NH Senate Tables HB 370; Education Tax Credit Intact

Republicans in the New Hampshire Senate today derailed an attempt to repeal the state’s education tax credit. On a straight party-line vote, senators voted 13-11 to table HB 370. A two-thirds vote would be required to remove the bill from the table, and further action is unlikely.

I’ve written about the bill and people affected by it here, here, and here. New Hampshire’s education tax credit is available to businesses that donate to a private scholarship fund to benefit students in grades K-12. The scholarships give lower-income families a greater range of educational choices. No state money is given to these families, and the program is therefore not a voucher.

The bill’s docket shows an interesting sequence of events on the Senate floor today, and at this writing the actual roll calls have not yet been linked. The Health, Education, and Human Services committee’s recommendation to kill (ITL) the bill was the motion that drove the day’s debate, but that motion was not acted upon. Instead, after long and emotional debate, Sen. Jeanie Forrester (R-Meredith) moved to table the bill. That motion was adopted 14-10, and I don’t know the name of the lone Democrat who voted with the majority. Sen. Bradley then moved reconsideration, as a parliamentary maneuver, and a second vote on the tabling motion was taken. That was the 13-11 vote that decided the matter.

Senators like Lou D’Allesandro and Molly Kelly who have spoken with passion and eloquence about trusting women and valuing choice when it comes to abortion took a different approach to the education tax credit. “Choose what?” has always been my response to right-to-choose rhetoric. For New Hampshire’s Democratic senators, trusting women to choose apparently finds its limit in education policy. After all, a lot of moms have applied for these education-choice scholarships for their children.

The Network for Educational Opportunity, which administers the scholarship find in New Hampshire, had this post on its Facebook page after the vote: “We want to thank ALL of you wonderful people for your support through this legislative battle. Your calls, emails, letters to the editor of papers, Facebook shares, attendance at hearings, prayers, well wishes, and notes of encouragement all helped us win today.”

Governor Maggie Hassan opposes the tax credit and had promised to sign repeal legislation. Her official statement after the vote today referred to a “misguided voucher program,” despite the fact that the tax credit law has no relation to vouchers.

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