- Legislator of Year award and top activist for Liberty in NH

Awards given to New Hampshire lawmaker and resident who worked tirelessly to support freedom in 2009

. – Edith “Dee” Hogan, a state representative from Hillsborough District 25 in Nashua, earned the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance's (NHLA's) Legislator of the Year award for her pro-liberty voting record in 2009. The Liberty Alliance also awarded Keith Carlsen of Keene with the Activist of the Year award for his volunteer efforts to advance and protect liberty in the Granite State while the Legislature was in session.

To win the distinguished Legislator of the Year award, state Rep. Edith “Dee” Hogan demonstrated steady support for the New Hampshire constitution as the law of the land, according to Dawn Lincoln, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance.

“The New Hampshire and United States constitutions are the basis for our state and our country,” Lincoln said. “So, the constitutionality of pending legislation is definitely a major thing we look at.”

Throughout the 2009 legislative session, Hogan also consistently supported legislation that advances individual freedom of choice, personal responsibility and respect for the citizens' rights of self-ownership. She favored bills that promote good government and recognize the value of voluntary economic decisions. She consistently opposed legislation that promotes government interventionism, gives power by force to government agencies over individuals, and supports central economic planning that requires people to pay for policies they may not willingly support.

To rate Hogan against her 399 colleagues in the House and 24 colleagues in the Senate, the Liberty Alliance – with the help of many volunteers over hundreds of hours – evaluated each bill under consideration in the New Hampshire House and Senate. From the list, the alliance selected 44 roll call votes in the House and 11 in the Senate that clearly demonstrated a pro-liberty or anti-liberty position, then weighted the votes based on their impact to freedom. Each representative and senator was awarded an “A+” to “F” letter grade based on how many pro-liberty votes they made. Legislators least supportive of liberty were deemed a constitutional threat and labeled “CT.” The final results of the evaluation and each state legislator's grade is listed in the alliance's annual Liberty Rating report card, a tool for voters released this weekend.

Hogan not only received an A+ grade on the 2009 Liberty Rating report card, she also received the highest score of any legislator not directly affiliated with the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance board of directors, Lincoln said. Legislators like Hogan are the type who voters should consider sending back to serve in Concord for another term, while New Hampshire residents may consider voting for the opponents of lower scoring lawmakers, she said.

“I'd like people to have the facts about what their legislators are actually doing in Concord, because what they do up there affects us throughout the state,” said Dawn Lincoln, chairwoman of the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. “Sometimes people get into office because they're nice people. They smile, they kiss your baby, they shake your hand and they win. Then they get to Concord and they're voting to take away your freedoms and to take money out of your wallet.”

To win the Activist of the Year award for 2009, Keith Carlsen of Keene served an active role helping the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance advance the bills it supported and defeat the bills it opposed.

Carlsen was instrumental this year in organizing a campaign against a bill that would have made not wearing a seatbelt a primary offense, which means police officials could pull motorists over and fine them if they happen to be caught unbelted. The bill was ultimately defeated thanks to Carlsen and people like him.

“I went door to door, called people, e-mailed people, then I organized other people who did the same thing,” Carlsen said. “When I was around campaigning, I asked whether there should be a mandatory seatbelt law and people usually say, 'I wear a seatbelt.' In response, I say, 'That's great. I also wear a seatbelt, but the bill is not just about whether you wear a seatbelt. It's about whether all adults should be forced to wear a seatbelt, and if they don't they go to jail.' First you get a fine, and if you don't pay the fine, you go to jail.”

Besides his work against the mandatory seatbelt law, Carlsen helped organize events and worked to promote the New Hampshire Liberty Alliance. He passed out pamphlets to legislators in Concord called “The Gold Standard.” The pamphlets give lawmakers guidance on whether a bill up for consideration advances or impedes the cause of liberty. The Gold Standard later serves as the basis for the Liberty Rating report card.

The Liberty Alliance board solicited nominations for Activist of the Year on its Web site, and board members also nominated activists. Ultimately, the board discussed the pros and cons of the people who were nominated or recommended, and Carlsen rose to the top, according to Lincoln.

“It's a tough call to name someone Activist of the Year, because there are a lot of people who spend a lot of time working for liberty in New Hampshire,” she said. “We do kind of hone in on NHLA activism (Are they doing things the NHLA is working on?) because we're trying to reward and encourage the people who are doing our work.”

The New Hampshire Liberty Alliance is a non-partisan coalition working to increase individual freedom in New Hampshire. We do this by monitoring bills in the legislative sessions and encouraging private charity, a civil society and citizen involvement. The NHLA reviews liberty-sensitive bills in each legislative session. Bills are evaluated based on their effects on civil liberties, personal responsibility, property rights, accountability, constitutionality, affordability, regulation, fiscal impact and taxation. From this evaluation process we publish a weekly handout called The Gold Standard. We distribute it to members of the House of Representatives prior to their vote in order to give them an understanding about whether a given bill is pro-liberty or anti-liberty. The Gold Standard reports then form the foundation for our annual Liberty Rating, a report card by which we score state representatives and senators. The Liberty Rating serves as an annual voters' guide.