For those of you who were not here last year, or just not paying attention, the House of Representatives of the state of New Hampshire, led by Speaker Bill O’Brien, in the wake of big electoral victories based off of the economy, set forth on a crusade to change many of the policies in the state.
The only problem with this strategy was that many of these issues had nothing to do with the economy and sparked a wave of dissatisfaction with voters across the state who were already fed up with the partisan nature of the prior two years and did not elect the speaker’s house to focus on the issues that they were.
Over the course of a few short months, they focused on eliminating gay marriage, getting rid of student votes in college towns, and ending the right of unions to collectively bargain for benefits.
Despite the fact that all but the latter, which was vetoed, were voted down, they have decided to focus on them once again, beginning after the New Year.
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When students return next semester, Speaker O’Brien, is poised to push through bills that will without a doubt affect students and the landscape of New Hampshire politics before November 2012.
We can argue about why he is doing this or we can look at the issues being discussed and how they will not only affect students, but the state of New Hampshire as a whole.
This past year should have taught the House about what New Hampshire residents truly value; instead they are going to go ahead with policies that are not only unpopular, but unnecessary, as if they have learned nothing at all.
The big issues that will affect students that are poised to be discussed are the issues of student voting, guns in public spaces, and gay marriage.
The student vote issue, despite not being able to make it even out of committee, is still popular amongst conservatives who are tired of having to deal with voters who they believe have no stake in the process.
The right to carry issue will surely affect campuses if passed, as it will make it legal to carry a weapon in public buildings, including at Keene State.
When polled about the issue this past winter, students overwhelmingly voiced opposition to the measure and said it would make them feel less safe.
Finally the issue of the legality of gay marriage will be discussed.
This was a hot button issue on campus last year and hundreds of students, from across the ideological spectrum, went to Concord to voice their opposition to the bill. These three bills directly affect or are very important to students and will surely be discussed in depth over the next six months.
The student vote issue was hotly discussed on campus last semester and students came out in the dozens to protest it in Concord.
The bill would make it no longer legal for college students to vote in their college towns, despite it being the constitutional place they live, since they spend at least 60% of their time there. The bill did not make it out of committee this past winter, thanks to the fact that many representatives did not see it as constitutional.
That being said, the speaker as recently as this past month, said he was set on bringing the issue up again. He was quoted as saying last semester that students tend to vote liberal and are not educated on the issues, and thus strongly believes that the vote does not belong to us. Despite a lack of real voter fraud ever being recorded on the part of student voting, the house will once again spend its time debating this issue.
The issue of the right to carry a weapon in public places was partially passed this past year, as it is now legal to carry a firearm in the state house.
Several representatives want to extend that right to all public intuitions and buildings, which would include KSC. Students would be allowed to not only have guns in their dorm rooms but on campus, despite the fact that even Campus Safety does not currently have firearms.
Students have voiced their concern with the issue and it is certainly something that needs to be watched.
The marriage issue hit home for a lot of students last semester and will certainly hit home again. All of these issues directly affect our rights, and in some cases our safety.
Although I have my own opinions on these issues, we can all agree that these issues have nothing to do with the economy and are not dealing with the issues with which the politicians promised to deal. In my mind, that will always be wrong.
Jordan Posner can be contacted at email@example.com