Legislative Action Alert
Week of June 13, 2011
Of Lupines and Electric Towers
Bruce and I skipped Maine last weekend and instead took a drive to Sugar Hill. We were glad we did. The town was celebrating the second weekend of a 17 day Lupine Festival dedicated to the ornamental plant in the pea family. Despite the forecasted isolated shower that became a steady rain throughout the day, no amount of grey skies could overshadow the landscape of brilliant pastel colors.
As we climbed hills into town we saw other visitors pull to the side of the road and emerge with cameras in hand. Some of the shutter bugs were obviously amateurs with their miniature Nikon Coolpix Touchscreens used to snap a pretty picture. Others lugged out their tripods to hold their Canon EOS 1DS Mark III to capture a singular image that might end up in some magazine or framed on somebody’s wall. The panorama would not disappoint either.
We visited the open air market where lupines were present in every modality possible. Photographs and canvasses of watercolors and oils sported everything from a single lupine with a fat bumblebee at work pollinating to vast meadows of color. There was pottery with signature lupine and lupine inspired candles for sale throughout the market.
Among the vendors stood a booth whose orange bows and signs contrasted sharply with the pastels of lupine. Messages of “Stop Northern Pass” and “Stop the Towers,” belied the booth’s unique purpose. It was, in fact, the other reason that we had made the trip at the invitation of one of its most vocal and passionate volunteers, Nancy Martland.
This signage had been visible in front of virtually every property leading into or out of Sugar Hill. The landscape for many residents will profoundly change if Northern Pass comes to fruition. The community will change for all of them.
For those unfamiliar, Northern Pass is a partnership project of Northeast Utilities, Connecticut-based owners of Public Service Company of New Hampshire and HydroQuebec, a Quebec Province generator of electric power. Its purpose is to bring high voltage DC (direct current) power lines from Quebec to a substation in Franklin, NH that will convert the power into AC (alternating current) and send it on its way to Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.
Folks throughout Coos and Grafton counties are up in arms over the project. More than 2,500 have shown up at public meetings or hearings on Northern Pass. The potential change to their landscape is disheartening enough, but the issue that has them mobilized and unified is the use of eminent domain to take their land. While PSNH has rights of way for some of the project, eminent domain will be needed to acquire all of the land necessary for completion.
To prevent this, opponents encouraged legislators to bring forward HB 648 to restrict the use of eminent domain by a utility company to cases in which the electricity is needed for system reliability. That bill passed easily in the House but foundered in the Senate where it was re-referred to committee.
It was over a story in the Alert on this legislation that Nancy contacted me and we began an e-mail correspondence about the impacts to her community from Northern Pass. It was at her urging that Bruce and I were in Sugar Hill.
As the rain intensified and we wrapped up visiting all of the vendors, Nancy invited us for a cup of coffee at her home about a mile away. She and her husband Carl live in an 1850 farmhouse that sits about halfway up a steep hill. Sitting on her sunporch one can see for miles around. In the distance Cannon Mountain and the Kinsmans range shape the horizon. Closer in and across the street the land slopes gently away with its meadow grasses and abundance of colorful lupine.
As we admired the view, Nancy pointed out where the 140 foot towers would slice right through the middle of the skyscape. I suspect that the coffee invitation was designed for us to see just that. It was, of course, not only the Martland views that would change irreversibly with Northern Pass but those of many other landowners in the community.
It’s easy to see how their lovingly groomed property will lose its market value. Even now sales have been stymied over the potential of Northern Pass. Moreover, the damage to the tourism business in the area seems inevitable if Northern Pass is completed. It is difficult to imagine anyone wanting pictures of lupine with electrical towers in the fore- or background.
Opponents of the Northern Pass project are counting on their government to ensure protection of their property and their way of life. They are despondent at the re-referral of HB 648, but are looking forward to a happier result as this bill is worked on and brought to a vote next year. In a political climate in which an increasing number of our legislators believe that the market can be an arbiter of all disputes, it is clear what the outcome will be if government fails to carefully defend our citizens’ interests. Even 2,500 opponents are no match for the billions of corporate dollars being expended on this project.
