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The success of the Free State Project in New Hampshire! (The statist Portsmouth Herald doesn't like it, tries the Democrat "extreme" card.)

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  • Tim Condon
    Free Staters make their mark: Local reps. offer sharp criticisms [image: Top Photo] N.H. State House By Joey Cresta jcresta@seacoastonline.com April 17, 2011
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 17, 2011
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      Free Staters make their mark: Local reps. offer sharp criticisms
      [image: Top Photo]
      N.H. State House

      By Joey Cresta
      April 17, 2011 2:00 AM

      There are roughly 12 members of the Legislature who came here as part of a
      movement to transform New Hampshire into a Free State. While their official
      numbers are small, their impact has been undeniable.

      Free Staters and other libertarian-leaning individuals swept into the House
      amid Tea Party-spurred disavowal of incumbents last fall. Democrats and
      moderate Republicans say the Free State movement has mounted a libertarian
      invasion of the Legislature in an attempt to dismantle government, but the
      Free Staters say they simply bolstered the Granite State's swing toward true
      Republican ideals of less government and more personal freedoms and

      According to its Web site, the Free State Project is a movement to "recruit
      20,000 liberty-loving people" to New Hampshire to get involved in the
      creation of a society in which the maximum role of government is the
      protection of life, liberty and property. They chose New Hampshire in 2003
      over several other states as it was considered most conducive to the Free
      State philosophy. The Web site lists "101 Reasons to move to New Hampshire,"
      from its "famous spirit of independence" and economic advantages to its
      geography and quality of life. The list includes numerous constitutional
      advantages, such as protection to the "right to revolution," and absence of
      a mandate to provide public education.

      Freshman legislator Rep. Andrew Manuse, R-Derry, moved here in 2007 as part
      of the Free State Project. He said there are a dozen Free Staters in the
      Legislature, though he would not name them all as some prefer to remain
      anonymous, he said.

      "Once you move to New Hampshire you're not really a Free Stater anymore," he
      said. Manuse said he is flattered if people think the Free State Project has
      had a huge impact on the Legislature, but added they are simply part of a
      larger, liberty-minded Republican Party.

      It is clear the Free Staters have significant influence. Manuse is a founder
      of the Natural Rights Council, which promotes the inalienable rights
      identified in Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution. Free Staters were also
      involved in forming the N.H. Liberty Alliance, which financially supports
      "pro-liberty" candidates and scores legislators on how "liberty-minded" they
      are and publishes results on the alliance Web site.

      A post on a Yahoo! group for the Free State Project purportedly written by
      Tim Condon, an early member of the Free State Project, outlines the extent
      of the group's influence. While only about 900 members have moved to New
      Hampshire, he wrote, House Speaker Bill O'Brien, R-Mont Vernon, and Jack
      Kimball, state GOP chairman, could not have been elected to their posts
      without support of Free Staters in the Republican Party.

      "Yes, we've got a Democrat governor. We've also got veto-proof Republican
      majorities in the state House, the state Senate and the state Executive
      Council," he wrote. "They all believe in the N.H. State GOP platform, which
      is pretty damn good. The Democrat governor has become almost irrelevant. In
      2012 we'll have a Republican governor, in touch with and supported by
      Republican Free Staters from all over."

      Condon, of Grafton, did not return a call seeking comment.

      Free Staters have sponsored a bevy of bills this session to cut taxes,
      loosen regulations and put more emphasis on personal responsibility than on
      government control.

      Speaker O'Brien has said New Hampshire needs more Free Staters and told
      Seacoast Sunday the Free Staters are doing good things for the state. He
      said they are hard-working representatives who have influence because their
      peers see how much time and effort they put into the job.

      "If you look at some of the efforts of these representatives, they're just
      trying to make government better," he said.

      But to those on other points of the political spectrum, Free State ideals
      come off as extreme. Some fear they want to dismantle government, legalize
      drugs, destroy public education and even form a state militia and secede
      from the union. The Free State Project Web site states it is not a
      secessionist movement, but adds nonviolent secessionists are welcome to
      participate and work toward that goal with other like-minded activists. The
      site says the project is for all pro-liberty activists, including agorists,
      anarcho-capitalists, classical liberals, constitutionalists, libertarians,
      voluntaryists and anyone else who agrees the maximum role of government is
      the protection of life, liberty and property.

