Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Friday
Jan062012

O'Brien Erred In Scheduling House Business On Primary Day

Keene Democratic Representative Chuck Weed took to the floor of the New Hampshire House under unanimous comment provisions to complain that Speaker Bill O'Brien has scheduled a full slate of house hearings for next Tuesday, the first in the nation primary day.

Weed was simply voicing a sentiment which everybody else seems to agree with.

Apparently never before has House business been conducted on a primary day.  I certainly can't recall it, and Weed quoted Secretary of State Bill Gardner saying the day has always been left open.

Not only does this decision show a lack of respect for a New Hampshire tradition which we all cherish, but it also creates a dilemma for numerous House Reps who also serve as local election officials (moderators, town and ward clerks, selectmen, ballot inspectors, etc).  Others might well have wanted to brave the cold and hold signs for their favorite candidates.

There is really no excuse for this.

Speaker O'Brien claims that we don't have enough time to handle all the work which comes before the House, but two solutions come to mind immediately.  He could move all the hearings from primary day to Martin Luther King Day the following Monday.  While some (Democrats mostly I suspect) might consider that a slap at Dr. King, it's certainly an open day.  Barring that, the Speaker could simply have cancelled the February winter vacation as he did last year.

Expect the national media to pick up on this story, and it will be an embarassment for the state.

In fact, it's already gone national.  When I mentioned it during an appearance on Capital Correspondence last night, a nationwide radio show (I'll also be on primary night), the host actually asked me if  it's a deliberate attempt by the Speaker (a Newt Gingrich supporter) to draw attention away from the primary and thus help Newt.

No, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I responded, but clearly there'll be more egg on the Speaker's face betwen now and Tuesday.

Not only are a few House hearings scheduled, if you check the calendar you'll find there are as many as four dozen!  It'll be one of the busiest legislative days of the year.  I personally have no less than three of my bills scheduled for the day (two at the same time originally--go figure--these chairmen must not consult each other when they do scheduling), and yes, I had planned to hold a Ron Paul sign much of the day.  What's a little cold when the future of the republic is at stake?!?

Long Live Lady Liberty!

Ron Paul for President!

This scheduling is inexplicable.

Chuck Weed was right.

It's probably too late to cancel all the House hearings, but then again, they'd have to cancelled if a blizzard were to strike, so maybe it's not too late for the Speaker to correct this egregious bit of scheduling. 

Thursday
Jan052012

NH House Passes Controversial Bills But Without Veto-Proof Majorities

            A gun bill and a bill regarding sex assault charges against TSA officials both passed the New Hampshire House Wednesday morning, but both were by less than veto-proof margins, setting up what could be more showdowns with Governor John Lynch this spring.

            Two more of Lynch’s vetoes were overridden yesterday, and we’re already begging a scorecard of how many vetoes he’ll be able to have sustained in this new year.

            HB628 passed 188-136 with the explanation that changes have been made since the bill was titled, “making the touching or viewing with a technological devise of a person’s breast or genitals by a government security agent without probable cause a sexual assault.”

            As amended, the bill now will simply allow people who’ve been touched to file complaints with police and will mandate that a record of such reports be maintained.

Even with that watered down wording, most Democrats opposed the bill, a sure indication that Lynch will veto the bill.

            The debate was replete with personal testimony from Reps who have witnessed unauthorized touching, one Rep even noting that treatment drove his elderly mother in law to tears.

            HB536, relative to the natural right to carry a firearm, openly or concealed, without a license” passed by a similar non-veto proof margin of 193-122, again with almost all Democrats voting against the bill and with Lynch threatening a veto.

            As you’ll note in the number tallies, more than 50 House members were absent for most votes during the morning, a real problem when it came to CACR8 since amendments require three-fifths approval of the entire House (239 right now), not simply of those present and voting.

            The amendment, which Democrats contended would have allowed state funding of religious education, received a majority (219-127) but came up far short of the necessary 239, leading some of the more conservative Republican sponsors of the bill to believe they were sold out by leadership.

            How so?  If leadership really wanted the amendment to pass, it would not have scheduled it when so many people were absent.  Then, when it came time to deliver to final speech for the bill, majority leader DJ Bettencourt and his deputies were conspicuously not at the mike.  The left it up to Education Chair Michael Balboni when earlier in the year the heavy hitters were called out for the education funding amendment which leadership had lobbied hard to pass.

            Hey, this is after all nhinsider, so you should expect nothing less that the kind of inside information here you won’t find other places.

            After the amendment failed to receive the necessary 239 votes, it was kept on life support by being sent back to committee with the rationale that it may ultimately prove to be the only vehicle available for education funding.  Clearly it will not come back in its current form.

