NH Week in Review for Feb. 19: Edelblut approved, right to work defeated

Feb 19, 2017

Gov. Christopher Sununu picked up a win this week with the Executive Council’s approval of his choice of Frank Edelblut as education commissioner. But the Republican governor lost on the GOP-agenda item of right to work, with legislation being defeated in the House this week despite its Republican majority.

The right-to-work measure, SB 11, which had previously passed the Senate by a single vote, was defeated in the House 200-177, with 32 Republicans voting against the measure that would have prohibited collective bargaining agreements that require employees to join or contribute to a labor union. House members also voted to indefinitely postpone the measure, which means it won’t come up for reconsideration during this legislative session or the next one in 2018.

Right to work was a piece of Sununu’s agenda of attracting business to New Hampshire. He expressed disappointment in its defeat, saying in a statement: “This legislation would have provided our state an economic advantage across the region by affording our workers greater choice, freedom and flexibility – true New Hampshire values. While it is clear that some House members did not understand this opportunity to unleash the untapped potential of our economy, I know that we can continue to work collaboratively on initiatives that will drive new business into the state.”

Opponents saw it as a union-busting measure, saying there was no proof that a company’s decision to come or not come to the Granite State was based on right to work. See a Union Leader story here.

The loss of right to work created some upheaval among Republicans with former NHGOP chair Jennifer Horn criticizing House Speaker Shawn Jasper for not holding the Republican majority together on the issue. See a WMUR story here.

The Executive Council -- with three Republicans and two Democrats -- were split that way in their confirmation of Edeblut. Opponents of the appointment criticized Edelblut's lack of any experience in education, a complaint echoed by the state Board of Education. Sununu and proponents argued that it’s Edelblut’s willingness to think outside the box that will help improve public education in the state. See a Concord Monitor story here.

More from Concord

In a 14-10 vote, the Senate passed SB 66, a so-called fetal homicide bill. The measure defines a viable fetus as a person in the prosecution of murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide.See a Union Leader story here.

The House comfortably passed a bill, HB 97, that sets standards for use of the remote-controlled aerial devices, or drones, and defines illegal uses both by the government and private citizens. See a Union Leader story here.

Two bills seeking to curtail fluoridation were killed this week in the House Municipal and County Government Committee. HB 230 would have made it harder to file petitions seeking to add fluoride to water supplies. HB 585 would have changed state law to ban fluoridation outright; currently, a municipal water supply can fluoridate water only if voters have approved it by referendum. See a Concord Monitor story here.

A bill to restore a portion of the state contribution toward the retirement costs of school teachers, police officers and firefighters carried the House by a wide margin. HB 413 would require the state to pay 15 percent of the employer contribution beginning in fiscal year 2018. The state stopped contributing to the pension fund in 2012. See a Laconia Daily Sun story here.

Secretary of State William Gardner said there is no proof that he's seen of the widespread voter fraud in New Hampshire on Election Day as alleged by President Donald Trump. Twice Trump has said he lost the state to Hillary Clinton in November because of 'busloads' of illegal voters from Massachusetts. “Everyone has ways to take pictures and there is nothing,” Gardner said in an interview. “We have nothing. Show me something.” See a Union Leader story here.

Also in the state

WBIN-TV, with its NH1 televised news, is going dark after its broadcasting rights were sold to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The total proceeds from the complex transaction are estimated to be nearly $100 million. Bill Binnie, president of the company, said proceeds from the sale will be used by the company to acquire other media assets in the digital, outdoor and radio areas as well as for continued investment in its 19 radio stations and its digital news web business NH1.com. See a Seacoast Online story here.

With the approach of the holiday weekend and school vacation weeks. Fish and Game officials warned of thin ice conditions, which contributed to three snowmobile-related deaths last weekend. See a WMUR story here.

The University of New Hampshire Survey Center released its first series of polls since the November election. Here are the headlines:

Over on our Facebook page, we’re asking whether you agree with the House vote to kill right to work, and the fetal homicide bill.
 

 

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