Legislative Action Alert Week of May 16, 2011 Jackie Cilley jcilley@aol.

com On Mowing and Meditation Bruce and I “took the weekend off” at our rustic little cottage in Maine. For Bruce at least, there’s really no such thing as down time. For reasons I can’t explain or understand (and, frankly, have stopped trying), raking in Maine is somehow different from raking at home for him. He can mow, trim shrubbery, weed-wack, move plants around, paint trim, and get generally dirt streaked and nasty-smelling and appear for all the world to be having the time of his life. I, on the other hand, sit protected from black flies on the screened porch contemplating the ways of the world. I suspect Bruce is more productive than I am but I haven’t chipped a fingernail at my pursuits. The world was a different place politically when we were here last summer. Sure there were some heated debates among friends about the direction of the country, fiscal policies, healthcare policies and so on. The mood seemed restive and there was plenty of talk of change. Candidates for state and federal offices here, in New Hampshire and in states across the country talked endlessly about the economy, jobs and budgets needing to be trimmed. The Tea Party was on the rise and the media accommodatingly amplified its voice, making it seem numerically much larger and stronger than it was or is. Its candidates served as the butt of numerous jokes and who, many political observers contended, would not garner the votes to win office. No doubt some seats would change hands, but reasonable people would be elected who would find reasonable solutions to the problems facing each state and the country. Voters would never elect extreme candidates such as Sharon Angle of Nevada, Christine O’Donnell of Delaware, Allen West of Florida or even Rand Paul of Kentucky. Except in many instances they did. Voters certainly didn’t elect all of their approved candidates, but on the whole the Tea Party had amazing success with 65% of their endorsed candidates for US congress
1

winning election and significantly shifting the balance of power and the direction of the country. The relevant question now is did voters get what they bargained for? If New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Ohio, Illinois and even Maine are any indication there seems to be considerable buyers’ remorse. Instead of focusing on the economy and job creation, these legislatures have fast-tracked gun bills of all manner, elimination of worker rights, dismantling women’s reproductive healthcare and pushing draconian budgets that leave thousands of our citizens behind. The local dineah owner’s sentiments are telling. A Republican and initial supporter of recently elected Gov. Paul LePage, Norm’s pretty uncomfortable with his new Governor. Among LePage’s first acts was removal of murals of workers from the Department of Labor (because they showed favoritism of workers over big corporations!) and support of expanded child labor (allowing kids to work more hours below minimum wages). Norm wishes for an electoral do-over. I’ve met a lot of folks like Norm here in Maine and in New Hampshire. There’s a difference in Maine – one I hope we import to New Hampshire. Here there is a critical mass of influential Republicans who are standing up against the radical Tea Party agenda and most especially the assault on workers. In an unprecedented opinion piece by eight Republican Senators, LePage (a member of their own party) was taken to task for his abusive attitude and tone toward those who disagree with him (can anybody out there say Speaker O’Brien??) as well as his attitude toward labor (again, does this sound familiar in NH?). “We may find ourselves on opposite sides of an issue or vote, but we are all working to achieve what we feel is best for our great state. We are not the enemy of labor and labor is certainly not an enemy to us,” state these Senators in the op ed and subsequent interviews with newspapers throughout Maine and they go on to say “How we do things is as important as what we do.” Maine’s politics have long been moderate on most big issues, not so different from the New Hampshire of a short time ago. These Senators are certainly defending that tradition. It may also be they’re feeling the early winds of a serious backlash that polls are just beginning to pick up on. It was
2

something to think about as I sipped my coffee and watched Bruce re-stack his wood pile.

