These 3 vetoes worth sustaining
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives and Senate will convene to consider Gov. John Lynch’s veto of 13 bills during the past month or so.
These are among the 29 the governor issued during the 2011-12 legislative session, 10 more than the Democratic governor handed down during his first three terms combined, according to the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.
Given that we’ve taken editorial positions on a number of these high-profile bills this year, we thought this would be a good time to restate our position on three of them.
Remember: A successful override requires a two-thirds vote in the House and Senate among members voting that day, so who shows up could play a crucial role in determining the ultimate fate of these bills.
Photo ID (SB 289): This represents the fifth time Lynch has vetoed a Republican-sponsored bill that would require voters to show a photo ID card in order to vote. Here’s hoping his record improves to 5-0.
Is there anything wrong with the concept of every registered voter having an acceptable form of photo ID? Perhaps not in theory.
But the problem arises in implementing such a policy without erecting roadblocks or discouraging those without government-issued photo IDs from exercising their constitutional right to vote in the process.
The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law cites studies that show millions of Americans – as many as 11 percent of eligible voters – do not have a government-issued photo ID card, a figure that is even higher for older Americans, the poor, individuals with disabilities and students.
In New Hampshire, then, the question comes down to this: Is the history of voter fraud here so pervasive – if it exists at all – that it merits consciously making it more difficult for some residents to vote on Election Day?
For lawmakers, the answer should be a resounding no.
Education tax credits (HB 1607 and SB 372): The governor correctly vetoed these nearly identical bills, which would grant state businesses an 85 percent tax credit in return for contributing “scholarship” money to help send students to the private or religious school of their choice.
Low- and middle-income students would be eligible to receive an average grant of $2,500 each year, while home-schooled students would be eligible for roughly $625.
As we wrote last month (May 8: “School tax credits don’t make grade”), no matter how you disguise it, you are taking money now supporting public schools and diverting it to private and religious schools, leaving cities and towns to make up the difference.
The state Department of Education pegs the loss of local revenue in adequate education payments at $4.2 million in fiscal year 2014, $6.2 million in 2015 and $7.3 million in 2016.
That may not sound like a lot of money in the big scheme of things – the current two-year budget totals $10.2 billion – but it certainly is real money that could be put to other public purposes.
Early offer malpractice (SB 406): We would be happy to get behind serious legislation that would give patients an alternative to lengthy and costly medical malpractice jury trials, but this bill isn’t it.
The legislation is tilted so far in favor of the medical community – the maximum award would be $117,000 for a death – that it’s hard to believe it got this far even with overwhelming GOP majorities in both chambers.
Lawmakers should sustain the governor’s veto and try to come up with a more reasonable bill in the next legislative session.