Heavy hitters tried to boost Lynch’s education proposal

From NashuaTelegraph.com

Gov. John Lynch’s education funding amendment will have difficulty getting through the Republican-dominated House of Representatives on Nov. 30.

But it sure had some powerful GOP allies during a recent closed-door session with a group of conservative House Republicans.

Try these on for size: the endorsements of GOP candidate for governor Ovide Lamontagne and former Congressman/Supreme Court Justice Chuck Douglas.

The Sunday Telegraph has confirmed those two GOP stalwarts, along with Bedford constitutional law expert Eugene Van Loan, did their best to pitch Lynch’s amendment language before select House GOP members.

House Speaker William O’Brien, R-Mont Vernon, actually put the meeting together to impress on Lynch and allies how difficult it would be to sell the governor’s language, sources confirmed.

Some might find it shocking that a GOP candidate for governor would be doing the bidding behind the scenes for the four-term Democrat he wants to replace.

Fremont GOP Rep. Daniel Itse was in that group and didn’t fault Lamontagne for giving it the old college try.

“Ovide tried valiantly,” Itse said. “He was trying to make the case that this language could get broader support in the voter community at large.”

Itse said he came to support O’Brien’s House-passed amendment (CACR 12) “very reluctantly.’’

To Itse’s way of thinking, Lynch’s amendment would go too far in ratifying the landmark Claremont II decision that said the state has a duty to ensure all students gain access to an adequate education.

“My view is a bad amendment is worse than no amendment, and the governor’s language is too broad and solicitous of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Claremont,’’ Itse said.

Lamontagne wasn’t available for comment Friday.

Attendance questions

The Tuesday hearing on Lynch’s amendment will go off without the guest of honor.

Lynch plans to be at Manchester Central High School for the “nonpolitical’’ visit of President Barack Obama.

Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, and House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli, D-Portsmouth, won’t be there, either.

When the House meets for its planned vote on Lynch’s amendment on Nov. 30, the bar could be raised that much higher.

Under the rules, all constitutional amendments in the House require a three-fifths vote of the entire body, and not those present and voting.

So, even if dozens of House members can’t make it the week after Thanksgiving for the session, it still requires 239 House votes to pass.

Nov. 30 also happens to fall on the same date for fall conferences of two of the leading legislative organizations.

The National Conference of State Legislatures has its meeting in Tampa, Fla., and Norelli is president-elect of the organization.

She has told associates her schedule will be juggled so she can attend the House session.

It’s also the first day of the conservative American Legislative Research Council and its fall meeting in Scotsdale, Ariz.

House spokesman Greg Moore said there was no politics in the scheduling dates chosen for the one-day sessions between now and the end of the year, Nov. 30 and Dec. 14.

“Those were the only dates that worked for the speaker’s schedule and before the holiday season.’’ Moore said.

“With both groups holding conferences, we expect there may be House members on both sides of the aisle who will be unable to make it Nov. 30, but it can’t be held.’’

At week’s end, O’Brien tried to boost attendance for the next House meeting by inviting GOP presidential candidates who were unable to make the first cattle call on Oct. 12.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has confirmed he’ll be at the Statehouse, and invitations have also gone out to Obama, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

Litchfield activist is in

Socially conservative activist Kevin Smith, of Litchfield, made his Republican candidacy for governor in 2012 official.

Smith shares many of the views as early GOP favorite Lamontagne – both support legal restrictions on abortion, oppose casino gambling and would sign laws repealing same-sex marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

So, where will Smith stand out?

At least in this early stage, the Smith strategy will be to come across as the fresh face with substance.

By the time he makes a formal announcement sometime after the first-in-the-nation primary, Smith promises to have a detailed agenda on how to stimulate job growth and especially those “good jobs with good wages.’’

Smith signaled Thursday that he’s going to make jobs and the economy priority No. 1 by saying he wouldn’t be actively pushing a repeal of the same-sex marriage law.

Civil unions for all

Look for the pro-gay rights group Standing Up for New Hampshire Families to ramp up its profile in fighting House GOP efforts to repeal same-sex marriage and replace it with civil unions for nonheterosexual couples of any persuasion.

The group is expected to announce the addition of a prominent New Hampshire lobbyist to the team this week, and then more well-known names embracing the effort.