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Civic Association Discusses 48-Hour Week
The question of the 48-hour week still holds the the center of the stage in Concord. One of the very interesting occasions during the first week of the legislative session was a meeting called by the New Hampshire Civic Association to discuss this problem. This meeting was held in the Hall of Representatives. Over five hundred people crowded the floor and galleries, taking part in what was probably one of the biggest forums of discussion ever held in New England. Among the speak ers were Henry W. Dennison, President of Dennison Manufacturing Co., who spoke in favor of a thorough investigation before legislating on the 48-hour week; Prof. Malcolm Keir of Dartmouth, who spoke for the manufacturers; Edwin Nudick of Boston, representing the labor point of view; and Richard Pattee, Secretary of the New England Milk Producers Association, who spoke for the agricultural interests. Another important meeting held during the first week of the legislative session was the annual convention of the N. H. Farm Bureau. Two hundred delegates were present representing a membership of about 8,000 families. On the recommendation of George M. Putnam, who was re-elected President, the convention unanimously endorsed the fact-finding commission plan as proposed by the Republican Platform.
House Defeats Fact-Finding Resolutions
The first three measures to be introduced in the house concerned the 48-hour law. Mr. Barry of Barry of Nashua introduced the administration bill calling for the immediate
passage of the 48-hour week law. Mr. Bass of Peterborough and Mr. Lyford of Concord both introduced bills calling for a searching investigation of facts concerning the possible effects of the passage of the 48-hour law to be made by an impartial fact-finding commission, the report of which should precede legislation. These two fact-finding resolutions, however, differed radically in their make-up. Mr. Bass's called for a legislative joint committee with two appointed by the house, two by the senate, and one by the governor, while Mr. Lyford's provided for a commission made up of representatives of the employers, employees, the farmers, and the public.
Both of these bills were referred to the committee on labor, where Mr. Lyford's met defeat, while Mr. Bass's was returned to the house for final vote with a majority of eight against it and a minority of seven favoring it. The debate which followed and which resulted in the defeat of Mr. Bass's resolution was one of the most acrimonious and bitter since the legislative session of ten years ago. The vote divided practically on party lines, 174 democrats and 10 republicans voting against the resolution, and 113 republicans and 16 democrats, led by Raymond Stevens and including Mrs. Bartlett and Mrs. Caldwell, favoring it.
"I cheerfully accept the verdict of the house," declared Ex-Gov. Bass, in speaking of the defeat of his fact-finding resolution, "I was sorry, however, that the question was made a partisan political issue, for this will make it more difficult to have the measure considered on its merits. Furthermore the responsibility for precipitating a deadlock with the Senate, if one occurs, will now rest on the shoulders of
the majority leaders of the house. ...I am still of the opinion that a thorough inquiry by a broadly representative commission... would have carried more weight with New Hampshire people than any other procedure. However, this method of procedure has been rejected, and I shall be glad to co- operate heartily with any other procedure which aims to bring out all the facts which bear on the 48-hour legislation for woman and children, and which will lead to the consideration of this important question on its own merits rather than to have it used for the political advantage of any party or individual."
Was It a Democratic Victory?
Though the defeat of the factfinding commission has been hailed as a Democratic victory, it is the general opinion in Concord that this action on the part of the democrats in the house will result in the ultimate defeat at this session of the administration bill calling for the immediate enactment of the 48-hour week. "The democratic leaders who control the house," says the Manchester Union, "have no real expectation that the 48-hour bill will pass the Senate.......It is fair to say that there is just one absolutely necessary condition upon which the eight-hour legislation can be enacted this year. That, of course, is by co-operation by the Democratic House and the Republican Senate....... By refusing point blank to co-operate with the Senate in the only practicable way possible the house majority killed whatever chance existed for an eight-hour legislation this year."
"The whole situation affecting the 48-hour proposal," according to the Milford Cabinet, "is a matter of politics and has been from the hour the legislature convened."
And the Manchester Union, in an editoral entitled "Eight-Hour Politics," says, "It appears that the eight-hour bill is being killed in the house of its friends with the purpose of having this issue with which to fight the important campaign of 1924 when a U. S. Senator is to be elected."
The House Labor Committee is now holding daily hearings on the 48-hour law. It is expected they will report favorably on the administration bill calling for the immediate enactment of the 48 hour law, and that it will pass the house with a good majority. Its fate in the Senate however is more problematical,
Other Measures Pending
In the turmoil and controversy of the 48-hour law measure it is sometimes forgotten that over bills have been presented, and of these many are of vital importance to the state. Probably the most talked of bill is a measure providing for the recall of the Constitutional Convention and asking that it submit to the people one single resolution which will remove those limitations which now prevent the Legislature from taking the action necessary to equalize taxes. If this Constitutional Convention is not recalled it will probably be five years before any adequate relief can be secured from the present tax situation, a situation which both parties have pledged themselves to remedy. Another bill of great interest provides that the Public Service Commission shall construct one or more storage reservoirs on streams which have power plants. The state is to advance the money which is to be paid back little by little by the users of the water through contracts made previous to construction between the state and