Thought for the Week: Of Lupine and Electric Towers 1
Late Breaking News 3
The Week in Brief 4
Gov’s Veto Pen Getting Plenty of Use 4
All Eyes on the Budget 6
Where are the Jobs? 8
One Mom’s View 10
Update on Redress of Grievance Committee 12
Hold Onto Your Hats – Sneak Preview 2012 13
Late Breaking News
Breaking the stalemate on budget negotiations, the Senate caved to House demands to include a 10 cent decrease in the cigarette tax. This makes New Hampshire the only state in the country to decrease such a tax. Interestingly, the reduction in what is purported to be a loss of some $15 million in revenues was dubbed “revenue neutral” so there was no off-setting reduction in expenditures in the budget. Most economists interviewed on the decrease had earlier indicated that it would not result in significantly higher sales of cigarettes. If their prediction is correct revenues will decline.
On Wednesday, June 15 the NH Supreme Court ruled it would be unconstitutional for the legislature to mandate the NH Attorney General to join the lawsuit against the Patient Projection and Affordable Care Act. The Court agreed with the testimony provided by Attorney General Delaney when legislation directing him to join the action was heard before the House Judiciary Committee. In its ruling, the Court stated the bill “which removes entirely from the executive branch the decision as to whether to join the state as a party to litigation, would usurp the executive branch’s power to execute and enforce the law…..[the bill] violates the separation of powers clause and is unconstitutional.”
The unanimous decision by the NH Supreme Court didn’t deter Rep. Andrew Manuse of Derry from arguing that the legislature should simply ignore the ruling and do what they wished. If Rep. Manuse and others like him get his way there will be tens of thousands of dollars in court fees before this one is settled.
Some legislators may have already planned for the possibility of the Court’s ruling, however. There is plenty of legislation in the pipeline to eliminate or water down the court’s role. One bill, for instance, will restrict the courts to only assessing the constitutionality of their own actions, but not the legislature’s (that is, if the legislature passes a law it will be able to determine whether its own acts are constitutional). In light of everything that has happened to date this year, I hope readers will agree this is dangerous to the nth degree!
The Week in Brief
Committees of Conference are in full swing and working toward a deadline of Thursday, June 16 at noon. By that date all CoC’s must have completed their work and members must have signed the report generated by the committee. This report contains either the negotiated language of legislation or stipulates that the committee could not come to agreement which leads to a bill dying a quiet death. Each chamber must act on CoC reports by Thursday, June 23.
The schedule can be found at http://bit.ly/kzecxx. NOTE: The schedule has been found to be incomplete at times so if you want to be certain about the status of any bill you may wish to contact the House Clerk at 271-2548 or the Senate Clerk at 271-2111.
Gov’s Veto Pen Getting Plenty of Exercise:
SB 3, Comprehensive Changes to the NH Retirement System:
On Wednesday, June 15 Governor Lynch vetoed SB 3, a bill that raised pension contributions of employees to cover debts incurred by municipalities and the state over 16 years and reduced benefits to retirees. In an interesting statement accompanying his veto, the Governor indicated that he was vetoing SB 3 in anticipation of additional changes to the pension system that have now been tucked into the budget bills.
It is becoming increasingly evident that the maneuvering with the pension system has far less to do with sound fiduciary management and far more to do with politics – which is just what got the system into the problems that were tackled four years ago by the legislature. This is underscored by the fact that the Committee of Conference on the budget accepted an amendment that would nullify the recommendation of the Board of Trustees of the NH Retirement System. With the guidance of experts and actuaries the Board of Trustees lowered the assumed rate of return on the pension trust. The immediate impact of that action was to increase the contribution of the state and municipalities. Consequently, the $160 million reduction over the upcoming two years that these stakeholders expected would have been cut to $47.6 million.
