Saying House Speaker William O’Brien is a Hero of the Family is an understatement, for in his leadership position, Speaker O’Brien initiated, supported or enabled most of the families-first bills that passed into law during the 2011-2012 legislative session. The Speaker faces a primary with three people running for two positions in Hillsborough 5 (Mont Vernon and New Boston), and he is unequivocally the Cornerstone favorite in that race.
Clearly, Speaker O’Brien had a great conservative House to work with to accomplish many of his goals; yet, passing some of the more aggressive conservative laws of 2011-2012 certainly took strong leadership from the top. Cornerstone is happy to give the Speaker credit for leading the House with a strong legislative agenda that resulted in a long list of accomplishments for families all across New Hampshire.
Right at the start of the session, Speaker O’Brien said this Legislature would pass a budget that would “live within its means,” and he accomplished this by setting realistic revenue estimates in stone with a resolution that the House could not spend more than that amount. This resulted in a balanced budget that reduced spending by $1.2 billion, an 11 percent cut from the prior budget, and such cuts enabled several tax and fee decreases that helped stimulate the economy and promote job growth (HB 1 and HB 2). He also helped advance a Senate bill that requires departments to submit budgets with spending reductions from now on along with their budget request.
While the media likes to focus on one particular tax reduction the Legislature passed, there are several other tax and fee reductions that are far more noteworthy, and Speaker O’Brien supported many of them. Under his leadership, the Legislature eliminated the auto registration surcharge putting $90 million back into citizens’ pockets, it passed 10 new tax relief laws for businesses and several fee reductions for restaurants, hotels, motels, pet stores and fishermen, among others. Additionally, the Legislature eliminated the tax on Internet services, established an education tax credit against the business profits tax for a scholarship program that helps less fortunate students attend private schools, eliminated the taxation of trusts under the interest and dividends tax and passed a constitutional amendment (CACR 13) to prohibit an income tax in New Hampshire.
Besides the numerous tax and fee reductions the Legislature passed under Speaker O’Brien’s leadership, the House led efforts to reduce more than 80 business and consumer regulatory burdens, increase accountability and transparency in government and strengthen property rights and individual liberties, especially to protect the rights of families.
Among his personal accomplishments, Speaker O’Brien sponsored an effort to add a religious exemption to mandated insurance coverage for contraceptives such as the abortion-inducing RU-486 (HB 1546), but unfortunately, that effort didn’t make it into law. Cornerstone is backing another attempt to advance the same language in the next session.
Speaker O’Brien also co-sponsored a bill with Rep. Andrew Manuse to stop Obamacare from making headway in New Hampshire (HB 1297), he worked with Rep. Frank Holden to prevent further carbon trading schemes like the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (HB 1487), and he worked with Rep. David Bates to improve the integrity of our election system (HB 1354).
Upon reelection to office as well as to his current position, Speaker O’Brien said he would focus on three themes for the session: 1) Advancing an affordable and efficient state government that will protect liberty and advance prosperity for all New Hampshire families, 2) to promote jobs and economic growth through tax relief and 3) to ensure the people’s government is run with integrity and honesty so that corruption no longer has a place in New Hampshire.
When he voted this past session, Speaker O’Brien supported Cornerstone’s agenda 100 percent of the time, and for the next session, he signed Cornerstone’s Families First Pledge, which means among his efforts, he will also be focused on preserving the freedom of conscience for all citizens, protecting innocent human life, defending the natural family and traditional marriage, protecting natural rights for parents and ensuring free market economic policies that empower New Hampshire families to achieve their highest potential.