Contents
Page 1 2 5 6 7 7

Thought for the Week: On Mowing and Meditation Breaking News – Daler Wins Special Election On the Senate Floor NH’s Minimum Wage Tradition Out the Window How Many Avenues to Union Busting? Pesky Federal Grants Safe for Now Sending Messages to Congress Senate Hearings on Select Bills Death Penalty Expansion 7 Banning Utility Companies from Using Eminent Domain On the House Floor Winnepesaukee Speed Limits Upheld 8 Thorny Issue of Reasonable Compensation 9 Pressure to Override Gov’s Veto on Right to Work 9 Ethics by Any Other Name Just Ain’t Update on the Folks Behind the Curtain How Committees of Conference Work ♦♦♦♦♦ Breaking News

8

10 11 12

As I was wrapping up this week’s Alert, the results of the special election in Hillsborough, District 4 were released – and they were stunning. In the 16th (of 103) most Republican district in New Hampshire, Democrat Jennifer Daler swept her opponent by 59% to 41%. Daler, a former legislator, replaces former Rep. Bob Mead who took the position as Chief of Staff to Speaker Bill O’Brien.
3

As the first of four scheduled special elections all eyes were on Hillsborough, District 4 as a bellwether of voter sentiment in response to the agenda of the current majority in Concord. In April Andrew Hemingway, Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus NH, exhorted activists to work for Republican Peter Kucmas and keep the seat in Republican hands. “If the progressives pull off a victory, they will claim that this is a repudiation of the Republican agenda,” stated Hemingway, “and, it will be seen as a direct hit to Speaker O’Brien…” In a similar vein James Pindell on WMUR Politics noted that “…even Speaker O’Brien says the election will serve as a referendum on him and a reaffirmation that voters meant what they meant in November.” Pindell went on to say, “Republicans can and should win by any margin possible, and if they don’t, it will be a huge story.” Equally stunning was the 22% of voters who turned out – a precedent over any special election in modern memory, suggesting that voters are energized and motivated to change the direction of our state. This election was not without a strange occurrence. The door to the New Boston polling location sported a sign that read “Per pending legislation you will be required to produce a photo ID in order to receive a ballot.” Some voters saw the sign and turned away without voting. Anybody arriving without their purse or wallet would likely have believed that they wouldn’t be allowed to vote. It is a mystery that any moderator worthy of the title could have believed it appropriate to implement a piece of legislation that had not yet become law (if, indeed, it does). It took complaints and an inquiry from the Attorney General’s office to demand the sign be taken down and for voters to be allowed to cast their vote. The matter is now under investigation. There are three additional special elections scheduled in the southern tier: Strafford, District 3 on August 9, Rockingham, District 14 on September 6, and Hillsborough, District 3 on September 20. It is interesting to note that the Union Leader has already called these races in favor of Democrats. In an article covering the Hillsborough 4 special election, the piece ended with the following line: “Democrats also won state representative races in Hillsborough County District 3, Rockingham County District 14 and Strafford County District 3.” Nice to see that the Union Leader also appreciates public reaction to the New Hampshire traditions-killing legislation coming out of Concord these days! ♯♯♯♯♯ Well, folks, as difficult as it is to believe, we’re nearing the end of this year’s legislative saga. The House has wrapped up hearings on Senate bills and is finalizing its work on the last of them. The Senate will hear 7 bills in the
4

upcoming week and it, too, will have completed its regular legislative calendar. Once all bills have cleared each chamber, the process of voting on concurrence will begin in full (there is already a committee of conference underway on changes to the pension system in SB 3). The real circus will get fully under way with the committees of conference. It is a messy process under the best of circumstances and the dynamics of this year promise to make it more so. Rumors are flying that the House is really angry about the way that their bills have been treated by their colleagues in the Senate. Watching the battle over whether kids will be allowed to carry guns in school, whether all federal employees can be tossed out of the state in order to protect its sovereignty or whether the New Hampshire Army will resurface in the process could be more entertaining than the whole session we’ve already been subjected to! In case you missed it, I’ve included an overview of the committee of conference process contained in last week’s Alert at the end of this document. For the full details of House and Senate calendars, please visit the General Court website at http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/. You may also want to download the Journals from that same site for each chamber. In those you can read the remarks made by legislators during debates on legislation – always good nighttime reading entertainment! Additionally, the Journals contain the roll call votes of each legislator. You will be able to see how your legislator voted on any bill of importance to you. ♦♦♦♦♦ On The Senate Floor This Week Over the upcoming two weeks Senate committees will take up the final 7 House bills, completing their legislative calendar of hearings. In another sign of winding down, the full chamber will make final decisions on only 23 bills reported out of its various committees. The recommendations of committees on House bills continues to show the Senate to be the more moderate of the two bodies, though there is a shared ideology between the two as can be seen from the bills discussed below. The indisputably most important piece of legislation that continues to be worked on in the Senate is the budget. The Senate will unveil its rendition of the biennial budget within the next two weeks. Detailed below is a selection of noteworthy bills to be voted on by the full Senate as well as those being heard in committee. For a comprehensive list of floor action and committee hearings please go to http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/scaljourns/ Minimum Wage Tradition Out the Window
5

