I think the hearing for the Vaillancourt NHPTV will be most interesting and will show quite a number of things. If it judged on its merits it should pass immediately and sent directly to the floor but unfortunately, I’m very doubtful this will happen. If the bill is judged and decided on its political merits then the best shot it’s got is refer for interim study—and the issue will be looked at, especially on the savings to the taxpayers. If the bill is judged on its power status and namely the forces around it—it will go ITL.
Like I said the hearing will be an interesting one especially to the fact that according to this very board Rep. Vaillancourt has been getting requests to withdraw the bill. I think this means two things: first, the NHPTV powers that be are scared that this legislation catches traction and second, this very well could be a scared tiger that has been pushed into a corner. And what do scared tigers do when cornered?
I don’t like to deal in rumors or unsupportable speculation but in this case I’m going to cite my own political experience dealing with caged tigers. It is very factful that NHPTV is not only a sacred cow but will this proposed legislation it will find political supporters and firepower of many stripes and denominations. And this may be enough.
Now enter the lobbyists.
In my day it was Bouley & Associates, Gallagher Law Firm, The DuPont Group and the list continues on. And I’m confident that there will be a lobbyist presence at this hearing. And if the bill goes ITL or the study route (I believe the later) the question becomes which lobbyist pulled this one off. I also think the study route is a waste of time, basically NHPTV will hope that their issue and their coveted jobs quietly remain just the way they are now.
With this said I’m going to change gears or with this example change tracks: I really like what the U.S. Congress did with Amtrak; the taxpayer subsidized passenger rail system. Under their restructuring legislation an oversight board was created along with a mandate to reduce the federal financial contribution to Amtrak. And I’m pleased to report that it is working: not only have costs been saved but Amtrak is now relying more heavily on the states and regions that use and need its services. I think this is much better than a straight blanket subsidy that is given year after year. If states like Vermont and Indiana want Amtrak service then they should be willing to pay for it.
I hope that the Vaillancourt legislation passes on its merits, it should! But in the event that it doesn’t the Amtrak route might be something to consider. Feeding a caged tiger slowly might be easier than taking it on head on.