As suggested here yesterday, the New Hampshire House chose not to attempt to over-ride Governor John Lynch's veto of the right to work bill Wednesday, but as the issue hung in the air during a relatively short session (three hours), fireworks did in fact erupt.
Rep Tony Soltani, a Republican from Epsom who is on the side of big labor and the governor on this issue, was ruled out of order three times and had to be escorted back to his seat by the sergeant at arms as he tried to hold up the third reading motion at the end of the day.
That's the motion that ends House business for the day, and Soltani was trying to make the point that once the motion passed, the veto could not be voted on. Everyone knew that, but Soltani insisted on restating the point.
After the Speaker ruled him out of order twice and Soltani continued to misstate the rules, one Representative (yes, that would be I) called a point of order. Soltani was trying to say that a right to vote on the bill today was being violated.
There is no such right. The House has until December to vote on the over-ride, and the timing is up to the discretion of the Speaker.
Democrats actually forced a roll call vote on the third reading motion. They lost 255-119. Although that margin of 68.2 percent is more than would be required to over-ride a veto, it should not be mistaken for an indication of sentiment by the House.
Numerous Republicans (including John Tholl who sits next to me and Mark Proulx from my own ward) are on record as siding with the governor, but they did not vote against the third reading motion.
23 Republicans did: Bolster, St. Cyr, Susan Emerson (who has publicly tangled with GOP leadership), Richardson, Remick, Tremblay, Buxton, Champagne, Pepino, Stroud, Soltani, Julie Brown, Steve Smith, Schmidt, and no less than nine from Rockingham County--Amy and Lawrence Perkins, Matt and Marshal Quandt, Devine, Sapienza, Webb, Copeland, and Gould. Note that Frank Sapareto, although against right to work, did not vote with Democrats on the procedural motion to end the session.
Rhodes was the only Democrat to vote for the third reading motion (one would have expected Domingo, Berube, and Gimas to join them, but one never knows). The lame stream media is bending over backwards to report Republican pressure to line up members for this bill but how much have you heard about Democrat pressure to keep their members in line? Not much. If such pressure does not exist, why would all but one vote against an innocuous motion?
That's the kind of stuff you get here but you'll never find reported by the lame streamers who, like on the national level, are soul mates if not bedmates (lets call them fellow travelers) with Democrats.
From early in the morning, roll call votes were taken on non-controvertial bills, clearly so leadership could get a sense of who was present for the session. For example, at 10:33 am, a roll call on HB120 (relative to alcohol beverage advertising) revealed 374 of 397 Reps present (the bill passed 358-15; in case you're adding, the Speaker votes on in case of a tie).
For that vote, 13 Republicans and 10 Democrats were absent; a high percentage number of Democrats since with a three to one advantage, Republicans would be expected to have three times as many Reps absent.
If that number encouraged Republican leadership to push forward with the vote, there was no indication on the floor. For much of the three hour session, attendance remained in the 370-380 range.
Among those Republicans absent were Transportation Chair Sherm Packard (a graduation, I was told) and Ways and Means Vice Chair Norm Major (surgery, I was told).
It didn't appear that many Republicans (against the bill) were inclined to take a walk as some media reports they had been asked to do.
In chatting off the House floor, I learned that Governor John Lynch had indeed been making calls to Republicans to pry them away from their party position (the Rep I spoke with was not swayed by gubernatorial wooing).
I was also astounded that Labor Commissioner George Copadis had been allowed to weigh in on such an explosive issue with an op-ed media piece earlier in the week. He was on the Governor's side, but let me assure you, were I governor, I would tell all department heads to stay out of op-ed pages regardless of which side they might choose to be on.
In other words, shame on Copadis and shame on Governor Lynch for either soliciting or allowing a supposedly neutral bureaucrat to weigh in.
Most matters were of minimal controversy during the session, but Democrats opposed an attempt to attach the 10-cent decrease in the cigarette tax bill to a Senate bill. The Senate has tabled the bill which passed the House, so by attaching it to a Senate bill, the House was flexing its muscles and refusing to be rolled by the other body. The vote was 272-108 (a whopping 71.6 percent) to reaffirm the House position to lower the tax. Four Democrats (Levasseur, Sullivan, Berube, and Domingo) joined 268 Republicans to pass the bill. 15 Republicans (the usual suspects, so tiring I won't even mention them here) abandoned the party.
Oh, all right, you want to know the 15. Here they are--Bolster, Pilliod, Knox, Schmidt, Emerson, Remick, Gargasz, Kidder, LeBrun, Lockwood, Gould, Case, Larry Perkins (but not wife Amy), Brian Murphy, and Julie Brown.
I told you they were the usual suspects!