Deliberation

photo by Cliff Newton
LDS letter

When one comes under attack by certain segments of the population, we sometimes respond by lumping together those people and give them a rather broad label. This is a common practice and it is unfortunate. I try to avoid such errors.

I know there are many rational thinking people, with whom I disagree, that are Democrats. Often they get tarred with the broad stroke of a brush wielded by some in the Republican party. With this in mind, I must reply to those who have a habit of responding to events without thought or the application of reason.

I stand proudly with the members of the House who voted against suspending rules on January 6th. As Representative Hough explained, we were in a parking lot in Durham in session and separated from news of the events happening in Washington at the time. Our legislature is a deliberative body, we are to think about our actions as they have an effect upon not just ourselves but also our constituents. When this vote was called, we lacked information about the events that were occurring and what would be included in the Resolution which would follow. When presented with such a vote, with insufficient information, I consider it to be irresponsible to vote in the affirmative.

I do not want this to be taken as a criticism of those who supported the motion; they may have had more information than I. This situation brings into focus the difficulties associated with remote meetings; the more closely a group meets, the better information flows through the body.

In the end the Resolution was adopted. Rep. Terry has pointed to a somewhat embarrassing problem with the Resolution. It was put together with such haste that it inadvertently condemns “all… action in Washington, D.C.” Surely we did not intent that to be included in our Resolution. When one assembles a sentence that will be recorded in history, deliberation will assure that “all violence and action in Washington, D.C.” can not be misconstrued.

Rather than shaming Representatives Comtois, Sylvia, Ploszaj, Bean, Aldrich, Silber, and Hough, those who react with outrage should pause before they fly off the handle, and look for a bit of perspective which might explain why we voted as we did. The voters of their districts are not as irrational as you might think.

Abuse of Power

In democracy minorities are slaves.

Our NH Constitution is the foundation of our republic, without it we would have no state government. Part I of this fundamental document speaks not about the government, but of the rights reserved to the people which are not necessary to the operation of a government. The process of establishing the state government, and assigning only those powers necessary, is outlined in Part II. The reservation of rights in Part I is commonly called the bill of rights.

Part I, [Art.] 8. All power residing originally in, and being derived from, the people, all the magistrates and officers of government are their substitutes and agents, and at all times accountable to them. Government, therefore, should be open, accessible, accountable and responsive. To that end, the public’s right of access to governmental proceedings and records shall not be unreasonably restricted.”

If we place that in the context of rights reserved by the people, we can see that government should have no secrets. We can observe the qualification ‘unreasonably restricted’ and understand this to be a very high hurdle.

The statutes set the law enforcing Part I, Art. 8 in chapter 91-A, also called our ‘right to know’ law. It starts with a preamble: “Openness in the conduct of public business is essential to a democratic society. The purpose of this chapter is to ensure both the greatest possible public access to the actions, discussions and records of all public bodies, and their accountability to the people.” Greatest possible access!

The House of Representative also incorporates this noble goal in its rules: “110. Open Meetings. All meetings of any committee of the House and Senate shall be open to the public subject to the provisions of N.H. RSA 91-A.”

With all of this as background, the House will again be meeting away from our historic chamber, away from public view. You see our temporary accommodations in Durham excludes the public from the arena. The substitute for the gallery is a computer screen. The view for the public is selected by a camera operator. Interaction between the representatives and the public is eliminated. Greatest possible access?

Were this this worst violation of the people’s rights, that would be bad enough. It does get worse; public hearings on tremendous mash-ups of legislation were cobbled together in the senate. Did the public have access to their senators in that process? Was it a meaningful public hearing? Was the public heard?

The majority in the House has shown its disregard for the constitution, the statutes, and their own rules. Twice this year alone they ignored the rules and when the Speaker was challenged, they demonstrate the evil of pure democracy; might makes right. They are happy to toss away any glimmer of principles and deprive the minority of the justice found in a republican form of government. When challenged on their violation of the public’s access to their government, they will happily vote away the people’s rights; majority rule is their only rule.

Recycling

The 2018 Democrat campaign theme was all about their desire for bipartisanship in government. Well, it looks like they’ll try to work that one again this year. They are going to have a slight problem with that old song and dance this year as the past two years have shown their true nature. Contrary to their words, their deeds told the truth, and their actions proved their only philosophy; my way or the highway.

If you recall their first year controlling the legislature in Concord, they pushed through legislation that would make Marx blush. Their ‘bipartisan’ efforts produced a record setting number of vetoes from the governor, almost all of them upheld by the legislature only because a 2/3 vote is required to override a veto. It’s pretty clear that their campaign promises of 2018 were nothing but hot air.