So what do fiscal magicians do when they don’t like the numbers coming from a credible formula?? Wave their wands and change the formula, of course. In this instance the Committee simply said they were not taking the experts advice, they nullified the vote of the Board of Trustees and delayed the changed formula until 2013, and got the “savings” they wanted at the outset. The savings are, however, a shell game.
Once again the legislature is poised to put into place a formula that allows the state and municipalities to underfund the NH Retirement System and to ultimately break even more promises to public employees. Under the changes that had already been made to the pension system employees will be paying considerably more for fewer benefits than they were promised when they made the commitment to serve our communities and state. If the same lack of ethics and integrity continues to prevail at our statehouse public employees better plan being told they will make up for the shortfall that the current legislature is deliberately creating.
So, here’s my suggested language for any future contract negotiated between public employees and the state/municipalities: Disclaimer: No matter what has been negotiated, please understand that it may be nullified by future legislatures. No matter what promises we are making today, please understand we will probably lobby to have those broken by some future legislature who will be empowered to do so. No matter what trade-offs you make between salary and benefits, please understand you will likely have to pay for all of it in the end anyway. Oh, and by-the-way, we reserve the right to not only break all of our agreements but to call you thugs and parasites when we are doing so.
HB 218, Weaking the Rail Transit Authority:
You may recall that the House introduced HB 218 with the intent to repeal in its entirety the Rail Transit Authority in New Hampshire for no other reason than that they were ideologically opposed to the concept of rail transit. State representatives did this despite a loud outcry from the business community and other stakeholders who believe that rail transit will offer an economic boom to their region. The House passed the legislation also despite the fact that the Rail Transit Authority cost NH taxpayers nothing and had received a $1.5 million grant to conduct a feasibility study – monies that would have been lost if the RTA had been repealed.
When the bill made it to the Senate that body removed the original language but replaced it with language that removed important functions of the RTA. Subsequently, the Governor has vetoed HB 218 and in his veto message made the following points: I am vetoing this legislation because business leaders, particularly in Nashua and Manchester, have clearly said that this bill will hurt their efforts to grow their businesses, to create jobs and to attract new companies to New Hampshire…The support of the business community is validated by an independent study that concluded that the development of rail in the capital corridor could result in more than $2.4 billion in new business sales and nearly 1,000 new jobs created and sustain in New Hampshire in the first twenty years of operation.
HB 109, Prohibiting Local Planning Boards from Mandating Sprinkler Systems:
Given how often throughout this legislative session we have heard that decisions need to be made at the local level, HB 109 stood out as something of an anomaly – though it was hardly the only bill to do so. This legislation would have prohibited local planning boards from setting their own standards for fire suppression systems in one- and two-family dwelling as a condition for receiving local permits. The Governor cited this in his veto message and went on to say: I believe that the decision of whether or not to require fire sprinklers for new or renovated residential development should remain a local one. The state should not dictate a required course of action. It is obviously the local community that is impacted from new residential development both in terms of land use and in terms of bearing the costs of providing increased fire protection services. This legislation will remove local control over an important issue.
HB 329, Requiring Parental Notification Before Performing Abortion on a Minor:
Despite having signaled that some form of parental notification would be acceptable to him, Governor Lynch stated that he had concerns about HB 329, legislation that required parental notification before an abortion is performed on a minor and instituting criminal penalties for failing to meet the requirements of this proposed law.
In this veto message, the Governor stated: The decision whether to complete a pregnancy or seek an abortion is a serious and life-changing one for any pregnant woman. Minors need and benefit from the support and guidance of their parents…However, any law must make reasonable allowances for cases where that is not possible. I am particularly troubled by the lack of an exception for victims of rape, incest and abuse.”
