Cannon fodder: No free ski passes
New Hampshire legislators have gone two years without the free Cannon Mountain lift tickets they used to get. Some of them have found inconvenient the ethics ruling that barred the free tickets. So naturally there is a bill in the House to restore the perk. It is as good an idea as snowboarding in a Speedo.
As the Josiah Bartlett Center's Grant Bosse first pointed out, Rep. Gary Coulomb, D-Berlin, has filed House Bill 514, which would let legislators accept free Cannon Mountain ski passes from the state parks and recreation director. Cannon is the state-operated ski slope located in Franconia Notch.
Legislative ethics rules bar lawmakers from receiving gifts worth more than $25. Cannon Mountain charges $47 for a half-day lift ticket and $70 for a full day. HB 514 would get around this obstacle by some rather obvious sleight of hand. The bill "exempts the receipt of ski passes for Cannon Mountain ski area by members of the general court from the definition of a gift."
If a ski resort owner gave legislators on key regulatory committees, such as Senate Commerce or House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services, free lift tickets, it would be an obvious violation of the ethics rules. Under HB 514, the state parks and recreation director could give members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees free ski passes, and that would be OK - even though those committee members play powerful roles in deciding how much state money Cannon Mountain receives from the taxpayers.
Some legislators say they need to visit Cannon to better understand how it operates. Fine, then arrange with the management for a tour. No legislator needs to ski the mountain for free to understand how it is run any more than a legislator needs to go on food stamps to understand how public assistance works. As Cannon receives direct state appropriations, any offer of free ski passes carries with it a potentially corrupting influence. The gift ban clearly should apply.
To improve the chance of seeing your comment posted here or published in the New Hampshire Union Leader:
- Identify yourself. Accounts using fake or incomplete names are suspended regardless of the quality of posts.
- Say something new, stay on topic, keep it short.
- Links to outside URLs are discouraged, if used they should be on topic.
- Avoid comments in bad taste, write well, avoid using all capital letters
- Don't cite facts about individuals or businesses without providing a means to verify the claim
- If you see an objectionable comment please click the "Report Abuse" button and be sure to tell us why.
Note: Comments are the opinion of the respective poster and not of the publisher.
This is another example that any power government is given will be diverted (corrupted) toward any goal thought desirable, including lining the pockets of the lawmakers themselves, just like free passage through the toll booths. If it is not a career-ender to be this bill's sponsor, the ethics rule against taking bribes should be added to the state constitution--which should also enable the courts to strike down a law that fakes reality, by decreeing that a gift is not a gift. (This is the same as telling drivers that non-consensual searches are "implied consent.") The Democratic legislature, on many fronts, is giving the lie to the story of the "extreme" Republicans--the story they used to wrest power away from them.
February 13, 2013 6:49 am
Peter Hudson said:
You folks can pay, just like the rest of us. Are you listening Gary...?
February 13, 2013 9:33 am
Chris Kofer said:
How about including a couple hundred bucks of vouchers for any state facility (park, ski area, whatever) as compensation for their duties?
February 13, 2013 9:42 am
Ron Remillard said:
They are already compensated for their time and they are free to spend that money at any ski resort that they wish.
February 13, 2013 9:52 am
Steve Lindsey said:
Reminds me somewhat of the free rail passes the old B & M Railroad gave out to legislators which helped them maintain their monopoly with little interference from the state back in the late 1800s. I'm ashamed the sponsor of the bill is a Democrat.---SWL
February 13, 2013 11:11 am
Dave Bigelow said:
If the fools in the NH General Court are going to pass this why stop there? Why not simply pass a bill that lets them accept money from companies and people who want laws passed in their favor and favors from the legislators and exempt that money from the definition of a bribe. It would be just as honest and devious.
February 13, 2013 2:33 pm
SANDRA GOLDEN said:
The elitists are merely trying to legislate nice perks for themselves that the average citizen will never enjoy..... Clearly this is how they see themselves, well situated above the rest of us, and entitled to the world on a string!
February 13, 2013 6:38 pm
Gary Way said:
A lift ticket at Cannon costs $70. A Representative of the NH General Court earns $100 a year. A salary freeze has been in place since 1889. Instead of getting a "perk" reinstated, the legislature should vote itself a real salary, then they could afford to pay for the lift ticket. Or maybe the state should be required obey the law and pay a minimum wage... at a minimum.
February 19, 2013 8:56 pm
Post a comment
© Union Leader Corp.