan, of New Castle, sent apparently all Manchester Representatives.  I suggest Mayor Ted Gatsas read it before he makes any further positive comments about this bill.  I'll send it along to him and herewith share it withe the world.  It has valuable links as well.  Steve V
 
 
Honorable Manchester Members of the House,
I would like to offer 6 reasons to vote against CACR 12.
Higher local property tax or lower instructional quality.
CACR 12 removes any floor under the state contribution to public education.  In 2012, $578 million, 20%, of the $2.9 billion annual budget for New Hampshire public education came from state aid.  This funding is targeted to the communities most in need.  But the Legislature cut that by another $140 million for future bienniums and without the constitutional protections, future legislatures are likely to cut more.  All of that would have to be replaced with increased local property taxes or reduced instructional program.The impact on Manchester would be large and immediate.  It is not possible to predict how much Manchester would lose over time, but the cut already in place means that Manchester will lose $13 million in state adequacy aid - down from $56.7 million to $43.8 million - as soon as CACR 12 is passed and the collar is lifted.

Our children would lose their right to an adequate education.
The New Hampshire Constitution declares that our children have a fundamental right to an adequate education, comparable to the right to vote. Legislative actions are held to a "strict scrutiny" standard by the New Hampshire courts.  That means that, if challenged, the onus is on the State to show that its actions meet the intention of the Constitution to provide an adequate education. If CACR 12 passed, education would no longer be a fundamental right in New Hampshire.  Legislative actions would need only meet a "rational basis" test.  The legislature would have "full power and authority" to exercise its responsibility to maintain a public education system.  The courts would be bound to presume that reasonable effort is constitutional and only overturn a law on inescapable grounds. If a law is rationally related to a legitimate legislative purpose, the courts would be bound to consider it constitutional. Under this standard, a New Hampshire community would virtually never prevail in a challenge to education policy or funding. (Here is Andy Volinsky on the issue)
No improvement in targeting.
The obstacles to targeting are political, not constitutional.  The State can effectively allocate state adequacy aid to communities most in need now.  CACR 12 would allow the Legislature to allocate any desired level of funding on a strictly political basis with no regard to need, balance or fairness.  If targeting were actually the concern, the Legislature could propose an amendment that would establish those requirements.  Here is Rep. Gary Richardson, who favors a targeting amendment but says this one does not measure up.

Never-ending political debate over education funding and unpredictable results.
With no constitutional guarantees or established formulas in place, the decision on how much to fund education and how to allocate it across the state would be made anew each biennium.  Communities that rely on the aid would need to mount a lobby effort each budget session to protect or expand their allocations and would need to remain vigilant at all times for rule changes that might put them at a disadvantage. 

No protection against "donor towns"
The amendment contains no prohibition against donor towns.  For instance, a Legislature desiring to lower business taxes could raise all state wide education funding from the State Wide Education Property Tax and redistribute it state wide according to a politically determined assessment of need.  The reason there are no donor towns now is the political power of the Coalition Communities.  The same would be the case after CACR 12.  Political power will continue to be the only protection New Hampshire's wealthier communities would have against contributing to the education of children in poorer communities - through the property tax, gas tax or any other mechanism.

Loss of both local control and judicial branch checks and balances
CACR 12 is one of several amendments seeking to eviscerate the role of the Judiciary in the conduct of the State's business.  The Courts are our only means of redress citizens and communities have.  In addition, local school districts have far greater control over their schools than in most any other state.  This amendment would eliminate that local control.
Respectfully,

Bill Duncan
New Castle, NH 03854
(h) 603-436-6306
(c) 603-682-4748