According to an email obtained by the Union Leader, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald believes that the amended version of SB 193, which creates a statewide voucher program, is constitutional:
“The New Hampshire Union Leader obtained a copy of an email that Associate Attorney General Anne Edwards sent to Terry Pfaff, House chief of staff, confirming that MacDonald was giving his legal OK to SB 193.
“As discussed with Attorney General MacDonald this morning, we believe that SB 193, with its proposed amendment 2018-2530h, is constitutional,” Edwards wrote, referring to the extensive amendment that cleared the House Education Committee on a 10-9 vote last November.
“There are a few areas of the proposed amendment that could be enhanced and we are ready to provide technical assistance to the House.”
Even some of the most ardent supporters of these education savings accounts (ESAs) had thought until now that MacDonald’s office thought otherwise.
Edwards had testified last April that the bill had serious constitutional issues.
At that time, Edwards had warned lawmakers they would need to tweak the bill in order to make it stand up to legal and constitutional challenges, adding that she was particularly worried about the bill not excluding religious schools…
At issue legally is the New Hampshire Constitution, Part II, Article 83, which states: “… no money raised by taxation shall ever be granted or applied for the use of the schools of institutions of any religious sect or denomination.”
…Despite the fact Republicans have controlled the New Hampshire House since the 2014 elections, backers have failed to this point to get the lower chamber to embrace vouchers that by any means went to religious schools.
When Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut was in the House, he authored such legislation. At that time, the House would only pass state money going to parents who send their children to “nonsectarian private schools.”
MacDonald giving this bill the constitutional thumbs up could change that outcome.”