By Ian Aikens | May 21, 2019
I’ve been going to Concord almost every week for the last two months to give my two cents worth in public hearings on various bills making the rounds in the state legislature, I thought it might be interesting to see how Milton’s representatives measure up. Forget the grandstanding and rhetoric one normally hears before elections – it’s only their actual votes on actual bills that count in assessing their records.
When I look at legislators’ voting records, I’m looking to see if they respect individual rights and if they treat their constituents like adults or children. Are they voting for bills that put ever more laws on the books? Are they voting for bills that make goods and services more expensive? Are they voting for bills that make it harder to start a new business due to onerous regulation and fees? Do their votes reflect that their constituents can decide how to conduct their own lives or do they need supervision from politicians to make the “right” decisions? Do their votes reflect “Live and let live” or “There ought to be a law …”?
I looked at a varied range of current 2019 bills to get a rounded, comprehensive picture of Milton’s representatives’ records. Milton’s House representatives are Abigail Rooney and Peter Hayward, and both were elected for the first time last November. I am pleased to report that their records are quite good. Generally, they have been mindful of their constituents’ pocketbooks and not into micromanaging their lives with meddlesome “feel good” laws that create more problems than they solve. Both Rooney and Hayward have tended to vote the same way on almost all of the bills. Here’s a sampling of their actual votes.
TAXES / SPENDING:
CACR11 – This bill would have prohibited a sales tax, but it was tabled in the House. Both Rooney and Hayward voted against the tabling, so presumably that means they supported the bill.
CACR12 – This bill would have prohibited an income tax on earned income, but it was voted down by the House. Both Rooney and Hayward voted against “Inexpedient to Legislate,” so presumably that means they supported the bill.
HB680 – This bill would have enacted a 65.03% tax – yes, you read that right – on vaping products, but I was at the committee hearing on this one, and there was a lot of pushback, so the bill was retained in a committee. Both Rooney and Hayward voted against this bill.
HB686 – This bill would have added a capital gains tax to the interest and dividends tax that the politicians are still saying is not an income tax. Both Rooney and Hayward voted against it.
HB2 – The House-passed budget of $12.9 billion, which includes $417 million of new taxes more than the governor’s budget, garnered a NO vote from both Rooney and Hayward.
HB564 – This bill passed in the House already and will make it against the law to carry a firearm on school grounds, unless school authorities give one permission to carry a firearm. (Will the deranged who perpetuate school shootings be requesting permission as required?) As you might expect, of all the hearings I testified at, this one attracted the most attention, and the room was filled to the gills. Both Rooney and Hayward voted against the bill.
HB109 – This bill passed in the House already and mandates background checks for commercial sales of firearms. (Will background checks nab the criminals who get their firearms from the black market?) Both Rooney and Hayward voted against this bill.
HB514 – This bill, which passed in the House already, mandates a 7-day waiting period between the purchase and delivery of firearms. Again, I doubt the crazies and criminals will bother following the law on this one either. Both Rooney and Hayward voted NO on this one.
HB186 – This bill, which passed in the House, will increase the minimum wage in stages, up from the current $7.25/hour to $12.00/hour by the beginning of 2022. Most economists say minimum wages hurt those on the bottom of the economic scale the most because it denies the unskilled the opportunity to gain marketable skills, but evidently many politicians like to feel that they’re “doing something” to help the downtrodden. Also, minimum wage mandates do nothing to increase the purchasing power of the downtrodden because the cost increases make goods and services more expensive. Both Rooney and Hayward voted NO on this one.
HB211 – This bill would prohibit employers from inquiring about salary history prior to an offer of employment. The House approved the bill, and it is now in a Senate committee. This bill treats employees like children who need protection from Big Bad Employers – shouldn’t it be between the employee and employer to figure out how much information each wants to share? Hayward voted against this bill, and Rooney did not vote on this one for some reason.
HB253 – This bill would have made it against the law to inquire about a potential employee’s criminal background prior to an interview. It also passed in the House and is now in a Senate committee. The obvious goal here is to give felons a better chance to become gainfully employed after incarceration – a worthwhile goal – but wouldn’t it be better to have less laws on the books so there would be less felons struggling to rebuild their lives? Especially in the case of victimless crimes. Hayward voted NO, and Rooney did not vote on this one for some reason.
