Gov. Hassan’s Veto of SB324 throws New Hampshire communities, businesses, taxpayers and school children under the bus of her political ambitions. The following is offered in response to a Veto Message rife with legalese lingo and implied consequences which are simply not true.
There was absolutely nothing unconstitutional about SB324. It was a bi-partisan bill, supported by Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn and other Senate Democrats, proposing much-needed changes to RSA 121, which is very constitutional and has been since enacted in 1935 by legislators who recognized the danger of future federal excesses in taking NH lands.
SB324 was exhaustively reviewed by no less than 7 committees, subcommittees, and committees of conference in the NH House and Senate. It was drafted with the assistance of our Department of Resources and Economic Development. It did two things:
- It reestablished for the communities within the proposed boundaries of the White Mountain National Forest “due process” rights that had been stripped by legislation when the WMNF was established – rights enjoyed by every other community in New Hampshire. Since then, 19 small towns within the WMNF have ceased to exist.
- It provided a clear process for DRED to comply with RSA 121, ensuring that New Hampshire remains in the hands of the people, businesses and institutions that ARE New Hampshire, and that our forests and lands are not taken by federal agencies on missions that damage our economic interests.
As of this moment, 13% of New Hampshire lands are owned or controlled by the federal government. That is 1 out of every 8 acres in the state, and there are public plans for federal acquisitions of significantly more – tens of thousands of acres of land which provide jobs, support small businesses and comprise the tax base for small communities from the Canadian border to Massachusetts.
Our “bipartisan” Governor is supposed to protect the interests of the people and businesses of New Hampshire, not aid and abet the federal takeover of New Hampshire lands and resources by siding with special interests. By vetoing SB324, she chose to support those special interests – many of which profit handsomely from the transfer of private lands and easements to the federal government at the expense of our schools and infrastructure. After all, prospective US Senators not need concern themselves with such mundane things as local tax bases, funding public schools and paying for town budgets. Perhaps the Governor can conjure up some gambling revenues to make up for the continuing loss of local property taxes our towns and schools will have to absorb.