CONCORD, N.H. — After a contentious start to the legislative session in Concord, House Republicans on Thursday outlined their goals for the session that are focused on government spending and not social issues.
The first two weeks of the session were marked by political attacks and sharp disagreements on eliminating a ban on allowing guns in the House. Thursday, Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt said Republicans planned to focus on five policy categories: government spending and regulation, business and enterprise, retirement reform, education, personal rights and social responsibility.
As I’ve written earlier, the People voted in large numbers in November not for an increase in governmental control of our personal lives, but for a state government dedicated to doing everything it can to rein in excessive spending, reduce the size and scope of government, and improve the state’s business environment in a responsible and fiscally sound manner.
One issue absent from the prioritized list is a repeal of same-sex marriage, a campaign issue that isn’t lost on the conservative group Cornerstone Action.
“It’s going to be no secret,” said Kevin Smith of Cornerstone Action. “If it’s not taken up at some point and not made a priority, it’s going to disgruntle a lot of conservatives. It’s not the only issue, but it’s an important issue.”
It’s also an issue for which, I believe, the votes don’t exist to override a governor’s veto. There are plenty of us in the House whose Gadsden flags begin and end with the words “Don’t tread on me”. There’s no parenthetical subtitle underneath those words saying “Tread on my neighbors instead”.
Another talking point going around is that the recent decisions made in defense of the Second Amendment rights of the citizenry in New Hampshire somehow distracted us from tackling the pressing fiscal issues facing the state.
In response to these accusations, the recently reversed State House gun ban was not a piece of legislation requiring the attention of all 424 state legislators. It was a committee rule reversed by a small committee which had convened the day before the General Court had even begun the 2011 session.
Likewise, the rule change allowing House members to carry lawfully concealed weapons on the House floor was put in place, appropriately, at the very beginning of the new session, when House Rules are voted on. This measure did not take any time away from any budgetary discussions or hearings.
And, then there are those who are now talking about banning school field trips to prevent children from being in close proximity to citizens who may or may not be carrying lawfully concealed weapons.
I wonder if they will now be urging parents to stop taking their children to Walmart, Home Depot, the bank, the park, the supermarket, car dealerships, or any public walkway in the state. The percentage of citizens carrying arms in those locales won’t be that different from the percentage of armed citizens in the State House.
Despite recent cries to have this gun ban put back in place (as if such a rule would prevent a deranged lunatic from harming others), I refuse to allow the unlawful, crazed actions of the few to strip the many of their rights and liberties.
There was once a time in our country’s recent past when progressive Democrats understood this concept. See also: Patriot Act.