New Hampshire's Virtual Town Hall
The New Hampshire Legislature upheld Gov. John Lynch's vetos of five pieces of legislation that included a change to the oversight of financial institutions and changes to the state's open meeting law.
The legislature also considered whether to alter the state's reform of the prison system, but Democrats held back a Republican attempt to change the law.
It was a day for the Legislature to consider whether to override Gov. John Lynch's veto of five bills it had passed in the last session.
Most of the day's attention focused on SB 500 -- the law meant to overhaul and reform the state's prison system.
Republicans wanted to bring the bill back into the Legislature so that they could toughen the law as it applies to parole.
But House Democrats, by a vote of 193 to 143, beat back GOP efforts to suspend House rules so that it could vote on a bill that would toughen parole rules for violent and sexual offenders.
The reforms in SB 500 passed the House 256-57 in May, drawing widespread support from Republicans and Democrats.
SB 500 requires all prisoners to be put on parole nine months ahead of a prison term limit. Those who violate parole must be returned to a special prison unit for a maximum of 90 days.
The effort to return the issue to the Legislature began to get traction with Republicans when GOP gubernatorial candidate John Stephen questioned the early release of violent criminals. Lynch said the law, written with the help of law enforcement and victim advocates, helps keep better track of felons with a stronger probation program rather than having them leave prison without any kind of follow-up.
In other action:
The House sustained the veto of HB 1490 by a vote of 297-33.
The measure would have given the Banking Department more power to investigate unfair conduct by financial institutions. Lynch objected, saying in his veto message it would go against recommendations by the state attorney general in a report on a failed mortgage firm that cost investors millions of dollars. The bill would give more authority to the Banking Department, which Attorney General Michael Delaney said had been removed from his agency but should be restored.
The Senate sustained the veto of SB 440 by 24 to 0.
It would have allowed members of the Executive Branch Ethics Committee to participate in campaigns for federal offices. Lynch said the legislation could create a perception that partisan politics plays a role in the committee's decision.
The House sustained the veto of HB 53. The vote to override to make it law was 188-143 but that lacked the necessary two thirds.
The bill exempted public officials and the staff of a public agency meeting as a group from complying with the state's Right to Know Law. Lynch argued the bill could dilute the public's access to government records.
The House, by a vote of 266-69, overrode the veto of HB 1161 but the Senate upheld it, 15 to 8.
It would have repealed communities' ability to license people who sell firearms. Lynch cited safety concerns about taking away the local authority.
The House upheld the governor's veto of HB 379 by a vote of 279 to 55.
It would have allowed elected officials of a legislative body to meet privately to discuss employee collective bargaining agreements before they are submitted for approval. Lynch said such potentially important discussions now subject to open meeting rules could be removed from the public arena.
Read More about our Prison Reform Issue.