How to Live Freer in New Hampshire
By STEPHEN MOORE
With all eyes on Wisconsin this past week, overlooked has been the conservative policy changes that are moving ahead in New Hampshire. In recent days the New Hampshire House, where the GOP controls nearly three-quarters of the 400 seats, passed a bill to repeal the state cap-and-trade law that imposes a tax on energy use and a bill to make New Hampshire a right-to-work state.
Democratic Gov. John Lynch has vowed to veto both bills, but my sources in Concord say there’s a chance that the vetoes could be overridden. Meanwhile, Republicans are also set to pass a spending reduction bill with the kinds of public sector pension reforms that have incited protests from the labor unions in the Midwest.
New Hampshire has always been the island of liberty and low taxes surrounded by a sea of Northeastern-style socialism. It’s the only state in the region without an income tax or statewide sales tax, and per-capita spending is about half of what’s found in New York and New Jersey. Republicans won huge majorities in both houses in November after turning blue in 2008 and voting for President Obama.
If New Hampshire becomes a right-to-work state, it would be the only New England state that does not force workers to join a union and pay dues. The bill passed by 221-131 but still lacks the two-thirds majority that’s needed for a veto override. House Deputy Speaker Pamela Tucker said that becoming a right-to-work state “would help us become a haven for employers seeking a pro-business environment.” She added: “Freedom is a core New Hampshire belief, and freedom of association and choice is a fundamental right of every New Hampshire citizen.”
In 2008, New Hampshire joined something called the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a region-wide cap-and-trade system for state utilities. So far, it’s resulted in about $27 million in higher electric costs for consumers, and the environmental benefits have been dubious. “It does nothing to reduce greenhouse gases because jobs and businesses just move to other states,” says Corey Lewandowski, the New Hampshire director of Americans for Prosperity. His group is working to make New Hampshire the first state in the nation to repeal an existing global warming law. The repeal bill passed with a two-thirds majority, and the state Senate is expected to follow suit with the necessary margin to override a veto.