Guest Blogs

Saturday
May042013

Andrew Manuse - Here's what I would have said to apologize

Here's what I would have said to apologize if I was Stella (Thank God I am not, currently. I would never say the things that she did.). I send this response, "From Stella's Shoes," to you as commentary on the whole episode.

Andrew Manuse

To those people offended by the insensitivity of my comments regarding the Boston Marathon Bombing: please accept my sincere apology. I understand that some folks are not ready for bold questions meant to provoke thought, particularly when human life and limb are involved so close to home.

At the same time, I would like to retract and then refocus my commentary regarding the tragic event that touched many of us here in New England. The bombing was horrific, whatever the cause. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones. I’m grateful for the quick response of regular citizens with medical experience acting as good Samaritans, as well as the quick and professional aid of those hired to respond.

In light of these thoughts, which I failed to acknowledge in previous commentary, I think it is critically important for Americans to seek a true and full understanding of the tragic event that occurred; not just to give meaning to the lives lost or forever changed, but also to search for truth and a better way of life in the future for our countrymen. Part of that search for truth requires a measured inquiry of our government and accountability from law enforcement and the criminal justice system.

Following the bombing, many of New Hampshire’s neighbors to the south in Massachusetts had their homes violently invaded by swarms of police officers dressed and outfitted in military gear. There were no required warrants. There was no respect for human dignity. Police pointed rifles at the homes and heads of innocent citizens, whom were told to comply--or else. Capturing a suspected terrorist who was seen bombing and shooting at police is critically important, but shouldn’t all resources be directed toward that end, and not toward unnecessary and unproductive home searches? There was blood. A bloodhound would have made a beeline for the guy. Why the army?

The point of the comments I tried to make earlier, and the point I hope to make now is that each tragedy (each “crisis”) under both Presidents Bush and Obama has been used (not gone “to waste”) to expand the power of government. Our founding fathers warned about standing armies, blanket searches and the criminalization of the free acts of a free people, and they tried to protect us from such a government. Our Constitution still represents those protections, but only the people, by changing their minds--by asking questions--, can revitalize the culture of freedom that America once represented.

At the time that President Richard Nixon resigned, the media did their job to uncover his corruption by asking the tough questions. Inquisitiveness is essential in a free society, and it is only natural when our press is no longer free to do their jobs as in our present situation. Media standards among an independent press should apply consistently to each story, which should never be slanted or manipulated for a specific outcome. The government’s talking points are always only one side of the story. The Law and the Constitution are always the most important side, but there are many angles we should use to approach a true understanding of reality.

What would be even more tragic than the Boston Marathon Bombing, 9/11 or any horrible event like them is an all-encroaching federal government that controls our every move and watches our every breath. As Americans, we need to pull ourselves up from terror, face our enemies, both within and outside our nation’s borders, and peacefully reclaim our rights to life, liberty, property and justice that God himself gave each one of us upon our creation. If we do not reclaim our birthright, consider the terrorists the victors. Our future could be quite bleak.

Tuesday
Apr232013

NH Sen Jeff Woodburn - Increase rural speed limit to 70 mph

The idea of increasing the speed limit on a northern portion of Interstate 93 from 65-mph to 70 breezed through the Democratic House and Republican Senate and now awaits Governor Maggie Hassan’s action. Hopefully, she signs it into law and the state adopts a common sense approach to this rural stretch of road.

As the North Country’s Senator, I represent 27-percent of the state’s landmass and much of the road that would see a change. I spend many hours on I-93 driving the 100- lonely miles from my home in Dalton to the State Capitol.  My old truck shakes and begs for mercy when I get much higher than 75-mph, so I try to stick to 70. At this speed, I’m more apt to be passed than pass another vehicle – and only rarely is it crowded. Occasionally, my fellow travelers and I pass a police cruiser unnoticed.

It makes perfect sense that this quiet, country highway would operate differently than other areas.  If we know anything in rural areas, it is that a one-size fits all approach doesn’t work.  But it’s more than that. I support raising the speed limits because I believe laws need to be credible, legitimate and live in the hearts and minds of our people, not on a sign on the road.  When the vast majority of the people disobey a law in plain view of the police -- something is wrong. Eventually, it weakens the authority and credibility of the state.  We can make driving 70-mph illegal, but not unpopular.