Budget Negotiations Take on Circus Atmosphere
It was probably inevitable no matter how the Senate tried to hold it together and play nice in the sandbox. The House has been so far out of control over this past legislative year that no amount of reason even from members of their own party could produce a thoughtful and rational process.
The Committee of Conference began on an agreeable enough note with the major decision on what each body was willing to spend (regardless of the needs of the state) was deftly managed. With little fanfare the conferees arrived at a spending level that was $17 million more than the House had wanted to spend, $23 million less than the Senate projected in spending and a whopping $267 million less than the Governor felt necessary to meet the needs of the State. All that was left was to determine where the money would be spent.
As the budget conferees slogged through the process of allocating dollars to various programs of state government, suddenly at the eleventh hour earlier in the week as the deadline loomed for the committee to have completed its work, House members brought in some 20 or so last minute and, in some cases, highly technical amendments. Why this surprised Senate conferees is a mystery as exactly the same thing had occurred in the waning hours of the House Finance Committee’s work on the budget.
Senate Finance Chair Chuck Morse went ballistic, publicly berating his House colleagues. “I spent months putting this budget together in a sophisticated manner, and you offer an amendment that could affect everybody in this state and we haven’t debated it. This is absolutely wrong,” he bellowed. “You could have drafted them and you could have had them to the Senate in time to read them all. This is absolutely wrong…We don’t govern like this.”
The media widely covered the story on the initial breakdown of negotiations over the amendments issue. However, Senator Morse’s statement of having “spent months putting this budget together” is also noteworthy. In fact, the Senate Finance Committee members have only had the budget for a little over a month to work on. Morse’s reference to having spent “months” on the documents lends some credibility to rumors that have swirled for the past several months that he worked with gubernatorial wannabe John Stephens to craft New Hampshire’s biennial budget without unveiling that to his Senate colleagues.
The Senate has until noon on Thursday, June 16 to sign off on the budget, while the House has until 5 p.m. The House has indicated it is unwilling to sign off until the ten cent a pack decrease in the cigarette tax is included – something that sent Senator Morse into a another paroxysm of anger. He accused House leadership of reneging on a behind-closed-doors deal that had been brokered over the budget. Saying that “the Senate is totally offended by the actions of House leadership” and that neither he nor New Hampshire would be held hostage over this matter. It remains to be seen who caves first.
Some noteworthy changes in the budget from the Committee of Conference:
• Leasing of Cannon Mountain has been pulled for this year.
• Changes to the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act contained in both the budget bill and a separate piece of legislation appear dead for this year. The House wanted to use this as a bargaining chip over their mission to repeal New Hampshire’s involvement in the regional greenhouse gas initiative program. The separate bill on repeal of RGGI has been vetoed by the Governor.
• Elimination of collective bargaining rights are off the table for the time being.
• The CoC compromise restored some funding for programs at the Department of Environmental services saving the shellfish monitoring and the pool and spa inspections programs.
• About $2 million was added back to the severe cuts to the University System of NH. However, that is not sufficient to prevent the layoffs and tuition increases that are projected to result in massive cuts in state aid.
• The new bed tax on hospitals as well as the loss of federal monies to care for the poor and indigent remain in the compromise budget.
Of central interest in the development of New Hampshire’s biennial budget is whether the manner in which the state raises revenues and the priorities that it sets in spending those revenues create a more conducive climate for economic growth or a less nurturing climate for expansion. The reviews are clearly not in on a document that has yet to see the ink placed on it never mind dry. Nonetheless, indications are that the budget that will be in place on July 2, 2011 will have serious and negative consequences for workers throughout the state and for the businesses who depend upon a middle class having adequate financial resources and being willing to spend some of that on the necessities and niceties of life.
My personal prediction is that we will soon find ourselves sliding backward in economic terms with rising unemployment, increasing home foreclosures and decreasing home values and a decreasing standard of living in New Hampshire. Below are some of the first indicators of what may be in store.
Where Are the Jobs??
