Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Jackie Cilley's Legislative Action Alert, Week of May 30

Legislative Action Alert
Week of May 30, 2011
Jackie Cilley

Welcome to New Hampshire, Now Please Go Home!
Native New Hampshirites have a long history of welcoming, though not without reservations, strangers to our beloved state. We love the tourist and we reluctantly accept the transplant. Someplace deep inside, though, we don’t accept anyone not born of this soil as a citizen in full standing and truth be told, we’re more comfortable with second generationers.

We try not to be obvious about this, but there are telltale signs. For example, the majority (some put it at 80%) of natives marry natives. Given that 60% of New Hampshire’s population wasn’t born here, you’d think we might trip over a suitable non-native life mate just on the basis of sheer numbers. Nope! We know our own and that’s who we choose to bring forward the next generation.

Bruce and I are a case in point, a Northfield boy whose ancestors have been here since the late 1600’s and a Berlin girl of three generations. I count myself lucky that he didn’t view me as a carpetbagger.
For all our love of our roots we grudgingly appreciate and respect the diversity brought by new-comers to our state. We understand the value of an infusion of new ideas into our sometimes stubborn Granite State adherence to cultural habits and mythology. We recognize the vibrancy that new blood produces.

We think considerably less kindly of those who come to supplant our way of life. Talk to any long-standing NH farmer and he’ll likely tell you how some of his neighbors moved up heah to git into the country but they was too doggone dumb to know where thar’s cows, thar’s shi’it. It’s a familiar tale of interlopers who enjoy thenotion of a bucolic New England farm right up to manure spreading time.

This tension of who newbies think we are versus who we are sometimes flares up in town meetings or other public forums, but mostly it’s the grist of inter-familial complaining about those gol’ dang img onload="icp.pasteHandler.cleanPastedImage(this)"rints from Taxachusetts or New York or even from down Maine. It’s gone on for generations. We generally work out the differences, more or less.

There is, however, a more recent migration to our state the likes of which we’ve never witnessed before. It began under an unpopular one-term Governor who invited a new group of transplants with a disturbing plan, one that has had and will have profound effects upon our state and our culture. It’s the story of a coordinated effort by a group who have come to take us over and re-build us in their image. It is the aberration of the Free State Project and its adherents.

Free Staters, for those not familiar, are folks from within and without the country who believe government’ssole purpose is to “defend life, liberty and property.” For over a decade they ‘ve been scheming together by the hundreds over the internet to find a place to stage their experiment of dismantling government and establishing a society of each man for himself. They set criteria for selection of a state to re-settle – low in population with an open, easily penetrable form of government, with libertarian leanings and possible to take over with 20,000 Free Staters willing to be very politically active.

While three other states vied for homeland status, none grabbed the heartstrings of Free State Project (FSP) members as thoroughly as the Live Free or Die state, the motto itself a beckoning call. Throw in a gubernatorial welcoming party and New Hampshire’s targeting was a fait accompli.

The disturbing distinction between other transplants to NH and Free Staters are the latter’s commitment to taking over state and local governments and re-shaping New Hampshire’s future into their extremist ideological vision without regard to what the people of NH want. They count on low participation rate of voters and rely on hoodwinking those who do vote. (A comprehensive overview of the FSP, their goals and tactics as well as members currently serving in our legislature and those running for office is contained in this Alert.)

One thing is clear: Now’s not the time for debates about whether you can say you’re a native New Hampshirite if you’ve been here since 8 months old. We can quibble again after we’ve reclaimed our state. The task before those of us here since the 1600’s and those who adopted NH for its quality of life and heritage is to stand together against invaders seeking an extreme makeover of our state. It’s time to say “Hope you enjoyed your stay, now go home!”

The Week in Brief
With Thursday, June 2 being the last day to act on one another’s bills the House and Senate have concluded all hearings on legislation. Each chamber will be holding floor votes on the final pieces of legislation coming out of committee.

All eyes are likely to be on the House again this week to see what new back door maneuverings Speaker O’Brien will pull on HB 474 the Right to Work Act. After more than a week of serious pummeling of Republicans who had voted to sustain the Governor’s veto of the bill and despite having a record number in attendance for the session, the Speaker suddenly postponed the vote. It was evident to all that he did not have his desired votes to override the veto.

