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Entries in NH Democrats (8)


Ed Mosca - NH House Democrats Seek To Legalize Mob-Rule 

Incredibly (or perhaps not so incredibly if you were present on March 31, 2011 and watched House Democrats give a standing ovation to an unruly and menacing mob of protestors while they were being evicted from the House gallery), House Democrats are bringing forward legislation that would give their special interest constituencies the legal right to shut down the House and Senate whenever things aren’t going their way.  Specifically, Rep Tim Horrigan is sponsoring a bill that would require a body of the Legislature that closes its gallery while in session to immediately recess and to remain in recess until its gallery is reopened.  Let’s consider the implications if such a law had been in effect last session.

            During the budget bill debate on March 31, 2011, a raucous and apparently preplanned outburst of shouting from certain Democrat special interest constituencies who had packed the House gallery made it impossible to continue conducting legislative business.  The gallery was cleared and closed, and the House was able to resume its business, working through a series of dilatory amendments proposed by Democrats.  The gallery was reopened before the final vote, and the budget was passed.

            If Horrigan’s bill had been law and had been followed, the House would have had to go into recess and remain in recess until the gallery was reopened.  Which means that all the special interest constituencies would have needed to do to block the budget was to repack the gallery every time it was reopened, renew the protest, and force the House back into recess.  This is not democracy; this is mob-rule. 

            Horrigan’s bill is blatantly unconstitutional.  The New Hampshire Constitution gives the House (Part II, Article 22) and the Senate (Part II,Article 37) the exclusive authority to set their own rules of proceeding.  That means each body gets to decide on its own if to recess and and how long to recess. 

            Horrigan contends that his mob-rule bill is constitutional because it just effectuates what already is required by Part II, Article 8, which provides that “[t]he doors of the galleries, of each house of the legislature, shall be kept open to all persons who behave decently, except when the welfare of the state, in the opinion of either branch, shall require secrecy.”

            Horrigan confuses the means with the end.  The historical record of Part II, Article 8 makes it clear that its purpose was open government, to allow the citizens to be informed by preventing the Legislature from conducting its business in secret.  In 1792, physically keeping the doors to the House and Senate open to the public at all times was the only way to achieve open government.  Television, radio and Internet did not exist and were inconceivable.

            The House conducted its business after the gallery was closed on March 31, 2011 in a far more open manner than required by a literal reading of Part II, Article 8.  The proceedings continued to be live-streamed, and none of the press, television-cameras or recording equipment was removed.  To claim, as Horrigan does, that live-streaming does not effectuate the purpose of Part II, Article 8 is equivalent to claiming that the First Amendment and Fourth Amendment apply only to the forms of communication and the types of search technology that existed in the 18th century.    

            While it was unfortunate that some had to suffer because of the selfish and stupid actions of the protestors during the budge debate in 2011, it simply was not practical to immediately reopen the gallery.  It was eminently reasonable to assume, given the scale of the demonstrations occurring outside the Statehouse and the obviously planned nature of the outburst, that there was a sizable number of additional protestors who would enter the gallery, if it were immediately reopened, in order to renew the disruption.  Moreover, there was no efficacious way to prevent most of the expelled protestors from being readmitted to the gallery.  While some probably could have been identified because they were especially menacing and vociferous, there were simply too many to have any confidence that security had the capacity to identify and exclude most of them.

            Horrigan’s mob-rule bill can be understood as a manifestation of O-O-S: O’Brien-Obsession-Syndrome.  A visceral reaction against anything former Speaker O’Brien is for, and a visceral reaction for anything O’Brien is against.     


Jackie Cilley - CACR 13 Income Tax Ban and CACR 6 Super Majority to Tax Amendments

At a time when New Hampshire is falling behind other states in its ability to attract new businesses with good jobs for our citizens, the Free State/Tea Party legislature in Concord is putting our economic future at even greater risk.  On Wednesday, May 30 a legislative committee of conference passed CACR 13, a constitutional amendment that, if approved by the voters in November, will forever ban taxes on incomes.

One doesn’t need to be in favor of an income tax, something I’m sure to be accused of, to understand that a constitutional amendment of this nature may well be easy to sell and far harder to explain its long term damage to our state. 

However, unless the business community is willing to settle for rising business profits taxes, as well as getting less for their money to boot from a deteriorating infrastructure and educational system, and unless property taxpayers are willing to see their property taxes rise faster and by greater percentages, folks better take a long hard look at where this simple sounding solution to all of our fiscal woes will actually lead.  

