Section 4 Seat 94 – Thank You NH!

The seating assignments for the NH House of Representatives’ 2013-2014 term have been released http://www.gencourt.state.nh.u…

You will note that four term Rep. Bill O’Brien of Mont Vernon, a state representative with no leadership title or committee will be in the back row of section four.

It took two solid years of hard work by an endless number of Granite Staters who stood up against O’Brien’s reign. The success of the effort is due to no one person or one organization it took everyone. It was an unprecedented effort and the victory is sweet.

But neither O’Brien or his side kick Bettencourt are going quietly into the night. Both will be vocal in their mischaracterizations of this House. Both will do all they can to attack, smear and undermine Governor Hassan and the hard work of our legislators.

2010 should remain a lesson for all, we cannot sit back, relax and expect success in 2014. We must continue the effort because the alternative is already waiting to pounce.

  • TimothyHorrigan

    His seat assignment isn’t that great but it also isn’t that bad: he got an aisle seat.  Sitting in the back is not considered such a bad thing, since you are close to the anteroom.  

    He really should have been placed in the middle of one of the long rows in Section 3.

    One oddity is that he has been assigned to no committees at all.  Supposedly, he never formally submitted a “yellow card” to the House Clerk and he also never asked his caucus leadership for any committee assignments.

  • JonnyBBad

    Thanks Ray. Yup, victory is fleeting, now we have to govern in a way that makes the voters feel they did the right thing putting us back in.

    Where 2012 was about social issues,basic rights under attack, womens’ rights especially, we fought for those things dear to us all. It is my hunch that 2014 is not going to be a rehash…the social issues cost the r’s dearly, so next election I am guessing will be purely about economics…so can we make a difference in the everyday realities of working class NH ? Food on table, kids to school, real estate values,access to affordable health care…we will judged on ability to pass legislation that effects real people everyday.
    My thoughts for the new year: remember how Governor Lynch became the most popular Governor, perhaps the most well liked politician in NH history. It wasn’t about party line, it was about people.

    • Rep. Jim Splaine

      We can’t ignore social issues.  I heard a lot of that talk in 2007 a 2009 when we brought up Civil Unions and gay marriage — that we can’t talk about those.

      I’ve heard often that 2010 was “payback” for Democrats’ “focus” on social issues.  And some people still blame me for that.  But we also worked on the budget, economy, and other matters during those years.  And yet, we did good things.  We helped lead the national discussion on one of the equality issues of our time.  

      There’s nothing more important on this planet  than the way we treat one another.  And if we don’t discuss those issues, we continue injustice.

      What hurt the Republicans is that they were on the WRONG SIDE of social issues.

      Budgets are important, yes.  So are things like economy and jobs.  But we can’t ignore all the other things that affect the way we live together, whether that’s medical marijuana, transgender equality, the death penalty, choice, equality of pay in the workplace — all things which affect people.

      • TimothyHorrigan

        O’Brien opposes mariage equality and he did his best to appeal to his caucus’s tribal instincts— but the marriage repeal bill failed by a huge margin.  A majority of the Republican caucus voted for marriage equality at one point or another.  The House held 5 roll calls on the bill itself, and 2 on procedural motions, not to mention several division and voice votes. David Bates’s bill lost every time: the closest it came to passage was a 182-166 defeat, and there were other more lopsided votes of up to 277-62 against.  The “Inexpedient to Debate” motion which finally killed the bill won by a 211-116 vote.

        There were several Republicans who vacillated for and against marriage equality, and only a minority stuck to the homophobic side of the issue through the entire series of floor votes.

        • Rep. Jim Splaine

          Like many others, I was quite involved in lobbying against repeal, and spent many many hours talking with Republicans last session, so I saw up close what worked and what didn’t on their effort to repeal House Bill 436, our marriage equality law that we passed in 2009.  The majority of Republicans were simply on the wrong side of this social issue, and the Democrats were on the right side.

          Even though David Bates’ bill lost, we know that the majority of Republicans in 2011 and 2012 were against marriage equality.  They certainly didn’t support marriage equality — and it’s a good thing we passed the bill in 2009 because it wouldn’t have passed in an election year, and certainly not in 2011 or 2012.  And now we don’t have to try to pass it, and Republicans aren’t going to be successful in repealing it.

          David Bates lost his effort despite then-Speaker O’Brien’s support and the majority of Republicans supporting repeal (in their previous public statements and positions) for five reasons, as I see it:

          1.  John Lynch pledging a veto. Not only pledging, but frequently speaking out in support of equality.  Leadership where it mattered.
          2.  An effective effort to defend the law, let by a variety of sources and organizations, effectively negating organizations like NOM that wanted repeal.
          3.  Democrats standing firm, almost totally, against repeal.
          4.  The Senate which, despite the large majority of Republicans, didn’t want to have to deal with repeal, and giving quiet messages to the House.
          5.  David Bates himself, who tried to do it all by himself.  When we passed House Bill 436 in 2009, we held seven months of weekly (or more often) strategy meetings at the State House, we involved a wide number of House and Senate members in the planning, we had effective speakers by carefully planning our effort, and we kept the bill short and simple.  PLUS we have effective help outside of the Legislature, thanks to Mo Baxley and Freedom to Marry, and the expert advice of Janson Wu and GLAD.  Bates tried to do it all by himself. So on the floor, his effort fell apart because he didn’t put together his team.

          We need not fear social issues when we’re on the side of a right cause.  2010 occurred in large part because of the national mood, and too many of our natural constituencies staying home on Election Day.  And Democrats being Democrats is the best way to assure reward at the polls in 2014 — nationally, and statewide.  

          Indeed, we should learn from 2010 and 2012 that when office holders stand with conviction and courage, provided they’re on the right side of issues and show leadership on those issues, they do well and will earn the public’s support.