The vote on HB 474 is currently scheduled for this Wednesday, June 1. Once again folks on both sides of this debate will be watching to see if there is any finality this week. However, it is clear from the Speaker’s actions last week that he intends to bring this forward only when he knows he has the votes.

Sadly, this is now political gamesmanship at its worst. The Speaker needs two-thirds of the votes of those present when the vote is taken. Thus, at any time of the day or night until the end of the year that O’Brien wishes to convene a session to take up this vote he may do so. Some of our Representatives may want to think carefully about whether this is a year to take any kind of long-distant vacation!

On the Senate side of the building the highest profile bills will be HB 1 and HB 2, the budget bills. The Senate Finance Committee has sent their version (discussed below) of the budget to the floor with a 6-1 recommendation of OTP/A (ought to pass as amended). Although some monies were restored for developmental disabilities and mental health services, this budget is only slightly less draconian than the House version.

For the full details of House and Senate calendars, please visit the General Court website at You may also want to download the Journals from that same site for each chamber. In those you can read the remarks made by legislators during debates on legislation – always good nighttime reading entertainment! Additionally, the Journals contain the roll call votes of each legislator. You will be able to see how your legislator voted on any bill of importance to you.

Senate Budget Still Requires Pain Meds
Anyone hoping for moderation from the Senate’s version of the budget is likely sorely disappointed this week. The Senate Finance Committee wrapped up its work late last week and sent the product along to the Senate floor with a 6-1 vote for OTP/A (ought to pass with amendment). While the Senate reinstated $75 million of the cuts made by the House, their budget is still $244 million below Governor Lynch’s proposed budget – and most have forgotten by now that the Governor’s budget was perceived by many as falling short of the state’s needs. By contrast, that first pass looks positively generous!

No matter how generous that starting position may look now, there is no realistic hope of getting back to it. Assuming that the latest version passes the Senate on Wednesday of this week, it goes back to the House for one of three possibilities. The House may concur (accept all changes made by the Senate), nonconcur (refuse to accept the changes, allow the bill to die and start the process all over again) or nonconcur/request a committee of conference (this process has been detailed extensively in two prior issues of the Alert). The last of these is the most likely.

Assuming that there will be a committee of conference (CoC) on the biennial budget, the most that anyone hoping for a needs-based budget is for the conferees to move closer to the Governor’s proposed budget and there are few indications that this will happen. It is far more likely, given the ample evidence to date, that the ax-wielders will set the parameters at the $75 million difference between the two chambers. Wherever we end up within that margin there will be plenty of pain felt all the way around.

The following is a partial list of items contained in the amended version of the budget.
  • $6 million restored to developmental disabilities programs (less than half that required to address the needs of people with developmental disabilities) and the suspension of the full funding of the waitlist until at least 2013
  • $18 million restored to mental health services
  • The shell of the CHINS program left in place but so underfunded that scores of at-risk youth are likely to pose a danger to themselves, their families and their communities
  • $750,000 restored for NH Legal Assistance
  • Repeals catastrophic illness program
  • Suspends funding for catastrophic aid payments to hospitals through 2013. This amounts to a $250 million tax on hospitals (actual tax plus federal match).
  • Rolls participants of the Healthy Kids program into a Medicaid managed care program (as yet untested with costs unconfirmed) resulting in 800 children losing healthcare coverage
  • Repeals prevention programs for at risk juveniles and incentive grants for these programs
  • Eliminates funding for mediators and guardians ad litem in cases involving indigent parents (those who can afford it can still access justice, though!)
  • Authorizes monetary incentives for liquor store employees while suspending any liquor revenues to fund alcohol abuse prevention and treatment programs. (Kinda makes sense when you think about it. Incentivize employees to sell more bottles of hooch and keep the addicted buying! Just supply and demand.)
  • Strips the money from the privately funded NH Excellence in Higher Education Endowment Trust Fund. (Isn’t there anyone over at the Statehouse that remembers the story of the medical malpractice fund???)
  • 20% reduction of state funds to municipalities (loss of revenue sharing, freezing of meals and rooms revenues and reduction of environmental grants)
  • Elimination of state share of NH Retirement System payments resulting in higher contribution rates from municipalities. (Of course, this legislature is doing everything humanly possible to push that burden – including the debt racked up by both the state and municipalities underfunding of the system for more than 16 years – onto the backs of public employees.)
  • Suspends reimbursements to the foster grandparents program
  • Suspends funding of the Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders program
  • Ups the ante on the House and slashes an additional $4+ million from the University System bringing cuts to virtually 50% of the System’s original request. This should insure our last place position for state funding of higher education.
  • Forbids the University System from making any appropriation to NH Public Television and doesn’t fund it within the budget. Thus, they don’t have to say they are eliminating public television it just disappears from lack of sustenance.
  • Leases Canon Mountain with no input from the Department of Resources and Economics and did not hold hearings on this action.

