Senate Bill 651, “prohibiting collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union,” was sponsored by Sens. James Gray, R-Rochester, and John Reagan, R-Deerfield, and several other Senate members.
This is often known as a “Right-to-Work” law, and the bill provided that it would be “unlawful for an employer and a labor union to enter into a contract or agreement requiring them to pay dues, fees, or charges of any kind to a labor union as a condition of obtaining or keeping a job. Under this law, an employer may not discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because of joining or refusing to join a labor union, or to pay dues, or other charges to a labor union.”
Supporters of such a law have said union membership should be a free choice decision by all employees; opponents to such legislation have said unions negotiate wages and working conditions for all people on a workforce, not just dues-paying members.
The bill had a public hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee just three weeks ago, but was quickly reported out by the committee on a 4 to 1 vote with a recommendation to kill the bill. This past Thursday, the Senate killed the legislation on a vote of 14 to 9. Supporting the motion to kill it were Sens. Martha Fuller Clark, D-Portsmouth; Jon Morgan, D-Brentwood; Tom Sherman, D-Rye; and David Watters, D-Dover. Voting against the motion to kill the bill were Sens. Jeb Bradley, R-Wolfeboro; James Gray, R-Rochester; and John Reagan, R-Deerfield.
Similar legislation has been considered every one or two years in the N.H. Legislature since the 1980s, and continuingly has been rejected either in the House or Senate, or vetoed by a governor.
Constitutional Amendment Concurrent Resolution 9, “providing that an independent redistricting commission shall be established to draw boundaries for state and federal offices,” was sponsored by Rep. Marjorie Smith, D-Durham, and several other House members. It would have put into the N.H. Constitution a provision for a non-partisan redistricting commission, based on census figures every ten years.
The House Election Law Committee voted 12 to 8 recommending passage, with an amendment. The committee reported, “This proposal to amend N.H.’s Constitution directs that, decennially, an independent redistricting commission shall make an apportionment of representatives; which is to say that it shall establish the boundaries of electoral districts for state and federal elections; and shall then submit the redistricting plan to the legislature for approval.”
Recommending the bill be killed, the minority reported, “This provision can easily and should be handled by statute and not a constitutional amendment at this time.”
The House passed CACR 9 on a vote of 217 to 150. “Yes” supported it, “no” did not:
Portsmouth Herald area legislators
Yes: Debra Altschiller, D-Stratham; Lisa Bunker, D-Exeter; Patricia Bushway, D-Hampton; Michael Cahill, D-Newmarket; Jacqueline Cali-Pitts, D-Portsmouth; Renny Cushing, D-Hampton; Charlotte DiLorenzo, D-Newmarket; Michael Edgar, D-Hampton; Julie Gilman, D-Exeter; Gaby Grossman, D-Exeter; Tamera Le, D-North Hampton; Patricia Lovejoy, D-Stratham; Jim Maggiore, D-North Hampton; Dennis Malloy, D-Greenland; Rebecca McBeath, D-Portsmouth; Liz McConnell, D-Brentwood; David Meuse, D-Portsmouth; Kate Murray, D-New Castle; Laura Pantelakos, D-Portsmouth; Ellen Read, D-Newmarket; Peter Somssich, D-Portsmouth; Mark Vallone, D-Epping; Gerald Ward, D-Portsmouth
No: Patrick Abrami, R-Stratham; Max Abramson, Libertarian-Seabrook; Dan Davis, R-Kensington; Jaci Grote, D-Rye; Deborah Hobson, R-East Kingston; Jason Janvrin, R-Seabrook; Aboul Khan, R-Seabrook; Michael Vose, R-Epping
Not voting: Skip Berrien, D-Exeter; William Fowler, R-Seabrook; Tom Loughman, D-Hampton, excused
Foster’s Daily Democrat area legislators
