Now that there are no restraints, House Speaker Jasper has made some peculiar leadership choices. He named Al Baldasaro of Londonderry as Vice Chair of the State-Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs Committee. Representative Baldasaro distinguished himself in August 2016 by braying on WRKO radio that Hillary Clinton should be shot for treason. Baldasaro has been saying stupid stuff in public for over a decade now. There was the time he testified at a committee hearing that the state of NH sells babies to gay couples for $10,000, or his nonsense about how a bill to stop the sale of lead fishing tackle (it kills loons) was part of the UN plan for global domination. Rep. Baldasaro has the same level of impulse control that we see in our Twittertroll-in-Chief. There are many definitions of leader, from “inspires confidence in others” to “horse placed in advance of the other horses of a team.”
Speaker Jasper named Rep. Yvonne Dean-Bailey of Northwood to be the Vice Chair of the Election Law Committee. Rep. Dean-Bailey is beginning her second term (it will be her first full term) in office. Landing a leadership position in the second term is very unusual, especially for someone who may not be old enough to drink legally. Most leadership positions are given to experienced legislators. Dean-Bailey was touted as a “fresh young voice” when she ran her remarkably well funded (by outside special interests) campaign in a special election in 2015. In this case, “fresh, young voice” means: “same old GOP talking points coming out of a young female mouth.” The NH GOP lost up and coming women Pam Tucker and Marilinda Garcia, and obviously intends to groom Dean-Bailey for bigger things.
Jasper appointed Rep. Donald LeBrun of Nashua to be the Vice Chair of the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee. Representative LeBrun’s campaign website says nothing about health, human services, or elderly folks. His sole interest is in cutting taxes and spending. LeBrun has chosen interesting ways to attempt it. In 2011 he sponsored a bill that would have made drug testing mandatory for food stamp recipients. It would have cost the state at least $7 million dollars, while saving nothing, given that SNAP is a federal program. There isn’t any way that there could be $7 million in fraud in NH – a state with a population of only 1.3 million. Hardly a fiscally responsible decision, but LeBrun has it in for the poors.
His next foray into cutting spending was a bill to drug test TANF recipients. This time he was smart enough to put a “Pay to Pee” provision in, whereby the individuals would have to pay for their own testing. If they passed, they’d be reimbursed. I attended the hearing for this poorly written bill, and witnessed LeBrun getting a little fed up with being asked questions he couldn’t answer. The bill isn’t perfect, he kept repeating, petulantly. When people who knew actual facts testified, LeBrun sat there shaking his head no at them.
But that isn’t even the worst. At a hearing in 2013, LeBrun was quoted as saying, “Rather than spending money on people with disabilities, we have another choice, voluntary euthanasia…”
LeBrun was not removed from the committee. He was not ousted from the House. It wasn’t a big story in the NH media, unlike the story of the 90 year old freshman legislator who was ousted a few years ago for telling a constituent that it was too bad we couldn’t send people with disabilities to Siberia to freeze to death. This time, the leadership and the media covered for LeBrun. And now, despite an absence of any visible humanity at all, he’s just been given a leadership position on a committee that deals with important issues relating to humans.
This is a man Speaker Jasper considers worthy of a leadership position. It seems that Jasper has abandoned all pretense of rationality and has chosen to let his freak flag fly along with the rest of his party.
Speaking of leadership, Rep. Frank Sapareto of Derry has been made Vice Chair of the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. In 2013, Sapareto was convicted of simple assault in a domestic violence case. Gun felon and former State Rep. Max Abramson was not allowed to remain on the committee when his felony came to light. Sapareto challenged Jasper for the Speakership, and Jasper admitted that he promised Sapareto the committee position if he ended his run and backed Jasper. So, not only is a convicted abuser serving as the Vice Chair of the House Criminal Justice Committee – he got the job as quid pro quo.
The good news is that the work of this committee will be shipped off to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee (under the leadership of a convicted domestic abuser) and the Health, Human Services, and Elderly Affairs Committee – under the leadership of a man who thinks euthanizing people with disabilities is a reasonable cost saving plan.
NOTE: The House voted on Wednesday not to eliminate the Child and Family Law Committee