Susan Bruce: Nipples and Nonsense
It’s the start of the new year, and that means that the Legislature will be back in session! The fun has already begun, with some of our N.H. Republicans covering our state with glory in the national media.
You may read that a couple of male legislators made boobs of themselves over the horrifying thought of being subjected to the view of a female nipple. It seems that State Rep. Josh Moore was so incensed at the idea, that he told a female state rep that any woman who was putting her nipple on view deserved to have it stared at or grabbed. This is especially fun because Josh is Ted Cruz’s “faith-based outreach” director in New Hampshire. (Be sure to ask Josh or Ted whose nipple Jesus would grab.) The other offender was Rep. Al Baldasaro, who also made crude remarks, but stopped short of justifying assault.
This all came about because last summer some women staged a “free the nipple” topless protest at Hampton Beach. This apparently was too much for the Patriarchal Police, so a trio of male legislators filed a bill (HB 1525) to define the circumstances that comprise indecent exposure and lewdness.
New Hampshire has some serious problems. We have the 11th worst infrastructure in the United States. Our roads, bridges, dams, and water systems are in serious need of repair. We need telecommunications infrastructure. Young people are leaving the state in droves, because there are no jobs and no affordable housing. New Hampshire invests less than any other state does in higher education, so our college students have a tremendous debt load. We’re unwilling to raise sufficient funds to run the state as if it were a going concern, so all state agencies are insufficiently funded and don’t run properly. Our property taxes are some of the highest in the nation, and prevent young people from buying houses, and force old people to sell theirs.
The response of our Legislature to the very serious problems our state faces? Nipples. Nonsense.
There are eight bills attempting to eliminate abortion. Republican men may not know diddly about planning for the future, but one thing they do know is that women can’t be trusted with their own bodies. There are 11 gun bills. There’s a constitutional amendment to try to ensure college students can’t vote here. There’s a bill to require TANF recipients to be drug tested, another to dictate where SNAP benefits can be spent, and a resolution to encourage the governor and executive council to open their meetings with a prayer. Yeah, that’ll help. The Legislature opens every session with a prayer, then they go on to do the best they can to ensure that the state’s poverty rate continues to rise.
Some of the bills are very familiar. Our legislators are not deterred by bills that fail to pass for decades – they just keep filing. There’s the usual attempt at defining “domicile” in ways that are aimed at preventing voting as opposed to encouraging it, this time in the form of a proposed amendment to our state Constitution. Another constitutional amendment would require a 3/5 vote in the House to override any veto. We’ve heard these before.
HB 1629 would disqualify members of foreign terrorist groups from receiving public assistance. Is there a box that folks check off (yes or no) to notify the state that they’re members of a terrorist organization?
HB 1542 would require drug testing of people receiving TANF benefits. This is one of Rep. Don Leeman’s favorite hobbyhorses, brought back again. Kansas spent $40,000 on drug testing TANF recipients and got 11 positive test results. Mississippi spent $5,290 and got two positive test results. In a state that can’t afford to fix bridges, this seems like a bizarre use of funds, but hey, those poor folks aren’t going to demonize themselves.
HB 1115 stipulates that New Hampshire residents would only be required to obey our own state and federal laws. The laws of other states wouldn’t apply to us. This bill is sponsored by Rep. Frank Edelblut, a Republican who wants to be our governor.
HB 1128 would designate the second week of September as Patriot Week. Because legislating patriotism makes it happen!
House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan is the lead sponsor of HB 1668, a bill that would create a registry for people convicted of heroin-related offenses and require the registration of those offenders. New Hampshire offers very little in the way of treatment for addicts. The GOP is determined to eliminate the N.H. Health Protection Program, (aka expanded Medicaid) which enables 40,000 low wage New Hampshire workers to access health insurance that they wouldn’t have otherwise. Insurance that covers treatment for addiction. Offering young people a future might be more helpful, (affordable education, good jobs, home ownership) but we’re not about to do that — so the only thing left is trying to prosecute our way out of a heroin epidemic. That it hasn’t worked yet is not a consideration.
Coming to us from the small gummint crowd is HB 1596, a bill aimed at changing the paperwork requirements for marriage. Reps. Daniel Itse, J.R. Hoell, Gregory Hill, and Paul Ingbretson do not believe that the state should license anything, so they want to go forward into the past to the way things used to be, with couples filing a certificate of intent to marry, and then a certificate of marriage, which gives interested parties the opportunity to object to the marriage. I’m not making that up. It’s in the text. The text also only refers to couples that are comprised of a bride and a groom. It’s nice to see the same guys who moan and wail about gummint interference working hard to interfere in the personal lives of New Hampshire residents. Bravo, libetea dudes!
You can check out all 812 potential bills filed thus far at www.gencourt.state.nh.us . On the right side of the page, you’ll see the section labeled “State Legislation Dashboard” where you can find all bills — the good, the bad, and the peculiar. Presidential primaries generate a lot of heat and noise, but what happens on the state level has the greatest impact on our lives. Make it your New Year’s resolution to pay more attention.
Susan Bruce is a writer and activist who lives in the Mount Washington Valley. Visit her blog at susanthebruce.blogspot.com.