In addition to the numerous specific program eliminations and cuts, HB 2 also mandates the Governor come up with $50 million in reductions of salary and benefits. The language of the bill specifies that if the Governor cannot negotiate $50 million in savings from current employees, he is to begin lay-offs of state employees. When taken as a part of a much larger picture, the implications of this directive are disturbing.

Over the past several years in order to address budget shortfalls unfilled state positions have been eliminated and layoffs have been done. The elimination and downsizing in other areas of the proposed 2012-2013 budget are already resulting in layoffs within the state and there will undoubtedly be many more. If the mandate to the Governor results in several hundred more lay-offs look for already painfully thin staffing levels of programs to be stretched to the breaking point.

There are at least a few very obvious take-aways from an overview of the proposed budget:

1. Anyone who tells you that this legislature has not raised taxes and fees has lied to you. Just a few of the rising costs in store for us include:
a. Hospitals will now pay a tax for which they receive no benefit and will see the costs of charity care increase. Hospitals will, in turn, be forced to pass those costs along to you and me and we will see our healthcare premiums increase as a result.
b. Property taxpayers will pick up the costs of the elimination of the state’s contribution to NH Retirement System costs, the reduction in revenue sharing and the freezing of the meals and rooms sharing.
c.  All public employees have just been hit with what will amount to a new tax on their salaries intended to pay back the state’s and municipalities’ debt.

2. Anyone who tells you this level of destruction was necessary has lied to you.
a.  Both chambers assumed an unrealistically low revenue number from which to start the process.
b.  Both chambers tucked in plenty of reductions in taxes and fees currently needed to address the needs of the state.  Such actions as rolling back cigarette taxes by 10 cents or shaving $3 off a marriage license will carry no large benefit for the recipients, but collectively will have millions of dollars of negative impact on an already difficult budget situation.
c.  The Senate chose to put $42 million into a “rainy day” fund rather than restore any one or more of the critical services that are being eliminated. Looks like it’s raining to me!

3. Anyone who tells you that this is a really business friendly legislature has lied to you.
a.  Although this legislature has put forward a number of proposals to reduce certain business taxes, they have ultimately succeeded in raising taxes on all small businesses in NH. For example, those who have the luxury of surviving a $ 10 million loss to their business revenues can now carry that forward for ten years, reducing their business profits tax. My bet is there aren’t many small businesses in that category. However, the majority of small businesses are subject to the property tax which accounts for more than half of the taxes they pay. As noted above, that tax is about to see significant increases even as services it pays for are likely to be trimmed back sharply.
b. One of the foremost reasons that businesses choose to locate in New Hampshire (until now, in any case) is the high level of education of our workforce. With the numerous bills to dismantle public education and with the savage cuts to the University System, this is unlikely to be an attraction for much longer.
c. Businesses prosper where there is a high standard of living and a robust middle class. The hundreds (if not thousands by some estimates) of newly unemployed is likely to have a bit of negative effect on that as will the panoply of anti-worker legislation.
d. While businesses may complain about being over-regulated they really only mean those regulations that they have to observe not the ones that everyone else has to observe. Businesses like to set up shop where they receive a measure of protection from unscrupulous vendors or suppliers. The range of anti-regulatory legislation considered in this session year and that which is likely to be introduced next year may make such an environment questionable for businesses.