            The House appeared to be moving at a snail’s pace during the morning session.  It rereferred the photo ID for voting bill back to the Election Law Committee, but at the lunch break, the House was mired in executive department bills, specifically the deregulation of certain professional associations (HB446) which passed out of committee 9-8 and will most assuredly occupy much time during the afternoon session.

            More than a score of bills remain, including the gambling bill and an attempt by the Ways and Means Committee to have an income tax banned in the state constitution, and 14 bills were removed from the consent calendar yesterday.

            That doesn’t even include the gay marriage repeal debate which has been postponed for two weeks.

            No betting man ever should wager that the House will finish the calendar today…or at least, you should demand long odds before placing such a bet.

Wednesday
Jan042012

More Politically Alert Honors Ron Paul

State Reps Cam DeJong, of Manhcester, Mark Warden, of Goffstown, Andy Manuse, of Derry, and I share two big things in common.  Many things actually but the big things are that  we're Libertarian Republicans who whole-heartedly endorse Ron Paul and aren't afraid to say so, despite the slings and arrow from the likes of Union Leader publisher Joe W. McQuaid and Fox News Liar in Chief Dick Morris..

When the three Reps joined me back in December for a Ron Paul hour on More Politically Alert on manchestertv23, we had more than 2500 people watching on line across the country and more than 600 people attempted to call in.

With the New Hampshire primary just six days away and the eyes of the world focused right here, we're doing it again live Wednesday night at 9 p.m. (rebroadcast Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at noon, and next Tuesday at 11 p.m.--just as the results are coming in--always available on the web at vimeo.com/channels/mpa).

There's been so much vitriolic anti-Ron Paul commentary on Fox News and on other lame stream media the past two weeks that this should be a refreshing hour.

We're sure to mention that if Republicans really want to beat Obama come November, Dr. Paul, contrary to what overstuffed talking heads are saying, is the only real hope.  Just look at the Iowa results.  Although Dr. Paul finished three points behind Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, he scored best in all the groups Republicans will need to capture to best Obama--first time voters, moderates, independents, and young people.

Now that's the truth, something you're not likely to hear on Fox or CNN or to read in the Union Leader.

Gott sei Dank for cable TV.

Gotta run to the studio.  I'm ready for my Close-Up, Mr. DeMille (unlike the heavily pancaked Chris Matthews, no I never use make-up for the show).

Wednesday
Jan042012

Title Loan Veto Overridden In Busy Day For NH House

Thanks in large part to 14 Democrats (including eight from Manchester and three from Nashua--anyone ready for a new acronym DINO?), Governor John Lynch's veto of Senate Bill 57, also known as the title loan bill, was overrriden by a one vote margin in the House Wednesday, 248-123.

For many, the vote came as a real stunner since it had passed by less than a dozen votes earlier.  Credit the Bianco lobbying firm with plaudits for turning this situation around, working beneath the radar screen to change votes from last spring.  Commerce Chair John Hunt and Nashua Democrat Ken Gidge, sounding every bit like a libertarian, should also share credit for turning the vote around.  Former Finance Chair Republican Neal Kurk, of Weare, was on the side against what he termed usurious loans, even provoking the shadow of god (or at least religion) in an attempt to raise people's morality concerns against the bill, a truly strange position for Kurk.  However Alton Republican Peter Bolster one-upped Kurk in scare tactics.  In response to my question about whether government should limit commissions on currency exchanges (for convenience, I some times pay up to ten percent in Montreal, if it's only a small amount being exchanged), Bolster contended passage of this bill could lead to increased suicide rates.

No, you just can't make this stuff up.

Speaker Bill O'Brien cast a vote in favor of the bill, prompting former Speaker Terri Norelli to ask whether or not the Speaker needs to inform members when he casts a vote.

Not, O'Brien countered; it's in the roll call tally.  Manchester Democrats actually voted 8-3 in favor of the bill (all except Pat Long, Ben Baroody, and the very religious Maurice Pilotte opposed their governor and party). 

In another stunner, the House successfully reconsidered and then passed HB542 over John Lynch's veto.  The vote was 255-112 (it had failed to reach two-thirds by a 244-130 margin back in November).  This bill allows parents to opt out of certain classes offered in public schools, a dangerous precedent in my opinion (yes, I voted with Democrats--yes, Rick Santorum is my least favorite candidate for President!).

Lynch was more fortunate on HB218, the rail transit bill which the House failed to override by a nine vote margin, 231-128.  This time it was Nashua Republicans, listening to their Chamber of Commerce, who joined Democrats to carry the day for Lynch.

Lynch's veto of HB380, which would have stopped repeal of the Commission on the Status of Men, was also sustained, with only 26 percent voting to override, 93-267.

Holy override, Batman, forget about two-thirds; that wasn 't even a third!

All those actions were part of the morning session which wrapped up the year 2011.

