The right to petition governments for redress of grievances is an essential liberty. Article 31 of the NH Constitution states: “The legislature shall assemble for the redress of public grievances…” and Article 32 states: “The people have a right… to request of the legislative body, by way of petition or remonstrance, redress of the wrongs done them, and of the grievances they suffer.” However, it is now more difficult to have your petitions answered.
In mid-December, the NH House Rules Committee voted 6-4 to recommend the removal of the Grievance Committee. On January 2, the House voted 226-147 to eliminate the committee. Supporters of the committee say it was a constitutionally created mechanism to help people redress grievances and that every petitioner coming before the committee had to propose a legislative action or the petition wasn’t entertained.
Rep. Gary Richardson, who motioned for the rule change, said the New Hampshire House is one of the most representative bodies, and any outstanding or pressing issue could be raised via legislation, on a case-by-case basis.
The main problem with that claim is that legislation can only be proposed during a brief period between Legislative Sessions. Secondly, the claim assumes that someone’s Representative will actually introduce the requested legislation.