Championed by two Republican governors over 75 years ago, the minimum wage has a long tradition in New Hampshire. In days when Republicans cared about workers, the unemployed and the poor Governors John Winant and Styles Bridges fought to ensure a social safety net in our state that is now being unraveled by their modern day successors. At Bridge’s insistence New Hampshire became one of the first state’s in the country to have an Unemployment Compensation Division with units devoted to promoting jobs and to increasing the minimum wage. (Sadly illustrative of how far our conservative colleagues have strayed from their roots, are the many social programs Bridges supported including elderly assistance when he “… revamped the state’s old-age assistance program so that New Hampshire became the first state in the nation to qualify for participation in the new federal Social Security program.” Styles Bridges, Yankee Senator, Kiepper, 2001) Not letting the door to history hit them in the arse as they slam it shut behind them, these legislators are about to ban our state’s ability to determine its own minimum wage standards. HB 133 mandates that New Hampshire’s rate be no higher than the federal minimum wage. Along party lines and by a supermajority, the House passed this bill by a margin of 239 – 106. Similarly, the Senate Commerce Committee recommended passage of this bill with no changes by 4 -1 along the same party lines. It will now go immediately to the Governor’s desk for signature or veto. There is no word yet from the Governor’s office of his intentions toward this bill. However, each legislative chamber has a comfortable supermajority to override a possible veto and is expected to do so. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of HB 133 is its contrast to the numerous bills passed by this legislature to assert the state’s rights against any intrusion of the federal government. How Many Avenues to Union Busting? The anti-worker ideology of the current legislature has been well documented in earlier editions of the Alert and elsewhere. Pushed by such groups as the American Legislative Exchange Council (see an overview of this group on p. of this week’s Alert), Americans for [billionaire’s] Prosperity, Cornerstone Policy and Research among other extreme right-wing financiers are numerous bills whose goal is to strip workers of long-standing rights. One example, the elimination of collective bargaining, has transitioned to a study committee on the topic for the time being (this could come back up during the committee of conference process on several bills such as HB 2, HB 580 and SB 3). Additionally, the Right to Work [for less], HB 474, was successfully passed by a veto-proof majority in the Senate and is coming back to the House on May 25 for an attempted override of the Governor’s veto. The bill passed the House without the votes to override the veto. [See
6

