[House Report 107-478]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

107th Congress                                                   Report
                        HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
 2d Session                                                     107-478




May 20, 2002.--Referred to the House Calendar and ordered to be printed


 Mr. Sensenbrenner, from the Committee on the Judiciary, submitted the 

                              R E P O R T

                        [To accompany H.R. 3180]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on the Judiciary, to whom was referred the 
bill (H.R. 3180) to consent to certain amendments to the New 
Hampshire-Vermont Interstate School Compact, having considered 
the same, reports favorably thereon without amendment and 
recommends that the bill do pass.


Purpose and Summary..............................................     1
Background and Need for the Legislation..........................     2
Hearings.........................................................     4
Committee Consideration..........................................     4
Vote of the Committee............................................     4
Committee Oversight Findings.....................................     4
Performance Goals and Objectives.................................     4
New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures........................     4
Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate........................     4
Constitutional Authority Statement...............................     5
Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion.......................     5
Markup Transcript................................................     6

                          Purpose and Summary

    H.R. 3180, a bill ``To Consent to Certain Amendments to the 
New Hampshire-Vermont Interstate School Compact,'' was 
introduced by Rep. Charles Bass and Rep. Bernard Sanders, to 
provide the consent of Congress to certain amendments to the 
New Hampshire-Vermont Interstate School District Compact. 
Specifically, the bill provides participating interstate school 
districts with the option of choosing all-day, ``Australian'' 
balloting to incur debt to support school construction. The 
proposed amendments make these decisions a matter of local 
prerogative and do not dictate a State-wide or Federal approach 
to resolving these questions.

                Background and Need for the Legislation

                     Interstate Compacts in General

    The Compact Clause of the Constitution provides that ``no 
State shall, without the consent of Congress . . . enter into 
any Agreement or Compact with another State.'' \1\ As noted by 
the Supreme Court, the Compact Clause ``adapts to our Union of 
sovereign States the age-old treaty-making power of independent 
sovereign nations.'' \2\ While the unequivocal language of the 
Compact Clause suggests that all compacts must receive 
congressional approval, the Supreme Court has held that consent 
is required only for interstate agreements which have the 
tendency to ``increase the political power of states [or which 
may] encroach upon or interfere with the just supremacy of the 
United States.'' \3\
    \1\ U.S. Const. art. I, Sec. 10, cl. 3.
    \2\ Hinderlider v. La Plata Co., 304 U.S. 92, 104 (1938).
    \3\ Virginia v. Tennessee, 148 U.S. 503, 519 (1893); see also U.S. 
Steel Corp. v. Multistate Tax Commission, 434 U.S. 452 (1978).
    Interstate compacts have often been employed to facilitate 
cooperation across state lines and to advance interstate 
metropolitan and regional goals. Examples include interstate 
transportation, mining, school districting, water allocation, 
environmental, sanitation, education and taxing compacts.\4\ 
The Constitution makes no explicit provision with respect to 
when the consent of Congress shall be given to a compact 
between states.\5\ As a result, consent may be granted 
conditionally ``upon terms appropriate to the subject and 
transgressing no constitutional limitations.'' \6\
    \4\ Frederick Zimmerman & Mitchell Wendell, The Law and Use of 
Interstate Compacts, Chicago: 1961, 94-105 (1976).
    \5\ Johnny H. Killian; George A. Costello; and Kenneth R. Thomas; 
The Constitution of the United States of America: Analysis and 
Interpretation, http://www.crs.gov/products/conan/art01/288.htm 
[visited March 1, 2002].
    \6\ James v. Dravo Contracting Co., 302 U.S. 134 (1937); see also 
Arizona v. California, 292 U.S. 341, 345 (1934).

          The New Hampshire-Vermont Interstate School Compact

    Originally approved by Congress in 1969, the New Hampshire-
Vermont Interstate School Compact was established to increase 
educational opportunities and to promote administrative 
efficiency by encouraging the formation of interstate school 
districts across the New Hampshire-Vermont state line.\7\ Two 
interstate school districts currently operate under the 
Compact. The Rivendell School District comprises the towns of 
Fairlee and Thetford, Vermont and Orford, New Hampshire. The 
Dresden School District extends into Hanover, New Hampshire, 
and Norwich, Vermont. Under the original Compact, state and 
local financial support was channeled into the combined 
Districts to reflect state and local contributions. Because 
Vermont contributed relatively more monetary support to the 
Districts than New Hampshire, uneven funding allocations began 
to emerge. For example, by the 1970's, taxpayers in Hanover, 
New Hampshire received the benefit of approximately 70 percent 
of Vermont's state aid, while taxpayers in Norwich, Vermont 
received 30 percent of New Hampshire's contribution.\8\ This 
imbalance led to the passage of amendments to the Compact in 
    \7\ Pub. L. No. 91-21, 83. Stat. 14 (1969).
    \8\ H.R. Rep. No. 95-1722 at 2 (1978).