Other Stuff on the Senate Floor in the Upcoming Week
Failure to Protect Property Owners:
A bill that received strong support from citizen activists, HB 648 intended to prevent the taking of private property for the sole purpose of profit-making curiously failed to receive any support for passage from the Senate Judiciary Committee. This bill would prohibit the taking of private property by a utility in cases where there is no prevailing public interest.

Eminent domain has always been a touchy issue in the Live Free or Die state. We’ve never much liked the government coming in and taking our property even when a case can be made for the “public good” aspects of a project. It is one of the reasons that in New Hampshire we generally have one of the most restrictive uses of public domain by which our property can be taken.

HB 648 is focused on barring the partnership of Northeast Utilities/Public Service of NH and HydroQuebec from using eminent domain to force the sale of properties in the path of a proposed power line running the full length of the state. This case is especially noteworthy given that it is a stretch to make the argument that there is a “public good” for the citizens of New Hampshire. New Hampshire already produces more electricity than it uses and exports the surplus to the grid that feeds the ten-state northeast region. The proposed power line will satisfy the needs of electric consumers in Connecticut and New York and produce windfall profits for the partners involved in the project, but no comparable long-term jobs or revenues for citizens of our state.

One complicating factor for this bill, and one that likely swayed the Senate Judiciary Committee, is prospective temporary jobs that would be created during this difficult economic time. However, the notion that one’s property, property that may have been in the family for generations, can be taken to produce transitory jobs should run counter to anyone’s concept of property rights. It will be interesting to see how the full Senate votes on HB 648 that garnered strong support in the House (by a rare bipartisan 317 – 51 margin).

Senate Slows Down Use of Supermajority on New Taxes/Fees:
Legislation that could lead to a law in NH that has caused plenty of problems for states having it on their books was slowed down, but not killed, by the Senate Internal Affairs Committee. CACR 6, a constitutional amendment that requires a 3/5 supermajority to pass legislation instituting or increasing a new tax or license fee, has been recommended Re-refer to Committee by a 5-0 margin. This could lead to the bill being studied further. Whether that is the case or not, the legislation must be brought back to the Senate floor for another vote in the second year of the session.

While some might view the establishment of such a high majority to pass new or increased taxes or fees as a good thing, the reality is that such laws lead to high levels of inflexibility to deal with the demands on government services and, as importantly, higher costs for government. As Jeff McLynch, Ex. Director of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute points out in his testimony to the Committee on CACR 6, “A comprehensive 1999 study conducted by James Poterba of MIT and Kim Rueben of the Urban Institute finds that states that have supermajority requirements in place face higher borrowing costs – in their words, as much as ‘an extra $1,750 in interest payments per million dollars of debt issued.’ Indeed, in just the past two years, Moody’s Financial Services has downgraded its bond ratings for both Arizona and Nevada, explicitly citing the presence of a supermajority requirement for tax increases in those states as one of the factors influencing its decisions.

McLynch went on to tell the committee that supermajority requirements have proven very difficult to retract even in the face of mistakes and have lead to the use of short-term accounting gimmicks rather than long-term, fiscally sound decision-making. One example that he gives of this phenomenon is Arizona’s sale of many of its assets including its Supreme Court and Statehouse buildings. The state made some money to fill budget gaps over the past couple of years and now faces the costs of leasing back these properties year in and year out.

Students to Stay ‘til 18
While it may be difficult to go on to further education after high school, at least students in New Hampshire will be required to stay in school until age 18. Senate Education recommended ITL (inexpedient to legislate/kill the bill) on HB 429 the bill that would have rolled back the high school drop-out age to 16 years old. Legislation increasing the drop-age to 18 passed in 2007 and the state has seen the steepest rise in graduation rates of anyplace in the country.

House Actions
Guns, First, Last and Always
The House appears intent on ending the year the way it began – by making the wearing and use of weapons as limitless and unmonitored as humanly possible. An overview of the legislation that has been introduced this year on the topic of guns suggest the ideology of this group isn’t simply one that supports those great “second amendment rights” which we all know and love. Rather, it seems a concerted attempt to remove any reasonable oversight about who might be running around armed to the teeth. Even if you find yourself in disagreement with that statement, hopefully you would agree that there is something positively absurd about providing immunity from civil suit for some hot head who decides today’s a good day to be a hero and ends up dispatching some fine upstanding citizens who were innocent bystanders. That’s right, in the unending march to provide super rights to Second Amendment zealots, the rights of the other 99% are being pretty well trampled.

