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.