HB293 – This bill, which would prohibit employers from asking potential employees about their credit history during the hiring process, passed in the house with a voice vote. There was a motion to table the bill but it failed. While some people with bad credit still make excellent employees (and others with great credit end up not being such great employees), it might still be another helpful tool for an employer to determine if the employee is right for the company. More important, it should be up to the employee to decide if he/she wants to consent to releasing their credit info, not busybody politicians with threats of civil penalties sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Hayward voted to table the bill, and Rooney was absent on that vote.
HB558 – This bill, which passed in the House but fortunately died in the Senate, would have made it against the law to give a customer a plastic straw unless he/she requested it. The state would have been authorized to hire a “straw cop” to “provide enforcement, outreach and education” to the tune of around $100K per year. Both Rooney and Hayward voted against this nonsense.
HB560 – This bill, which passed in the House and looks like it will make it through the Senate and become a law, will ban single-use plastic bags and mandate no less than a dime charge for each recycled plastic or paper bag stores give their customers. I hail from California, where most of this silliness comes from, and I can assure you that it’s just a big nuisance for consumers and does nothing to make this a cleaner world. First of all, it starts with a dime per bag, but believe me, that can and does increase. Some counties in California are now charging a quarter per bag, and I’m sure that will increase, like everything else in California. Second, people still like to use plastic bags because they are convenient, so banning stores from giving them out free only caused people to buy them in bulk for use at home. So, plastic bag usage did not go down – the mandate only added an extra cost to consumers. Then there’s the carbon cost of the reusable bags that people start bringing into stores to avoid the 10 and 25 cent charges – there’s a whole lot of “carbon footprint” that goes into producing those bags, not to mention that they have to be washed periodically. Both reps voted NO on this bill.
Interestingly, there were three bills where Rooney and Hayward voted differently. HB628, which would have mandated universal changing stations for people with physical disabilities in all places of public accommodation (constructed after 01-01-2021) that serve 1,500 people or more per day, passed in the House and is currently being considered by the Senate. It is reasonable to require all government buildings to adhere to such standards, since all taxpayers in one way or another pay for government buildings, but forcing all private businesses to go to this extra expense is unnecessary in most cases, since most businesses already want to attract more customers. Rooney voted against this mandate, and Hayward voted for it.
HB480, which passed in the House and looks like it will pass in the Senate, would allow legal sports betting. Another laudable goal, since people should be able to spend their hard-earned money any way they want (and if those few who become addicted and mortgage away the house, let them suffer the consequences, not everyone else who enjoys a harmless pastime without excess), but this bill is a classic example of “crony capitalism.” It limits the number of places that would be allowed to host such events to 10 and is extremely regulation-heavy, not to mention setting up a new “Council for Responsible Gambling” and hiring 9 new permanent government bureaucrats. Citizens would be better served by just decriminalizing the activity and letting the market develop freely without all the micromanagement – and not limiting the competition. Rooney opposed it, and Hayward voted for the bill.
Lastly, HB632, which would have eliminated the educational tax credit program, was tabled in the House overwhelmingly by members of both parties. The program currently serves hundreds of low- and middle-income families who are able to choose non-government schools that better serve their children with voluntary contributions from individuals and businesses allowed to deduct the contributions as a credit on their BPT, BET, and I&D tax returns. Keeping the current program in place seems like a win-win-win situation to me – better schools for those unable to afford private schools, less students for government schools to educate poorly, and less money for the government to waste—but perhaps Hayward viewed the situation differently, as Rooney voted to table the bill and Hayward voted not to table the bill.
All in all, I think both representatives have done a reasonable job so far in keeping the heavy hand of government on the lighter side. Next time, I’ll take a look at Jeb Bradley, Milton’s State Senator, and see what his voting record looks like.
Next in sequence: Concord Beat – Early July 2019
Legiscan. (2019). NH Legislation | 2019 | Regular Session. Retrieved from legiscan.com/NH
The Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy. (2019). Budget Visions: 2020-21. Retrieved from jbartlett.org/wp-content/uploads/Budget-Visions-2020-21-4.pdf