SB 88 will allow a person to use deadly force to protect oneself or another wherever s/he may be. (I can’t swear to it but I think I’ve seen this language in about a dozen other bills but you can never enshrine this right too many times!) While the bill poses some restrictions on the use of deadly force, it leaves ample room for discretion for the person deciding to exercise it. It does not, however, allow for any discretion on the part of someone believed to be a perpetrator. I would recommend that you be careful with whom you get into heated arguments in public or near strangers. It just might be possible for an armed defender of truth, justice and the American way will be at hand to save the day and you just might be mistaken for an “aggressor.”

SB 88 amended by House Criminal Justice Committee also removes minimum mandatory sentencing requirement for felony convictions which include the possession, use, or attempted use of a firearm. Don’t you feel safer now?

Photo Id or Be Damned
Despite ample testimony questioning the constitutionality of SB 129, the opposition by one of the longest-standing Secretary of States in the country, our own Bill Gardner, the evidence that this bill will raise the costs of elections and pose unnecessary barriers to the elderly and students who may not have a photo id and most interestingly, the absolute lack of evidence that this has ever been a problem in our elections, the house once again passed SB 129 requiring a photo id to vote. This will most assuredly end up in court.

Defections Increasing
The following was penned by someone a bit media shy. As it lauds two stand-up State Reps who deserve it as well as captures this week’s theme it is included.

Today marks another milestone in Speaker O'Briens regime. Not satisfied with punishing Representative Marshall "Lee " Quandt for having an opinion and actually using it to craft legislation now Representative Mathew Quandt is punished for also having the fortitude to stand up for what he believes and stand against the power bully's.

 The actual punishment to Mathew Quandt came after Representative Shawn Jasper R from Hudson spent the last session constantly whining that Mathew Quandt was voting his conscience and for his constituents and not, as Jasper put it, as leadership wanted.

We can trace both Quandts ability to think for themselves to their service to their country. Marshall Quandt served a few tours during the Vietnam war and Mathew followed in his fathers footsteps. The Quandt family has a history of fighting and standing ready to fight for their country and the right of all to vote as we saw fit and not as we might be ordered. Representative Jasper doesn't appear to have served which may account for his inability to lead and his desire to please the power brokers. Jaspers inability to lead and his obvious contempt for those who can should be a warning to the voters in his district.

As for leadership, they have made another grave mistake. Matt Quandt was extremely effective and respected. He now joins the ranks of the likes of Susan Emerson, and his father a true American hero, Marshall Lee Quandt.

The caliber and experience of those being cast aside for having the ability to think and to lead gives us hope. The Tea Party took advantage of a disgruntled populace who just felt compelled to throw the baby out with the bath water for the second time. This time there will be choices. This time the voters won’t vote blindly, and they won’t be voting for those who blindly followed. Nor will they vote for those who sell their souls for a parking spot and a title.

The name Free State will have a new meaning in the next election. A Free Stater will be someone who wants to free our state of the lunacy.

Come to Free Us and Force Us to Like It
Reference to Free Staters or the Free State Project have been made in the Alert as well as other publications over the past several months. A number of readers have asked what this is all about, who these people are, what they want, and how many are currently in our legislature. The following is an overview that addresses such questions as well as sources of information for you to learn more.

And learn more you should. Ignoring this group will be done at the price of turning over New Hampshire to those who will re-shape it in surprising ways for the future. Whether you agree with their vision or not is immaterial to these folks and many of them say so. Their’s is not a democracy or a republic or even fair for that matter. Like every self-absorbed self-appointed visionary before them they know what is best and if you don’t share that view, well, you can leave (even if you’ve been here since the 1600’s).

Not once during the campaigns of last fall do I recall or have I heard anyone else recall that a candidate said that they were a Free Stater. Not once did I hear of any candidate advocate for the dismantlement of government, state that government is for the sole purpose of defense of life, liberty and property, acknowledge his/her belief in anarchy, share his/her view of public schools being unnecessary and that parents should homeschool their children or let us know that they had specifically come to our state to chart a course toward the implementation of these and more. They were not very transparent or forthcoming in their intentions when they got inside our government. As time has gone on, however, there are a number of interesting pieces of information about this group that has emerged. What follows are the highlights.

