With the Governorís decision on Friday to let the budget bills become law without his signature, the summer for legislators can truly begin. Legislators will go back to Concord for a day in the fall to deal with other vetoes by Governor Lynch and a few committee meetings between September and the end of the year, but for now the legislature has gone home.
There is no question Senators look at the state budget in terms of its impact on the state. But, we also look at how communities in our districts made out.
Top priority for me has been to insure that Unity be treated like every other school district has been since the state school building aid program was created in the 1950s. This simple sentence in section 2 of House Bill 2, the bill with statutory language to implement the budget, did the job, "Paragraph I of this section (imposes the school building aid moratorium) shall not apply to the Unity School District for the project approved by the town at a special meeting held on August 23, 2010."
That language was put into the original draft of HB 2 by Governor Lynch and kept in the budget by the House and Senate. To establish a Senate position on the Unity school building aid issue, I also introduced a bill (SB 24) that passed the Senate and was put on the table so the language could be inserted into the budget if it had been taken out in the House.
House members representing Unity were united in their support of my efforts including Representatives Lovett, LaCasse, Gagnon and Osgood, all from Claremont. I am especially appreciative of Representative John Cloutier (Claremont) who withdrew his bill so that there would be no competing bill in the House while the budget was being debated there. Working together, the task was completed.
The impact is that the state will pay 45 percent of the principal of the life of the bond approved by Unity voters last August which will amount to about $2.115 million in savings to the community. That is just what has been done for hundreds of projects throughout New Hampshire over the years and I am pleased that my fellow legislators will allow Unity to be exempt from the current, and hopefully temporary, school building aid moratorium.
Two years ago, the budget approved, then contained, provisions to close the district and family courts in three communities including the one in Claremont. This budget has no such requirements and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Linda Dalianis, in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee, assured Senators that the court system was not going to be closing any courts in the next two years.
And while the state has been shutting down regional Division of Motor Vehicle offices, I have been assured that the Department of Safety funding in the new budget lessens the chances the Claremont DMV office will close.
The last scheduled sessions of 2011 of the House and Senate were held last Wednesday.
The business of the day was the same for both chambers: Vote up or down on 34 committees of conference reports including three on budget bills and vote yes or no on whether or not to override three vetoes by Governor Lynch.
Everything went smoothly except for the Senate taking a couple of one-hour-plus recesses to await action by the House on bills and vetoes we had not voted on. The Senate finished its work by late afternoon. Veteran Senators tried to explain to new Senators that in past years the last session usually went late into the night. New Senators who have not experienced that simply shook their heads in disbelief.
Senator President Peter Bragdon (Milford) has been a tough disciplinarian. He starts each session right on time. Past practice has been looser and at times we started an hour or more past the posted session start time. Plus, in the past there were often several time-consuming caucuses called by either the majority or minority that stretched out the legislative day. The need for caucuses is less now because the Senate's 19-5 Republican majority can work out most of the issues before the session begins.
There is a consensus amongst Senators of both parties that we like the new style of on time, focused sessions that move along quickly and effectively, thanks to Senator Bragdonís leadership.
The Old Home Days season started with 10 days of events in Walpole highlighted by the parade on Saturday and band concert on Sunday night. This legislator always enjoys Old Home Day parades, full of fun and the enjoyment of seeing folks you may not have seen since last yearís Old Home Days. And it is good to know we are keeping the New Hampshire Old Home Days more than 100 year old tradition alive and well.
I marched in the parade with Walpole Selectman, Whit Ayres, and State Representatives Lucy Weber (Walpole) and Anne Cartwright (Alstead) along with County Commissioner Jack Pratt. We then watched as the rest of the parade passed by the reviewing stand on Main Street.
Missing was Representative Tara Sad who was injured in an automobile accident about two weeks ago. It was announced from the reviewing stand that Representative Sad had returned home from the hospital for the rest of her recuperation. I wish my friend a complete and speedy recovery.
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