                            1978 Amendments

    In 1978, Congress consented to a number of amendments to 
the original Compact.\9\ These amendments clarified the terms 
of the Compact to ensure that participating interstate school 
districts would receive support from their states commensurate 
with their respective contributions. The 1978 revisions also 
clarified the procedures by which amendments to the articles of 
agreement among interstate school district members could be 
approved. While the 1978 legislation provided for a more 
equitable allocation of state resources, it did not change the 
requirement that debt incurred by interstate school districts 
be approved by secret balloting. In addition, the amendments 
did not change the requirement that debts be incurred by a 
simple majority vote of district board members by secret 
balloting. The lack of transparency in the voting process has 
stymied efforts to approve funding necessary to support capital 
improvements in the Dresden School District. This has provided 
impetus toward further revision of the Compact.
    \9\ Pub. L. No. 95-536, 92 Stat. 2035 (1978).

      State and Local Consideration of Proposed Compact Amendments

    Early last year, residents of the Dresden School District 
approved warrant articles to amend the Compact to enable the 
implementation of all-day, Australian Balloting procedure when 
voting on whether to incur debt. Australian Balloting is a form 
of modified secret balloting. Australian Rules balloting 
employs uniform official ballots of various stock weight upon 
which the names of all candidates and issues are printed. 
Voters record their choices, in private, by marking the boxes 
next to the candidate or issue choice they select and drop the 
voted ballot in a sealed ballot box.\10\
    \10\ This paper ballot system was first adopted in the Australian 
state of Victoria in 1856, and in the remaining Australian states over 
the next several years. The paper ballot system thereafter became known 
as the ``Australian ballot.'' New York became the first American state 
to adopt the paper ballot for statewide elections in 1889. As of 1996, 
paper ballots were still used by 1.7 percent of the registered voters 
in the United States. They are used as the primary voting system in 
small communities and rural areas, and quite often for absentee 
balloting in other jurisdictions. See Federal Election Commission, 
http://www.fec.gov/pages/paper.htm [visited March 1, 2002].
    Residents contend that moving to all-day voting for bond 
votes will have two benefits over the current Town Meeting 
voting format, which requires a secret balloting process by 
residents following a Town Hall Meeting. First, this method 
will be consistent with the way the District conducts its 
annual district meetings, which utilize all-day voting when 
voting on district warrant articles. Second, the proposed 
change would allow more voters to weigh in on bond issues. Last 
year, the Vermont state legislature passed legislation adopting 
these proposed changes.\11\ The New Hampshire state legislature 
subsequently approved identical language.\12\
    \11\ 2001 N.H. Laws 485.
    \12\ 2001 Vt. Acts & Resolves 726.


    The Committee's Subcommittee on Commercial and 
Administrative Law held a hearing on H.R. 3180 on March 6, 
2002. Testimony was received from Rep. Charles Bass.

                        Committee Consideration

    On March 6, 2002, the Subcommittee on Commercial and 
Administrative Law met in open session and ordered favorably 
reported the bill H.R. 3180 by voice vote, a quorum being 
present. On May 8, 2002, the Committee met in open session and 
ordered favorably reported the bill H.R. 3180 without amendment 
by voice vote, a quorum being present.

                         Vote of the Committee

    There were no recorded votes on H.R. 3180.

                      Committee Oversight Findings

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee reports that the 
findings and recommendations of the Committee, based on 
oversight activities under clause 2(b)(1) of rule X of the 
Rules of the House of Representatives, are incorporated in the 
descriptive portions of this report.

                    Performance Goals and Objectives

    H.R. 3180 does not authorize funding. Therefore, clause 
3(c) of rule XIII of the Rules of the House of Representatives 
is inapplicable.

               New Budget Authority and Tax Expenditures

    Clause 3(c)(2) of House rule XIII is inapplicable because 
this legislation does not provide new budgetary authority or 
increased tax expenditures.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

    In compliance with clause 3(c)(3) of rule XIII of the Rules 
of the House of Representatives, the Committee sets forth, with 
respect to the H.R. 3180, the following estimate and comparison 
prepared by the Director of the Congressional Budget Office 
under section 402 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                      Washington, DC, May 20, 2002.
Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on the Judiciary,
House of Representatives, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman:
    The Congressional Budget Office has prepared the enclosed 
cost estimate for H.R. 3180, a bill to consent to certain 
amendments of the New Hampshire-Vermont Interstate School 
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Donna Wong, 
who can be reached at 226-2820.
                                  Dan L. Crippen, Director.