list of legislators needed to sustain the Governor’s veto under discussion of House floor action below.] In yet another example of what critics call the continuing effort to weaken labor unions in New Hampshire, HB 589 comes at the issue from a slightly different angle. This bill, recommended for passage by the Senate Commerce Committee on a 4-1 vote, will eliminate the ability of one union to be recognized as the exclusive representative for an individual unit of public employees. Critics of this bill claim that it may lead to multiple unions representing any given bargaining unit. Consequently, they argue, the bargaining process will be more cumbersome for all parties involved and will ensure smaller sized bargaining units with less ability to have an impact. This bill has already passed the House. Pesky Federal Grants Safe for Now A bill that may have jeopardized federal grants-in-aid, HB 590, has been amended to the creation of a study committee by the Senate. This legislation set out to express the position of the General Court grants not specifically tied to constitutional authorization as interpreted by this legislature would be deemed unconstitutional. Amending the bill to a study committee has temporarily suspended any direct action relative to federal grants New Hampshire departments and agencies receive. However, the reporting date for the study committee, November 1, 2011, allows ample time for legislation to be introduced next year. The Senate Internal Affairs Committee has recommended HB 590 ought to pass as amended to the study committee by a 4-1 vote. Sending Messages to Congress The Senate did not agree with the House on a bill that would have encouraged Congress to withdraw from United Nations. However, it did request through HCR 11 that Congress “limit appropriations to the United Nations system to amounts no greater than those of the second largest financial contributor to the organization.” The Senate Internal Affairs Committee recommended this amended version of HCR 6 to the full body on a 4-1 vote. In a similar show of dissension from their House colleagues, the Senate Internal Affairs Committee voted to kill HCR 12, a bill urging Congress to withdraw the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Senate Internal Affairs Committee voted to recommend an ITL (inexpedient to legislate/kill the bill) by a unanimous 5-0 vote. Being Heard in the Senate
7

The Senate Finance Committee will meet on Monday, May 16 (beginning at 9 a.m.), Thursday, May 19 (beginning at 1 p.m.) and Friday, May 20 (beginning at 9 a.m.) in Rm. 103 of the Statehouse to continue finalization of details on the Senate version of the biennial budget. Once the Senate has rendered all of its decisions on the budget and held a vote of the full chamber, the bill will go back to the House for concurrence, nonconcurrence, or nonconcurrence requesting a committee of conference. A hearing on HB 147-FN, expanding the death penalty to include the crime of willfully causing the death of another during a home invasion, will be held by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, May 18 at 1:30 p.m. in Rm. 305-307 of the LOB (Legislative Office Building). This bill was brought forward in response to the horrific murder of Mount Vernon resident Kimberly Cates, whose 11 year old daughter was also seriously wounded during the rampage. Responding to the anger of North Country residents, HB 648 Seeks to prohibit public utilities from petitioning for permission to take private land or property rights for the construction or operation of certain transmission facilities. The angst as well as the legislation arose in response to plans by HydroQuebec, in a cooperative arrangement with Northeast Utilities, to construct high voltage power lines from the north country to Massachusetts. The companies are seeking the use of eminent domain of properties needed to complete the project. This is a hotly contested issue with dozens of north country residents who testified at the House hearing on this bill expected to make the trek once again to testify at the Senate hearing on the matter. The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear HB 648 on Thursday, May 19 at 1:15 p.m. in Representatives Hall. On The Floor of the House With most of the high profile and controversial bills being readied for committees of conference, the House will vote on principally mundane legislation this week. In fact, almost half the calendar is under “consent” that will require only one vote for the entire listing. Some select bills of interest are discussed below. For a comprehensive overview of bills on the House calendar, please go to
http://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/house/caljourns/calendars/2011/houcal2011_39.html

Winnepesaukee Speed Limits Upheld In a surprise move the House Transportation Committee recommended by a 11-6 margin an ITL (inexpedient to legislate/kill the bill) on SB 27, a bill that would have increased the boat speed in the Broads on Lake Winnepesaukee. While certainly not a concern to the majority of New
8

Hampshire citizens, the issue of boat speeds on Winnepesaukee has been a more than decades-long contentious issue for the legislature. Having finally succeeded in pushing for speed limits on our largest lake, supporters comprised of dozens of businesses and citizens turned out to defend the recent law against changes suggested in the bill. It remains to be seen as to whether the full House will take the overwhelming testimony of those who own residents and businesses all along the lake into consideration and support the committee’s recommendation.