I was moved by the democratic logic behind the 85-percentile rule, which is used to set many speed limits.  It is based upon the idea of establishing a maximum speed by judging where the vast majority of the drivers drive.  So, most speed limits reflect established behaviors, rather than change existing behaviors.  It’s a rule that could easily apply to the increasing popularity of gay marriage, gambling and opposition to broad base taxes. 

I believe that if the speed limit signs were removed, most people would behave as they presently do – operating their vehicle in a manner that is safe for themselves and other motorists -- which also happens to be 5-miles over the current speed limit.  

(Jeff Woodburn, of Dalton, is a Democratic State Senator, teacher, writer and child advocate)

Thursday
Mar212013

Todd Selig - Opposing An Increase in the Road Toll is a Hard Road to Travel for NH Legislators

The Importance of HB 617 to New Hampshire

 

by Todd I. Selig

After lengthy debate on March 6th, the NH House passed HB 617, a bill that increases the road toll, commonly referred to by opponents as the “Gas Tax,” by 4 cents per gallon of gasoline in each of the next three years (fiscal years 2014 – 2016) and then 3 cents in fiscal year 2017, for a total 15-cent increase over the current road toll of 18 cents per gallon.  It is referred to as the 4-4-4-3 plan with Rep. David Campbell of Nashua as the prime sponsor.

This additional revenue would be placed in a separate fund within the constitutionally protected highway fund to be used exclusively for the construction, reconstruction, and maintenance of state and municipal roads and bridges – investment that will equate to good jobs across New Hampshire, particularly within the construction, engineering, paving, and aggregate industries.

Projections show the modest change in the road toll would result in increased highway block grant funding for municipalities of $3.6 million in 2014 to over $13 million in 2017 and beyond, for a total increase of $117 million over the next ten years. For communities working diligently to stabilize local tax rates across the granite state, this increase is significant.  To put it into concrete terms, the 4-4-4-3 plan would mean an additional $250,962 for Bath; $2,982,522 for Concord; $949,347 for Durham; $980,731 for Exeter; $573,305 for Henniker; $1,656,408 for Keene; $1,140,890 for Laconia; $6,851,848 for Manchester; $5,364,972 for Nashua; $2,079,901 for Rochester; $2,195,307 for Salem; and $112,771 for Woodstock.  Local taxpayers in every town and city across NH benefit from the 4-4-4-3 plan.

But much needed additional revenue for municipalities targeted to roadway repairs is not all that this bill provides. The increase would also fund an additional $8.5 million per year for municipal bridge and highway aid programs, fully fund the I-93 widening project, fully fund the state’s grossly underfunded ten year transportation plan, and provide resources to address the 1600+ miles of state roads currently rated in “poor” condition.

The road toll is a true user fee that has not been increased in over 20 years.  If the citizens of New Hampshire want decent roads, someone will have to pay for them, and it is only appropriate that the cost be borne by the users.  Those who drive less would pay less; those who drive more would pay more.

The House Ways and Means Committee voted on March 20th to recommend reducing the road toll increases from four cents/four cents/four cents/three cents over the next four years, to simply four/four/four.  This is a mistake.  Full implementation of the 4-4-4-3 plan is reasonable and necessary to meet the state’s transportation needs. Here is why.

At 18 cents per gallon, New Hampshire’s road toll is currently the lowest in New England.   

An important aspect of the road toll is that it does not translate penny for penny at the pump.  Drive into Maine with a higher gas tax than NH and you can find lower gas prices there.  This is because supply and demand is the primary driver of gas prices, not the road toll.  When the average driver drives 12,000 miles per year, getting an average of 22.6 mpg, it will cost an additional $79.65 per year after the 15 cents increase is fully implemented.  This cost is based on the assumption that the 15 cent increase passes through penny for penny at the pump, which is unlikely.   

Even assuming that every penny is passed onto the driver at the pump, the cost of $79.65 is less than what the average NH driver is currently spending on vehicle maintenance and repairs due to poor NH road conditions ($323/year), as reported by TRIP, a national transportation group. And in some areas of the state it is worse.  The average driver in the Southern New Hampshire area, including Manchester and Nashua, loses $503 annually due to driving on deteriorated roads, while rough roads cost the average Dover-Rochester-Portsmouth driver $400 annually.