Yes: Peter Bixby, D-Dover; Gerri Cannon, D-Somersworth; Wendy Chase, D-Rollinsford; Casey Conley, D-Dover; Donna Ellis, D-Rochester; Kristina Fargo, D-Dover; Timothy Fontneau, D-Rochester; Amanda Gourgue, D-Lee; Chuck Grassie, D-Rochester; Peg Higgins, D-Rochester; Sandra Keans, D-Rochester; Cam Kenney, D-Durham; Cassandra Levesque, D-Barrington; Linn Opderbecke, D-Dover; Cecelia Rich, D-Somersworth; Jeffrey Salloway, D-Lee; Catt Sandler, D-Somersworth; Peter Schmidt, D-Dover; Marjorie Smith, D-Durham; Judith Spang, D-Durham; Matthew Towne, D-Barrington; Susan Treleaven, D-Dover; Kenneth Vincent, D-Somersworth; Janet Wall, D-Madbury
No: Lino Avellani, R-Sanbornville; Ed Comeau, R-Brookfield; Barbara Comtois, R-Center Barnstead; George Feeney, R-Alton; Peter Hayward, R-Milton; James Horgan, R-Farmington; Timothy Horrigan, D-Durham; Raymond Howard, R-Alton; Mac Kittredge, R-Rochester; William Marsh, R-Wolfeboro; Bill Nelson, R-Brookfield; Mona Perreault, R-Rochester; Joseph Pitre, R-Farmington; Abigail Rooney, R-Milton; Kurt Wuelper, R-Strafford
Not voting: Steven Beaudoin, R-Rochester; Sherry Frost, D-Dover; Michael Harrington, R-Strafford; Thomas Southworth, D-Dover; Peter Varney, R-Alton, excused
Two Republicans joined 215 Democrats in favor of passage, while three Democrats and one Libertarian voted with 146 Republicans opposed.
A three-fifths vote of all members of the House is required to pass an amendment to the N.H. Constitution, which would then go to the Senate for another vote, and then to the voters for final approval at a referendum, requiring a two-thirds vote. According to the House Clerk’s Office, there are currently 396 members of the House, so the requirement for passage would be 238 votes. CACR 9 failed passage by 21 votes.
On the same day, the House voted 224 to 141 to pass SB 8, sponsored by Sens. Fuller Clark and Sherman, which establishes an independent redistricting commission by state law, without the requirement of a constitutional provision. The Election Law Committee had favored that bill by a vote of 18 to 2, reporting “It is intended to put the interest of voters, constituents, and communities of common interest ahead of purely political considerations. This bill creates a framework in statutory law which will enable New Hampshire to have the next redistricting process conducted by an independent commission composed of 15 citizens, selected from a pool of citizens who fulfill the qualifications set out in the bill.”
After passage, SB 8 was sent to the House Finance Committee for additional review, which this past week approved it 13 to 8. It will soon be scheduled for floor action, and if it passes will return to the Senate for concurrence.
Mandating climate and environmental sciences education
SB 583, “relative to the addition of climate and environmental sciences to the criteria for an adequate education,” is sponsored by Sens. Morgan, Watters, Fuller Clark and Sherman.
The Senate voted 14 to 10 in favor of passage, with Morgan, Watters, Fuller Clark and Sherman in favor, while Bradley, Gray, and Reagan were opposed. The legislation was sent to the House Education Committee for a public hearing and further recommendation.
�Missing children� definition
SB 644, “relative to missing children,” is sponsored by Sen. Bradley and Reps. Marjorie Smith and Skip Berrien. It increases to age 18 from 16 the definition of a missing child. The bill was requested by the N.H. Department of Health and Human Services.
The bill was laid on the table by a vote of 13 to 10. Sens. Fuller Clark, Morgan and Watters voted to table while Bradley, Gray, Reagan and Sherman voted opposed to tabling. The legislation can be removed at a later time this session.
Workers’ compensation coverage penalties
SB 451, “establishing an administrative hearing procedure and penalty for an employer who fails to make payment of wages or who fails to secure workers’ compensation coverage,” allows an employer 10 days after a stop work order that is issued by the commissioner of the N.H. Department of Labor to ask for an administrative hearing. The stop work order and penalty is suspended until after the hearing.
The Senate voted 14 to 10 to pass the bill, with Fuller Clark, Morgan, Sherman and Watters in favor, and Bradley, Gray and Reagan opposed to passage. The legislation was referred to the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee for public hearing and further action.
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