You might expect me, as a frequent critic of House Speaker Bill O'Brien, to be outraged by his decision to order that proposed bills be kept secret until after the November election (as reported in the lead story in today's Concord Monitor).
You would be wrong.
I find it impossible to get excited about this development. It's truly much ado about nothing.
Here's how it works. Although the election is still six weeks away, incumbent State Representatives, who advanced in the September primary, have a window of opportunity to file bill requests prior to the election (the window closes today).
Basically this is a house keeping procedure. Were we to wait until after November 6, the legislative drafting office would be inundated with requests (as they are anyway).
The early filing gives the hard working staffers a chance to get a head start on drafting legislation.
Every Rep, whether an incumbent or a newbie, will have another opportunity to file bill proposals after the election, so it's truly a case of no harm, no foul.
Sorry O'Brien haters, but I tend to agree with Rep. Neal Kurk, R-Weare, on this one. These early filings are simply requests and could very well be changed completely by the time the drafting is completed. While the media would certainly like to gin up some controversy by latching onto bill titles and using them against certain incumbents, that would probably be more of a disservice than a service to both voters and those seeking office.
As I told Monitor reporter Annmarie Timmins (and she apparently chose not to use the comment), if any incumbent is worried about something he or she files at this time, that incumbent can simply wait until after the election.
Truth in blogging, I've filed some drafting requests already, including my usual attempt to allow sanity to prevail on our interstate highways, that is to say, to raise the speed limits as other states are doing. I'm also looking into that disposal of bodies by the water method (remember that bill from the last two sessions) and a "loser pays" law for civil law suits.
All of these (and any others) could be filed later (by me or any other person who wins in November), but early filing is a useful way of spreading out the work burden at the State House.
I repeat--it's no big deal.
Cut the outgoing Speaker some slack on this one.