Thursday, March 03, 2011
Hey Nanny Nanny
On January 13 of this year, House Republican Leader DJ Bettencourt proclaimed: “social issues must take a back seat.” He said that the focus should be on economic problems like unemployment and the budget deficit. Bettencourt went as far as saying that the Republicans could not be seen as having campaigned on one set of issues, then governing on another. This was a big announcement; aimed at letting us all know that the repeal of NH’s marriage equality law was not going to occur this year. The mainstream media faithfully repeated this story, serving as always, as unquestioning stenographers for the NH GOP.
After all that, still, I found myself at a hearing, a month later, for 3 bills dealing with marriage in the state of NH, including a repeal of marriage equality. So much for “campaigning on one set of issues and governing on another.” The focus this session has been on just about anything but economic problems, though as I pointed out in my last epistle, there has been one job created, the policy director hired to make sure Speaker O’Brien avoids stepping in so much doo doo.
The turnout for the hearing was the largest in NH House history. Over 700 supporters of NH’s marriage equality law were present. They were asked to wear red in a show of unity. This created a great visual, and made downplaying the numbers impossible. There were several rows of clergy. There were also some hired guns there in opposition, including Kevin Smith, the lobbyist for the Cornerstone Policy Research Center, representing the views of the Tealiban. Also in attendance was Maggie Gallagher of the National Organization for Marriage, the out of state group that poured millions into opposing marriage equality in California and Maine. NOM won’t disclose where their money comes from, which leads many to speculate that they are a front for at least one major religion, and possibly two. Ms. Gallagher stood in line, waiting to testify, smiling and giggling to herself. A peculiar little spectacle.
As a sop to the statements of House leadership made only weeks before about that laser-like focus on jobs and the budget, the sponsors of the bill asked that they be put on hold for now. One wonders why – why bother to go ahead with this expensive pageant, paid for by the taxpayers they claim to worry so much about? One’s thoughts may even turn somewhat cynical. The pageant was aimed at toadying up to the national anti-gay groups, who will be here in full force next year, with their deep pockets, funding the campaigns of state legislators and pouring money into ending marriage equality during the GOP presidential primary. It’s all about the benjamins.
Last week found me in Concord again, attending 3 more hearings. HB 343 would create a “Permanent State Defense Force.” Sponsor Dan Itse claimed that this would cost nothing, yet the fiscal impact note attached to the bill, found that it would increase state expenditures by nearly $500,000 the first year, and increasing with each subsequent year. None of the sponsors were able to make a clear case as to why NH needs a standing army, other than they’d be handy in an ice storm, an example that was used throughout the hearing. Apparently I should be shooting at the ice dams on my roof. General James Riddell of the NH National Guard offered some compelling testimony in opposition to the bill. This is the third iteration of the bill, which has been repeatedly sponsored by Rep. Itse, and it has repeatedly gone nowhere. One wonders why he continues to squander our tax dollars (and the time of his colleagues) on a useless exercise.
Also heard on that day were House Bills 223 and 176. HB 223 would eliminate same day voter registration. NH Republicans have been desperate for some years now to create proof of large-scale voter fraud in our state, despite not having any factual evidence of it. (Anecdotes are not data!) NH has same day voter registration because we didn’t want to comply with the federal motor-voter law. Eliminating same day registration would mean complying with motor-voter, which would mean registering voters at the DMV, and would also empower groups and organizations to go out and register voters. It would be extremely costly, which means it’s likely to go nowhere, especially since the last thing the GOP wants is non-profit ACORN like groups registering voters. It’s unclear whether Rep. Sorg, who was the sole sponsor of this bill, had considered that niggling little detail. This is yet another bill that would needlessly increase spending at a time when the ruling party claims to be fiscally responsible.
The second bill, HB 176 is intended to stop college students and anyone stationed in NH from voting here. Speaker O’Brien was quoted in January as saying that college students are “basically doing what I did when I was a kid and foolish, and voting as a liberal.” That’s the REAL goal of 176: voter suppression. The GOP is too lazy to organize on college campuses, and win students over, preferring to engage in nanny state tactics. If you aren’t going to vote the way WE want, you won’t vote at all! Representative Sorg, again the sole sponsor, testified that college is an “educational theme park, surrounded by reality,” and that college students are guilty of “youthful idealism, ignorance, and inexperience.” This coming from the same NH GOP that wants to return the high school dropout age to 16. They believe that high school students are mature enough to make that kind of a life impacting decision, but college kids are too dumb to vote?
There was much anecdotal testimony about fraud, but when questioned by the committee if the alleged fraud had been reported or investigated, the answers continued to be “no.” This is a nauseating attempt to disenfranchise certain classes of voters. One has to wonder, if those huge buses come in from Socialistachusetts to vote in NH elections, where were they in 2010?
Posted by susanthe at 9:28 PM