For 18 straight months leading into 2011 New Hampshire’s unemployment rate inched its way down the glory days of below 5%. With only a temporary setback it continued on that path to its current status of 4.9%, one of the most favorable unemployment rates in the country.
Throughout the Great Recession, as it has been referenced, New Hampshire lost 28,000 jobs – that’s 28,000 New Hampshire citizens who found themselves without a job. Economists had initially predicted that those jobs would come back or be replaced by the middle of 2012. That prediction has now been pushed out by at least a year to mid-year 2013. http://bit.ly/kWyEiW
According to Dennis Delay, economist with NH Public Policy, the unemployment rate has been dropping, not solely because jobs are being created, but because some workers have moved out of state and some have simply stopped looking, a phenomenon referred to as “discouraged workers.” Had some not dropped out of the rate the actual unemployment would be 5.3% according to Delay.
So the question is: How will policies put in place by the current legislature help or harm the already stalled pace of job creation? Remember that all of these folks ran on the mantra they would “rein in spending and create jobs.” How are they doing?
If some of the preliminary numbers are any indication, not so good. In fact, to paraphrase Rep. Bachman “their report card would have a big failing grade on it!” The latest numbers illustrating that point include:
• 400 – 700 state employees will find themselves in the unemployment line by the end of this year
• 200 folks are slated to be pink-slipped by the University of NH as part of their efforts to deal with a 45%-50% cut in state aid to UNH
• 15-88 state police (the current range between the Senate and the House) may find themselves looking for employment.
• 15-88 state police (the current range between the Senate and the House) may find themselves looking for employment.
• 20 people with full-time jobs at NH Public Television were laid off last week
• Several dozen Department of Environmental Services employees may be pounding pavement soon. This figure will be over and above the general figure of lay-offs for state employees above.
• An as yet unspecified number of layoffs are anticipated from hospitals and healthcare systems throughout the state as a result of the new confiscatory tax on these healthcare providers. Hospitals are projected to sustain losses of $126.9 million this year and an additional $131.7 million next year.
• Dozens, if not hundreds, of jobs in the private, non-profit social service network are rumored to be in jeopardy as the results of budget cuts that affect the servies they provide. At one point during House negotiations this number was rumored to be upwards of a couple thousand under the worst scenarios. Given the reinstatements of some programs by the Senate, job losses are unlikely to reach such levels. However, many area agencies serving the elderly, those with mental illness and those with developmental disabilities will find themselves needing to make tough choices.
Some job losses are more difficult to immediately quantify but those affected know they are coming. For example, the aggregate cuts in spending on roads/bridges, school building and hospital building and expansion is projected to hit the construction industry hard say industry insiders. Many workers within these trades have already gone without employment or have been under-employed throughout this lingering recession. Cuts in a diverse array of construction projects will prolong this misery for these workers.
Projected job losses will have an escalating ripple effect within each community throughout the state. Over the coming months we will see more mortgage defaults, more properties foreclosed upon, loss of property tax revenues to already cash-strapped municipalities, fewer dollars flowing within the community and supporting local businesses and added stress to social service providers such as hospitals and mental health centers who have already been severely impacted by new taxes and loss of federal dollars as in the case of hospitals or loss of state subsidies to care for the indigent in the case of mental health centers.
This phenomenon of an economic dominoe effect has been discussed in past issues of the Alert. For a very succinct overview of what is happening to our economy please see http://bit.ly/lFfgMI. This two minute and fifteen second clip by Robert Reich, noted economist and former Labor Secretary under President Clinton, tells you everything you need to know about why the economy is in the shape it is in. And, it happily just happens to agree with what I’ve been saying in several issues of the Alert!
