House Democratic Leader Comments on Vindictive Actions by Speaker Jasper

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Last night, House Democratic leadership was informed that Speaker Shawn Jasper has chosen to assign the Democratic members who spoke in favor of retaining the Children and Family Law Committee during the January 4, 2017 House Session to serve on that committee.  These appointments, which include moving a member who had already been appointed to a leadership position in her previously-assigned committee, were made with no consent of Democratic leadership as is longstanding House tradition.  After being informed of the Speaker’s decision, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement:

“This decision by Speaker Jasper is reminiscent of the vindictive, retaliatory manner in which Bill O’Brien ran the House during his term as Speaker.  Each of the 400 House members has an equal right to participate in House debate, and no member should ever feel that they will be retaliated against for exercising that right.”

“The debate on eliminating the Children and Family Law Committee, which was nonpartisan and based completely on how children’s issues would be affected, is the type of debate that should be celebrated in the House.  For the Speaker to respond to the outcome of that debate by breaking House tradition and taking vindictive actions against the minority party casts a dark cloud over the House as we set out to begin our work this term.”

“Over the last two years, I have had a good working relationship with Speaker Jasper.  His decision to dictate the committee assignments of minority members in retaliation for comments in a floor debate is completely unprecedented, and threatens the House’s ability to work in the bipartisan way that Granite Staters expect.”

“House Democrats make no apology for representing our constituents and protecting the children of our state, and we will not be intimidated into backing down.  For Speaker Jasper to make this decision within hours of Governor Sununu calling for bipartisanship in his Inaugural address is a sad rebuke of the Governor’s call.”

“The Democratic members appointed to Children and Family Law are extremely qualified and will do an excellent job representing children’s issues on that committee.  However, the decision to remove only senior Democratic members from their previously-assigned committees while primarily appointing first-term Republicans indicates that the committee assignments were a deliberate attempt to scapegoat Democratic members who exercised their right to speak.”


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