In their cynical ideological rush to tie the hands of future generations’ ability to consider any alternative to rising property and business taxes, the legislature has managed to pass a badly flawed bill that experts say will involve years of court battles and whole new bodies of constitutional law. 

For example, Professor Marcus Hum of UNH's School of Law points out this amendment could put nearly all taxation issues into the hands of New Hampshire's courts. CACR 13 would, says Hum “start a cascade of constitutional questions that could take years to settle” and “inescapably require the Supreme Court to develop whole new bodies of constitutional law and … to make judgment calls where clear or even workable definitions are probably impossible.”

But the legislature didn’t stop at just passing a constitutional amendment to forever ban consideration of taxing someone’s income (poorly defined though that may be), they also passed another amendment CACR 6, that requires a two-fifths majority to pass any new or increased fee or tax – double whammy and boatloads of additional damage. 

Unfortunately, in today’s halls of power one can’t get two-thirds to agree on whether the sky is blue.  There is far greater loyalty to partisan ideology than anything remotely akin to what might be best for our citizens or our long-term sustainability as a state. 

Since the beginning of my campaign for governor, I've made clear that we must have an adult discussion about how we fund the investments that make New Hampshire strong – quality education, robust public and private sectors, and the infrastructure needed for our state to compete in the 21st century marketplace.

Our state is already not making sufficient investments in these areas, the very investments that attract good businesses with good jobs.  Businesses are now reluctant to relocate or start up in our state.  Last year alone, New Hampshire lost 3,800 jobs while Massachusetts and New York created jobs.

CACR 13 and CACR 6, linked together, fail to do anything to meet these needs to revitalize our economy and attract businesses to our state and they will significantly impede our ability to fund such priorities in the future.   In fact, there is every likelihood that the combination of the two will make the North Country, that has been losing jobs for more than five decades, seem to be a beehive of economic activity.

If the voters of the state care about its future, they need to swiftly defeat these destructive amendments in November and vote out the ideologues that passed them.


The 2011 House Republicans Did Exactly What They Promised

By Andrew Hemingway, chairman, Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire

The Democrats want you to believe that last week’s rally at the State House reflects the majority opinion in New Hampshire. But now that the busloads of public union members have returned to our spendthrift neighboring states and the hundreds of in-state protesters have hopefully returned to their public service jobs, it’s time for a dose of reality.

During the last four years, New Hampshire Democrats not only spent all of your tax dollars; they also borrowed from your children and grandchildren to pay for regular operating expenses, and they relied on more than $700 million in federal taxpayer dollars through the so-called “stimulus package” to cushion public sector employees from the effects of the economy. Even with all of their borrowing and use of one-time funding, the Democrats still left a $47 million deficit in the current budget for the next Legislature to clean up.

Contrary to the idea that such spending might have actually “stimulated” some job growth, the private sector in New Hampshire lost thousands of jobs while Democrats were in office. Now, the Democratic faithful have the audacity to complain about some moderate reductions in public sector staffing and pay packages like it’s the end of the world? New Hampshire already employs more public sector employees per capita than the average U.S. state, according to the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies. Would Democrats prefer we employ the most of any state?

In November, voters rejected the Democratic position that the state has a “revenue problem” and agreed with the Republican position that the state has a “spending problem.” They also agreed with a large group of new Republicans who reminded voters that the best way to create jobs is to cut taxes and fees and lift burdensome regulations so New Hampshire businesses can flourish on their own without government getting in the way.

Unlike past campaigns when politicians said one thing to voters then went another direction in office, the Republicans currently serving in the Legislature have historically done exactly what they said they were going to do. These House Republicans have given voters a balanced $10.3 billion budget for the next two years and they have balanced the current budget without raising taxes or fees, without any new borrowing and without passing any new burden down to the cities and towns of the state. I have no doubt that the silent majority of New Hampshire voters are quite pleased.

Most New Hampshire voters know that the House budget is a moderate and reasonable plan that finally asks public sector employees to live within the same reality as the people they serve. If you still have doubt, ask yourselves: How many private-sector employees do you know who have a pension program through their companies? It’s amazing the noise public sector employees are making because the Legislature has asked them to commit another 2 percent of their pay toward this generous system. And if you still have doubt, ask yourselves: How many private sector employees do you know who aren’t workers at-will? It’s amazing the noise public sector employees are making because the Legislature has asked them to negotiate new contracts without the unusual protection of their old contracts carrying on for years after they have expired.

