From the March 2008 Idaho Observer:
Porcupines holding the line in NH
Leading by example, members of the Free State Project, who like being referred to as "porcupines," are moving to New Hampshire and are involving themselves in local and state politics. Voicing their opinions, they are teaching people about the principles of freedom that used to be part of our culture and are, slowly, affecting the political process. We are proud of what these guys are doing. They are proving the point that, if you want to live in freedom, you have to protect it by being involved in the political process and making sure that freedom is on the table as officials consider passage of the rules we are expected to live by.
Last month, IO Porcupine reporter Rich Angell of the Free State Project reported what transpired at a town meeting in the "Free Town" of Grafton, NH (Free State Project: Making a Difference, The IO, Feb., 2008). Angell reported that Grafton townfolk amended or otherwise dickered over several pro-liberty warrant articles to appear on the ballot on election day, March 11. Following is Angell’s update.
By Rich Angell
I am happy to report that several of the articles passed and that proposed budget increases—both in the town of Grafton and in the regional school district—were all but stopped in their tracks. Unfortunately, a couple of the town selectmen and budget committee positions were decided in favor of statists by as few as one vote. This underscores what a difference a few more hundred or thousand Free Staters, a.k.a. "Porcupines" have the potential to make in New Hampshire with just a handful more making a huge impact in the small town of Grafton. More experience, a few more Porcupines and smarter organization is sure to push the freedom fighters over the top next election cycle.
The Grafton County Jail
Another proposed boondoggle ($38 million) is a proposed state-of-the-art jail complete with a mental health facility. On February 11, the county delegation held a vote. The two-thirds majority vote needed fell short by one vote. That should have been the end of it, but the delegation had a short recess behind closed doors. After the secret meeting, Chairman Catherine Mullholland called for another vote, and the project passed.
In your town, they might have gotten away with it; however, a couple of Grafton libertarians, long time New Hampshirite John Babiarz and Porcupine Bob Hull were observing and filming. And they are well versed in the law. They filed a lawsuit on the grounds that this secret caucus failed to prepare and make available minutes as required by the Right-to-know law. The story made The Union Leader newspaper March 8. Hopefully, in a future update from the Shire, I’ll be able to report that the jail was stopped in its tracks.
Much work to do
While the Free State Project is definitely making a difference, there have been some setbacks since February. Perhaps the greatest disappointment was when the State Senate passed a bill that (assuming the governor signs it into law) will partially undo the good work that Porcupines accomplished in 2006, and which will require homeschooling parents to report the progress of their children to Big Brother. Following the same theme, a bill that would opt New Hampshire out of the No Child Left Behind Act, and a constitutional amendment that would have reaffirmed the rights of parents concerning the education and welfare of their children—both failed.
Not related to education, a bill was passed that will put an interest cap on companies (other than banks) that lend money to people in a pinch, and that will surely put predatory loan agencies out of business.
On the positive side, many bad bills have failed, including the creation of an income tax, the regulation of contractors (the big corporations would have loved this one), and the requirement that insurance companies cover hormone treatments for transsexuals.
There are key bills winding through the House at this writing, including the reduction of penalties for the possession of small amounts of marijuana (Rep. Catherine Mullholland will vote in favor of this), the centralization of education, and various regulations. One bill that is certain to fail is one that would ban the possession of firearms in the State House. And so far, at least half a dozen Porcupines are running for State Representative in the fall.
I am both frustrated and encouraged. I am frustrated because the statists are still advancing their agenda a little faster than we can stop them, even in the "Live Free or Die" State of New Hampshire. I am especially frustrated that many libertarians seem to think that living in a warmer climate is more important than securing the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our posterity.
On the other hand, I am encouraged because every week new Porcupines are trickling into New Hampshire, and we are gaining momentum. And most native New Hampshirites love us for it. What are you doing for liberty? If you want to be where the action is, consider joining the Free State Project. Check it out on line at www.freestateproject.org