"Every bill which shall have
passed both houses of the general court, shall, before it becomes a law,
be presented to the governorÖ"
Our constitution affords the governor an opportunity to veto bills passed by the legislature. Thus far in the last couple of weeks, the governor has vetoed six bills. The vetoes are coming fast and furious because the committees of conference, which resolve the differences between the House and Senate versions of bills, are being completed and published.
Two of his vetoes are most notable. He has vetoed SB3, which was the work of the Senate Executive Departments and Administration Committee. It was amended by one of my committees, the Special Committee on Public Pension Reform. This bill put the NH Retirement System back on track to eventually work off the unsustainable pension provisions for state and municipal employees that have been in place for years.
SB3 is a fair and modest provision that leaves all vested public employees with their benefits fully intact but with a 2% increase in their contributions. Non-vested employees would see an increase in their retirement age or years of service and the inability to "pump up" their retirement pay in their last years. New employees would see more severe restrictions including a committee studying a switch from a defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan.
To counter the governorís veto, this reform has now been added to the budget bill in toto. If the governor wants pension reform killed, he will need to veto the budget. Since there is little current support in the House for a resolution to continue spending at the old level after June 30, that would put the state in severe jeopardy.
The most contentious veto is the Right to Work bill, HB474. I received some strange calls last week from constituents. There were calls on my answering machine asking me to support the governorís veto of HB474. But when I returned home and began personally answering the calls, I had a number of callers hang up. A few others began talking to me after a pause. They asked me to support the governorís veto.
I began asking why these constituents wanted the veto sustained. They all answered that they supported veterans and they were told that HB474 would "discriminate against veterans." I told them that the bill had nothing to do with veterans; it only dealt with how unions were structured. They told me that "the man who called them" said nothing about unions.
One constituent gave me the full story. A man called and told her about the phony "veteran discrimination" issue. He asked her to stay on the line and he would "patch" her in to my answering machine to leave me her message. She did and was surprised that I personally answered. She said she cared about veterans but didnít like unions.
This kind of misleading mischief is frustrating to a legislator. How does one counter last-minute lies when there is no time to respond?
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Contact: ken.s+sunacom.com (replace "+" with "@")