The New Hampshire legislature has a fine old phrase I’ve never heard anywhere else: “Inexpedient to Legislate.” It’s the graveside pronouncement uttered just before a bill disappears from view, perhaps never to be seen again. At least not for a long time. If Vermont had such a phrase, it’d be time to invoke it solemnly over the moldering corpse of H.76, the bill to ban teacher strikes. Neal Goswami of the Vermont Press Bureau:
Democratic leaders are maneuvering to amend a bill slated to hit the House floor Wednesday by replacing language that calls for a ban on teacher strikes and the imposition of labor contracts by school boards with a study.
Ah, the study. The favorite murder weapon of backroom dealmaking. H.76’s primary sponsor, Burlington Republican Kurt Wright, sees the writing on the wall and is not happy.
“I think that it’s time for us to act. This bill has been around for a long time,” Wright said. “We either want to ban strikes and the imposition of contracts or not.”
The answer there is “not,” at least not on H.76’s terms. As outlined earlier, most Democrats see the bill as fundamentally flawed because it sets up a long, drawn-out process for resolving disputes. And the longer the process, the more it benefits the employer. I doubt that Mr. Wright is mollified by Deputy Assistant Majority Leader Tim Jerman’s assurances that the study would be “unfettered.” Hell, the study itself is the fetter, tying up the inexpedient legislation for as long as necessary.
The House vote on H.76, scheduled for Wednesday, could be interesting. Republicans vow to strongly back the bill as it stands, and they might be able to skim off enough Democrats to make things interesting. On the other hand, the Democratic leadership might be wielding soft cushions when lawmakers gather for a vote.