Split personalitiesPerhaps medication would be able to take care of the mood swings displayed by the New Hampshire House of Representatives.As a body, under the subjugation of Republicans and through its leadership, the House has repeatedly professed the desire to get government "off our backs" and "out of our lives." Of course, there have been plenty of examples of legislation seeking to accomplish just that -- from ensuring that folks can carry their firearms anywhere to lifting the cap on predatory loans to eliminating licensing in over a dozen professions.But the apparently confused members of the House of Representatives have often just as eagerly sponsored legislation that would accomplish quite the opposite of freeing individual citizens from the yoke of government.With only a couple of weeks under their belt, members of the House have already held hearings on a couple of bills that stand out in their governmental heavy-handedness.Another lesson in liberty, HB 1444, would prohibit state employees that work with the public from wearing "fragrances or other scented products during regular business hours."This one is sponsored by two freshmen GOP senators, Michele Peckham of North Hampton and Patrick Abrami of Stratham.Notwithstanding the obvious that certain members of the citizenry do have allergies or are otherwise sensitive to the scents, it's obvious this bill doesn't have a chance -- unless it's amended to require that those very same employees bathe before going to work every day. The weekends? They're on their own.Both reps, it's interesting to note, are apparently conflicted about this whole government-off-our-backs concept. They're both very much opposed to federal health reform, for example. But that philosophy hasn't stopped Peckham from sponsoring bills that would allow the chair of a local planning board to "administer oaths and compel the attendance of witnesses." Another would require retailers to give refunds for returned merchandise.The second comes from F&J fave Rep. Robert Kingsbury, R-Laconia. HB 1421 would require that prisoners in New Hampshire be required to eat vegetarian meals. Never mind the fiscal note that says such meals would be more expensive. The first response from pretty much anyone with even a hint of libertarian leanings should be, "Huh?"But the beauty part of this is that Rep Kingsbury was one of the elected officials who threw their support behind Ron Paul's presidential bid. He better be careful -- the congressman might give the endorsement back.Teachable momentJerry Bergevin, a Republican state rep from Manchester, has introduced HB 1148, which would stop the teaching of evolution in schools.Bergevin told the Concord Monitor that his bill would require that evolution be taught as a still-tentative theory based on what he said is its political impact on society."I want the full portrait of evolution and the people who came up with the ideas to be presented. It's a worldview and it's godless. Atheism has been tried in various societies, and they've been pretty criminal domestically and internationally. The Soviet Union, Cuba, the Nazis, China today: they don't respect human rights," he said.Perhaps Darwin was wrong after all.F&J TOTE BOARDCarol Paul:The wife of the Texas congressman/presidential candidate is reported to have been shoved by a reporter amid the throngs of media at Moe Joe's diner in Manchester. A campaign press release includes a somewhat ominous explanation that the crowd was due to "a significant increase in the press corps, largely driven by an influx of foreign journalists."D.J. Bettencourt:Because of a tight budget and a potential $50 million revenue loss, the House Majority Leader admits it may not be possible for lawmakers to meet their promise to reduce the state tax burden on businesses before the next election.Jim Forsythe:The first-term Republican state senator from Strafford announces he won't seek re-election in November "for personal reasons."
Gary Lambert:The Republican state senator from Nashua announces that he too will be stepping down after one term, after being reinstated as a colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves.Dick Patten:The Concord city councilor feels the heat after being accused of intervening in the disposition of a friend's traffic ticket.It's been making the rounds... That sure was a profile in political courage displayed by Congressman Frank Guinta, announcing just before the primary that he wouldn't be endorsing any of the candidates.There's already been some pushback against Speaker Bill O'Brien by members of his own caucus, and don't expect it to go away.Think any of the legislators who supported the bill prohibiting towns from requiring the installation of fire sprinklers noticed the news item about a fire at a Lunenburg, Mass., condo that was prevented from becoming a devastating blaze thanks to a fire sprinkler?Has anyone yet figured out what Sen. Russell Prescott was thinking when he drew up the new state Senate districts?Nice to see Bob Smith make a return visit to New Hampshire. But note to Newt Gingrich's campaign: Implying that Smith is still a New Hampshire guy is way off base.
This article appears in the January 13 2012 issue of New Hampshire Business Review