In an unprecedented power grab, Speaker Bill O'Brien yesterday threw out the New Hampshire constitution and House tradition to ram an unpopular redistricting plan down the throats of the people of New Hampshire.
On Wednesday, O'Brien interrupted the House session, kicked Democrats and the public out, to hold a secret caucus with Republicans, where he presented a legal opinion that he said allowed him to call a vote on the Governor's veto of House redistricting - without any notice at all. And that's exactly what he did. Even denying a request by House Democrats for just 15 minutes to caucus.
Why? Perhaps he was afraid to give the many local officials, including prominent Republicans, enough notice to lobby their representatives to vote against the unconstitutional plan.
Part II, Article 44 of the New Hampshire constitution says that the bills vetoed by the governor should be entered into the body's journal preceding an override vote. But the constitution doesn't matter to O'Brien when it gets in the way of his political agenda.
As House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli said, "Bill O'Brien's actions are a corruption of our constitution and the legislative process." Even Republican House members called it "tyranny."
But should we be surprised? On Thursday, O'Brien said a question about whether a committee meeting was noticed was "irrelevant."
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O'Brien's stunt was one of just a slew of bad things coming out of the legislature this week. They voted to make additional cuts to legal assistance. They passed multiple new regulations on women's reproductive health care - with new criminal penalties for doctors. They voted to usurp local control of schools - because they were afraid of a United Nations takeover. They are trying to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative - increasing energy costs of New Hampshire consumers.
And - get this - they even voted for a state takeover of Medicare. That's right, that's not a typo. Bill O'Brien wants the state to take over Medicare - and Ovide Lamontagne has announced that it would be one of his top priorities if he was elected Governor.
The chair of the State Committee on Aging calls it a "potential disaster" for seniors.