View from the Inside: NH Reconsiderations and the Bathroom Bill

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Rep. Dan Itse, R-Fremont

State Rep. Dan Itse, R-Fremont, provides a Republican perspective to what’s going on in the legislature each week for InDepthNH.org readers. An engineer, Itse has represented Rockingham County since 2001.

By Rep. Dan Itse, R-Fremont

As I have opined before, part of the purpose of this column is to give the voters an appreciation of how the Legislature works.

The first order of business on the 8th were two Reconsiderations. A parliamentary move for various ends.  After a vote has been taken, any member who voted on the prevailing side (they won) can ask the body to reconsider the vote.  This must be done immediately, before another motion is made.  Once a reconsideration is made, it cannot be made again.

It is often done on a close vote, and the person making the motion for reconsideration asks the body to vote no, so that it cannot be reconsidered later.  Or a motion of reconsideration can be made before noon the following day to be taken up at the beginning of the next Session Day.  In this case, after the loss of right-to-work 40 Republicans went home and we lost several close votes including my House Concurrent Resolution 4 requesting Congress to offer a Regulation Freedom Amendment that would enable a 25% minority of either House of Congress to bring a regulation into Congress for full legislative review.

The Resolution had come out of the Committee on State and Federal Relations and Veterans Affairs with a recommendation of Ought-to-Pass (OTP), but failed because Republicans went home.  I found a member to move  Reconsideration.  Unfortunately, both Reconsiderations failed.

The thousand pound gorilla in the room was HB 478, the “Bathroom Bill.” Literally the bill would have added “gender identity” explicitly to the list of causes the New Hampshire Commission on Human Rights can consider.  Included in the list of affected areas was public accommodations which includes public bathrooms and locker rooms.  Compared to the 2009 Bill, a definition of gender identity was added, a person’s gender identity, appearance or behavior whether or not it is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or gender assigned at birth.

I found the last phrase “gender assigned at birth” particularly offensive.  Beyond the obvious concern that those who are simply feigning a change in gender identity to lurk in restrooms or locker rooms with ill intent, there is also a risk that those who are perceived as being transgendered will find employment difficult because it is feared that trying to dismiss them for legitimate purposes will become entangled with the Commission on Human Rights.  There is also a genuine issue of rights of conscience for the majority of New Hampshire citizens.

The Constitution of the State of New Hampshire recognizes natural rights in Part 1, Article 2.  It then goes on in Article 3, to describe that when we enter into a state of society we surrender up certain of our natural rights for the protection of others.  For example, we surrender our rights of privacy to search and arrest by warrant so that crimes against our person or property might be investigated.  Article 4 goes on to tell us that certain natural rights are unalienable, because no equivalent can be given or received for them, of this kind are rights of conscience.  Article 5 makes an example of the right of conscience, religion; every person has the right to worship God according to the dictates of his conscience as long as it doesn’t disturb others in their worship or disturb the public peace.

The issues covered in HB478 focus on rights of property or what I would call temporal rights (employment, housing and the like), the Constitution informs us that rights of conscience trump temporal rights.  As much as many if not most major religions (Deuteronomy 22:5) explicitly prohibits gender transition, HB478 butts up firmly against rights of conscience.  The other issue to consider is that the Amendment to Part 1, Article 2 in 1974, which deals with discrimination, prohibits the State from discrimination, but not individuals.

The plan for HB478 was Table the Bill.  The attendance was watched closely, and when it was apparent that the votes to Table were not in the room on Wednesday, the Session was adjourned.  We reconvened on Thursday and HB478 was taken up at 10:46.  The Tabling motion was made and it passed 187 to 179.  We all knew that there would be a motion to take it off the table later in the day.  One key issue was to maintain attendance and make sure that those in favor of the tabling motion stayed.  The motion to take HB478 was made at 5:31 P.M., and the motion failed 180 to 168.  Some members started to leave after winning the motion to remove HB478 from the Table.  A number of us positioned ourselves at the exits, admonishing them not to leave, lest the motion to remove HB478 from the Table be brought up again.  A number of key proponents of HB478 left and the motion was not brought up again.

I had a couple of key victories over the two days.  Back in 2009, I introduced HCR6 State Sovereignty based on Jeffersonian Principles.  The issue was so controversial that it got me on to the Glenn Beck show and Fox and Friends, and gave me some national recognition. HCR9, this the State Sovereignty resolution for this year was recommended Ought-to-Pass 15 to 2 and passed on the Consent Calendar without notice.  This resolution identifies that the federal government has no constitutional power to declare martial law in any State unless there is a declared war, and goes on to state that any such declaration of martial law in any State other than by that State Constitution will be regarded as a declaration of war upon that State.

House Bill 136 “clarifying the equity jurisdiction of the judicial branch family division” passed on a division vote.  The Family Court is equity court, and the description of the equity jurisdiction of the Court is “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the judicial branch family division shall have the power of a court in equity”  which can be interpreted, and has been in some cases that the laws the Legislature passes restrict the Court in no way whatsoever.

Removal of that introductory phrase means that the laws will have force in every case.  This change in law is a result of the hearings by the House Committee on Redress of Grievances where the progress of certain cases in the Family Court seemed to follow a random course and laws regarding process were ignored.  This bill was first introduced in 2014.  It was introduced again in 2015.  This year it passed the House of Representatives.  Now we are on to the Senate.  Politics is a long game for the patient and tenacious.

For more on The Constitution of the State of New Hampshire visit “The Peoples Liberty” on You Tube.  A five part course on the Constitution.

Dan Itse

Hon. Daniel C. Itse

New Hampshire State Representative,

Rockingham County, District 10, Fremont

(603) 642-9403

There is no difference between tyranny at the point of a gun or a knife and tyranny at the point of a pen; especially when that pen is backed by the power of the sword.

 

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