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Sen. Sharon Carson calls for override of two of Hassan’s four vetoes

Sen. Sharon Carson, a Londonderry Republican, has called for override votes on two bills vetoed this week by Gov. Maggie Hassan.

One of the bills would have changed the governance of the Sununu Youth Services Center for juveniles in the justice system. The other would have required state agencies and departments to have policies and procedures in place to prevent workplace bullying or harassment.

Hassan has vetoed four bills so far this legislative session.

Carson also criticized Hassan’s veto of a bill to forbid state agencies from invoking attorney-client privilege in response to a request for information by the legislative budget assistant. Sens. Jeb Bradley of Wolfeboro and David Boutin of Hooksett also criticized that veto, but the three Republicans did not call for an override.

In her veto message of the workplace bullying measure, Hassan said the “Healthy Workplace Bill” was “well-intentioned,” but riddled with provisions that could lead to unnecessary lawsuits.

“This bill, as written, may make the most routine workplace interactions – and the human give-and-take they entail – potential causes of” litigation, she wrote.

The bill defines “abusive conduct” as “a pattern of incidents involving written, verbal, or electronic communications, or physical acts or gestures, or any combination thereof, directed at another employee or group of employees which intimidates, degrades, or humiliates the target. Such incidents may be overt or covert behavior, or both.”

Carson said she was personally contacted by many state employees seeking protection from workplace harassment as the Legislature worked on the bill.

“We received some very chilling testimony as well as personal phone calls and emails from state employees telling us the situations they find themselves in,” she said. “It is unacceptable that this environment exists.”

The bill passed in both chambers on voice votes, which usually indicate broad support, as no opponents sought a record of a roll call vote.

The “Juvenile Justice Reform” bill gave more power to the advisory board overseeing the Sununu youth center and created a director of juvenile justice services position.

The final version, after a committee of conference, passed in the Senate on a voice vote and in the House by a vote of 334-11.

Amendments made by the committee of conference would have shifted the center’s emphasis too far away from education and treatment to incarceration instead, Hassan said in her veto message.

Speaker of the House Terie Norelli said she and Senate President Chuck Morse are working to find a date that works for both chambers to reconvene and vote on the vetoes. It would have to be called before the next Legislature convenes on the first Wednesday of December.

Veto overrides require support from two-thirds of both chambers to pass.

“It may turn out that we disagree with her on some of these,” Norelli said of House Democrats. “We’ll take the opportunity to consider her concerns and we’ll vote on them.”

(Sarah Palermo can be reached at 369-3322 or spalermo@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @SPalermoNews.)

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