additional commentary by Timothy Horrigan; August 8, 2011 & October 8, 2011
The May 10, 2011 meeting of the House Rules Committee dealt mostly with requests to file petitions with the House Petitions and Redress Committee.
Five requests were made, and four were approved. Only one of these petitions was a "Mad Dad" petition: it was filed by Rep. Jeff Oligny on behalf of Dr. David D. Vandenberg. Two other petitions dealt with municipal taxes. The fourth one is interesting: Marie Miller is one of millions of citizens whose home has been foreclosed on, even though (as is often the case) the bank's documentation was grossly deficient. Ms. Miller's Petition #10 had its official First reading motion in September and will be heard later in the fall. Ms. Miller raises an issue of nationwide (worldwide, even) importance.
The Miller hearing on October 20 (1pm in the Legislative Office Building, room 303) may be turn out to be of great interest. The "M. Handibode" petition (actually on behalf of "Frank M. Handibode") has also had its First Reading motion, and is now Petition #9. The other two are still being worked on— or not worked on, as the case may be.
House Rules Committee
May 10, 2011
Rep. William L. O'Brien, Chair
Rep. Pamela Z. Tucker, Vice Chair
Rep. Kenneth L. Weyler
Rep. Peter L. Silva
Rep. Mary Jane Wallner
Rep. Terie Norelli
Rep. Paul Mirski (temporarily assigned to committee)
Rep. Dennis H. Fields (temporarily assigned to committee)
Rep. Gary L. Daniels (temporarily assigned to committee)
Rep. David J. Bettencourt
Rep. Gene G. Chandler
Rep. Stephen B. Stepanek
The meeting was called to order by Chairman O'Brien at approximately 11:05 a.m.
The committee proceeded to hear grievance petition requests, beginning with Rep. Daniel Itse, appearing for Rep. Timothy P. Comerford (on behalf of Marie Miller) with a grievance against a judge for allowing a home foreclosure to proceed without the necessary documentation proving ownership of the home in question. Rep. Norelli asked why this request couldn't wait until the beginning of the filing period, and Rep. Itse stated that it would carry more weight with a committee recommendation. Chairman
O'Brien asked if all judicial remedies had been exhausted. Rep. Itse said that the case had been brought before the Strafford County Superior Court, but he wasn't sure about an appeal to the Supreme Court. Rep. Weyler moved, seconded by Rep. Mirski, to allow the petition. The vote was 5-4 to allow.
Chairman O'Brien briefly recessed the petition hearing to allow Rep. Stephen Stepanek to request late drafting and introduction of a resolution affirming revenue estimates for fiscal years 2011, 2012, and 2013. Rep. Weyler moved to approve the request, seconded by Rep. Fields. The vote was unanimous.
Chairman O'Brien then resumed the hearing on grievance petition requests. Appearing next was Rep. Duffy Daugherty (on behalf of M. Handibode) with a grievance against the town of Hebron Board of Selectmen, Avitar Associates of New England, and the NH Board of Tax and Land Appeals regarding a faulty property assessment on the home of M. Handibode. Rep. Weyler asked if the matter went before the Superior Court. Rep. Dougherty responded that it did, and it also went before the Board of Tax and Land Appeals. Rep. Norelli asked if there was legislative authority to overturn the court and the board. Rep. Dougherty said there was in this case. Rep. Wallner asked why this had not been done earlier. Rep. Daugherty stated that he was not made aware of the problem until he became a legislator. In response to Rep. Wallner's question about waiting for the upcoming filing period, Rep. Dougherty said that the purpose was for redress and not for going through the long process to make a new law. Rep. Tucker moved to accept the request, seconded by Rep. Weyler. Rep. Norelli asked if they would be changing the standard for allowing legislation in after the deadline. Chairman O'Brien stated that petitions need to go forward. Today the committee would just be sending the petition to the Redress Committee. If legislation is found to be needed, it would come later. The motion to accept the petition passed 7-2.
Rep. Jeffrey Oligny appeared next (on behalf of Dr. David D. Vandenberg) with a grievance against a Superior Court justice allowing a guardian ad litem to move the court, failing to provide due process or findings of harm, and other complaints related to this case. Rep. Tucker asked what the proposed remedy would be. Rep. Oligny responded that there should be an investigation and then appropriate action to instruct the Attorney General to prosecute the guardian ad litem, for kidnapping, remove the guardian ad litem, and amend the statutes. Rep. Mirski asked if redress could find its own remedy, and Rep. Oligny responded that it could. Rep. Mirski moved to accept the petition, seconded by Rep. Tucker. Chairman O'Brien said that people lose cases every day, but there are increasing numbers of allegations of misconduct and lack of due process. We need to look into these cases. Rep. Oligny added that we need to separate being unhappy with an outcome or being denied due process. The committee then voted 7-2 to accept the petition.
Chairman O'Brien then called on Rep. Daniel Itse who was present to bring a grievance petition request (on behalf of John Valera, Ed Chamberlain and Ed Naile) against the Windsor Board of Selectmen and other officials for failure to collect property taxes and file required forms with the Department of Revenue Administration, against the Department of Revenue Administration for failure to compel Windsor to file required financial reports, and against the Attorney General for failing to prosecute Windsor officials for unaccounted-for town deposits and expenditures. Rep. Mirski asked if there were many individuals who were affected, and Rep. Itse said there were. Rep. Mirski stated that it might be found that aspects of the law need to be changed. It may be a systemic problem. Rep. Wallner asked if the Attorney General is still investigating this and if there were other processes ongoing. Rep. Itse responded that the Attorney General refuses to do anything and that there are no processes ongoing that he is aware of. Rep. Mirski moved to accept the grievance petition, seconded by Rep. Silva. The vote was 7-2 in favor.
Rep. Lars Christiansen appeared last with a grievance petition request (on behalf of Andrew P. Stachura) against a Brentwood Family Division judge for failing in his supervisory duties over a marital master and a guardian ad litem. Chairman O'Brien asked what went wrong to result in this grievance, and Rep. Christiansen responded that he was asked to bring this petition request, but wasn't involved in the case. Rep. Dennis Fields asked if complaints about the judge were made to the Judicial Conduct Committee. Rep. Christiansen did not know. Rep. Weyler moved, seconded by Rep. Mirski, to approve the petition. Rep. Tucker stated that she was concerned about the lack of facts. Chairman O'Brien and Rep. Fields agreed. Rep. Mirski said he appreciated the request but would like to see more information. The vote to approve failed, 2-7. Next, the minutes of the prior Rules Committee meeting of March 22, 2011, were approved.
Chairman O'Brien then called on Rep. Wallner, who reminded the committee to respect confidentiality in the process of hearing and reviewing petition requests.
The Chair asked if there was any other business to come before the committee.
Rep. Stephen J. Schmidt stated that he had been asked to submit a grievance petition request. Chairman O'Brien thanked him for his time and stated that since the request had not been brought early enough for the agenda prior to this meeting, he would need to bring it up another time.
Chairman O'Brien then adjourned the meeting at approximately 12:20 p.m.
Official Petitions & Redress committee page (not much to see here)