Dear Community Rights Supporters,
There was a strong grassroots turn-out yesterday from communities all across the state of New Hampshire that attended the House Municipal & County Government (M&CG) Committee executive session on the NH Community Rights Amendment, CACR19.
Representative Migliore, CACR19's committee Republican co-sponsor, attempted to make a motion of ought-to-pass (OTP) on the Amendment as soon as the executive session was opened by the committee chair, Representative Belanger. Rep. Migliore raised his hand immediately and spoke up, only to have the chair overlook him and call upon the vice chair, Rep. Sterling, to make a motion of inexpedient-to-legislate (ITL), i.e. kill the bill.
Sadly, this happens all the time - when leadership intentionally overlooks the committee member they know will make a motion leadership does not agree with and calls upon another committee member they know will make the motion that leadership wants made. Ethical, no. Political, yes!
What was unexpected is that the committee chair did not follow protocol by hearing the subcommittee report FIRST so that the full committee could hear the vetting and recommendation of the subcommittee after two work sessions.
The M&CG subcommittee recommendation on CACR19
was declared OTP (3-2) on February 14th
after two work sessions were held.
We learned that it is customary for the subcommittee recommendation to determine the motion made in the full committee. It was quite clear that committee chair, Rep. Belanger wanted nothing to do with procedure if it didn't serve the will of leadership.
CACR19's Democrat committee co-sponsor, Rep. Rand, called point-of-order on what appeared to be an intentional disregard for the protocol of hearing the subcommittee report first and the chair responded, "duly noted" and moved on!
Other committee members continued to call the chair out on disregarding protocol with committee member, Rep. Treleaven, flatly asking, "Are we going to hear the subcommittee report at all?" The response from the committee chair, Rep. Belanger was an indignant, "NO!"
Committee debate involved representatives opposing CACR19 ignoring the amendment’s language clearly stating local laws protected under the amendment would go through town majority vote procedures and would not limit but expand individual rights; they made exaggerated statements accusing the amendment as paving the way for anarchy and chaos.
Ironically, the only anarchy and chaos associated with CACR19 has been that of senior House Municipal & County Government committee members cancelling and rescheduling the executive session multiple times and complete disregard for protocol and the orderly process deserved by each piece of legislation that comes before them.
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Carson, made a public statement that he would file an objection to the chair's action of disregarding the protocol of sharing the subcommittee report of OTP with the full committee. Although it is greatly appreciated that supporting committee members of CACR19 were willing to hold their committee chair accountable on record, it did nothing to change the outcome of today's session and only offers little hope that the committee chair will act in a non-biased manner in the future by following procedure even when he may not agree with the outcome.
Lots of other nuances went on, but the bottom line is the Municipal & County Government Committee made a recommendation of ITL (11 - 8) on CACR19.
One of the committee members that supported CACR19 was not there to vote due to an emergency medical issue that prevented her attendance. We hope for her speedy and full recovery.
We find out this Thursday when the House Calendar is published if CACR19 will go to the House Floor next week, or the third week of March.
Stay tuned and be ready to take action because this is not the end of CACR19. It will be heading to the House Floor for what is expected to be a lively debate over who our Legislature believes should have the final say on a state constitutional amendment - the people who are the origin of government, or state electeds that can be beholden to corporate interests and party politics?
Regardless of how the M&CG Committee leadership treated theNH Community Rights Amendment,
we have no intention of giving up!
For now, I encourage EVERYONE that prepared a written testimony for CACR19 to submit your testimony (minus the greeting to the committee any personal info you do not want published) as an "open letter" to any and all media outlets in an effort to raise awareness of our Right of Local Community Self-Government. It is important that we take advantage of the momentum and attention that is currently focused on Community Rights in New Hampshire. Also, feel free to submit your letters and testimonies to the full House of Representatives so they can hear from YOU, and not just party leadership, how they should vote on CACR19 when it is heard on the House floor.
We don't lose until we quit. Onward!
Michelle Sanborn, NHCRN President