New Hampshire faces an annual transportation funding shortfall of $74 million, more than one third of the state’s major roads are deteriorated, nearly a third of Granite State bridges are in need of repair or replacement, and the state’s rural traffic fatality rate is disproportionately higher than that of other roads in the state.  Unless NH can increase transportation investment, conditions are projected to worsen significantly in the future.  This serves none of us well and works against the NH advantage.

HB 617, at the 4-4-4-3 level, is a good plan and deserves the support of the NH Legislature.  Opposing it is a hard road to travel for our representatives and senators in Concord.

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Information about Todd I. SeligOriginally from Laconia, Todd Selig resides with his wife and two daughters in Durham, New Hampshire.  He has served as Durham Town Administrator since 2001.  After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from Syracuse University, Mr. Selig went on to complete a Master of Public Administration degree from the University of New Hampshire.  He has served in a variety of New Hampshire administrative positions within both the municipal and school sectors including positions in Raymond, Laconia, New Boston, Hopkinton, and now Durham.  In 2003, Todd Selig was awarded the Caroline Gross Fellowship allowing him to attend the Program for Senior Executives in State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  He was named as one of New Hampshire’s “40 Under Forty” by The Union Leader in 2005.  Mr. Selig has previously served as chairman of the board of directors for the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies and as a trustee and vice-chairman of the board of PRIMEX (N.H. Public Risk Management Exchange).  He is a member of the International City/County Management Association, a member of the Municipal Management Association of NH, a Trustee Emeritus of the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies, and a member of the Durham Historical Society. 

Tuesday
Mar192013

Rep. J.R. Hoell - New Hampshire jobs, lives in the cross hairs of gun debate

By Rep. J.R. Hoell
Dunbarton, NH


It would seem absurd to almost anyone if a group of politicians said they wanted to ban a list of controversial books or require a background check that verified the completion of some civics education before anyone could vote in an election.

After all, the state and federal constitutions protect the right to free speech, regardless of where a person happens to be, and it also protects the equal right to vote in free elections for everyone who is 18 and older. Importantly, these constitutions specifically restrict the right to vote for people convicted of treason, bribery or violation of election laws, not to mention those individuals who happen to be 17 or younger.

Now, the federal Constitution also protects the right to “keep and bear arms” and specifically asserts that this right “shall not be infringed” by Congress. Our state Constitution protects the right of individuals who are “defending life and liberty” or “protecting property.” It also specifically affirms: “All persons have the right to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, their property and the state.” Unlike the right to vote, there are no constitutional restrictions on these very clear God given Natural Rights of self-defense.

Why then, is it not absurd for politicians to seek legal restrictions on citizens’ right to defend themselves from potentially lethal attacks “wherever they have a right to be,” as our state law now says? Why is it not absurd to require background checks before someone can buy a constitutionally protected product? Why is it not absurd to contemplate banning any weapon that a person can bear? How are these restrictions of the right to self-defense any different from the restrictions to voting or speech rights contemplated above?

Quite simply: Any restriction on gun rights or the right to self-defense is equally absurd and unconstitutional.

Yet, we now have a group of Democrat state legislators in the House who have made it their priority to violate gun owners’ constitutional rights, at the expense of safety and the New Hampshire economy. The same group of Democratic legislators who complained last session when Republicans lifted the unconstitutional ban on guns in parts of the State House reinstated the ban as their first order of business this year.

Then, the Democrats busily got to work on bills to ban guns in public buildings, to prohibit people from showing a gun to diffuse a violent confrontation, to allow violent aggressors to sue people who use their gun in self defense, to require people to take a safety course before buying a gun, and to force innocent people to run and cower from someone trying to kill, rape or seriously harm them.

All of the Democrats’ ideas to restrict gun rights this year are unconstitutional and a distraction from more important business, but the Democrats are now working overtime to convince you it is a compromise for them to advance HB 135, a bill that would make you a criminal for defending your life with a gun outside your house. That bill is scheduled for a vote in the House this week.

Perhaps New Hampshire Democrats expect a woman who is about to be raped to urinate or throw-up on herself as she’s trying to get away from her rapist rather than stop the rape with her gun? Or maybe Democrats expect a disabled man in a wheelchair to let an assailant tip over his chair and take his wallet instead of prevent potentially life-threatening injuries and the theft with his gun? Do they think the well trained, concealed-carry license holder should let a madman shoot 30 people before the cops arrive or take the clear shot that he has and stop the mayhem? Maybe Democrats want a young mother to allow her children to be murdered as she runs under a table to hide instead of take a weapon from her purse and save her most precious loved ones?

