- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 17, 2014

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The New Hampshire House on Wednesday upheld Gov. Maggie Hassan’s veto of a bill aimed at curbing workplace bullying among the state’s employees, despite strong calls from several lawmakers to go against the governor.

Supporters of the bill fell roughly 50 votes short Wednesday of the necessary two-thirds to override the veto. The majority of Republicans voted to sustain the veto while a majority of Democrats voted to overturn it.

“Workplace bullying is a very serious problem and it would seem to me that some would want to minimize or dismiss it all together,” said Rep. Andy White, a Democrat who chairs the House’s labor committee.

The bill defined abusive workplace conduct and required state agencies to develop procedures for reporting and investigating bullying. Abusive conduct included creating unreasonable work demands, over-criticizing employees outside of the evaluation process and acting hostile toward co-workers or subordinates, among other things. Hassan vetoed the bill because she said it could create unnecessary lawsuits.

Rep. Will Infantine, a Manchester Republican, agreed.

“What might be bullying to you isn’t to another; what might be a hostile work environment for one might not be for another,” he said.

The Business and Industry Association, a lobbying group for private businesses, opposed the bill and said the policies could ultimately affect private employers.

Lawmakers on both sides of the issue and union representatives are urging Hassan and agency heads to take executive action to tackle the problem. Bullying is contributing to a loss of productivity and negatively affecting workers’ health, State Employees Association President Diana Lacey said.

“It’s time for the governor to step up to the plate and take executive action and address this matter once and for all,” she said.

House members also upheld Hassan’s vetoes of a bill prohibiting the disclosure of lottery winners’ names without their permission and a bill dealing with confidentiality of state bids and contracts.

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