The governor and the veto pen
Gov. John Lynch took little time in criticizing the budget passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature, citing all of the problems with it, including severed cuts to human services, the university and community college systems and hospital aid. Then he let it become law without his signature, claiming that a larger problem would have arisen if July 1 passed without the state having a spending plan.This caused many to scratch their heads and wonder if the two positions were somehow inconsistent. If the budget is as faulty as the governor claimed, critics say, he should have vetoed it. Time will tell if the voters agree.On another matter, the governor signed the bill allowing municipalities to adopt spending caps, a practice that had been found illegal by the New Hampshire Supreme Court as it was not authorized by state statute, which controls what municipal laws and charter provisions can be. This action validated the spending caps in several cities and towns, among them Manchester, Nashua, Franklin and Rochester.Critics of spending caps claim they are gimmicks that can harm localities because higher spending sometimes is required when state or federal aid are reduced, and when the cap would prohibit needed services or levels of spending required because of municipal debt and other fixed costs.Both of these actions are being reviewed by analysts of the political scene to see if they give any indication of John Lynch's intention to run for a record fifth term, when his term expires next year. A more likely explanation is that the governor did what he thought was right, whether or not others like it.*****Passage of the gay marriage bill by the New York Legislature in June turned the spotlight on New Hampshire, which has a repeal bill next legislative session, deferred for action until next year.There is much speculation about what the GOP/conservative-controlled Legislature will do, and what that would mean to the effort for passage of such laws nationwide. Some who opposed the passage of same-sex marriage in New Hampshire in the past wonder about the wisdom of removing the right after affording it, leaving 1,500 or so couples who were wed under the law still in that status, but removing the law that afforded them rights.It will be interesting to see what the final repeal bill looks like, and whether the votes will be there in the House and Senate to repeal it and overturn an expected veto from the governor, who signed it into law.Among early new bills filed for next session, a number raised eyebrows. The following are actual descriptions of Legislative Services Requests, although the actual bills may reveal something different -- the titles are for real but the parentheticals are mine: • Prohibiting bullying in the State House and Legislative Office Building (by whom, you might ask, leadership?) • Prohibiting a person from being charged with speeding unless there is a victim of the offense (if a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it ...) • Requiring a vegetarian diet for inmates of the Department of Corrections (a clear deterrent to crime) • Designating Miss New Hampshire the official honorary hostess of the state (sorry, Dr. Lynch) • Prohibiting attorneys and their spouses from holding elective office in the legislative or executive branch (sorry, Mrs. Cook and other attorney spouses -- guilt by association) • Prohibiting certain state employees from wearing fragrances (that stinks) • Requiring the courts to give a woman who gets a restraining order a gun and box of ammunition and provide her with instruction in shooting (that should solve the problem -- the abusing spouse will have to kill her the first time)Maybe someone should provide all the constituents of the sponsors a copy of the bills so they can consider then in deciding whether some of these solons deserve re-election.*****Easter Seals New Hampshire, headquartered in Manchester, but providing services statewide as well as through affiliates, in Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts, celebrated its 75th Anniversary on June 29.Staff and longtime volunteers gathered at the Naswa resort on Paugus Bay in Laconia for a beach party, attended by Governor Lynch and former House Speaker Doug Scamman, among many others.Attendees heard stories about the founding of the organization by Harry Gregg, father and grandfather of governors, and of its early years, serving children, then adults, and now people with disabilities from birth through old age.Longtime President Larry Gammon and his predecessor, Bob Chollette -- with a combined tenure of leadership of about 50 years -- were present. Cynthia Makris, proprietor of the NASWA, was a gracious host on a sunny night that reminded attendees of why they live in New Hampshire, both due to the beautiful surroundings and the good work of the cause honored.Brad Cook, a shareholder in the Manchester law firm of Sheehan Phinney Bass + Green, heads its government relations and estate planning groups. He also serves as secretary of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.