          • JonnyBBad

            I am not afraid of social issues…but understand that economic issues have driven elections the majority of the time I have voted…I was there for alomost every vote on equality, in the gallery, in front of thr State House with signs etc., and in a previous life led a private coalition of business CEO’s to lobby on MLK day…I was there for every RTW action starting with the April 2011 rally(a month after we lost our son). What I am saying is that in every election there is something to be learned, a take away if you will. Politically speaking the R’s will not get back into power on social issues…they know it. They won’t change what they believe, but they will change what they say and what they focus on. I think we have proven that the people are with us on the majority of social issues…but kitchen table budget issues, will IMHO, be what we will be fighting for in 20 months.

            • Rep. Jim Splaine

              In my comments in this thread, I was addressing the matter that I have heard too many a-Democrat leader nationally and statewide has indeed been saying — that we can’t address social issues right now.

              On those issues you mentioned, MLK Day back in 1978 when I introduced the first bill, and the Death Penalty in 2000, and Civil Unions in 2007, and gay marriage in 2009, as I introduced those bills, I heard that message:  “Not now.  We need to talk about other things.”  

              I hear it this time around too.  That we should put issues of transgender equality, medical marijuana, the death penalty on the backburner.  So I addressed that.  And will continue to.  

              This question isn’t about you, nor me.  It’s about how we govern.  I think the way we win, and the lessons of 2010 and 2012, is that we have to cover all the ground — work on the social issues, and of course, as you state well, the kitchen table budget issues.  

              Thank you for all you have done on those issues.  But I showed up on them too, and we’re not disagreeing all that much except perhaps on the margins, and in the margins is where elections are won or lost.  

              • JonnyBBad

                Its all about what will pass…I believe both Medical Marijuana and Death Penalty repeal stand a good chance, as both Maggie and Ovide supported both, no veto threats etc….transgender issues have less support, not because they don’t matter, but we are not all on the same wavelength yet…so let’s pick the hill we want to fight for, and the ones we want to die for…

                • Rep. Jim Splaine

                  …and that’s sometimes political reality.  But I’d rather try for 3 out of 3, because each is important.  It’s not always about what will pass.  Otherwise, we don’t dare.  We don’t try.

                  It took 20 years to pass Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, which we’ll proudly commemorate in less than three weeks.  I cosponsored the bill that finally passed in 1999 and was signed by Governor Jeanne Shaheen, and by then we had assembled the coalition that lobbied for it.  

                  But in 1979, when I was primary sponsor of the first bill, in fact, it was the first bill I had ever introduced into the Senate, we only had 8 Senate votes for passage, we faced editorials in the state’s largest newspaper saying King was a communist, and it didn’t make it to the House.  

                  But the discussion had started.  It needed to.

                  On the death penalty:  The closest we came to abolishing it was in 2000.  Governor Jeanne Shaheen had said she would veto a bill, but I sponsored it anyway.  She had called me one night to ask me not to, but I did it anyway. It passed the House, by an amazing coalition.  It then passed the Senate.  Jimmy Carter, Bishop Tutu, and Coretta Scott King publicly lobbied for it.  We became the first state since 1974 where both chambers had passed it.  Yes, the governor vetoed, but that was an important discussion.  That cause continues today, because it must.

                  On gay marriage:  I first said I would introduce a bill for full gay marriage on May 31, 2007.  It was on that day that John Lynch signed the Civil Unions bill, which had taken him three weeks to decide to sign.  I said the discussion needed to start.

                  I repeated that at Midnight on December 31st, 2007, speaking on the State House steps as our first same-gendered couples were getting “unionized” as the law became effective.  I said that we would eventually have marriage, and the discussion needed to start.  

                  I said it during a public debate in Portsmouth in October, 2008, before the election.  But I had little support.  The word was:  “Let’s let Civil Unions work for a few years, then try to marriage.”  But the dialogue had to begin.

                  For the first month of January, 2009, I had little support for the legislation.  I had difficulty getting cosponsors.  I couldn’t find a Senate cosponsor.  It looked like it stood no chance, but the dialogue had begun.  

                  We know what happened, thanks to dozens, then hundreds, then thousands coming out to support it.  Governor John Lynch had said he was against gay marriage, but he never said he’d veto it — I had asked him for months leading up to the discussion not to pledge a veto, and he agreed — though he often repeated he was against marriage, but in favor of Civil Unions.  Only after House and Senate passage did he consider signing it, and that took another month, but he did what a good governor should do:  he listened.

                  It takes the dialogue — the discussion — before we do anything in politics.  If we always wait utill “the time is right,” we might wait forever.  Many felt the time wasn’t right for gay marriage in 2009.  If we didn’t do it then, we simply wouldn’t have it today.  Right now there are 2,205 couples, and more every week, who have marriages because we dared start the discussion.  It’s a fight we don’t have to engage in our legislature in 2013. Now we can go onto other important matters to improve the way our citizens are treated.

                  John Kennedy, and others before him, often would say “Even the longest journey begins with the first step.”  That’s a good lesson for all of us.    

  • Ray Buckley
    • Rep. Jim Splaine

      …I’m sorry to have participated in stealing away the intent of your post by getting into other issues, because you addressed the seating of the long-ago former Speaker and I went onto other matters.

      But you make a good point — he’s not going quietly.  I’ve learned through the years in the House that other than ego, it’s not important where you sit in the House, because your vote is as important as any others.  And it doesn’t matter much what committee you’re on or what title you carry either.  You can still do a lot of good.  Or bad.  

      I think Mr. O’Brien will be smiling from his back row, and causing grief in and outside of the Chamber.  Your warning to watch him is important.   Before being forewarned is being armed.    

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