Steve Winter
State Representative District 3

July 4, 2012
"Foose Attack on the Speaker"

Steven Winter represents the towns of Newbury and Sutton, Merrimack District 3, in the NH House of Representatives.

Representative Winter is a member of the House Executive Department & Administration  Committee, The Special Committee on Public Employee Pension Reform and the Joint Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules (JLCAR).


"Collecting more taxes than is absolutely necessary is legalized robbery." 
- President Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)


My Democratic colleague from New London wrote a column last week that again took a gratuitous slap at House Speaker Bill O’Brien. This is not unexpected in an election year. Those in the minority have taken great exception to the accomplishments of this current legislature and hope that the actions of the Speaker will be reason enough to turn the Republican majority out.

My colleague says that he is "frightened that, in the last budget cycle, over 250 ‘Enablers’ (Republican House members) supported a budget based on the simplistic notion that financial management only focuses on reducing expenses."

It sounds very much like the Washington argument where Democrats want new revenue to be part of the debt solution. Republicans in Washington, of course, disagree. We here in New Hampshire disagreed also. The voters told us to "Stop the Spending." We responded by cutting the budget more than 10% from the previous biennium without new or increased taxes. That is what the voters demanded and that is what we produced.

My colleague goes on to paint the Speaker as a dictatorial and abusive leader. I believe that in order to accomplish the major goals of his administration, O’Brien needed to be a stern leader in the conduct of legislative affairs.

After concluding the budget process, the next major goal was to take on the state’s unions. Issues such as pension reform and right to work legislation were at the forefront and a confrontation was fashioned by the unions during floor debates on these issues. At one point, O’Brien cleared the gallery and was roundly criticized for doing so. Part 2, Article 22 of our constitution says that the Speaker has the authority "to punish … every person who shall be guilty of disrespect to the House … by obstructing its deliberations." Clearly, the union demonstrations were obstructing deliberations and needed to be curtailed.

During this biennium a couple of committee chairs were replaced for not supporting leadership on various issues. Committee chairs are part of the leadership team. Is it not reasonable to expect those chairs to be supportive of the leadership positions? I am not on the leadership team but I hear from those that are that they can vote however they wish on every issue. The Speaker’s only restriction is that these leadership members not speak against a leadership position on the floor to the body at large. I don’t believe that to be an unreasonable expectation.

Two Republican members have an animus toward the Speaker and have been disruptive throughout the biennium. The Speaker has called them to order many times. The patience of the Speaker and the full House has been strained by their antics. One was temporarily ejected from the House recently..

I expect O’Brien to be re-elected to the House and his Speakership. If not, the next logical choice would be former Speaker Gene Chandler. Both are friends of mine that I could support. Currently Chandler supports O’Brien.

Steve Winter, Representative, Merrimack District 3
Newbury and Sutton, New Hampshire

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