Thorny Issue of Reasonable Compensation Both the House and Senate have passed bills that allow business owners to shelter more (if not all) profits from the business profits tax. Currently there are federal and state standards defining “reasonable compensation,” the amount of money that one can claim is compensation rather than profits earned by the company. In New Hampshire, business profits are subject to the BPT (business profits tax) while personal income is not taxed. Supporters of these bills argue that the standards used by the Department of Revenue Administration are unfair, artificially lowering otherwise “reasonable” compensation. Opponents cite the DRA’s statements that should this bill become law it will prevent them from enforcing any standards for compensation resulting in general fund losses amounting to $45 million or more. The Senate version on this subject, SB 125, is recommended OTPA (ought to pass with amendment) by a 16-5 margin of the House Ways and Means committee. Interestingly, Rep. Susan Almy, writing the synopsis of this bill for the minority, notes that a “…few other states tried to shift the burden of proof years ago and shifted back immediately due to severe revenue losses.” Plenty of Pressure to Override Veto on Right to Work Hitting a new low, the unemployment rate in New Hampshire now stands at 4.9%, one of the lowest in the country. The unemployment rate has been trending downward for two and a half years. That’s difficult to understand in light of those who insist the Right to Work Act will create more jobs and lower unemployment (most especially when every current Right to Work state has a higher unemployment rate than NH).
9

It is not only the improvements to employment that demonstrate the misinformation surrounding this proposed legislation. New Hampshire has also once again been voted the No. 1 most livable state by CQ Press. Rankings consider economic, educational, health, public safety and environmental statistics. All without right to work laws! Amazing! (Anyone out there want to take a wager on whether we hold on to No. 1 status once some of the other proposed bills become law????) Despite the glowing stats and recognition of New Hampshire’s standard of living, leadership at the Statehouse continues to press to implement this harmful legislation. Why would they want to turn NH into the Mississippi of the Northeast? Because their out-of-state puppet masters hold this as their No. 1 priority. Due to some confusion in the way this material was presented last week we are reprinting the list of legislators who voted against the misleadingly titled Right to Work Act. These legislators have been targeted and are being severely pressured to change their vote. Help them to stay strong by contacting them and asking that they sustain the Governor’s veto. Please see Governor’s veto message here: http://www.governor.nh.gov/media/news/2011/051111-veto-hb474.htm . You may want to use the Governor’s points when contacting your legislators. Only Republican Representatives are listed here as all Democratic Representatives voted against RTW. NH Republican Representatives Needed to Sustain RTW Veto Peter Bolster Mike Buxton Russ Day Pat Dowling Laura Gandia Ken Gould Phyllis Katsakiores Priscilla Lockwood Irene Messier Chris Nevins Larry Perkins Lee Quandt Herb Richardson Jeff Shackett Kathleen Stroud John Tholl James Webb Julie Brown Frank Case Debra DeSimone Richard Dwinell Carol Gargasz Gary Hopper Dave Kidder Mike McCarthy Alida Milham Barry Palmer Jim Pilliod Matt Quandt Dave Russell Todd Smith Kevin Sullivan Marc Tremblay David Welch Randy Brownrigg Tim Copeland Jim Devine Susan Emerson Carlos Gonzalez Karen Hutchinson Dave Knox Betsy McKinney Phil Munck Amy Perkins Mark Proulx Bill Remick Frank Sapareto Tony Soltani Ross Terrio James Waddell

Ethics By Any Other Name Just Ain’t
10

In homage to an antiquated legislative concept, the NH House resurrected the Redress of Grievances Committee for the first time in more than a century and a half. Driven by their deep distrust of courts and judges these poor misguided souls reached back to Art. 32 of our NH constitution* to justify taking over the court’s functions. Long ago our legislature recognized the wisdom of a bright red dividing line between those who pass laws and those who rule on them. Unfortunately, these throw-backs to the Dark Ages lawmakers have no interest in under*[Art.] 32. [Rights of Assembly, Instruction, and Petition.] The people have a right, in an orderly and peaceable manner, to assemble and consult upon the common good, give instructions to their representatives, and to request of the legislative body, by way of petition or remonstrance, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.