The arduous afternoon session dealt with everything from capital punishment (tabled) to abortion to another usury bill and the ban on spice incense (tabled).

The usuury bill, this time on installment loans, was SB160, and it passed by less than the vetoproof margin of 208-139, but opponents of so-called usury would be well advised not to take a successful veto for granted.  Wanna bet we'll here the suicide and morality issues once again when Lynch vetoes it?

By quitting time, the House was still on Criminal Justice Bills (they are handled alphabetically by committee). 

Most controversial was HB217, including "unborn child" in the definition of another for the purpose of first and second degree murder, manslaughter, and negligent homicide.  When a watered down amendment, favored by GOP leadership, passed, Manchester pro life Republican Kathy Souza was livid, claiming that the Speaker and majority leader DJ Bettencourt were playing politics with the issue.

"But, Kathy," I tried to console her.  "Everything we do here is politics."

Leadership also prevailed in convincing the House to eliminate the need of insurance companies to pay for bariatric survery (also known at the Senator Clegg bill).  Commerce Chair Hunt was left on the losing side as stronger language than he wanted was approved 231-133 and then the bill passed 229-133, not a vetoproof margin.

By late in the day, the House had passed a pro gun bill, albeit by yet another margin short of a promised veto, 213-125.

Among early votes Thursday will be a committee recommendation (10-6) to make touching or viewing breasts or genitals by TSA agents a sexual assault.

Altogether now, once again....you just can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday
Jan032012

The Week In Polls--Jan. 3--Salt Please

            It’s so close in Iowa that pollster Scott Morris has written an analysis titled, “Romney, Paul on Top, but Read Iowa Caucus Polls With Caution.”

            When one the pre-eminent pollsters goes out of his way to warn you to take his polls with a grain of salt, you know it’s time to get out the entire shaker (but then, I’m a saltoholic anyway and have the high blood pressure to prove it).

            The final Real Clear Politics average for Iowa had Romney ahead of Ron Paul by 1.5 points, within the margin of error.  Quite the debate erupted in the polling world last week when Gallup had Romney up by two points, but didn’t include a single Independent or Democrat in its survey. 

            Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com questioned that methodology and suggested Dr. Paul may well outperform the polls.

            Now that we’re into the political season, add fivethrityeight.com to the web sites you check on a regular basis.  Its average are perhaps even better than those from RCP.

            By the day of the caucuses, fivethirtyeight had reversed itself and given Romney a 44 percent chance to win in Iowa to 34 percent for Dr. Paul and 18 percent for Santorum.

(The Eft is off everyone’s radar screen).  538 has Romney at 21.9, Dr. Paul at 21.0, and Santorum at 19.1.

            Dig out the popcorn.  It’s going to be a fun night watching Iowa results come in.

            American Research Group had even better news for Romney.  He was up 22-17 over Dr. Paul in its poll with Santorum at 16 and the Eft 15.

            As they say in German, “Wir warden sehen.”

            We’ll see.

            538 now gives Romney a 94 percent chance of winning New Hampshire with Ron Paul at five percent and…guess who gets a one percent chance to win here?  No, not the Eft, but John Huntsman.  The average is 45.1 for Romney, 19.1 for Dr. Paul, and 11.6 for Huntsman.

            While I will vote for Ron Paul, I can’t imagine the New Hampshire numbers being too far off.  Suffolk has Romney up 43-16 over Dr. Paul with Huntsman at 10, the Eft 9, Santorum 5, Bachmann 2, and Perry 2 (Deputy Speaker Tucker and Rep. Peter Silva undoubtedly).  Magellan has Romney up 20 over Dr. Paul 41-21 with Huntsman and the Eft tied at 12, Bachmann and Santorum 4 and Perry at 3.

            There’s good news for Barack Obama this first week of the new year.  The RCP average has him down less than a point, 47.2-47.8 percent.  He’s down seven (46-53) with Rasmussen and two (45-47) with Gallup, but RCP is using a couple of more outdated polls which actually have Obama above par.  My guess is he’ll be back to three or four points under by mid-month and seven or eight under by mid-February.

            Rasmussen has Republicans up five (38-43) in the generic Congressional ballot and has Obama losing to a generic Republican by four (47-43).

            I see no new polls for U.S. Senate races, but I’ll be on the lookout for new numbers from places like Virginia, Missouri, Florida, and Wisconsin before we get too far into the new year.

            File this comment under another German word, Schadenfreude (taking particular pleasure in the misfortunes of another—where’s Herr Schmidt when you need a spell check).  My schadenfreude with the Eft (dragging down the reputation of Joe McQuaid along with him) knows no bounds.

            I know, I know.  I ought to be ashamed of myself. 

            I’m not.  Now if Dr. Paul could win Iowa, I'd be on Cloud Nine.

Long Live Lady Liberty!

Ron Paul for President!