In a blistering editorial, the editors of the Nashua Telegraph blast state Senate President Peter Bragdon and his Republican followers for their ideologically-driven budget proposal.
The editors single out the Senate’s refusal to expand Medicaid to cover the state’s poorest uninsured adults calling it an “ideological mess.” They warn the senators that “New Hampshire voters aren’t an ideological bunch and they don’t appreciate it from their elected leaders, either:”
Day by day, Bragdon and his Senate Republican brethren come closer and closer to channeling ousted House Speaker Bill O’Brien and his disgraced leadership team. In their philistine fight to dismantle government, O’Brien et al. cut many essential programs to the bone, leaving some of the state’s neediest out in the cold. Last November, voters rewarded O’Brien by ousting many of his colleagues and relegating him to the back bench.
With regards to Medicaid, it’s a lesson Bragdon and his followers should pay closer attention to.
Last week, Republicans claimed we couldn’t trust the federal government on expanded Medicaid, now they are ceding control to the federal government? The only consistent position Republican senators have taken is to ignore the actual legislation in front of them and vote with the reckless Tea Party.
— Harrell Kirstein, New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman, on a Senate panel recommendation to kill a bill that would align New Hampshire’s insurance rules with the Affordable Care Act. If the full Senate concurs, the federal government will regulate the state’s individual and small group health insurance.
Today, the New Hampshire Senate Finance Committee approved a $10.7 billion, two-year budget that does not expand Medicaid to cover the state’s poorest uninsured adults.
If the full Senate goes along with the committee and the House concurs, low income Granite Staters will be denied financial assistance under the Affordable Care Act because they don’t make enough money. Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, a child advocacy group, explains:
“In states that do not expand Medicaid, some of the neediest people will not get coverage. But people who are just above the poverty line or in the middle class can get subsidized coverage. People will be denied assistance because they don’t make enough money. Trying to explain that will be a nightmare.”
Thursday, the state Senate will vote on House Bill 135, which would repeal New Hampshire’s “Stand Your Ground” self-defense law.
The bill is almost certain to be defeated. Three Democratic senators, Andrew Hosmer (D-Laconia), Bette Lasky (D-Nashua) and Jeff Woodburn (D-Dalton), have signaled their intent to join the Republican majority and vote against repeal.
Writing on Blue Hampshire, longtime party activist Gary Patton points to the weight of logic and evidence that shows “Stand Your Ground” endangers the public. A vote for “Stand Your Ground” is a vote for a more violent America, he writes:
So why should any Democratic senator vote to repeal a bill that seems destined for defeat? Because a vote against repeal not only defeats HB 135, it is a public declaration that this senator agrees with the premises underlying the Stand Your Ground law. That person adds his or her voice to a chorus which is moving us toward a more violent America.
Susan Bruce and Ben Leubsdorf have reported on how the Senate Finance Committee got punk’d by mock testimony that has Free Stater fingerprints all over it.
The bogus testimony came from men identifying themselves as “Adam Sutler” (a character in V for Vendetta) and “Edgar Friendly” (the name of Denis Leary’s character in Demolition Man). The text of their speeches was lifted verbatim from a series of movies: The Verdict, The Contender, V for Vendetta, Tombstone, The Fountainhead and Network.
Free Stater Garret Ean, who filmed the stunt, described the mock testimony as performance art:
This year, the Senate has killed every good bill that has left the State House, from NDAA nullification to decriminalizing marijuana. I wanted to break the fourth wall of government, and show the members of this state and these hearings for what they are: political theatre.
Bad art, wrote Susan Bruce:
It wasn’t just the committee that got punk’d. It was every NH resident who took the time to drive to Concord and testify. It was every resident that loaded up a wheelchair, and packed a bag full of supplies and medications they would need to sit there for hours, while they waited to testify. It was every resident that brought a child. It was the family that brought 2 ASL interpreters for their deaf son. We know the FSP has no respect for NH government. Now we know they also have no respect for the people of this state.
The New Hampshire House today passed Senate Bill 194, which expands Medicaid eligibility for family planning services.
After sailing through the Senate in a voice vote, the bill was approved by the House with a 212-120 margin. Democrats voted in favor 184-2, with Free Stater Reps. Michael Garcia (D-Nashua) and Joel Winters (D-Manchester) being the only nay votes. 28 Republicans crossed the aisle to support the measure.