      "There seems to be a number of them that are totally out of control," said
      veteran state Rep. Lee Quandt, R-Exeter, who added "old guard Republicans"
      fear the party will "implode" due to bickering and loss of civility. "New
      Hampshire is not a screwball state," he said. "We're fiscally conservative,
      but we're very proud of what we have. We're very proud of trying to keep
      government as small as possible" without dismantling it.

      "Their basic premise," said freshman state Rep. Tim Copeland, R-Stratham,
      "is to not have any government at all. That's what I'm getting from them.
      Some of it's scary. I don't understand the rationale of it."

      From 2000 to 2002, Quandt co-chaired the House Republican Alliance, a group
      committed to ensuring bills are consistent with the state and U.S.
      constitutions and embody traditional GOP values. But he said he will not be
      affiliated with it much longer due to the "fringe and extremists." "They're
      not ... understanding we have to have government and we have to fund
      government," he said. "With this new group it's hard to get a handle on
      where they're coming from."

      However, Free Staters say they identify with New Hampshire's Republican
      Party, which recognizes individual liberty, personal responsibility, free
      enterprise, low taxes and limited government.

      "The Republican Party platform in New Hampshire represents the same ideals
      that the founding fathers brought," Manuse said. "The Free State Project
      recognized that in New Hampshire. Now that a bunch of us are here and
      involved in the process, it shouldn't be a surprise that we're supporting
      the same platform that's always been here."

      The Republican Party platform for 2010-11 was adopted Sept. 25, 2010. "They
      wrote it," Quandt said.

      Free Stater Rep. Dan McGuire, R-Epsom, co-chairs the HRA. He said the only
      areas of conflict between libertarians and moderate Republicans are where
      moderates "don't want to follow their own principles."

      That's not to say civility has eroded or that they "bully" the moderates to
      get their way, he said. "We have very high expectations for ourselves in
      terms of what we should be able to accomplish and whether we can meet our
      goals. A lot of party activists would think this is the term to get these
      big things done and if they see certain members obstructing them, that would
      be upsetting."

      Rep. Donna Schlachman, D-Exeter, said she has found a "lack of
      open-mindedness" when dealing with Free Staters. "They are measuring
      everything only by one yardstick. They have very knee-jerk reactions because
      their goal is less government."

      Some, like Quandt, fear Republicans will lose many seats in 2012 due to a
      backlash against some of the more radical votes in the House this session.
      However, Free Stater Rep. Seth Cohn, R-Canterbury, said, "We embraced what
      New Hampshire stood for, which is personal responsibility and low taxes ...
      This is the traditional New Hampshire Republican coming back in."
      At a glance

      Sampling of bills filed by Free Staters:

      HB145: To permit audio and video recording of law enforcement officers while
      in the course of their official duties.

      HB 240: To eliminate statutory restrictions on the ability of voters to vote
      for multiple candidates for the same office.

      HB 330: To decriminalize carrying an open or concealed firearm without a

      HB 331: To require state agency expenditures be posted on the state
      transparency Web site.

      HB 442: To permit use of medical marijuana.

      HB 446: To repeal regulation of occupations including cosmetology, landscape
      architecture, court reporting, athletic training, family mediation, hunting
      and fishing guides, massage therapists and hawkers, peddlers and itinerant

      HB 519: To repeal New Hampshire's Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative cap and
      trade program for controlling carbon dioxide emissions.

      HB 569: To establish the domestic union as a valid contract and extend
      certain rights to parties to a domestic union.

      HB 595: To amend compulsory school attendance statutes to permit
      parent-directed instruction programs and repeal the home education statutes.

      HB 628: To make touching or viewing with a technological device of a
      person's breasts or genitals by a government security agent without probable
      cause a sexual assault.

      HB 646: To eliminate various taxes and fees and tax and fee increases
      enacted in fiscal years 2006 through 2010.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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