In the Beginning
The Free State Project (FSP) is the brainchild of Jason Sorens, currently assistant professor of political science at the University of New York-Buffalo. In 2001 Sorens wrote an article for the online magazineLibertarian Enterprise that became the manifesto of the FSP and launched the group’s search for the ideal state in the country to establish their new land.

Sorens wrote “What I propose is a Free State Project….the only requirement is that you pledge that you will work to reducing government to the minimal functions of protecting life, liberty and property, establish residence in a small state and take over the state government….Once we’ve taken over the state government we can slash state and local budgets…” “Announcement: The Free State Project,” The Libertarian Enterprise, Number 131, July 23, 2001.

Patron saint of the FSP, Sorens the wunderkind with purportedly innovative ideas for utopian societies appears to be something of a study in contrasts himself. For example, his own econometric models show New Hampshire to be one of the top three freest states in the country, while New York comes in dead last in these models. So where does the Pied Piper of the Lunatic Libertarian Fringe live? That’s right – in the state with the least freedom in the country.

One might reasonably ask why Dr. Sorens didn’t move to New Hampshire as he pledged to do as founder and one of the first thousand advance troops? According to his followers he had to take a job where he could find one and apparently the only place willing to offer one was in the most anti-liberty state in the country. A purist might argue that there were other alternatives and he should have been true to his own vision. But hypocrisy has never mattered to those who blindly follow. Just look at the excuses being made for one Mr. Camping’s predictions of the rapture on the day after it didn’t happen.

Sorens, like his liberty-loving followers who believe that you can either provide for yourself or do without, does not believe in public education. So where is he employed? He is an Assistant Professor at a university. Sorens also believes that we should not be paying taxes for anything other than protection of our life, liberty and property. I’m not sure how he justifies cashing his paycheck that is drawn from the taxpayers of New York for his public employee service at the University of New York’s Buffalo campus.
Sorens and his followers believe the magic of the invisible hand of the market is all that society needs to sort out what is right and good, reasonable and unreasonable, just and unjust in the world. Yet, ironically enough Mr. Sorens is in a tenure-track position at SUNY Buffalo. If he attains tenure he will essentially have a protected job for life. That doesn’t sound very “free market” to me. Maybe he’s working to change that and will turn it down when offered – you think??

Of all of his writings, though, and he is a prolific writer, my personal favs are those he wraps in econometric linguistics to justify chauvinistic attitudes. For instance, in one writing he uses supply-side/demand-side economic-speak to explain why today’s woman experiences difficulty in finding a mate. Dr. Soren’s premise here is that men can now find plenty of substitutable alternatives for their natural lascivious appetites (according to his line of thinking women are different in this regard, they like sex as far as it goes but really it’s just a means to an end toward babies and husband) because today’s women are giving it away for free rather than demanding something in return, i.e., matrimony. Moreover, Sorens argues that the price of marriage has skyrocketed what with a man having to not only go out and work but participate in childrearing, housecleaning chores, grocery shopping and cooking. (For his 1950’s style sexist tract see this piece)

The first thought that came to mind when I read this particular treatise was how smart my Grandma was! She wasn’t anywhere near as eloquent as Sorens but she captured the same basic philosophy when she cautioned “Dearie, ain’t no man gonna buy that thar cow when he kin git her milk for free.” The other thought that rambled through my head (I swear I tried to stop my mind before it went there) was what price poor Mr. Sorens paid given that he is married and has a child. I’m just saying!

More to the point here, however, is the way the mind of the FSP prophet works. His dim view of women and how they have “fallen” suggests something less than full equality in his Brave New Free World.

The Arrivals, What They Believe and How They Operate
Having established the criteria for selection and prioritizing those meeting the criteria, FSP members then proceeded to vote on final selection. Once New Hampshire was selected for re-settlement, calls went out for 20,000 people to make the commitment to move with the first wave of 1,000 agreeing to move by December 31, 2008 . According to the FSP website that number of commitments was reached by the self-imposed deadline of year’s end 2006.