        Honorable John Conyers, Jr.
        Ranking Member
H.R. 3180--A bill to consent to certain amendments of the New 
        Hampshire-Vermont Interstate School Compact.
    H.R. 3180 would give Congressional consent to amendments to 
the New Hampshire-Vermont Interstate School Compact. The bill 
would allow the school districts governed under the compact to 
use Australian balloting (all-day secret balloting) when 
authorizing the incurring of debt to finance capital projects. 
Currently the school districts must use a town hall meeting 
voting format.
    The bill would result in no cost to the Federal Government. 
Because H.R. 3180 would not affect direct spending or receipts, 
pay-as-you-go procedures would not apply. The bill contains no 
intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and would impose no costs on 
state, local, or tribal governments.
    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Donna Wong, who 
can be reached at 226-2820. This estimate was approved by Peter 
H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                   Constitutional Authority Statement

    Pursuant to clause 3(d)(1) of rule XIII of the Rules of the 
House of Representatives, the Committee finds the authority for 
this legislation in article I, section 2, clause 3 of the 

               Section-by-Section Analysis and Discussion

    Section 1. The bill amends article VII D of the Vermont-New 
Hampshire Interstate School District Compact to read as 

        `D. AUTHORIZATION PROCEEDINGS--An interstate district 
        shall authorize the incurring of debts to finance 
        capital projects by a majority vote of the district 
        passed at an annual or special district meeting. Such 
        vote shall be taken by secret ballot after full 
        opportunity for debate, and any such vote shall be 
        subject to reconsideration and further action by the 
        district at the same meeting or at an adjourned session 
        thereof. As an alternative, an interstate district may 
        provide in its articles of agreement that such a vote 
        be conducted by Australian or official balloting under 
        procedures as set forth in the articles of agreement, 
        and that such vote be subject to any method of 
        reconsideration, if any, which the interstate district 
        sets forth in the articles of agreement.

    The proposed amendments make these decisions a matter of 
local prerogative and do not dictate a State-wide or Federal 
approach to resolving the manner in which ballot school ballot 
initiatives will be considered by participating school 

                           Markup Transcript

                            BUSINESS MEETING

                         WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 2002

                  House of Representatives,
                                Committee on the Judiciary,
                                                    Washington, DC.
    The Committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:03 a.m., in 
Room 2141, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. F. James 
Sensenbrenner, Jr. [Chairman of the Committee] presiding.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. [Presiding.] The Committee will be 
in order.
    [Intervening business.]
    The next item on the agenda is the adoption of H.R. 3180 to 
give consent to certain amendments to the New Hampshire-Vermont 
Interstate School Compact. The Chair recognizes the gentleman 
from Georgia, Mr. Barr, the Chairman of the Subcommittee on 
Commercial and Administrative Law, for purposes of a motion.
    Mr. Barr. Mr. Chairman, the Subcommittee on Commercial and 
Administrative Law reports favorably the bill H.R. 3180 and 
moves its favorable recommendation to the full House.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection, H.R. 3180 will 
be considered as read and open for amendment at any point.
    [The bill, H.R. 3180, follows:]
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. The Chair recognizes the gentleman 
from Georgia to strike the last word.
    Mr. Barr. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    Introduced by Representatives Charlie Bass and Bernie 
Samders, H.R. 3180 amends the New Hampshire-Vermont Interstate 
School Compact originally approved by the Congress in 1969. 
H.R. 3180 would enable participating interstate school 
districts to modify the manner in which school bond issues are 
    Last year, residents of the Dresden Interstate School 
District, which encompasses the cities of Hanover, New 
Hampshire, and Norwich, Vermont, voted to approve these 
changes. The Legislatures of New Hampshire and Vermont 
subsequently ratified these amendments.
    Rather than imposing a State or Federal solution on local 
school officials, H.R. 3180 preserves the primacy of local 
school authorities that are free to accept or reject the 
modified voting procedures H.R. 3180 permits.
    We were pleased to invite Representative Bass to our 
Subcommittee hearing to testify about the importance of this 
measure to residents of his district.
    And I urge support of this bill today.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Does the gentleman yield back?
    Mr. Barr. I yield back.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. The gentleman from North Carolina.
    Mr. Watt. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
    I rise in support of the bill.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. That correction will be duly noted.
    Mr. Watt. I yield back.
    Chairman Sensenbrenner. Without objection, all Members may 
insert opening statement in the record at this point in time.
    Are there amendments?
    If not, the Chair notes the presence of a reporting quorum, 
and the question occurs on the motion to report H.R. 3180 
    Those in favor will say aye.
    Opposed, no.
    The ayes appear to have it. The ayes have it, and the 
motion to report favorably is adopted.
    Without objection, the bill will be reported favorably to 
the House in the form of a single amendment in the nature of a 
substitute--no, no amendments adopted.
    Without objection, the Chairman is authorized to move to go 
to conference pursuant to House rules. Without objection, the 
staff is directed to make any technical and conforming changes. 
And all Members will be given 2 days, as provided by House 
rules, in which to submit additional, dissenting, supplemental, 
or minority views.
    Before going to the next item on the agenda, it is my great 
pleasure to welcome to the Committee a former Member, the 
distinguished gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Harold Sawyer, who 
served with great distinction on this Committee from his 
election to the House in 1956 until his voluntary retirement 10 
or 12 years later.
    Hal, we welcome you back. [Applause.]