Photo from nh1
This is GOP State Rep. Ernie Bridge. Ernie, at the age of 80, is a freshman legislator from Unity, NH. He represents the towns of Newport and Unity. Bridge serves on the House Environment and Agriculture Committee.
Representative Bridge was diagnosed with a lung problem in January. He is required to use an oxygen concentrator 24 hours a day. NHPR story. He's been told by the House Sergeant-at-Arms that he can't bring the concentrator to his assigned seat, because it would block the emergency routes for other legislators.
Bridge hasn't exactly been a forceful self-advocate. He's responded to this by staying home.
From the Valley News:
This fairly common device has been deemed a safety hazard by House Speaker Shawn Jasper, because, according to spokesman Jim Rivers, the equipment could block the route of House members to the exits in the event of an emergency — such as, we suppose, an exchange of gunfire among members, who are, after all, allowed by House rules to carry concealed firearms while they go about their legislative business.
Yes, that's right. NH legislators can have guns on the House floor - but this guy can't have an oxygen concentrator. It speaks volumes about the priorities of the NH Republican Party.
What about a seat on the aisle? No dice. Those are reserved for committee chairs and other legislative heavyweights, rather than first-termers like Bridge, even though it appears from a seating chart that Representatives Hall has about 90 of them. In any case, Rivers decreed that Bridge’s equipment also would unduly obstruct the aisle.
This, too, speaks volumes about the House Republicans. Not a one of his Republican brethren will give up their "entitled" seats to an elderly man with a health condition.