standing the context of historical decision-making. They have no more interest in historical evolution than they do in scientific evolution. Worse, everything about the rules that govern the House Redress of Grievances Committee begs for corruption and injustice – the very failings presumably underpinning the existence of this committee. First, the chair of the committee has sole authority over which petitions for redress will be heard and which won’t. He decides who should be heard from and who shouldn’t. He can notify others impacted by decisions or he may not. This all came to a head last week. A case involving a father, David Johnson, involved in a decades-long custody battle before the courts came before the committee. During the open committee hearing Johnson gave extensive testimony on the behavior and conduct of his ex-wife. Unfortunately, she had not been notified of the hearing and was not there to hear these charges or to defend against them. Some 2.5 hours later, after a complaint was lodged with the Speaker’s office, Chairperson Ingrebetson divulged that he had neglected to inform the committee of the fact he had been supervising the visitation between Johnson and his daughter. Ingrebetson didn’t think it noteworthy that he had driven from his home in Pike to Londonderry every other weekend for a year, for a total of 200 hours, to fulfill the mandatory supervision provisions of Johnson’s visitation with his daughter. When the complaint was brought forward, the Chair asked for an opinion on this issue from Speaker O’Brien who quickly absolved him of any ethical concerns. As it turns out, O’Brien may have a bit of a thorny problem in this regard as well. After considerable public pressure, Ingrebetson has removed himself from Chairing this particular hearing, though it is unclear whether or not he will participate in deliberations. There is considerably more intrigue on this issue so stay tuned.
11

Update on the Folks Behind the Curtain Past issues of the Alert have reported on extremist organizations responsible for writing New Hampshire’s new laws and who are heavily influencing this legislature. The Americans for [billionaire’s] Prosperity is among the foremost and Grover Norquist has his reach into this legislature as he does throughout the country. For sheer breadth and depth of reach across the country, however, few groups can match the reach of the American Legislative Exchange Council. You may recall that the American Legislative Exchange Council’s name has been raised previously – in context of model legislation to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. ALEC has been around since 1973, is backed by some 300+ major corporations (including, yes, the notorious Koch boys), and until recently was a relatively sleepy lobbying group that schmoozed with legislators from around the country schooling them in corporate interests and hoping that they would look favorably on the issues of concern to these corporations. Well, ALEC isn’t sleepy anymore. Over the past few years it has been aggressively building its ranks and being much more assertive about pushing its extreme legislative agenda. It is rabidly anti-worker and antienvironment. The very bills on these topics making their way through the New Hampshire legislature are very much based on model legislation ALEC promotes. ALEC reaches out quickly to new legislators to get them into the fold and ensure that they understand the wishes of its members. Before most new legislators know where the Statehouse restrooms are located, some attend an ALEC conference to be educated. As can be seen from a post to his facebook page, Sen. Fenton Groen of District 6 (full disclosure, this was the seat that I held prior to last November) felt he “learned a lot” from the event. The problem, of course, is that what he learned was what big business wants not what New Hampshire citizens want. “I am In DC right now. Warren and I attended an ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) conference. ALEC is a conservative association dedicated to conservative fiscal policy and Jeffersonian principles of government. I learned a lot about budgeting processes, best practices that other states are already using and plans and strategies to restore limited government & 10th ammendment rights… Whie in DC I also made a lot of good contacts that I believe will assist me in my work to put the New Hampshire retirement account on a solid footing.” Newly-elected Senator Fenton Groen, a mere three days after taking office.
12

For the full story on the founding and evolution of ALEC, its corporate backers and its legislative agenda, please see the just released report by People for the American Way at http://www.pfaw.org/rww-in-focus/alec-the-voice-ofcorporate-special-interests-state-legislatures You will learn a great deal about how and why the NH Statehouse is doing what it is doing. One way to send a message to companies who use your consumer dollars to fight against causes you believe in is to withdraw your support for those companies.

