The day after being elected governor of New Hampshire, Chris Sununu started talking about voter fraud. He’s deeply concerned about it — though not so deeply as to question the legitimacy of his own election. No, our new governor is content to mutter about the need for “reform.” He’s even called for the elimination of same-day voter registration. Apparently, no one has explained what that would mean to our newly elected governor.
In 1993, the National Voter Registration Act was signed into law. It requires states’ governments to provide the opportunity for any eligible person who applies for a driver’s license or a renewal, or for some form of public assistance to also register to vote. The state would be required to register applicants by mail, using federal registration forms. Private entities would be able to hold voter registration drives and register voters.
New Hampshire Republicans have always hated this idea. Registering welfare recipients to vote? Registration drives on college campuses? In poor neighborhoods? Oh, hell no! They hated the idea so much that they got out of complying with the motor voter law by having same-day voter registration instead. Given a choice between the two, I am certain that they will continue to prefer same-day registration, and that someone will explain all this to Chris Sununu.
Rep. David Bates (R-Windham) has adopted the cause of faux fraud as his new mission, and has filed 13 bills and one constitutional amendment to solve the non-existent problem. Imagine if he and his fellow legislators were even half as interested in solving the very real problem of our state’s crumbling infrastructure?
In speaking about his priorities, our new governor’s top three were voting, guns and union busting. Sununu would like to eliminate the requirement for licensing a concealed handgun. Current law (written by Republicans, by the way) requires one’s local chief of police issue a permit. The chief has the discretion of being able to refuse to give a license to someone he knows to be a bad tempered drunk or domestic abuser. That isn’t enough for the gun crowd, who will not be happy until there are zero gun laws in our state. In fact, some of the gun-happy legislators are opposed to domestic abusers losing their guns. Fifty percent of the women murdered in this state are murdered by their abusive partners, but apparently women are easily replaceable in the eyes of the MOAR GUNZ crowd. It is interesting though, that in a state that has so few gun laws, that the governor-elect considers this a priority.
Sununu also wants to sign right-to-work (for less) legislation, which we also call union busting. Less than 10 percent of the New Hampshire workforce is unionized, but it’s been the mission of the far right to eliminate that small percentage altogether for decades. They love to opine that it will cause businesses to relocate to New Hampshire, because RTW states are doing so well. They’re states in warm climates (no New Hampshire energy costs), states with good infrastructure in place, and states that invest in education — AND they don’t have New Hampshire property taxes. It’s really all about eliminating the perceived political influence of unions. Well, that and their deep belief that business should be able to pay workers just as badly as they want to.
Our new Gov wants to “fix” the state budget, so he’s brought in Charlie Arlinghaus of the Koch-funded Josiah Bartlett Center. Arlinghaus is going to find all the “pork.” It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious. The voter fraud crowd wails about how voter affidavits aren’t investigated quickly, while failing to acknowledge that they underfund the state agency that is in charge of doing the work. Giving the Koch brothers more influence over our state government spending will ensure that not only will we continue to have the 11th worst infrastructure in the United States; we’ll climb higher on the list.
Sununu also wants to cut business taxes, because that will “send the message that New Hampshire is open for business.” It’s uncertain who will be hearing that siren call — but if they do, they may decide that our utility costs, crumbling infrastructure, limited telecommunications options, property taxes and failure to invest in higher education may not be what they’re looking for. One thing you can count on though, if all the business tax cuts are enacted, your property taxes will be going up. The money to run the state (even to run it as if it were going out of business) does have to come from somewhere, and that somewhere is your property. Other states have income and sales taxes. New Hampshire has you, the property owner. As businesses pay less and less of their fair share, you’ll be picking up the slack. Live free or die — and be sure to keep voting for the pledge takers.
Sununu wants to ensure that Medicaid beneficiaries work if they are able. I’m guessing that what he meant by that was the New Hampshire Health Protection Program, which is the New Hampshire version of expanded Medicaid. Most of the people who are enrolled in the NHPP are low-wage workers — heck, some of them probably work at Waterville Valley. They already are working. The GOP is desperate to convince us that these folks are milking the system somehow to get health care benefits. Thing is — the NHPP doesn’t pay the rent, buy the groceries or put gas in the car. The people who make these claims either don’t understand how this works, or they don’t care, because it’s easier to get people all jacked up by lying to them. There are work requirements for food-stamp recipients, by the way. You never hear about that, do you?
In this way, when the Legislature votes next year (and it will) to end the NHPP, if they’ve told enough big lies, they’ll still get re-elected. Even when 40,000 low-wage workers lose their health insurance.
None of this will help New Hampshire’s stagnant economy. As long as the state is stuck in reverse, there’s no hope of moving into the future.
Susan Bruce is a writer and talk radio personality on “The Attitude with Arnie Arnesen” on WNHN-FM. She lives in Concord. Visit her blog at susanthebruce.blogspot.com or find the broadcast at www.wnhnfm.org.
- Category: Columns