WHAT IS a Free Stater? A person who pledges to “exert the fullest practical effort toward the creation of a society in which the maximum role of civil government is the protection of individuals’ life, liberty, and property” and who is willing to move to New Hampshire to do so. In other words, someone who agrees with the Declaration of Independence that the role of government is to protect individual rights.
Why New Hampshire? Because for years New Hampshire’s been the freest state in the country. We’re the only state without an adult seat belt law, and one of only three without motorcycle helmet laws (and we have the fifth-lowest highway fatality rate!).
We have no general sales tax, and no tax on earned income or capital gains. New Hampshire has the largest, most representative and lowest-paid Legislature in the country. We have only 38 volumes of law, compared to 53 in Maine, 78 in Massachusetts and 329 in New York.
Carol and I took that pledge to work towards a free society 10 years ago and moved here shortly thereafter. We ended up in the wonderful town of Epsom, where we built our dream house. In that period, we helped finance more than a dozen startup companies in New Hampshire and elsewhere in New England, including the very successful Murphy’s Taproom in Manchester.
After serving on some municipal boards, Carol and I have had the honor of representing our community in the State House, Carol for three terms and me for two. By any measure, we are among the most conservative and most libertarian representatives. Those terms are not mutually exclusive.
But for some inexplicable reason, Fergus Cullen (as expressed in an editorial for the Union Leader last week) finds us and our Free State colleagues in the House more disturbing than the 390 others, even though we’re not the ones who brought you expanded Medicaid, the new gas tax, the most expensive government worker health plan in the country, a pension system that is $5 billion in debt, crushing business taxes and the charter school moratorium.
What have Free Staters in the Legislature done for (to?) you? When going through the list of enacted bills that were sponsored by Free Staters, I was struck by both how long it is (dozens), and how ordinary it is. They’re things that you’d expect any legislator to do for their aggreived constituents, or just simple improvements.
Some examples: letting restaurants buy chicken and rabbit from small farmers, annual truck inspections instead of every six months, no restrictions on knives, simplified and/or lower licensing fees for more than a dozen professions, no national ID card, the ability to pick up controlled drug prescriptions for others and quick permitting for septic system repair.
New Hampshire is a very special place. When we first moved here, we trained to be Granite State Ambassadors, the volunteers who man the welcome centers at the airport, tourist stops and events. One of the things they taught us is that there are two kinds of Granite Staters: the lucky and the smart. The lucky were born here, and the smart moved here. Free Staters shouldn’t have to apologize for being smart.
Even if you aren’t quite as all-in as the second half of our state motto, if you would like to live a little more free, we’re going to need a lot more Free Staters and like-minded politicians in Concord.
Rep. Dan McGuire is a Republican from Epsom.