Shocking abuse of power

JLCAR is an extremely powerful committee. The Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules accepts, rejects, or amends rules needed to implement changes in law. Let’s say we passed a law requiring yellow stripes on the backs of cars driven by new drivers. The change to law (RSA, or Revised Statutes Annotated) may be very simple. As an example, the rookie stripe could just be added to the required equipment statute. The bill would also contain a provision allowing the Dept. of Safety to adopt rules to actually make this happen.

What would JLCAR object to validly? If DOS wrote into their rules that they could pull people over if they looked young and did not have a rookie stripe, that should be rejected. It is a violation of due process. If they wrote a rule to create rookie stripe installation stations owned by the state, they should object. The idea is that JLCAR is a check on over-reach, and also a check to ensure that adopted rules work and will implement the new law efficiently and fairly.

What they may not do is use their power to subvert the will of the Legislature, or rewrite laws. They have actually done that. See this NPR article about the new Learn Everywhere program – https://www.nhpr.org/post/rare-move-nh-lawmakers-delay-learn-everywhere-educational-program

You can read about JLCAR and their duties here – https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rules/jlcar/description_members.htm

If they don’t like a law, they can submit a repeal like any other Legislator. JLCAR was never intended to be a mechanism where 7 Legislators can overthrow the will of 424 Legislators and the Governor. That is too much power in too few hands. I have never heard of them trying something like this, until now. This should be a warning to everyone that the Democrat’s leadership is not operating fairly and in good faith. They have a majority in both chambers. If they want to repeal a law they should do it and not resort to tricks like this that undermine the democratic process.

Rep. Steven Smith

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Honor Fallen Firefighters Today

Governor Sununu Directs Flags to Half-Staff in Observance of National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service. Flags on all public buildings and grounds to fly at half-staff on Sunday, October 6, 2019, in observance of the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial Service.

memorial-park-top

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Why we don’t have a budget yet

You have seen a lot of references to “compromise budgets” and negotiations. You deserve some clarifications. When the budget was vetoed, we passed our deadline. Once that happens, it takes a 2/3 vote to introduce a new bill. This means that House Democrats must find some way to get Republican votes to pass something. This happened in 2015 when Governor Hassan vetoed the Republican budget. Republican leadership had to negotiate not only with the Governor, but most importantly, with House Democrats. All sides must make a few concessions, and then you have a budget. Simple.

restricted-area-sign-s-0057Sadly, House Democrats have forgotten how this is done. The compromise you heard about was between House and Senate Democrats. No negotiations have taken place with House Republicans. The Speaker has not even allowed House Republican leadership to attend the negotiations with the Governor. it is impossible to get to a compromise when they refuse to talk to us.

It gets worse. House Democratic leadership drafted a new budget last week, which was also called a compromise despite no one else having any input. This 800 plus page document was given to House Republican leaders mid-morning on a day we were voting on other veto overrides. If we wanted to suggest any amendments, we had about 6 hours to go through it all and file the amendments by 4PM. If we had done that, the team we would have put on it would not be in the House Chamber voting on the day’s business, which increases the Democrats margin for winning those votes. That’s dirty.

Since these bills have had no public hearings and are written outside the normal process, it takes a 2/3 vote to allow them to come forward. The trick is to get it allowed in. After that, they can do anything they like with a simple majority vote. We were actually told by the Majority Leader during the debate on introducing the bill that we were all free to amend it during the debate. That isn’t true. We had until 4pm the previous day to file those amendments. It probably sounded nice and accommodating for the press. It simply sounded disingenuous to us. The Speaker Pro Tempore rubbed a little salt in. She said that if we voted to allow the bill in, we could recess and have the Legislative Budget Office explain it to us before the vote. The deception behind all this is that once the bill was allowed in, they could easily pass it over our objections. If they were serious, they could have had the LBA in to explain it before the first vote.

So, there have been no compromises because we haven’t been asked yet. We have not even been granted a conversation. For those who have forgotten 2015, maybe they could reread the history and see how it works. We are ready to work on this. We are awaiting the Speaker’s permission to begin doing so.

Representative Steven Smith
Senior Republican Advisor, NH House

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