Continuing their iron fisted rule into 2020, when true efforts to work together were necessary as virus concerns short circuited all normal proceedings, they refused to include the minority in discussions toward an orderly continuation of legislative duties. Not only did their proposed calendar of business disregard Republicans, it cut out all citizens from hearings on proposed legislation. Having excluded the minority from the process their proposition was ‘take it or leave it’. With much of the legislation being retreads from round one of their record setting partisanship, it would be foolish to send this back to the governor for more vetoes. Once again I’ll be happy to claim the title of ‘obstructionist’ if the alternative is to passively accept tyranny. Not on my watch.

Unfortunately the minority will not be able to stop the D.C. styled omnibus Senate Frankenstein bills coming to us on the 30th. Call the governor, and send him some more red veto pens. We’ll need another round of vetoes to stop these monstrous abominations disguised as legislation.

The Pandemic

Friday March 13, 2020 started very early for the House of Representatives in Concord, as we where still working the session that had begun 14 hours prior to midnight. We were up late working because of the failure of the Democrat majority to properly handle the scheduling of House business. Perhaps they should have skipped the day wasted reprimanding legislators for NOT violating the House rules.

A very late night - early morning in Concord.

Earlier in the day (Thursday the 12th) there was concern that a member of the House might have been in contact with a person who may have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 in the recent past. COVID-19 was not yet a household word but it was becoming a lead story in the news. With a push to get bills to second committees prior to crossover, we finished our session around 4 a.m. By 5:15 p.m. the Governor would declare a state of emergency to deal with the coming pandemic of COVID-19.

In mid-March of 2020 no one would question the proper coarse of action taken by the Governor. The models touted by experts warned of hospitals being overrun with seriously ill patients, many of whom would be in ICU units and require ventilators to be kept alive. At the expiration of the first declaration of the state of emergency, preparations were underway for the coming surge of COVID-19 patients, hospitals stopped taking elective procedures and furloughed doctors and nurse to be ready for the surge.

At the end of the second 21 day state of emergency, it was becoming clear that our hospitals would not be overrun with COVID-19 patients. Hospitals operated with over 90 percent of their beds available through the surge.

With many executive orders in place limiting social behavior the Governor was in a difficult position. If he did not continue the state of emergency all of the executive orders would be removed and business would be restored to its regular statutory controls. People had been terrified by the media’s exaggerated claims and would proceed with extreme caution for the most part. He viewed the option to end the state of emergency as too risky, in part because he might be targeted with responsibility for those who would die from the disease.

While the Governor wrestled with running the state from the corner office, depending on information for the Center for Disease Control and the World Health Organization (much of which was backed by faulty models), the Democrat majority legislature sat back and only spoke up to fruitlessly sue for control of Federal funds. The abysmal reporting by the media would allow you to think the Governor prohibited the legislature from meeting. The only thing stopping the legislature from meeting was the Democrat leadership (the term used very loosely). Other than the inability to get their hands on the Federal funds they have been happy to leave all the work of managing a fading crisis in the hands of the Governor. There is little doubt in my mind that they love the precedent being set and look forward to using such powers with the flimsiest excuse in the future.

Now, at the start of June, it is very clear that this disease is almost entirely a problem affecting people in long term care facilities. Attention must be focused on the vulnerable and the rest of us need to be aware of contacts that may be connected to those facilities. We need to get on with living. Those who wish to isolate themselves waiting for a vaccine will be waiting for a very long time. The rest of us will be out building natural herd immunity and living.

House Speaker Shurtleff and Senate President Soucy have cooked up a pageant to give the appearance of ‘doing the people’s work’, by scheduling an abbreviated calendar of events to close out the session. The outcome they desire is to stuff the Democrats’ wish list into a few bills and send them off to the Governor for vetoes; campaign theatrics, pure and simple. Republicans, being in the minority, have one tool; stopping a rule change (which requires 2/3 of those voting). It is a tool that must be used to stop the sham of appearing to do the people’s work. Pretending to be productive is simply lying and wasting tax money putting on a show. Democrats will cry “obstruction”; that’s fine, stopping sewage from flowing into the lake is obstruction of which to be proud.

Being Civil

Harassment, particularly sexual harassment, is a serious issue. As one of those reprimanded by the House, I can assure you that I do not take sexual harassment lightly. I take it as seriously as I do our constitution. Contrary to the baseless false allegation made by the majority of the House, I did in fact attend sexual harassment training lead by Rep. Jess Edwards.

Photo by Rep. Mike Sylvia

As one of the chairmen of the House Republican Alliance, I attended the first of Rep. Edwards training sessions on January 15, 2019. The HRA sponsored this training and raised funds for Best Buddies New Hampshire in the process.

Why didn’t I just say so? The so called ‘rule 67’ reads “All legislators, legislative officers, and legislative staff shall attend in-person education and training regarding sexual and other unlawful harassment and discrimination.” As you can see this rule says nothing about reporting the training has been completed, it does not instruct as to when it must be accomplished, nor does it say how often it must be taken. If this were a legitimate rule it would give guidance that would answer such questions.

