2011 Petitions to the New Hampshire House

Additional commentary by Timothy Horrigan
(member of the House Petitions & Redress Committee)

last revised November 20, 2012

Here is information on the thirteen petitions submitted to the New Hampshire House's new Petitions & Redress Committee during calendar year 2011.

The 2011 petitions are numbered #1 through #18. #11 was introduced on January 4, 2012. I don't know exactly what happened to Petitions #12, #15, #16 and/or #17.

Until the fall of 2011, these petitions were officially made available to the public (and to legislators, as well) only in hard copy and were not placed anywhere online. To get those documents online I had to scan them and run them through an OCR (optical recognition program) which was a pain in the petition, if you know what I mean. The resulting PDF files were about 20 times bigger than they needed to be.

I am (still, last I heard) a member of the committee, but these web pages and accompanying materials are strictly an unofficial effort. Any opinions are my own.

PDF files of these petitions: I originally had to rescan them from hard copies, so they looked bad and they were 10-20 times bigger than they need to be. I did manage to get searchable text into them, and they could be printed. I was later able to make better PDFs for all of them (except #1, #2 and #5.)

  1. Hudson School District

  2. Elena Katz & Arnold Grodman

  3. Michael Brewster

  4. Vincent Milano

  5. David Johnson

  6. Candy Knightly

  7. Denise-Marie McIntosh

  8. Greg and Sarah Clarkson

  9. Frank W. Handibode

  10. Marie Miller

  11. David Vandenberg (2012 petition)

  12. [none]

  13. Hope Nardone

  14. Jeannette Dionne

  15. [none]

  16. [none]

  17. [none]

  18. Jeffrey Frost

Procedural Rules

(as proposed by House staff on June 2, 2011)

New Hampshire House of Representatives

Redress of Grievances Committee


The duty of the Committee for Redress of Grievances is to consider petitions for the redress of grievances submitted to the House pursuant to Part I, Articles 31 and 32 of the New Hampshire Constitution. All petitions for redress of grievances to the House must be submitted by a member of the House, and clearly and succinctly state the grievance and a proposed legislative remedy. After hearing from the member sponsoring the petition, it shall be the duty of the committee chair to determine if any petition is the proper subject of a public hearing and to limit hearings as appropriate.

1. A citizen who has been aggrieved by a government entity may request a legislator to sponsor a petition for redress of grievance. The Sponsor must ascertain the following:

2. The legislative sponsor shall file a petition drafting request with the Office of Legislative Services which shall include:

3. The completed petition shall be reviewed for acceptance by the Chairman of the Redress of Grievances committee to insure that the petition meets the criteria. After bill deadlines, introduction must be authorized by the House Rules Committee.

4. Upon acceptance of the petition, the following shall occur:

5. The public hearings shall be convened by the chairman for the following purposes:

6. The committee shall hold an executive session to make the following recommendations to the House:

7. The committee is also responsible for furnishing committee findings/report to the full House; minority findings/report is also appropriate.

8. Appropriate remedies recommended by the committee and considered by the full House may include:

At some point, someone said something about the Redress Committee's work to the Legislative Ethics Committee. They issued a ruling (their first of the 2011-2012 biennium) on June 17th. It was a commonsense ruling— which frankly surprised me a little. We haven't been hearing much commonsense at the New Hampshire House these days.


The Legislative Ethics Committee has voted unanimously to issue the following interpretive ruling, which is printed below in its entirety.


(JUNE 17, 2011)

Obligations of Legislators in Connection with Proposed Petitions for the Redress of Grievances

            Questions have arisen regarding the obligations of legislators who receive requests from members of the public to present petitions for redress of grievances on their behalf.  Specifically, the questions are (1) Whether legislators are obliged to "present" (i.e sponsor) a petition simply at the request of a member of the public; and (2) Whether legislators are obliged to keep the content of a proposed petition confidential prior to its presentation. The Committee has reviewed applicable provisions of the New Hampshire Constitution, statutes, rules, and Ethics Guidelines governing the conduct of legislators in the performance of their duties as such, and interprets them as follows.

            1. Obligation to present a petition. No such governing provision requires a legislator to "present" a petition simply because the legislator was requested to do so by a member of the public. On the contrary, as with any matter a legislator may be asked to sponsor, legislators must be free to exercise their best judgment about sponsoring it. As Edmund Burke, a great English legislator of the 18th Century put it: "Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays, instead of serving you, if he sacrifices it to your opinion."

            2. Obligation to keep confidential the content of a proposed petition. No such governing provision requires a legislator to keep confidential the content of petitions or other legislation the legislator is asked to sponsor by a member of the public, prior to its presentation. In the absence of express agreement by the legislator to hold the information confidential, there is no reasonable expectation that the content of a proposed petition will remain confidential. On the contrary, as with other proposed legislation, legislators should be free to pursue appropriate due diligence to evaluate the merits of a proposal before sponsoring it, which may well involve consultation with third parties about the relevant facts and other considerations.

For the Committee,

Martin L. Gross


I will just mention at this point that I turned down one constituent's request for a petition— on the grounds that his argument didn't make much sense to me. He had one key allegation which was between 99% and 100% false: he alleged that the state's child support laws discriminated against men when they are in fact scrupulously gender-neutral. Another good reason for turning the petition request down was that my constituent blamed the family law system for some dreadful federal tax problems he was having. It turned out that he and his ex-wife were blatantly violating a basic (and not especially incomprehensible) rule regarding which parent gets the deduction after a divorce.

See Also:


The Forgotten Liars

2011 Session