Speaker Jasper not to blame

As Democratic legislators, we had been notified last Wednesday that if the Right to Work legislation failed, House Speaker Shawn Jasper was going to be thrown under the bus.

Well, Jennifer Horn, that did not take long at all. If you must assign blame then I suggest you "throw" it where it belongs.

Gov. Chris Sununu made Right to Work the centerpiece of his campaign. He took enormous amounts from The Right to Work Coalition from Virginia. He invited these people into our state. This group peddles the same legislation to every state it can. This legislation is not consistent with New Hampshire values and has previously been defeated 38 times in the New Hampshire Legislature.

Gov. Sununu, in his warm and lovely inaugural address, outlined a bright hope and aggressive agenda to address the concerns of the state of New Hampshire. These included the opioid crisis, high energy costs, the flight of the young adults from the state, full-day kindergarten, healthcare, and of course making New Hampshire a Right to Work state. The governor said he would work in a bipartisan way and that we would all work together to solve the state’s issues.

The governor, promptly in lockstep with the Trump administration in Washington, D.C., nominated Frank Edelblut for commisioner of the state’s Department of Education. Now we have our very own Betsy DeVos. In response to Trump’s call of massive voter fraud in New Hampshire, the governor has sanctioned many bills that will severely limit voter access during elections.

The Republican Party and the governor have put massive pressure on the Republican state representatives and the House leadership to deliver this bill to the governor to be signed. They have gone so far as to publicly threaten them with lack of party support and financial support if they voted against this bill. The pressure on the Speaker and Republican representatives was unrelenting.

There are times and issues that transcend party loyalty. This was one of them. This was a strong bipartisan decision, led by courageous Republican Representatives who put the state of New Hampshire before party loyalty thereby rubuking big money outside groups who want to destroy New Hampshire.

All of them are to be commended and not retaliated against. No, place the blame where it belongs. It belongs on the governor and the state Republican Party, who courted outside big money. This governor currently who is being groomed by the President to run for the U.S. Senate.

The New Hampshire Legislature, called the General Court, is a distinct branch of government. The governor may suggest, but not command. I publicly rebuke his complaints in Speaker Jasper’s committee assignments.

While the Speaker and I are from different parties, I admire his leadership. He twice has been elected to the position by a bipartisan vote. Sometimes he reminds me of a symphony conductor trying to have out-of-tune musical instruments play their best music. Speaker Jasper comes from a family line of honorable members of the General Court.

He is steeped in the legislative tradition and the history of the General Court. You can hear it in his voice when he leads freshmen legislators on tours of his office.

As he proudly showed us Daniel Webster’s musket that was stolen from the Statehouse and subsequently found in the Merrimack River and now is mounted in a glass case on the wall of his conference room, you know that this speaker lives and breathes the history of the New Hampshire General Court.

Speaker Jasper, while voting for the Right to Work legislation, removed himself from the speaker’s chair to vote with the body. He boldly said earlier in the week that Right to Work does not define a Republican.

He voted with the body of the Legislature in solidarity with the good strong and fiercely independent people of New Hampshire.

Catherine Sofikitis is a state representative from Nashua’s Ward 7.