In the world of legislating in New Hampshire, you win some, you lose some and some require just a couple more votes.
In this column two weeks ago, I used a bill I introduced at the request of the J. D. Salinger family, Senate Bill 175, to let readers know how long it can take to get a bill passed. Prominent individuals, like J. D. Salinger, the author of The Catcher in the Rye, control the use of their name and image during their lifetimes. SB 175 would allow those individuals to pass along, through a will or other means, the control of their image or the use of their name to their heirs for 70 years after their death.
The bill went through a long and torturous life over two years. It was drafted in the fall of 2010, I introduced it in January 2011, it passed the Senate in January of this year and the House in mid May. Both chambers passed the bill without dissension on voice votes. The Senate concurred with the House amendments last month.
Those that worked on the bill feel it is a good bill. But, Governor Lynch does not. And he vetoed it last Tuesday. In his veto message, he said "I believe the omission of legitimate, clear exceptions for news and expressive works would inhibit constitutionally protected speech …"
So, after all the work in the House and Senate, the bill needs two more votes, first in the Senate and than in the House, when both bodies will be holding "veto sessions" on June 27. We will see if the Governor’s veto can be overridden by super majorities of the Senate and House.
The day before the Governor vetoed Senate Bill 175, he signed another bill that will help level the playing field between traditional land line telephone companies and their competitors including cable companies like Comcast. I introduced the "telecommunications reform bill" in January of last year and it took well over a year to get consensus in the Senate and House on the bill.
FairPoint, our state’s largest land line telephone company, released a press release with a quote from me that said in part, "The New Hampshire telecommunications industry is no longer a monopoly environment, but rather a competitive environment with more than 30 providers. The law reflects this transformation, so that we can encourage ongoing private investment in the state’s telecommunications infrastructure."
These two bills are good examples of the ups and downs of the legislative process. Good and well meaning elected officials sometimes agreeing, sometimes compromising and sometimes completely disagreeing. That is what a functioning democracy should foster.
These days a very frequent question is: "What are your plans now that the legislature is out of session?"
For each legislator, there can be many answers. One answer for me is that I have time to go to meetings and participate in charity or trade group events. The leadership of SkiNH, the industry trade group, invited me to play in their golf tournament which is one of their annual meeting activities. The SkiNH annual meeting was at the Mount Sunapee Resort and their golf tournament was held at Newport Golf Club.
In years past, legislators would be guests of host organizations. Laws have changed about public disclosure of such gifts and I prefer to go ahead and pay for my own golf. In this case, it was $40. While it may seem a small thing, I think most of us try to go the extra mile to make sure the letter and the intent of the law dealing with gifts to legislators is met.
I did luck out and shared a golf cart with Kris Klombeck, the general manager of Pats Peak Ski Area. He is Chair this year of SkiNH. Talking with him I gained a perspective on the current state of the ski industry in New Hampshire and especially the impact of the last season with its lack of snow. It is obvious that as an industry there is a need to move toward more year round revenue sources. Pats Peak, for example, hosts dozens of weddings each year.
The next morning area legislators were invited to a breakfast at Mount Sunapee. At my table were two representatives of Liftopia, a San Francisco based company that sells ski lift tickets over the internet for more than 200 ski resorts across the country. Once I heard the description of their business, it all made sense. We buy so much over the internet why not lift tickets.
I also had a chance to catch up with Jay Gamble, the general manager of Mount Sunapee Resort. He is always a source of information on the ski industry and, as one would expect, he also had news about new summer offerings that will be coming on line this summer. That includes a new miniature golf course that I think I will try out when my two grandsons visit from Portland, OR in late August.
Legislators benefit from learning about businesses in their areas especially when the industries have a significant role in our state’s economy. I found being with the SkiNH folks for a couple of days was not only enjoyable but I gained expanded insight into an industry we all want to be successful.