On a more fundamental note, this rule is outside the constitutional authority of the General Court. Our constitution provides in Part II, [Art.] 22. [House to Elect Speaker and Officers, Settle Rules of Proceedings, and Punish Misconduct.] The house of representatives shall choose their own speaker, appoint their own officers, and settle the rules of proceedings in their own house; and shall be judge of the returns, elections, and qualifications, of its members, as pointed out in this constitution.  Rule 67 has nothing to do with proceedings of the House, it is a mandate pushed for political posturing.

The letter writer seems to think that I was mocking the serious issue of harassment which is completely wrong. The Speaker of the House, and the Democrat majority were using the people’s House as a political platform from which they launched a campaign to humiliate Republicans. They disgraced themselves by turning the General Court into a kangaroo court.

Their show was lead by Rep. Lucy Weber, who went to the well of the House and repeatedly read a false charge against the accused. No questions were allowed to be asked about the charge. No evidence was presented to support the allegations. None of the accused would be allowed to face their accuser. The rule of the proceeding was what ever the Speaker allowed, and his rulings would be supported by the majority in a lock-step vote. There was no place for the rule of law in this farcical theater of the absurd. Mob rule is the way of this Democratic majority; and that I do mock.

Thursday February 20, 2020 will stand as the darkest day I have witness in my 7 years in the House. Democratic colleagues with whom I’ve worked cordially in the past shredded those relationships for the sake of scoring political points. They were once respected but now have revealed their true nature. Being civil will be the best I can muster.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 16, 2019
CONTACT: James Spillane, HRA Tri-Chair (603) 463-5623
James@jamesspillane.org
Concord: On Tuesday January 15, 2019 the House Republican Alliance held a training session on workplace behavior, with the Honorable Representative Jess Edwards as instructor, to 31 Republican members of the New Hampshire House.
The presentation by Representative Edwards gave the full range of possible problems that can arise in House business through deliberate or accidental encounters with others, as well as the actions that should be taken by those involved.
Of primary focus was not only prevention of a Hostile workplace, but the legislative and litigious history explaining how Hostile Workplace and Harassment laws have reached this point. The handling of all sides of any unfortunate encounter was thoroughly discussed, providing insight and direction whether accuser or accused, and whether allegations be true or falsely sworn.
The HRA raised $362 for Best Buddies New Hampshire through donations by those attending the class.
Of the training Rep. Mike Sylvia said “I think the choice to donate to BBNH was excellent, they demonstrate that working together cooperatively produces the best results. This is in sharp contrast to the beliefs of the House majority who use bullying at every turn.”
At the conclusion Representative James Spillane thanked Representative Edwards for a very professional, concise, and thorough presentation, and added “The information regarding the history of litigation and lawmaking that brought us to this point in history was especially of interest to us, as lawmakers, I believe.”
The House Republican Alliance was established in 1997 and is the longest running caucus in the NH House of Representatives. Its goal is to pass legislation consistent with the US and NH Constitutions, and that represents the core values of the state Republican platform and fiscal responsibility.

Dems Bring D.C. to Concord

In 2018 Democrats running for state representative seats in Concord proclaimed the need for bipartisanship. They won a majority in the house and senate with their campaign promises. The truth became clear very soon after they swore their oath to our constitution; they had the majority and they intended to subject the minority to their rule.

Their first move in the house was to violate their oath to our constitution by making a ‘rule’ mandating training. The constitution reads; “Part II, [Art.] 22. [House to Elect Speaker and Officers, Settle Rules of Proceedings, and Punish Misconduct.] The house of representatives shall choose their own speaker, appoint their own officers, and settle the rules of proceedings in their own house; and shall be judge of the returns, elections, and qualifications, of its members, as pointed out in this constitution.” As you can clearly see rules are to govern proceedings in the house.

The rule passed by the Democrats reads; “Rule 67. All legislators, legislative officers, and legislative staff shall attend in-person education and training regarding sexual and other unlawful harassment and discrimination.” Not only is this not a rule governing a proceeding in the house, it is an unbounded mandate imposed upon duly elected members. As it is not in compliance with the constitution, it is a nullity.

New members of the house came in promising bipartisanship, but what they actually intend to do is carry out their campaign of ‘social justice’. They intend to replace our common moral principles with their self aggrandizing ‘virtue signalling‘. They intend to replace the republic our forefathers bequeathed to us with ‘our democracy‘.

The democracy that they seek is simply tyranny by the majority and this is undeniably seen in their actions. They have put forward legislation that would make California and New York blush. Fortunately, Governor Sununu has stood firm against the most egregious of these assaults on our liberties. Again in the second year of this term, having no intention of putting forward sensible legislation, they have brought back the same bills that were vetoed last year, and will be vetoed again this year.

This campaign by the social justice warriors is not about helping the citizens of this state, it is political posturing of the kind found in the District of Columbia. It demeans the dignity of our house and our long standing traditions.

I will not submit to this tyrannical, unconstitutional action. I will proudly accept a badge of honor from those who will reprimand my stand against this assault on our republic.