With their relentless efforts, it is clearly more important for House Democrats to stop law-abiding citizens from lawfully protecting themselves than to work on efforts to rebuild our struggling economy. What’s worse, a quick look at the statistics show how Democratic efforts to curb lawful gun rights in New Hampshire will actually contribute further to economic malaise.

By far, the firearms industry in New Hampshire generates more revenue per capita and employs more people per capita than the firearms industry in every other state. In New Hampshire, there are over 2,100 people working in the firearms and ancillary industries generating over $150 million of economic activity, according to the National Shooting Sports Association, yet the Democrats want to shut this industry down.

With their uncompromising action, it’s quite clear that Democrats are not only trampling all over constitutionally protected rights, they are also actively working to harm the economy.

 

Released by House Republican Alliance

Tuesday
Mar192013

Matthew Godlewski - State Government Should Not Be Picking Business Winners and Losers

One-Sided Bill Runs Contrary to New Hampshire’s ‘Live Free or Die’ Tradition

By Matthew Godlewski, Vice President of State Affairs

Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers

Think back to 1998.  Remember your hairstyle?  Your clothes? 

A lot changes in 15 years.  Not only do styles and trends change, but most things need a refresh from normal wear and tear.  The same is true for auto showrooms.

That’s partly why automakers are so strongly opposed to legislation crafted by car dealer lobbyists in Concord that would restrict automakers from requiring New Hampshire’s franchised auto dealers from improving or upgrading facilities for a full 15 years.  Automakers are asking for a reasonable 7 years, the industry standard.

And when they do upgrade and refresh their showrooms and waiting areas, dealers want full freedom to do whatever they want without input or oversight from automakers.  But like with any retail product, brand consistency is important in the ultra-competitive auto industry and manufacturers deserve to be part of the renovation process.

The truth is franchise agreements serve a very real and necessary purpose when it comes to retail sales.  They ensure like quality, style, and design that reflects on the value and character of the product sold.  That’s why a McDonalds looks like a McDonalds or a Jiffy Lube like a Jiffy Lube.  The same is true for selling cars and trucks.

And the illogical changes dealers want in New Hampshire law that regulates their business relationships with manufacturers doesn’t end there.  Their changes hurt consumers.  They will cost consumers.

Dealers insist on changes that would raise retail rates for service and repairs for everyone.  Why should New Hampshire motorists pay more than drivers in other states so dealers can increase their own profits?  They shouldn’t.

Dealers want to eliminate checks and balances built into today’s accounting practices.  Five years ago, automakers could ensure the reimbursements they were paying for warranty and recall work were accurate by auditing those invoices up to 24 months back.  In 2009, that review period shrank to 12 months.  Dealers now insist on 6 months.  What are they hiding?

And, in their bill, dealer lobbyists included first-of-its-kind language in the country that would make it easier for dealers to secure automakers’ proprietary and confidential information and sue, thereby increasing litigation, clogging up the courts, and passing on those increased costs of doing business to consumers.  Good for dealers and their lawyers, but again not for you.

The fact is Senate Bill 126 is poor public policy that lets government pick business winners and losers and sets a dangerous precedent in New Hampshire law.  It benefits car dealer interests, not yours.  And it runs contrary to New Hampshire’s “Live Free or Die” tradition of encouraging a competitive marketplace for commerce while also protecting the interests of consumers.

The auto industry is in rebirth, and that’s good for New Hampshire.  Close to 24,000 New Hampshire families rely on jobs in the greater auto industry.  And auto-related taxes and fees generate $295 million annually to state coffers, totaling 14 percent of total state tax revenue.

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association, last year dealers enjoyed record pretax profits of nearly $850,000 per store on average.  The ship has been righted.  Automakers want to share that success with dealers, but not at the expense of New Hampshire families who will ultimately be left footing the bill if SB 126 becomes law.

Automakers stand ready to work with both legislators and dealers to find a balanced solution that addresses the needs of all parties and protects consumer interests as well.

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The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the leading advocacy group for the auto industry, represents 77% of all car and light truck sales in the United States, including the BMW Group, Chrysler Group LLC, Ford Motor Company, General Motors Corporation, Jaguar Land Rover, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz USA, Mitsubishi Motors, Porsche, Toyota, Volkswagen Group of America and Volvo Cars North America.