Committee of Conference Process More than You Ever Cared to Know! Written in Cooperation with Maureen Mann For the uninitiated, the path from proposed legislation to New Hampshire RSA can be short and sweet or long, drawn-out and tortuous. Earlier in the session, by way of example of the former, was a House initiated bill that fasttracked the repeal of “evergreen clauses” in public employee contracts. Passed within two weeks of introduction, the bill went to the Senate for a quick hearing, equally fast floor action and was promptly signed by the Governor. All of this took place within the matter of a month from the time the bill received a formal bill number. By contrast, the biennial budget bills, HB 1 and HB 2, are shaping up to be an excellent example of the longer path. The steps ahead may include: Passage by the Senate of an amended version of HB 1 and HB 2. This is all but certain as the Senate has already signaled the policy amendments that it intends to pull from HB 2 as well as the reinstatement of some of the funds for mental health and developmental disabilities services. Sending the amended bills back to the House for ‘concurrence’, ‘nonconcurrence’, or ‘nonconcurrence with a request for a committee of conference’. The chances of the House concurring with all changes—since it has already signaled significant displeasure with the anticipated Senate alterations—is practically zero. On the other hand, if the House were to nonconcur without asking for a committee of conference, the bill would die immediately. At that point, the state would operate under a continuing resolution that would maintain services at their current level and the Governor would call a special session and the budget process would begin
13

again, though most likely as a more expedited process. Although nonconcurrence is not unusual for other pieces of legislation, it would be highly unusual for the budget bill. So a far more likely scenario for whatever passes out of the Senate in HB 1 and HB 2 is for the House to 'nonconcur and ask for a committee of conference' (CoC). A CoC, even for those folks steeped in the traditions of the House and Senate, is a messy process from which all parties often emerge less than satisfied with the final result of negotiations. The CoC is comprised of both Senate and House members, usually selected from the committees that heard the bill in their chamber; although in the House the Speaker, not the committee chair, makes the final decision on who will become members. While this composition of the CoC’s ensures that members are knowledgeable about the legislation, it may also result in entrenched attitudes about the bill. In the House, in fact, any House member of a CoC who cannot support the “House position” must notify the Speaker so he or she can be replaced by someone who will support that position. It is not unusual for members to be switched out and replaced by others. During the CoC, members work to find agreement on each point of the budget, meeting jointly but voting separately while in conference. Members may not change the title of the bill, nor may they add amendments that are not germane—amendments in which the subject matter is not contained in either the House or Senate version of the bill—although this has been interpreted very loosely. Nor may members include subject matter from another bill that has been indefinitely postponed. Subject matter from tabled bills may be included. The sponsor of a bill that is in CoC shall, upon request to the CoC, be provided an opportunity to be heard. No public testimony is taken although the public has an opportunity to weigh in by contacting their senators and representatives. It is not at all atypical for CoCs on the biennial budget to go late into the night, even through the entire night some years. To avoid the special session, the CoC will finally hammer out all of the details to members’ satisfaction, or at least sufficiently to obtain a recommendation The bill in the form unanimously agreed to by all members, with senators and representatives voting separately, then heads back to the House and Senate chambers for concurrence or nonconcurrence with the CoC’s recommendation. At this stage of the process no further changes can be made. The bill is submitted to the full House and Senate as is and requires an up or down vote on its entirety. In order for the budget to pass, it must receive a majority “yea” vote on concurrence. Failing that, the bill dies and, as noted above, the process will need to begin again via a special session.
14

Typically, the hammered out compromise of HB 1 and HB 2 receives agreement from each chamber as that is often preferable to resorting to a continuing resolution and special session. The bill then heads to the Governor’s desk for signature, veto, or passage without the signature of the Governor. The distinction between passing with or without a signature has no impact on whether a bill becomes law. The difference is wholly political. The Governor makes a statement of support by placing his signature on a piece of legislation. He may decide that a bill is not something he supports but that a veto may make matters more problematic, so he is willing to allow it to go into law but not with his public support. If the bill, in this instance the budget bill, is vetoed, both the House and Senate must “take up the veto” to determine whether it is possible to override it. In this legislative year in which supermajorities exist in each chamber, it should be relatively easy for each body to muster the two-third majority needed to override a Governor’s veto and pass the bill. That said, surprises have and do happen.

15