A first-term lawmaker’s post alleging the violent instincts of those supporting President Donald Trump touched off a firestorm of protest from New Hampshire conservatives last week.
State Rep. Deb Stevens, D-Nashua, posted the commentary Dec. 29 on her Ward 7 state representative Facebook page.
She since has taken down this post though many others condemning Trump remain.
“If Trump loses in 2020, these people who have been stockpiling ammo and amassing weaponry are planning to start a civil war. What would that be like? Are they planning a mass slaughter?” Stevens posted.
Later she went on to write, “These people are unstable, full of hate and bigotry and boldly threatening violence should the election produce defeat for Trump.”
Stevens later defended she wasn't critical of Trump.
"Nowhere in my political fb post do I declare, as you mistakenly stated, that I went on an "anti-trump rant." In fact, in my statement previewing the article I posted by the NYT, I specifically & deliberately made no reference whatsoever to Mr. Trump but rather to the fringe people making declarations to start a Civil War should Mr. Trump lose the election. That was what the NYT article was about," Stevens said.
She closed the post promoting the Red Flag bill that would allow judges to seize the guns of someone judged to be a violent danger to themselves or others.
"I'm concerned that anyone or any group, from any political party, any ethnicity and any socioeconomic category who is openly declaring the use of gun violence because of a potentially disappointing outcome is unstable & the threats of gun violence must be taken seriously," Stevens wrote defending her post.
Through the New Year’s holiday, Republicans and movement conservatives called upon House Speaker Steve Shurtleff, D-Penacook, to discipline Stevens, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee.
“Rep. Stevens’ comments are offensive, inflammatory and set a dangerous tone. Casting aspersions like this on decent, law abiding citizens is unbecoming of an elected official, and shows her bigoted views towards gun owners, Trump’s supporters, and Republicans alike,” said House Republican Leader Dick Hinch of Merrimack.
“The Speaker needs to publicly disavow these comments and tell us how he plans to discipline Rep. Stevens, as he has done to Republican members, over public comments. We all support freedom of speech, but as elected officials, there is also an expectation of decency and respect towards the citizens you represent. With these comments, Rep. Stevens has demonstrated she is unable to provide objective representation to the people of her district, and can’t be trusted to give a fair shake to citizens coming before her committee who may own guns, support the President, or any other condition she has expressed as being a danger.”
Many accused Shurtleff and Democratic leaders of a double standard, bouncing GOP members like Rep. John Burt, R-Goffstown, off his committee for inappropriate or harassing comments and behavior, yet failing to act in this case.
Former Rep. and former Manchester mayoral candidate Victoria Sullivan listed several House Democrats she accused of making past inappropriate comments.
“Reps Tamara Le, Deb Altschiller, Sherry Frost, Jan Schmidt and now Stevens are a disgrace. If these were Republican women (or men) there would be consequences,” Sullivan posted on Twitter.
Through a spokesman Friday, Shurtleff declined comment.
But in his weekly message to the House, Shurtleff gave an unusual scolding to members for abusing social media.
“Recently, there have been several very disappointing social media posts from members on both sides of the aisle of the New Hampshire House,” Shurtleff wrote. “I remind members that you should not be writing or saying anything in a public venue that you would not be proud to read from the well of the House, especially if you choose to use your legislative title.”
Revenues see an uptick
The official numbers aren’t out yet but December state revenues clearly were on the upswing.
According to internal reports, state taxes and fees totalled $206 million, which was $13.8 million over forecast.
This was one day before the end of the calendar month that traditionally brings in a flood of cash not yet recorded.
For example, these totals didn’t include the end of the year adjustments, which are mainly transfers from the state lottery and tobacco sales.
This comes right after November, a smaller month for revenue that still brought in $9.2 million over plan.
For December, the actual revenue coming in over plan could be as much as twice the earlier figure or closer to $25 million over forecast.
The state’s two main business taxes already had brought in $133 million or 10.5% above plan.
On Friday, Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes, D-Concord, stressed during a radio interview the budget was based on “conservative revenue estimates.”
A year ago, December brought in a much higher total of $241 million.
The 2020 session opens with its first House and Senate sessions — the Senate Wednesday and the House on Wednesday and Thursday.
The goal is to start slogging through the roughly 180 bills left over from the 2019 session.
House rules require all of them to be acted upon by the first three session days, though that deadline can be pushed off merely by a majority vote.
Shurtleff told House members to plan for another session on Jan. 16.
The date of Feb. 6 was also set for Gov. Chris Sununu to give his State of the State speech to the Legislature.
The House and Senate leaders have agreed on broad deadlines.
March 26 is the crossover date when all bills have to have been sent from one branch to the other.
The last day to act on 2020 bills is June 4.
Moms’ nursing pod in State House
House and Senate leaders announced the opening of a dedicated nursing pod in the Legislative Office Building.
“While the State House has had a designated lactation space for almost a year, this dedicated lactation pod will give our employees, elected officials, and visitors a quiet, private, and sanitary place to express milk in the Legislative Office Building,” Senate President Donna Soucy, D-Manchester, and Shurtleff said in a joint statement.
“We’re proud to take this next important step by supporting nursing mothers at the State House complex.”
CAFR is done
The state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for the year that ended last June 30 is out.
“Use one-time revenue for one-time expenses,” Gov. Chris Sununu wrote in the opening of the 168-page report.
Sununu hailed the final budget deal in his opening.
“While the final budget is a compromise, it was struck without compromising our state’s finances,” Sununu wrote.
“It is a win for the citizens and taxpayers of New Hampshire.”
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Lou D’Allesandro, D-Manchester, said the cupboard from the past fiscal year is about bare.
“My count had us with a surplus left of only $625,000 and we spent half of that at the last fiscal committee,” D’Allesandro said.
Some Senate Democrats may try to overturn committee recommendations to spend more money in bills that would boost the property tax refund program (SB 95) and remove lead from water pipes in public schools (SB 171).
“I like those bills too but we can’t spend what we don’t have,” D’Allesandro said.
Competitive council primary coming up
The race to replace outgoing Executive Councilor Russell Prescott, R-Kingston, got even more interesting with confirmation of a Democratic primary last week.
Ex-State Rep. Mindy Messmer, an environmental activist leader from Rye, was already running hard.
Last week, five-term State Rep. Patty Lovejoy, D-Stratham, got into the race.
She chairs a subcommittee of the House Finance Committee.
“My legislative background of serving in leadership roles on both the House Finance and Ways & Means legislative committees has given me a solid understanding of the state agencies that are the main focus of the work of the Executive Council,” Lovejoy said.
Businessman and 2018 Republican congressional candidate Bruce Crochetiere has said he may seek the GOP nomination and some are urging three-term Sen. Regina Birdsell, R-Hampstead, to get in as well.
The GOP has a solid registration in this Third District seat that Sununu represented before being elected governor.