Today the FSP claims to have 907 official members who made the move from someplace else to the Granite state and another 10,934 signed on to make the move within five years of signing. Additionally, there were already FSP members living in NH before the incursion began. Some of the folks who signed to come as the first 1,000 can be viewed here. Review that list carefully. You will find some names of those currently serving in the New Hampshire legislature as well as those who have run and/or are running for office.

The FSP appears on the surface to welcome folks of all stripes so long as they are deemed “liberty-lovers” and commit to the pledge to “…to work to bring about a society in which government’s maximum role is protecting life, liberty, and property…” It’s important to note that this pledge does not embrace such traditional or commonly accepted notions of government involvement in providing public education, protecting consumers from corporate abuse, the care of the elderly or the care of disabled to mention a few.

According to David Weigel in his blog on “The FSP took only 10 years…to get taken seriously. How’d they do it? The same way the Bolsheviks co-opted the Russian Revolution, or the Tea Party took over state parties – they organized and beat people who outnumbered them.” Others might argue that Free Staters have won elections by hoodwinking voters. Does anyone recall hearing candidates talk about dismantling public education? Were there folks talking about removing all licensure and regulations? At least two FSP members began using new names when they moved to our state. One wonders why that would be necessary if they believe that New Hampshire voters agree with their philosophy.

This desire by some for anonymity is underscored by recent statements by Rep. Andrew Manuse, r, Derry (who, to his credit, acknowledges his FSP membership), “He said there are a dozen Free Staters in the Legislature, though he would not name all as some prefer to remain anonymous, he said.” Free Staters Make Their Mark: Local Reps. Offer Sharp Criticisms, Joey Cresta,, April 17, 2011.
Free Staters work together to make members’ migration to the state smooth and affordable. They offer “Landing Zones” such as one referred to in Grafton, NH. They assist in finding property, locating jobs, financing business ventures, and making introductions to the gang already here. They offer scholarships to encourage parents to homeschool their children or to place them in private school. They actively support one another in both civil disobedience activities as well as in running for any type of pubic office.

The FSP encourages both civil disobedience and high involvement in the electoral process. The acts of civil disobedience described by some of their members is frequently nothing shy of juvenile and pointless as near as can be seen. For example, Kevin Roll in an interview about his involvement with the Free State Project ( describes his memorable civil disobedience act as throwing snowballs at the Federal Court House – toward what end he doesn’t say but I guess snowball throwing can be an enjoyable subversive activity while looking for a cause. Others have enjoyed speeding then refusing to show a license (which they may have burned – another civil disobedience activity) resulting in their getting arrested (the highest form of disobedience. It appears that at least some of these acts are intended to demonstrate against society having any rules or laws save those “for the protection of life, liberty and property.”

When they are not throwing snowballs or speeding through our streets Free Staters are dedicated to populating public office from the local to the state level. They count on their cohorts to finance campaigns allowing them to wallpaper the district they are running to represent, to knock on doors, write letters to the editor, work the polls and generally talk them up to neighbors and co-workers.

The FSP established a mechanism through the NH Liberty Alliance to vet candidates and give them their seal of approval. Candidates that make the grade are either card-carrying members of the FSP or sufficiently like-minded as to deserve honorary status. For the list of 2010 candidates of Free Staters and Free State Wannabe’s see

Consequently, while the FSP claims to have 13 bonafide members serving in the current legislature there are an estimated 150 like-minded souls now giving New Hampshire residents the representation the FSP believes we deserve.

Here’s the conundrum for members of the FSP: If the citizens of the state you chose to take over aren’t in favor of your brand of freedom, what will you do then? Whose freedom are you defending if you try to wrench the way of life supported by the majority of citizens from them? And, most importantly, how do you justify “saving” we poor souls who fail to see how joyous our lives would be in your new Utopia by hiding who you really are and the full extent of your agenda??

Monica, a Free Stater interviewed on her decision stated “This is the next American Revolution, this is the proving ground…The people of NH have this innate freedom mentality, whether or not they really understand it….” Monica is a self-proclaimed anarchist who believes that they only government needed is that which the marketplace will provide.

That may just be what we are in for, folks, if we don’t get organized ourselves, involved in with the electoral process, learn who is asking for our vote and why, and field candidates who uphold the core traditions of our wonderful state.

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