Rep Steve Vaillancourt



Friday
Jul062012

People Still Don't Drive 65!

The Grand Bibliotehque in Montreal was closed for the holiday weekend (Canada Day was Sunday; the old port has been spiffed up even more this year).  Plus my state of lethargy was particularly pronounced.

Thus I did not get a chance to go in and blog my usual survey of people driving over the speed limit, but I did in fact keep a record as I drove up Interstate 89 between Concord and Lebanon from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. last Friday evening—that would be June 29.

You can probably guess the results.  Going approximately 65 miles and hour (the legal limit), for every car I had to pass (in other words, cars which were going less than the speed limit), I was passed by three cars speeding.  I wrote the exact numbers down, but managed to misplace it.  Still, I'm sure you'll take my word for it (it was something like 33 to 12).

Actually I tried to go slightly more than 65 (a confession), so no one could argue that 65 would make the survey improper.

Thanks to a law that should not be on the books (65 miles an hour on roads meant to be traveled at 70-75 miles an hour); the New Hampshire Legislature continues to make 75 percent of its citizens law breakers.

Don't blame me.

I introduced legislation to raise the speed limit last session, and despite the increased number of Libertarian-minded Representatives it failed lacking support of nearly all nanny state Democrats and Republican leadership which seemed more intent upon cramming gay marriage repeal and contraception control down our throats than of acknowledging that 65 is not an appropriate speed limit.

Here's the kicker.

Most people appeared not to traveling at unusually high rates of speed.  I would estimate they were going in the 70-75 mile and hour range.  Thus, had we changed the law to reflect reality, we would not have a state of law breakers.

The one dangerous spot in my 60 miles trek was not caused by excessive speed, but by a driver (Vermont license plate) poking along at 45 miles and hour, flicking cigarette ashes from her car when I passed her, causing a jam up.

I'll continue to say that it's not speed that kills.  It's a divergence from a reasonable speed limit.  With 75 percent of our citizens (albeit perhaps not Vermonters visiting here) breaking the law every time they get behind the wheel of their cars, we lose respect for all reasonable laws.

I will continue my surveys when I set out of trips later this summer (one in early August and one for Labor Day most likely).  Does anyone doubt that the results will be similar?

It's time to do as Maine has done--raise the speed limit to 70 or 75 miles an hour--to respect the WILL OF THE PEOPLE.  D.J. Bettencourt wouldn't get behind it as Republican leader.  Anybody wanna bet if he kept his speed down to 65?  I suspect not.

Maybe next year...at least Deej won't be here to oppose such sensible legislation!

My stay in Canada was uneventful, that is to say just fine.  Creature of habit that I am, I was not pleased to be unable to find my favorite weekly entertainment paper (The Mirror) which last year had welcomed me with the news that the B52s would be performing a free outdoor concert as part of the Jazz Festival.  No such luck this year; Liza Minnelli was on hand (but not for free).  Apparently the biggest name at the Festival was Chromeo, billed as the first Jew and an Arab in a rock group.  I took a pass on it, but the Old Port was fun.  Lots of fireworks; no one hurt; and they lasted more than 15 seconds.

I never did make it to the spot where Ethan Allen was captured (in 1775, not 1776); it’s not at all centrally located, way out beyond the LaFontaine tunnel.  Maybe next time.  Nor did I make it to where Jackie Robinson played minor league baseball, but I did read that his child was conceived in Montreal, and he loved it there.

So do I, even without a Mirror!

I dragged myself out of lethargy to film about 45 minutes (including some of the Art Festival in le Village--not as good as last year--I couldn't find Tick Tock Tom and his bleeding heart sculpture) and will be using it the next few weeks on The Liberty Express (Channel 23 in Manchester Monday at 10 p.m., Thursday at 9 p.m., Sunday at 6 a.m. and noon and always available on line at vimeo.com/channels/mpa). 

Friday
Jul062012

FY 2012 Revenue Projections Were Remarkalby Accurate

            Although June 30 marked the end of the fiscal year for revenue purposes, it does not appear that all revenues (notably $34.1 million expected in Medicaid recovery) were in.