Personal Perspective on Budget Impacts:
The budget that is about to pass is only marginally less draconian and painful than that passed by the House that drew 5,000 of our citizens in protest. There will be a few more children at risk helped, but the majority, some 400, won’t be. There will be a few more individuals with disabilities assisted, but many won’t be. Remember that although legislators reinstated some monies they also changed the law that requires full funding for the developmental disabilities waitlist. They need that for what they know will be a shortfall. There will be more individuals with mental illness provided services, many more won’t be.
I’ve made the lists of cuts and talked about the impacts of these several times in the Alert. However, simply enumerating each slash to our social service network fails to capture the personal pain that will be felt by our fellow citizens. That personal perspective was shared by Gloria Ruff of Keene in her testimony before House finance. With her permission I share it with you.
Testimony of Gloria Ruff on Proposed Budget Cuts:
I am here as the stepmom to a 19-year old young man.
80% of those in need of developmental services are unsafe to leave at home alone. The increasing freedoms that most parents enjoy as their children grow in age and independence are denied families who have members with disabilities.
Job coaches, respite, both in-home and semi-independent out-of- home supports and placements are not just nice things to have-they are human needs that cannot wait. The families and the disabled themselves are denied as full and productive a life experience as they could have. If supports are cut, my son will be home with me 24/7, bored and lonely, as he is not safe at home alone and will need supports and training for employment.
I appreciate you being here to listen to the public speak, but mostly I’m angry. I’m angry that draconian measures are laid on the shoulders of our most vulnerable populations and their families to balance a budget. All of these groups you’ve heard from today are worthy.
I’m most angry that so many people have had to take time away from their jobs and caring for their families to travel here, hat in hand, to beg our representatives to simply do what is right.
I’m sick of politicians alternately bragging and hand-wringing that they are here to make the hard choices. I submit that they are not making any hard choices because their decisions do not affect them! A hard choice is whether to keep a roof over your family’s head by working productively-while risking a member’s safety, or to stay at home to ensure their safety and putting the whole family in need of welfare services. A hard choice is whether to pay one’s ever-increasing property taxes, or to sacrifice other necessities such as warm clothing, heat in the winter, a healthy diet, or medicines.
I’m angry that cutting the legs out from under anyone struggling to get or to stay on their feet as a responsible citizen is even considered in such a wealthy state, especially when taxes are being cut and even eliminated for those best able to afford them. To add insult to injury, new money is being sought to pay for ridiculous things such as state militias. I suspect I’m not alone in my anger.
Update on Redress of Grievances Committee
You may recall a discussion in the Alert of the highly conflicted House Redress of Grievances Committee. This committee allows legislators to take up petitions of private citizens against the courts of our state, to hold open hearings about which impacted parties may or may not be notified and to propose remedies for the petitioner which may or may not include overturning court decisions and/or impeaching judges and masters. The recognition that it is something other than “justice” that is likely to be dispensed by a highly political body should be immediately apparent to even a judicial neophyte. The clear and present danger to the constitutional balance of power that has survived since our founding should strike fear into the heart of every rational person.
In a recent editorial, Judge Edwin Kelly, the target of one of the current petitions before the Redress committee, provides an historical and well-reasoned perspective of the implications of continuing on with this body. He also elaborates on the conflicts that the Chair of this committee, Rep. Paul Ingrebretson had that went well-beyond what he acknowledged in stepping down on the widely reported petition brought by David Johnson. Ingrebretson and many members of his caucus including House leadership had role-played this committee in 2009 and had already formed an opinion of this case as well as the remedial action he would take. It is clear that leadership knew precisely what would be presented in hearings before the committee and what decisions they wanted. The media spotlight that has shined on them may have given some pause with moving ahead now, but there are already new petitions being filed for the upcoming year.
Judge Kelly masterfully explains how this new creation of the current legislature is undoubtedly upsetting the careful balance between the three branches of government established by far wiser individuals than are now governing us. His guest editorial is well worth the read and can be found at http://bit.ly/iZBTPO.
Strap Yourselves In: They’re About to Go Into Over-drive!