Contrary to the rhetoric of the Democratic misinformation campaign, the House Republicans’ budget simply restores the balance of power to the people of New Hampshire and stands up to all of the self-serving special interest groups that have opposed such positive change in the past. I truly hope Senate Republicans can be as strong.

While House Republicans truly made some tough choices by cutting $742 million in their budget, it’s important to note that they also restored $150 million worth of spending that the governor had cut out from school building aid, catastrophic aid, special education and state contributions to local employees’ retirements. Perhaps local educators and other public employees should consider this generosity before they run out and shout slogans prepared for them by their union bosses?

New Hampshire should not be a state that shelters a few classes of citizens from the burden facing the rest of us. It’s time for the Democrats to stop complaining about the mess they created so Republicans can use the opportunity voters gave them to clean it up. It’s time for taxpayers to get a break so they can take some time to recover and rebuild the New Hampshire Advantage that the Democrats squandered. It’s also time for the silent majority to express a little appreciation to House Republicans for doing what they were sent to do. While they’re at it, I hope they send a little pressure toward Senate Republicans, who had better learn from their responsive counterparts in the House if they want to return to Concord in 2012. Voters are watching, but I, for one, am confidant that they like what is coming out of the House.


David Bates Has A Right To Freedom of Religion and Free Speech Without Being Maligned By Democrat Hacks

By Rep Steve Vaillancourt

First a caveat.  I don't agree with Rep. Bates on the gay marriage issue.

However, like every other American, he has the right to both freedom of speech and freedom of religion.  If Democratic spokeshack Harrell Kirstein and  Peter Burling (who seems only too willing to crawl out from under his rock to offer an opinion no matter how ill-informed he may be), had their way, only members of their own party would be given freedoms of speech and religion.

Hey, Herr Kirstein, hey Comrade Burling, our forefathers fought for our freedoms so that we could all enjoy them, not just those who agree with us.

Burling is particularly misinformed when he says the GOP leadership has promised to "stay away from faith-based legislating" and deal with the budget shortfall.  I believe what GOP leadership has said, and both the Speaker, Senate President and Majority Leader restated this on my television show this week is that they would focus first on fiscal issues, not that they totally stay away from other issues.  Two years ago, Dems insisted that we could do a budget and deal with gay marriage at the same time.  They were right, and Republicans are right to say now we can deal with the budget and gay marriage repeal (which I will oppose).

To see Burling and Kirstein make fools of themselves nationwide is bad news for NH.  If you don't believe me, Google this topic and check out what a Las Vegas paper has to say about it.

This isn't the first time Ray Buckley's Dems have shown littler regard for free speech.  Remember how Buckley and then Speaker Norelli forced Rep. Tim Horrigan to resign for an innocuous comment he made regarding Palin last summer.  Free speech is for all; it's especially important to protect when we disagree with the free speaker, a concept Democrats ignore at their own peril.


Kirstein Is Clueless

Hardly a day goes by that some reporter isn't quoting a new bit of nonsense from paid Democratic staffer Harrell Kirstein, usually termed "party spokesman".   One would think that Chairman Buckley would have learned something after suffering the biggest loss in the history of New Hampshire politics, but Kirstein continues to make things up out of whole cloth with the media serving as his willing dupes.

Union Leader reporter Tom Fahey proved the biggest dupe of all when he quoted Kirstein as saying Speaker Bill O'Brien has "surrounded himself with a group of far right political clones" including Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt whom, it was suggested, got the job because he worked for O'Brien's law firm.

While it's Kirstein's job to be just plain silly, Fahey should have known and reported that Speaker O'Brien had nothing to do with Rep. Bettencourt becoming majority leader.  D.J. was chosen in an open vote of the Republican caucus--a democratic move Democrats would never allow--and the Speaker remained neutral through the process.  Certainly D.J. was not as "conservative" as another candidate, House Republican Alliance founder Paul Mirski, but neither Kirstein nor Fahey would stop to let the truth get in the way of a good slur.  When people elected 298 Republican Reps and 19 Senators, they sent a message that they wanted conservatives, a message Kirstein can twist but not negate.

Rep. Steve Vaillancourt, Hills. 15