When Gov. Maggie Hassan announced that she would veto a proposed beer-tax increase, she was consciously positioning herself to the right of her party's leftist fringe. Or to look at it another way, she was stiff-arming Cheshire County.
On Wednesday the House voted 308-35 against House Bill 168, the beer tax bill. That is a walloping. A bill that gets defeated by a ratio of almost 10-1, drawing the support of not even 10 percent of the House, ought to embarrass its sponsor. Even Congress, with a 14 percent approval rating, is more popular.
The bill's sponsor was Rep. Charles Weed, D-Keene. He is not an outlier. Five of seven representatives from Keene, and more than half of Cheshire County's entire House delegation, voted for the bill.
The two Keene representatives who voted against raising the beer tax were Reps. Delmar Burridge and Cynthia Chase. Readers might recall that Chase recently got in hot water for stating that legislators should discourage Free Staters from moving to New Hampshire by eliminating the freedoms they come here to find. Burridge is the sponsor of a bill to give counties the power to impose income taxes.
For some perspective, 71 percent of Keene's representatives voted for this bill, but not a single representative from liberal Hanover did. Geographically, Keene is to the right of Vermont. Politically, we are not so sure anymore.