As an elected Representative the people of my district vote every two years on whether or not they like what I do in Concord, and thus if I should continue to represent them. This is the essence of our form of government: accountability!
When laws or rules are created that govern the people of New Hampshire, based on our Constitution, is clear that ANY Law is to come from the General Court (the NH House and NH Senate). The legislators of the General Court are elected by the people of our great state and are held accountable to the people by way of the ballot.
Would it surprise you to know that there are people in our NH government who are not elected and are not beholden to the people of NH and yet can make rules that carry the weight of law? Rules that impact the people of our state, and simply bypass the restrictions within our Constitution.
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These people are bureaucrats and are appointed or hired. They were there long before I was elected by the people, they will be there long after I stop serving; they do not answer to “We the People.”
I have to tell you it surprised me! This is the exact danger of Big Government. Nameless faceless bureaucrats whose arrogance and unaccountability sidestep the Will of the People and, in turn, tell you what to do under penalty of law and none of them were elected to do so!
I would call that “Deep State.” The state has another name for them, executive state agencies.
There are numerous executive agencies well over 200 and include such well-known names as the DMV, Education Department, Liquor Commission, and the New Hampshire University System.
There are also lesser-known agencies like the Chiropractic Examiners board, Human Rights Commission, and Embalmers. They are able to make rules that carry the weight and force of law without going through the law-making process.
So how do they do it?
There are a couple of steps. First, there is an RSA 541-A called the Administrative Procedure Act. This gives these agencies the Power to make rules. [abdicating a constitutional obligation to legislate]
The next step is a visit to something called JLCAR. This is the “end-around” part and how the rules get “validated.” An agency makes up a rule, they then bring it to JLCAR which is an “oversight” committee made up of a few state Senators and Representatives who basically view what the agency tells them as “expert” testimony and then renders its decision of yes, no, or, needs work. This process effectively destroys the separation of powers provided for in our Constitution.
Why is this bad? Imagine for example the DMV decides that to get a driver’s license you would (hypothetically) need to provide proof of a Covid-19 Vaccination. These folks [who nobody elected] bring it to a committee that takes the proposed rule as expert testimony. [The committee by the way is appointed and in many cases by the same power structure that has control over the agency, to begin with] and boom new rule is in effect.
Now multiply that by over 200. What could possibly go wrong?!
What is the solution?
One that I like is to simply disallow the Executive Agencies to create rules that have the force of law. [Did you just hear Concord groan?]
This would force these agencies to interact with the people’s representatives in the General Court. They would have to go through the process prescribed by our Constitution, and thus be held accountable.
Committee work would increase but would bring closer scrutiny of regulations and rules and lawfully elected Representatives would have a better understanding of the agencies and the scope of their authority.
It would also cut down on the many frivolous bills introduced each year like “seat belts for dogs” and “banning plastic straws.” This all would mean fewer laws. Fewer laws likely mean less government. Less government brings less expense. Less expense means lower taxes and more freedom.
I for one, believe it is worth exploring.
Representative Gregg Hough
Belknap County District 3, Laconia
Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee