Intimidation, Trampling on Rights, Tossing Aside Transparency, Criminal Activity, Guns, and Wasting Taxpayer Dollars
Concord - Today, House Republicans released their "legislative agenda" for 2011. But the first two weeks of the legislative session have already told New Hampshire voters everything they need to know about House Republican priorities. They have embarked on a campaign of intimidation, trampling on rights, tossing aside transparency, criminal activity, guns, and wasting taxpayer dollars.
"The House Republican's press conference today was nothing but a song and dance routine to divert attention away from their reckless policies over the past several weeks," said Harrell Kirstein, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party. "Not only did the Republican Majority leader fail to mention job creation in his top five legislative goals, but he refused to give any specific legislative proposals. Apparently creating New Hampshire jobs simply isn't a priority for House Republicans this year."
Below is an outline of the real Republican agenda for 2011.
Intimidation - House Republicans embarked on an Un-Constitutional power grab, trying to oust the democratically elected Representative of Manchester's Ward Three, Mike Brunelle. The Republican Majority Leader said that Brunelle introducing bills to raise the minimum wage, give tax credits to small business, and protect jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, were grounds for removal because they were, "Democratic Initiatives." The Union Leader said, "The hypocrisy of this move is exceeded only by its imbecility."
Trampling of First Amendment Rights - Republican Chairman of the Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee John Reagan, silenced all debate over a bill to study the impact of Bed Bugs. Never before has a Committee Chair ended the public's right testify for or against a bill entirely. Reagan defended his action saying, "I just didn't want to spend any more time on it." The Concord Monitor wrote that it was just a part of the House Republicans' "particularly troubling start to the 2011 session."
Lack of Transparency - Speaker O'Brien is making it harder for the public to track a bill's progress through the House. Republican leadership is going to end the practice of giving public notice of any bill hearings in Executive Session, hiding the dates, times and locations of bill hearings from New Hampshire citizens.
Criminal Activity - Rep. Jim Coffey stole official personnel files from the New Ipswich Town Hall. Rather than make any move to reprimand Rep. Coffey, House Republican leadership put him on the House Municipal and County Government - the committee that works with and oversees the very people he stole from.
Guns in the State House - Republican House Leadership's first action was to overturn a ban on weapons in the State House, including 40-year old prohibition on carrying guns on the floor of the House Chamber. The reckless action has already prompted some school boards to reconsider their policies on elementary school field trips to the State House to teach children about state government. The Concord Monitor said, "The Republican majority has chosen a bizarre start to its takeover of the Legislature."
Ending Education - In addition to a bill filed by a Republican Representative that would end all New Hampshire education funding and replace it with a tax rebate, the Vice Chair of the Education Committee announced his own far right wing ideology would get consideration over what is best for Granite State children. He announced opposition to a Best Practices education initiative that has been adopted in 43 other states, simply because he incorrectly assumed the program came from the Department of Education.
Wasting Taxpayer Time and Money - Before the session even began Speaker Bill O'Brien announced creation of two new standing committees in the House, Constitutional and Statutory Recodification, and Petitions and for Redress and Grievances. While neither of the two committees or the more than 30 Representatives assigned to them will be focused on creating jobs or helping the economy, the will take up office and meeting space, wasting taxpayer time and money, and distracting from the serious issues the House should be focused on. Foster's Daily Democrat wrote, "It is disappointing then that as newbies and veterans to the state Legislature settle in they are wasting time and precious effort promoting bills to reshape the state's social agenda."
Jobs and the Economy - Republican legislative leadership has not focused on the budget, jobs or the economy for the past four years. While they sat on their hands and spread misinformation, Governor Lynch and the legislative Democrats made New Hampshire's economy the second fastest growing in the country. It is not surprising that the public has reacted to Republican announcements of their new found interest with great skepticism.