            Thus, there are two ways of looking at the final revenue totals for the year.  If the Medicaid monies arrive, the state will be in $7.5 million over plan for the year.  That’s an amazing accuracy rate; it’s within 0.35 percent of the projected revenues of $2,189,200,000 ($2.189 billion).

            Should the Medicaid monies not arrive (most “experts” say they will), the state will fall $26.6 million short of revenue projections.

            An $11.5 million shortfall in tobacco revenues (thanks to ten cent per pack tax reduction House Speaker Bill O’Brien insisted upon) was offset by $10.3 million more than expected in business taxes, $7.9 million extra in rooms and meals monies, $3.1 million in the real estate transfer tax, and $2.5 million in securities revenue.

            Other revenue sources which came in under play were, as had been indicated all year, liquor monies ($6.7 million under plan), interest and dividends monies ($3.5 million under) and lottery monies ($3.4 million under).

            Overall, it was a rather amazing job of revenue projections, not just in one category but in all of them.

            Most people expected the cigarette tax would come in $10 million under plan, that the Speaker was dead wrong in insisting that you could recover revenues by selling more packs if the tax were lowered.

            Legislation cutting the tax was accompanied by a measure that would return the ten cent tax if monies fell short, but that rider won’t kick in for another year.  Of course, legislators elected in November could raise the tax (ten cents or more) and have it kick in upon passage.

            If that sounds like a prediction, so be it.

            When I returned from a weekend north of the border, I read a media report that June revenues were $10 million short, but as I reported here before I left, those numbers were not final.  June’s numbers actually came in $2.1 million above the $204.9 million estimated.  The discrepancy is easily explained; the “other” category surpassed the $18.1 million plan by $3.1 million, but it had been million shy until the very end. 

            Overall the state took in $513.3 million in business taxes for the year; $237.1 million in rooms and meals taxes; $212 million in tobacco taxes; $124.7 from liquor sales; and $66.6 million from the lottery ($74.0 million in the other category as opposed to $74.1 million expected).

            Fish and Game revenues came in at $9.8 million $0.9 million shy of the $10.7 projected.

            Highway funds came in at $283.8 million, $5.1 million over plan, not due to the gasoline tax but rather due to an excess of motor vehicle fees.  The gas tax was slightly ($1.5 million) below the plan of $124.5 million.

            The numbers speak for themselves.  Other than the editorial comment on the cigarette tax, I could point out that if Governor John Lynch’s estimates had been used, we’d be in a big hole today, far in excess of $100 million.

            Ain’t democracy grand?           

Friday
Jun292012

Let's Celebrate Some Birthdays

My papers are in order (passport that is).  I expect clear sailing through the border.  Only once do I recall Canadian officials thoroughly searching everything; my State Rep files mystified them.  “What if someone were to steal these,” I was asked.  My response—it seemed logical to me—“What if someone were to steal anything?”  They let me in, paper and all.

Mais oui.

My tank is full of gas (I paid $3.22 on Queen City Ave in Manchester and expect to pay close to $3.50 when I refill in northern Vermont, still less than I would pay if I had to fill up in Quebec).

Ah yes, it's my annual excursion to celebrate two birthdays.  Canada turns 145 Sunday (Canada Day in the Old Port of Montreal is one of my favorite things).  Of course, the U.S. will hit 236 Wednesday; I expect to be back at my brother's house in Vermont for that.

Time was when I would visit Montreal with a purpose.  Now, most of the time, I attempt to have absolutely nothing to do, but this time, I've grabbed a camera and will attempt to do some filming for upcoming TV shows (Jackie Robinson played for the Montreal Royals in 1947; Ethan Allen was captured while trying to wrest Canada from the British there--1776 as I recall).  Then there's always jazz, a great arts festival and fireworks (although I've become jaded by fireworks).

Last year, I discovered the B52s were performing to close out the jazz festival.  I doubt I'll be so lucky this year.  I'm into Rod Stewart these days and have taken out some of his Standards CDs (along with REM and the Bs) to listen to when I get out of radio range through Vermont.

One of my friends at the State House motorcycled into Montreal last weekend.  He said the city was dead—it was St. Jean Baptiste Day.  He also noted that when they landed at a restaurant they happened to be in La Village, the gay section of town.  That’s all right; I assured him; last time I checked, they let heterosexuals in there to eat, drink, party, or whatever.

