Democrat Do-Over LTE - March 2020

Brentwood Newsletter LTE about Democrats rushing through bills and them trying to fix them later. March 2020


It seems like the honeymoon period of passing the 1000+ page budget without reading it and discussing each policy has started to come to an end. People are coming out of the woodwork once they get to read it to voice complaints. Normally, we have a policy committee look at a policy and have a hearing before we pass a law. Not when it came to the budget. We passed policy after policy which never had a hearing or thorough discussion in both houses. That is how we raised the age of smoking from 18 to 19. No hearing in the House. No separate vote. It was, if you want a budget, you have to change the smoking age.

HB 1234, making an appropriation for the purposes of heating state-owned buildings, is a whole bill “to correct an oversight that occurred during the budget process.”

HB 688 which was a bill licensing people that sell pets. The bill was horrible and tabled in the House and then a new version of the policy was slipped into the budget without a full discussion. HB 1627, creating an animal health certificate database, is needed because the budget instituted a requirement for a license depending on how many animals sold per year. There is just one little problem, the Department of Agriculture has no way of tracking the number of animals sold per year.

There is an ongoing discussion at the State House regarding the cost of housing. The State has found that “local land use regulations and board practices that can arbitrarily thwart development or impose costly delays.” Added into the budget without a hearing on the language was a Housing Appeals Board which will lower the cost of an appeal and rule on “whether the municipality’s land use ordinances and regulations provide a reasonable and realistic opportunity for the development of workforce housing.” So, now, the municipalities which were so happy to receive one-time-funds which amount to maybe 1-2% of their operating budgets are bemoaning that in that same budget was a method to try to reign in over-regulation by land-use boards. SB 785, SB 487, and SB 536 are proposing a do-over. They want to repeal the new board and study the issue.

I do see restrictions placed in Zoning which are overly restrictive and I think most people denied should appeal. However, the lower courts mostly just look at the process, not the legitimacy of the rules/laws. This Housing Appeals Board would allow someone to directly appeal the legitimacy of the rules/law instead of multiple appeals to a higher court. While I do see some merit in the idea of the Housing Appeals Board, the process for passage into law was wrong.

I often find issues with bills that are one page long and about one topic. When you combine dozens or hundreds of bills into one omnibus bill, there are sure to be problems. As Nancy Pelosi says, “we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.” We are now trying to fix the mess we find ourselves in at the State House.

Josh Yokela

State Representative

Rockingham 33 (Brentwood, Danville, and Fremont)