The House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee has already heard a number of controversial bills targeting collective bargaining. And unions have responded in force. This afternoon, tensions promise to be particularly high between Republicans and organized labor as the committee holds a public hearing on the resurrected so-called "Right To Work" legislation.
We'll be liveblogging the event from the House Chamber when it starts at 1:30 this afternoon.
But before we go, we checked in with NHPR's Political Reporter Josh Rogers about what you can expect from the hearing this time around.
- It'll be packed with people in general–and union people in particular: Organized labor's been turning out religiously–and en masse–for other collective bargaining bill hearings this session. The only reason the Granite State's not a Right To Work state right now is the fact that Governor Lynch vetoed the bill, and House Speaker Bill O'Brien couldn't muster up enough votes to overturn it. The House Chamber is also big (after all, during floor votes, it holds up to 400 Representatives). So if the committee's holding the hearing there, they're expecting a big crowd. And, Rogers tells us, "For every guy who stands up and testifies in favor, at least ten union people will get up and talk."
- We've seen this new version of Right To Work before: Last session, the House passed a standard-issue RTW law, then amended it to fit a more libertarian mindset: Employees wouldn't be required to pay any fees or dues to unions, but unions wouldn't have to represent non-union employees, either. But there were a number of concerns about this second half of the bill actually violating federal labor laws. The Senate ended up scrubbing that part of the bill, and passed regular Right To Work legislation. Which the governor vetoed. HB 1677 is more in line with the amended legislation the House passed last year.
- Right To Work supporters in the House will stress the difference between the bills: Right To Work has been hugely controversial in New Hampshire. So you can expect some supporters to point out that this particular piece of legislation doesn't just insulate employees from unsolicited union influence, it also saves unions the costs of representing uninterested workers who want to cut their own deals with management.