FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 27, 2021
Freedom Caucus Tri-Chairs
House Freedom Caucus Foresees Senate Finance Committee
Amendments As Recipe For Committee Of Conference Disaster
CONCORD, N.H. — House Freedom Caucus members are deeply troubled by the Senate Finance Committee’s version of the next state budget, because the Senate Finance Committee has stripped out necessary State of Emergency reforms and lays the groundwork for a Committee of Conference failure.
Despite a stern warning by House Finance Committee Chair Ken Weyler, R-Kingston, about the cruciality of certain policy decisions being included in the proposed 2022-23 budget, the Senate chose to strip out necessary emergency powers reforms and other measures needed to ensure passage through the House.
When the most pro-liberty Budget since 2011 passed the NH House, important policy elements were included in the budget trailer bill to address required emergency powers reforms. The language was included in the budget specifically to ensure that it would become law above the governor’s potential objections to restore a balance of powers to the New Hampshire government and add additional checks to the executive branch’s authority during a State of Emergency.
Yesterday, the Senate Finance Committee removed these provisions from the budget, which has the potential to create an impasse with the House position if it is not resolved in a Committee of Conference.
New Hampshire has been in a continuous State-of-Emergency for 63 weeks; that’s almost 450 days with one branch of Government making all the decisions for the state, including important spending decisions.
“With an active state of emergency in existence, we don’t have a budget,” said Rep. Andrew Prout (R-Hudson).
“When the Governor has unilateral authority to transfer funds outside of the normal process and without Fiscal Committee oversight, the budget that the Legislature is busy working on is nothing more than mere suggestions.”
Last month, the NH Department of Administrative Services reported revenues were almost $250 million greater than planned. With adjacent states like Massachusetts already declaring that the State of Emergency is going to end in less than three weeks, the N.H. Legislature needs to act to put an end to this situation that has clearly got out of hand.
“We are no longer in a State-of-Emergency” Rep. Kevin Verville (R-Deerfield) “The only group that the legislature is fooling is themselves if after 63 weeks of authoritarian rule, they think we should continue this for another 2 years. It is time to safeguard our citizens, uphold the NH Constitution, and make sure that we never go down this path again.”
“Shocked. The only word I can use is shocked” said Rep. David Binford (R-Bath), regarding the underhandedness of the NH Senate. “At 6 p.m. on Tuesday night, the Senate created an addendum calendar (25A) for this week with a list of 30 bills that were decided by various Senate committees this week.”
“These are not bills that were voted on last week, these are bills that were decided less than 48 hours before the full Senate acts today,” he added. “The public was denied their right to respond to the committee decisions. What ever happened to the lofty concept of transparency? Is it just a word that makes people feel good, or do we actually mean it?”
The New Hampshire House Freedom Caucus is a grassroots organization consisting of legislators and private citizens, who believe in personal liberty and the traditional conservative “Yankee” values that made New Hampshire a great place to live.