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New Hampshire, Malheur & the California Coastal Commission

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New Hampshire:  Legislative Intent issues permeate our modern political landscape.  While this morning, everyone else is talking about winners, losers, polls and “what’s next,” we have turned to an important New Hampshire statute in this news story: RSA 653:9.

RSA 653:9 provides:

The presidential primary election shall be held on the second Tuesday in March or on a date selected by the secretary of state which is 7 days or more immediately preceding the date on which any other state shall hold a similar election, whichever is earlier, of each year when a president of the United States is to be elected or the year previous. Said primary shall be held in connection with the regular March town meeting or election or, if held on any other day, at a special election called by the secretary of state for that purpose. The purpose of this section is to protect the tradition of the New Hampshire first-in-the-nation presidential primary. 

Because several other states have moved up their primary elections to increase their relevance, New Hampshire’s Secretary of State has adjusted the presidential primary regularly over the past several decades.  Back in 2008, the primary was held on January 8th! 

While we can conjecture that RSA 653:9 was enacted in the 1970s in order to provide flexibility to preserve the “first-in-the-nation presidential primary,” the legislative history likely contains additional information on the history behind this statute.

Malheur Occupation: Although the nation’s attention has shifted away from the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, there are still a few lingering militants.  While they ponder their next steps, Oregon U.S. Representative Earl Blumenauer has introduced a bill in Congress that would require the Federal Government to reimburse state and local agencies for events like this occupation on federal land.  The law would also allow the Attorney General to sue the occupiers to recover. 

Representative Blumenauer introduced H.R. 4431 on February 2, 2016, and the next day, his remarks on the House floor included:  

    … it is not just enough to enforce the law. We should recover damages from lawbreakers who tear up the landscape, degrade wildlife habitat, and destroy property.


    I have introduced legislation that would allow the Federal Government--in fact, not allow, but require the Federal Government--to make payments to State and local governments that have had to incur significant costs because of threats to Federal property. H.R. 4431 would reimburse State and local officials for these extraordinary costs incurred due to threats to Federal property.


      When we talk in trillions here in Washington, D.C., maybe talk of $100,000 here or $1 million there doesn't sound like very much.


      To the State of Oregon it matters. And, for this tiny community, a few hundred thousand dollars has a significant impact on the local taxpayer and their services. They shouldn't be made to pay the bill.   I'm also working with Congressman Thompson, to close a loophole that would not allow us to recover for damages to Federal facilities by these lawbreakers, this  legislation would allow the Federal Government to go back to recover its costs from people who willfully inflict this damage.

The Fate of the Coastal Commission:  Today, the California Coastal Commission is meeting in Morro Bay and their agenda includes whether or not to fire their executive director, Charles Lester.  Lester has headed the Commission since 2011, after being selected by his predecessor, Peter Douglas, who headed the agency for more than 25 years.  Supporters of Lester claim that development-friendly commissioners are trying to oust him to facilitate approval for proposed projects.

At Legislative Intent Service, Inc., we have done extensive research on the California Coastal Act of 1976.  We have collected over 4,000 pages of legislative history materials addressing the 1976 Coastal Act, including the bill’s failed competitor and predecessor measures and propositions.  We will be interested to see the outcome of today’s Commission meeting.

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