EAST DERRY, N.H.—The N.H. House of Representatives this week took the first step toward rebuilding New Hampshire by passing a bill that would discourage executive branch officials from threatening businesses for simply trying to serve their customers.
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The bill, HB 63, which passed the House by a vote of 188-169, would reverse violations of the governor’s emergency orders, annul arrests or criminal convictions for violating emergency orders, restore licenses revoked for violating the governor’s emergency orders, and refund fines paid for violating the governor’s emergency orders, effectively restoring the rule of law and recognizing that the governor does not have the authority to create state policy using emergency orders.
“I’m encouraged that the New Hampshire House has publicly established a policy position that the governor does not have the power to pass laws, enforce them, and adjudicate them, which is what the king our founding fathers threw off once claimed the ability to do,” said Andrew J. Manuse, chairman of RebuildNH. “It is the Legislature alone that passes laws, and the governor ought to take the cue and immediately rescind the many emergency orders he’s enacted by fiat which pretend under the color of law to require businesses and individuals act in a certain way because he has declared a State of Emergency. The chief executive only has the power to enforce the laws duly passed by the Legislature.”
In a laughable statement about HB 63 that is clearly based in delusion, Gov. Chris Sununu told WMUR: “We can’t claim to support law and order, then incentivize law-breaking and reward those who do not follow the rules.” By making this statement, the governor mistakenly believes that his emergency orders are “laws,” when it fact, the Constitution is quite clear that only the Legislature may enact or suspend laws in our Republic, and even the Legislature has no power to suspend the Constitution. While emergency powers statutes do give the governor the power during a State of Emergency to suspend rules and regulations, which are under executive branch purview, these same statutes do not give the governor authority to suspend laws or the Constitution, two things Sununu has claimed the ability to do. “As a matter of fact, it is Gov. Sununu who is claiming to support law and order while practicing lawlessness,” Manuse said.
“The governor is mistaken about the process of lawmaking,” said Melissa Blasek, executive director of RebuildNH. “The legislature makes the laws. It is the governor’s job to follow the laws the legislature makes; a process he has repeatedly violated during this state of emergency.”
Blasek, a state representative from Merrimack who is a co-sponsor of HB 63, said business owners and other citizens who have been hurt by the governor’s abuses of power should start talking with their state senators about the rationale for passing the bill.
“Today was the first step to rebuilding our state,” Blasek said. “HB 63 will reverse and forgive all emergency order violations, essentially ending the ability to enforce the unscientific and unlawful emergency order mandates.”
Opponents of the HB 63 have argued that the bill is retroactively addressing matters of law that have already been decided, but the argument misses two key points: the governor doesn’t have the authority to enact laws and any fines or penalties based on emergency orders are invalid to begin with. The bill does not propose an “ex post facto” law; thus it doesn’t violate Part 1, Article 23 of the N.H. Constitution. Legally, it is a general amnesty law and completely Constitutional. Rather than oppose this just effort, naysayers should consider the underlying concern that the Legislature is having to right the wrongs of a rogue governor claiming power he doesn’t have.
RebuildNH, also known as ReopenNH, is a PAC made up of concerned individuals devoted to getting New Hampshire back to work through a restoration of balance and reason in state government.