He told me two guys were arguing, in English, about which city is better, Montreal or Paris.  I remember a Montealer once telling me many years ago, “We’re not Paris, you know.”  My response was—in German—Gott sei Dank.  Thank god.  Excuse me for disparaging one of the world’s truly great cities (Paris), but Montreal is much better as I see it.  It’s every bit as international and cosmopolitan and free-spirited as Paris, but without the attitude.

Before I hit the road, I should comment on a few items.

Democrats On Medicinal Pot?--I may have been wrong when I reported that all five Senate Democrats voted not to override the medical marijuana bill.  A reporter had told me that; others tell me that in fact the only two Democrats who committed such treachery were Sylvia Larsen and Lou Boo Hoo D'Allesandro.

Rest in Peace, Leo--As I've reported here twice, Leo Pepino was hospitalized with a heart attack in the filing period.  He still managed to file, but now I read that he has passed.  I guess I remember Leo most for his time on the Charter Commission (I was working for Manchester City Hall at the time and was assigned the task of transcribing minutes).  It's truly ironic that Manchester voters will be asked whether or not to establish another Charter Commission this fall.  I do recall that Leo was very ill 12 or 13 years ago, so he was indeed a survivor.  His wife Rita, who passed years ago, was also very well known.  Perhaps Leo's greatest legacy is the paper trail bill.  He's the reason we have paper ballots available for all recounts.  It came as the result of the controversial Donna Soucy-Leona Dykstra Aldermanic election (was it 1995?).  Soucy's father C. Arthur was moderator--kind of an All in The Family thing.  There were voting irregularities; the election went to the courts, but back then Manchester used voting machines with no paper trail.  Leo changed that.

 

Revenue Estimates Nearly Perfect--Of course, the fiscal year ends tomorrow, and a quick look at revenues reveals that we might be just a tad off for June--probably only a few million when all is settled.  We should be very close to hitting the plan for the year overall.  Cigarettes, thanks to the O'Brien ten cent a pack cut, will be off $10 million for the year, but Rooms and Meals, Real Estate Transfer, and Business Taxes all beat plan for the year.

Obama Either Leads By 8, 3, or 0 in NH--No Week in Polls this week, although we are inundated with many new ones showing Obama moving slightly farther ahead of Romney nationwide and in key battleground states (Florida and Ohio especially).  Two New Hampshire polls tell a different tale.  NBC/Marist have Obama and Romney dead even here while American Research Group has Obama up eight (only three if you look at those certain to vote).

I'll check in from the Grand Bibliotehque in the Latin Quarter, but I haven't yet purchased a lap top (it's on my to do list--Montreal is chock full of WIFI cafes), so comments will be limited for a few days.

Happy Birthday.

How does one say that in French?  Bonne fete?

Thursday
Jun282012

Supreme Courts Send "Caveat Emptor" Message

Yes, I meant courts, plural.

The United States Supreme Court, with its decision essentially upholding Obamacare today, joined the New Hampshire Supreme Court two weeks ago, with its acceptance of a deeply flawed House redistricting plan, that we, meaning the body politic, can't always rely on courts to defend our freedom and correct the stupendous errors of elected representatives.

In other words, the Lain phrase "Caveat Emptor" rules today.  Let the buyer beware...or in this case, let the voter beware.

Unlike Rep. Paul Mirski, R-Enfield, I don't wish to stand on a soap box and criticize any court as unethical.  Such name calling is simply vile, and Mirski should know it.

What the court has told us, both on the federal and state level, is that when Legislatures err, don't expect the Court to find meaning in the Constitution (even if such meaning could in fact be read into the documents) to overrule elected officials.

Voters need to beware of the people they are electing.  They should reject Democrats like Carol Shea Porter, who voted for the insane Obamacare, and Kuster (who would support it on Congress), but voters in New Hampshire should also reject each and every Republican (especially the seven Manchester serpents who went back on their sacred oath) who pushed through a redistricting plan that clearly did not live up to the spirit of people as expressed at the ballot box in 2006.

Unlike Ed Mosca's inane assertion, the New Hampshire court did not vindicate the House for a stupendously poor plan, and the Supremes in Washington did not vindicate the U.S. Congress for Obamacare which remains extremely unpopular.

The courts merely declined to find legal grounds to stop stupidity foisted upon us by legislative bodies.  Not all terrible legislation is necessarily unconstitutional legislation, at least not with these 14 justices (nine and five) deciding.

We can all be thankful for one small thing.  At least Chief Justice Roberts did not allow the commerce clause to be used as justification for forcing everyone to buy health insurance.  He has told us that the Legislature has unlimited ability to tax us.  Knowing that, people must be careful les they send legislators to Washington or to Concord who will abuse that authority.

I would prefer courts more vigilant about using our Constitutions to defend our freedoms, but hey, I'm no Mirski, so I'm not about to rant against black-robed oligarchs.

The fault, dear Brutus, lies neither in the stars nor the courts, but in our legislators.

Thus, caveat emptor.

Stop electing people who would pass such nonsense as Obamacare or redistricting which robs four seats of Pelham for the benefit of the Speaker's friends in Hudson.

As Reagan said in The Exorcist, "MAKE IT STOP!"

Make Legislators stop doing bad things and expecting the courts to correct their stupidity.

Thursday
Jun282012

Democrats Passed Partial Birth Abortion Ban; Killed Medical Marijuana

While most Democrats oppose a ban on partial birth abortion and favor medical marijuana, members of that party in fact led to exactly the opposite result in both instances.

That's because with votes on veto over-rides requiring two-thirds, and with many close calls yesterday, every vote really mattered.

In the House, the attempt to override the partial birth abortion ban (House Bill 1679) failed 240-118, meaning a flip of only two votes would have meant the opposite result.  Five Democrats voted with the vast majority of Republicans in successfully overriding the Governor's veto.  Roger Berube, of Somersworth, was no surprise, but he was joined by Bill Butynski (not really a surprise) from Hinsdale; Steve DeStefano, of Bow (he's not running again); Peter Sullivan from Ward 3 Manchester (he was elected earlier this year to fill Mike Brunelle's term--wow, think of that!); and Gagnon from Claremont.

Their vote against the party was critical.

It appears that 30 Republicans (truth in blogging--including me) voted to sustain the veto.  With so many absences for the day, I had calculated that 25 Republicans would be enough votes to sustain vetoes, but then I never expected five Democrats to bolt.

The medical marijuana vote was even more stunning.  The Senate vote of 13-10 was three votes short of an over-ride.  Word began to spread that Democrats Sylvia Larsen, of Concord, and Lou D’Allesandro, of Manchester, had voted to sustain the veto.  Only today did I learn that all five Democratic senators in fact voted to kill medical marijuana.  In other words, 13 Republicans voted for it including President Peter Bragdon and Senator Luther from Nashua.

This must be considered high treachery from Democratic senators, all the more so because of the reason.  They reportedly were concerned that they were voting to oppose the governor on so many other vetoes that they had to throw him a bone.  Thus, medical marijuana was used as a pawn to be sacrificed.  This is truly a tragedy, and the three Democratic senators who are seeking re-election (Larsen, D'Allesandro, and Kelly of Keene) should be voted out of office for such partisan gamesmanship when lives and comfort of human beings are at stake...not to mention when fellow Democrats like Evalyn Merrick, of Lancaster, have worked so hard to pass this legislation through the years. 

Lou’s deceit could come back to haunt him.  Unlike Larsen and Kelly, D’Allesandro is in a tough re-election race with Manchester Ward 10 Rep and Alderman Phil Greazzo, a long time supporter of the bill.  Perhaps it’s time to cue up Don Meredith for Lou, “Turn out the lights; the party’s over.”

Bye, bye, Lou, RIP!

We've come a long way since I first introduced medical marijuana with two to one opposition back in the late 90s.  With Jack Barnes (one of the five Republicans with the Governor retiring, most likely to be replaced by John Reagan (he's for it), next year will most likely be the year it becomes law.  Hopefully, Rep. Merrick will be back to see it; she has a tough race, due to redistricting, against popular Republican Bill Remick.