Map questSo this is the thanks Executive Councilor Dan St. Hilaire gets.The first-termer from Concord -- most famous, at least in some quarters, for being the deciding vote on cutting off state contracts with Planned Parenthood of Northern New England -- is not being treated too kindly by his Republican fellows in the House.Turns out the members of the House special committee coming up with a redistricting plan are having a heck of a time figuring out how to make as many council seats safe for the GOP as possible. One way of doing it is to put as many Democrats in one district and leave the others as Republican as possible.And which district would that be? A newly revamped District 2 -- the one St. Hilaire represents.In their inimitably tireless approach to creative thinking, the panel members even have drawn up one plan that would stick the Democratic cities of Keene and Portsmouth on both coasts along with Claremont. If you try to figure that one out on a geographically accurate map it wouldn't be a pretty sight. And it's particularly difficult for St. Hilaire, whose district is already on the Dem-GOP fence.And, in light of the aforementioned Planned Parenthood vote -- which likely Democratic opponent Colin Van Ostern has eagerly seized upon -- an even more Democratically inclined district would not be a welcome sight for the incumbent.The voting boot Let's make the assumption that they're uniformly for law and order. Which is why it's more than passing strange to hear the deafening silence from the voter ID crowd on putting James O'Keefe and his crew of Project Veritas scam artists in handcuffs after their lawbreaking video shoot that clearly depicts them committing voter fraud -- and violating wiretapping laws, to boot -- at several New Hampshire polling places.Food for thoughtYou've got to start thinking there may be something in the water over at the State House.Or is it the Kool-Aid?Three bills that have come up for hearings in the last couple of weeks are a prime example of what happens when you can't see the forest for the trees.The three measures -- House Bills 1688, 1650 and 1208 -- all purport to take the federal regulatory monkey off the back of food and beverage producers in New Hampshire.The bills would allow food grown or produced and then sold in the state to be immune from federal regulation (HB 1650), prohibit the liquor commission from requiring federal label approval for New Hampshire beverages (HB 1208) and exempt maple syrup and raw milk produced and sold in New Hampshire from federal regulators (HB 1688).All well and good. But it turns out the very producers these bills are aimed at don't want to be exempt from the regs."It puts us in a precarious position because we don't care for regulations, but this we feel goes a little too far," said Rob Johnson, executive director of the New Hampshire Farm Bureau Federation, at committee hearing on HB 1688.All it would take is for a "Made in New Hampshire"-labeled product to be contaminated and make someone sick to damage the reputation of all food made in the state, Johnson told NHBR in a story that appeared online."What if there's a problem, like an E. coli issue? In the whole big global picture people would say, 'That's the state that didn't adopt full federal regulations.'"Likewise, Trish Ballantyne, executive director of New Hampshire Made -- which promotes and markets products made in the state -- said the New Hampshire brand might actually be collateral damage in the war against regulation."That brand stands for not only authentic local product, but it means quality, and we’re concerned that in their desire to deregulate New Hampshire products, by labeling them ‘Made in New Hampshire,’ it’s going to cause a great deal of confusion."Added Ballantyne: "I understand where they’re coming from -- I just don’t think its even what the producers want. I think that it’s very important, especially with food and any consumables, that we don’t need to be regulated to death, but I think to have certain things in place makes a lot of sense."F&J TOTE BOARDRay Wieczorek:The longtime District 4 Republican executive councilor says he'll retire after this term, ending more than two decades in Manchester and New Hampshire politics.Phyllis Woods:The ex-state rep from Dover says one term as a Republican National Committeewoman is enough.Maggie Hassan:The former Democratic senator from Exeter unveils a turnkey campaign staff for her run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.
Julie Brown:The Republican rep from Rochester is voted 2011 RINO Of The Year on the right-wing website GraniteGrok.com after being spotted with a "Tea Parties are for Little Girls and Their Imaginary Friends" bumper sticker on her car.Bob Tewksbury:The Concord resident and former Major League Baseball pitcher signs on with Standing Up for New Hampshire Families, a group calling on state legislators to keep same-sex marriage legal.It's been making the rounds... • The real tragedy of Rick Perry's now-defunct campaign for president is that Molly Ivins didn't live to see it. • Go the head of the class if you knew that the very minute Mitt Romney insisted for the final time -- back in December -- that he wasn't going to release his tax returns it was only a matter of time before he did. • Now that House Speaker Bill O'Brien and Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt are disputing Rep. Susan Emerson's recount of an alleged incident of bullying by the speaker, it does raise a question of why they waited so long to respond. • So when does the Legislature vote to hike the poorly performing tobacco tax by the dime it cut last year? • It seemed like the tweet about "The Wiz" calling it quits after five terms on the Executive Council was still warm when Republicans from all over District 4 started coming out of the woodwork to state their intentions to succeed him.
This article appears in the January 27 2012 issue of New Hampshire Business Review