The legislation now goes to Gov. Hassan for her signature and an additional 10,000 Granite Staters will have affordable access to family planning. NARAL estimates the act will save the state $4.5 million each year and will reduce unintended pregnancies.
Some Republican lawmakers, however, had their own reasons for opposing the increased access to family planning services:
In February, Tamerlan Tsarnev purchased fireworks in Seabrook, New Hampshire that may have been used in the Boston Marathon bombs.
The reloadable mortar kits he bought cannot be legally sold in Massachusetts. They could not be legally sold in New Hampshire until June, 2011. That’s when a bill lifting the restriction became law. Elections have consequences.
A short excerpt from Dean Barker’s look at the law and the consequences:
The bill to make reloadable mortars legal in New Hampshire was born from the 2011-2012 Republican supermajority legislature. It became law without the signature of the Governor. The sponsors were Reps. Christiansen, Coffey, and Hopper.
Rep. Christiansen gained notoriety last biennium for wanting to use the legislature to assist a convicted child rapist.
Rep. Coffey, a Free Stater, led efforts on a bill to put warning signs between the New Hampshire-Massachusetts border.
James Pindell says the upcoming legislative session may not be as much fun to watch as the combative session before it, “but it could be one of the more productive ones in a long time:”
Sure there will be disagreements in the next two years, but the disagreements, these leaders say, will be more about policy specifics and less about sweeping differences in ideology.
If this is true it will be more about the traditional “sausage making” of how bills become law than of the partisan fights and state house rallies that marked the last session over issues like gun rights, abortion rights, union rights and gay rights.
The change in tone is in part a reaction to the last term, part the character and political incentives of those in power, and part of it is the political reality of a first-term governor working with the first politically split legislature since the 1990s.
They made a valiant effort, but New Hampshire lawmakers ultimately fell short this year in their apparent determination to achieve notoriety as the nation’s worst state legislature.
In a scientific survey, Mother Jones’ Tim Murphy concludes lawmakers in Tennessee (who made it illegal to discuss sexual activity during sex education instruction) and Oklahoma (who sought to criminalize the use of human fetuses in food products) surpassed the Granite State in crazy this year.
Here’s Murphy’s look back at the year in Concord that earned our Republican-dominated legislature the bronze medal for crazy:
Comedy Central’s Ilya Gerner described the state House of Representatives as “a bunch of part-time real-estate agents throwing monkey feces at a wall.” But that’s not entirely fair to the 400 members of the English-speaking world’s third-largest democratic body—some of them are lawyers too. In January, three Republican representatives introduced legislation mandating that all new legislation “include a direct quote from the Magna Carta.” The Senate has its moments, too. Later that month, the upper chamber overrode a veto of a bill that allowed parents to object to any part of a curriculum—say, biology or European history. In January, lawmakers considered a bill to make it harder for police officers to make arrests for spousal abuse, and a bill to strip state courts of their powers of judicial review.
Moment of Truth: After the state passed a bill allowing lawmakers to carry concealed weapons in the statehouse, GOP state Rep. Kyle Tasker dropped his gun on the floor of the Capitol during a hearing of the—not making this up—public safety committee. “All I could think was, yup, that was bound to happen one of these days,” he said later.
In 2010, 80% of the 107 candidates endorsed by the Republican Liberty Caucus of New Hampshire in the general election were elected to the New Hampshire legislature. Those lawmakers went on to lead the Tea Party-dominated House for two years.
Candidates endorsed by the RLCNH in 2012 won’t have quite the same impact.
- The two RLCNH-endorsed Executive Council candidates, Robert Burns and David Wheeler, lost.
- Four of the six state Senate candidates endorsed by the RLCNH went down to defeat. Republicans John Reagan and Andy Sanborn were the only successful RLCNH-endorsed Senate candidates.
- 66 of the 116 House candidates endorsed by the RLCNH lost their general election race. RLCNH-endorsed candidates will make up about 28% of the Republican House caucus in 2013, about the same as in 2011 and 2012.
- The RLCNH endorsed the two constitutional amendments on the 2012 ballot. Both amendments failed to receive the two-thirds vote required for ratification.