Like so many things these days, the annual look at bills coming up isn’t much fun. There are 938 bills that will be heard by the legislature. Over one hundred have been withdrawn. Some were withdrawn because the sponsors weren’t re-elected. Some were withdrawn because they duplicated others, and some of the authors may have had a sudden attack of common sense. House Minority Leader Dick Hinch withdrew his school voucher bill, which was wise, considering that it didn’t pass under a Republican controlled House, and was even less likely to pass under Democratic control. A bill to amend the Constitution to enshrine vouchers was also withdrawn. Also withdrawn was a bill relative to carrying a pistol or revolver while hunting with a muzzleloader. Can there really be such a thing as carrying too many guns at once in New Hampshire?
HB 190 would allow gold and silver as lawful mediums of exchange. Would we all be expected to carry around our own scales and testing chemicals, or would those be provided at businesses, banks, and other agencies? The bill doesn’t specify. The lead sponsor of this bill is Representative Dick Marple from Hooksett. He also sponsored HB 525, which requires legislators be paid in silver dollar coins. No word on where those coins would be stored. Representative Marple is deeply concerned with matters of currency, as he what is known as a sovereign citizen, a band of miscreants who fancy themselves Constitutional scholars and experts on British common law, as well as US law. They do not recognize US currency and have found convoluted “loopholes” to try to avoid obeying the law. If you’d like a little fun with sovereign citizens, go to YouTube and search, “I’m not driving, I’m traveling,” and immerse yourself in videos of sovereign citizens getting pulled over for traffic violations. Fun for the whole family.
Sovereign citizens are no joke. They don’t believe that the US government is legitimate; they believe the county sheriff is the most powerful law enforcement officer in the country, and some places they are actual terrorists, tied to white nationalist groups and militias. Representative Marple is serving his fifth term for the town of Hooksett. These bills are the kind of fringe nutter stuff that the minority party knows won’t go anywhere, but they encourage the fringe to file these bills as part of their mission to obstruct and delay.
Marple is also a sponsor of HB 198, which would repeal the prohibition against texting while driving. That’s supported by a number of Free Staters and libertea types, because their perceived freedom is more important than your safety. Another Marple is HB 215, which would require the legislature to approve the appointment of town managers. Think about that Conway – the next time you appoint a town manager; hundreds of representatives from other counties would make your decision for you.
In HB 124, ideologues would repeal the buffer zone bill around women’s health clinics that was passed a few years ago. These folks think that women should be shouted at, harassed, photographed, and abused while going in to a medical facility. To take that right away from the harassers (who may also be terrorists, given the level of clinic violence that occurs in this country) is cause for loud bleating about the first amendment, an amendment conveniently ignored by this crowd the rest of the time.
HB 177 would limit education stabilization grants, which is bad timing, given that we learned this week that Berlin is being forced to close their last elementary school, because of our bizarre education funding system. We fund education through property taxes. New Hampshire has the 2ndhighest property taxes in the nation. What towns do you think have the highest taxes? Rye, Newcastle, Wolfeboro, maybe Bedford? The places where the wealthy reside? Not even close. The highest property taxes in the state are in Claremont, and Berlin is a close second. This says a few things – that our education funding system is deeply flawed, that Berlin (and the rest of Coos) should stop electing Republicans, and that The Pledge is a bumper sticker, not a tool for good government.
There are a couple of bills to enshrine our tax structure in the Constitution, one concerning a broad based tax and one an income tax. The property tax IS an income tax. The difference is that if your income goes down, so does an income tax. The property tax, on the other hand, continues to increase. The Pledge is a remarkable lesson in the power of propaganda. It prevents discussion and discourages learning.
Here’s a thought; in addition to teaching civics, we should be teaching high school kids how to understand the NH tax structure. It would be great preparation for future voters. Who wants to write that bill?
published as an op-ed in the January 25, 2019 edition of the Conway Daily Sun newspaper