Concord - Today, Deputy House Democratic Leader Mary Jane Wallner called on Speaker Bill O'Brien, Majority leader D.J. Bettencourt, the entire Republican leadership team and all House Committee chairs to sign the following Open Government Pledge.
"In the first few weeks of this new legislature, contrary to New Hampshire tradition, we have seen a disturbing pattern aimed at stifling dissent, debate and the free exchange of ideas and information," said Wallner. "The legislature can't make good public policy -- and New Hampshire can't have a strong democracy -- if public officials and the public are intimidated from presenting facts, ideas, or their own opinions."
In just the first few weeks of this legislative session, the new Republican majority has:
* Threatened to begin removal proceedings against the Attorney General because he testified against that a bill violates New Hampshire's long bi-partisan tradition of an independent Attorney General, violates the separation of powers, and may be unconstitutional. (Concord Monitor, 1/14/2011)
* Sought to remove an elected representative because he filed legislation they disagree with. (Union Leader, 1/9/2011)
* Refused to allow the public to testify at a hearing because the committee chairman had already made up his mind on the bill. (Concord Monitor, 1/12/2011)
* Established a new committee aimed at seeking the removal of judges and other public officials. (Foster's Daily Democrat, 1/13/2011)
*Filed legislation aimed at limiting the Constitutional right of active duty military personnel to vote. (youtube.com)
"That is why we call today on Speaker Bill O'Brien, Majority leader D.J. Bettencourt, the entire Republican leadership team and all House Committee chairs to sign the following Open Government Pledge," continued Wallner.
Open Government Pledge
"Whereas, Free unfettered debate is essential to democracy; and
Whereas, The legislature needs information and input from all New Hampshire citizens to make sound public policy decisions; and
Whereas, Public officials, whether appointed or elected, should be encouraged to share relevant facts, precedents and opinions with the New Hampshire legislature in order to foster sound public policy;
Therefore, we the undersigned, make the following pledge to foster Open Government in New Hampshire:
* Public hearings will be properly noticed, and New Hampshire citizens will be welcomed to testify and listened to with respect;
* Members of the legislature will not threaten to remove appointed public officials for offering facts, ideas and/or opinions;
* Members of the legislature will not attempt to remove other elected members of the General Court simply for offering a different viewpoint;
* Members of the legislature will not attempt to remove judges or other officials because of the substance of their opinions.