Maybe it’s because they won so impressively last fall. Maybe it’s because they believe they have been touched by the Almighty to enlighten New Hampshire’s citizens who wandered in the darkness before they arrived on the scene to save us. Maybe it’s because they are so ardently ideologically driven that no information save that confirming what they already believe seeps in.
Whatever the reason one thing is clear: The Statehouse gang doubled down in ways that can only the labeled extraordinary – and not in a good way. The hundreds upon hundreds of citizens who showed up at the Statehouse during this legislative session to protest extremist bills have not deterred our stalwart guardians of the public trust. Just a peak at some of what’s in store for the next legislative session includes the following:
• 2012-H-2504-R, Requiring the courts to give every woman who gets a restraining order a gun and a box of ammunition and provide her with instruction in shooting. I know, I know you think I’m making this up! The prime sponsor for this creative government-mandated and sponsored self-defense program is Rep. Robert Kingsbury who represents Belknap, District 4, Laconia. Rep. Kingsbury is a self-described member of the John Birch Society since 1962. http://bit.ly/iJxspI Can somebody explain what the good citizens of Laconia were thinking when they put him in government? Has anyone from Laconia watched what he has done when in office?
• 2012-H-2026-R, Establishing a permanent state defense force. The New Hampshire army is back! Despite the fact that this bill failed to garner sufficient support for passage in the current year it’s back for a second go-round. The sponsor of this New Hampshire protection plan is Rep. Daniel Itse, Fremont, Rockingham, District 9.
• 2012-H-2107-R, Prohibiting a person from being charged with speeding unless there is a victim of the offense. This is the Free Stater Dream Act. Passage of this bill will make it penalty-free to be a Roadrunner on our streets unless one accidently mows someone down or crashes through their front window. Please note, however, that being scared into a heart attack is unlikely to allow you to press charges as a “victim.” Rep. George Lambert, a Free State Project member serving Hillsborough, District 17 from Litchfield is the prime sponsor of this bill and other equally loopy bills such as that prohibiting prosecution for a victimless crime – think doing drugs on this one which for some inexplicable reason is important to this crew.
• 2012-H-2175-R, Urging congress to privatize all aspects of social security. Not content to simply allow their federal counterparts to unravel the social contract that our country proudly entered into with our seniors seven decades ago (and which Republicans of a by-gone era supported), state legislators want to send a message to dismantle it. We all know how well the stock market has performed over this past decade, now don’t we?? I’m sure that these same folks are just licking their chops over helping us manage our little nest eggs, not to mention being able to extract fees for doing so. Rep. Jerry Bergevin of Manchester serving Hillsborough, District 17, an avowed libertarian is the prime sponsor.
• 2012-H-2176-R, Requiring the teaching of evolution in the schools as a theory. Maybe I’ve been out of school for too long, but I could have sworn that we already refer to the Theory of Evolution. But perhaps the sponsor has something a bit different in mind here? The prime sponsor is the same Rep. Jerry Bergevin as above.
• 2012-H-2320-R, Requiring the teaching of intelligent design in the public schools. Ahhh, perhaps this one coordinates nicely with the above – teach evolution as some pseudo-science guessing game and forget that there is any such thing as separation of church and state. Rep. Gary Hopper of Weare, serving Hillsborough, District 7 is the prime sponsor.
There are plenty more where these came from – 57 pages in all so far and those are only House bills. We’ll be adding to that list over the summer and fall so that you are full apprised of legislation being introduced in your Statehouse. That last point may be difficult to remember at times given what we have been thought this year, but it is an important fact that each of us should keep at the forefront of our minds. This is our state and we didn’t agree to turn it over to folks with this kind of extreme agenda. We are the only ones who can take it back. That is going to take a concerted effort toward letting our families, friends and neighbors know what is happening. Please spend time over the coming months sharing the information on what was introduced and what passed this year as well as what has been introduced for next year. Our only hope of bringing common sense and reason back to our state government