Rep. Paul Ingbretson for House Grafton 15 (Bath, Benton, Easton, Haverhill, Landaff, Orford, Piermont, Warren)

September 21, 2012

Rep. Paul Ingbretson, who scored 100 percent on Cornerstone’s scorecard, faces a Democrat in his bid to keep fighting for the rights of citizens who were harmed by their government.

Along with Rep. Dan Itse of Fremont, Rep. Ingbretson was instrumental in the formation of the Redress of Grievances Committee, which is beginning to shepherd New Hampshire’s government back toward its constitutional confines. For decades, the Legislature offered no mechanism for introducing petitions of redress, which are citizens’ only method for getting direct relief from government abuses. Addressing such petitions is required by Part 1, Article 31 of the N.H. Constitution: “The legislature shall assemble for the redress of public grievances and for making such laws as the public good may require.” Upon Rep. William O’Brien’s election as House speaker in 2010, the Speaker created a formal Redress of Grievances Committee and appointed Rep. Ingbretson chairman. During the past two years, Rep. Ingbretson has been focused on ironing out the processes for committee.

“When government fails people and doesn’t do what it should, this is the method that makes representative government better in New Hampshire than it is in any other state,” Ingbretson said. “We’re there as representatives to introduce bills to change the law in general, but now there’s a way to give feedback on individual circumstances beyond the election and make sure that what we have is a good, responsive and constitutional government.”

Rep. Ingbretson also sponsored two successful bills (HB 1240 and HB 1304) that allow the Commissioner of the Department of Safety to be lenient penalties in certain circumstances. Notably, he co-sponsored HB 545, which creates a more cooperative, and less adversarial, relationship between local school districts and homeschooling parents, and should encourage more parents to homeschool; HB 623, which ended affirmative action in New Hampshire and restored equal treatment under the law; HB 1297, which prevented the state from implementing Obamacare in New Hampshire; and SB 82, which encourages the State Board of Education to approve more charter schools.

In the next session, Rep. Ingbretson said he would follow-up on petitions of redress that identified significant problems within our court system, family division, guardian ad litem board, and other areas of state government. He also said he would continue to lead the redress committee at the pleasure of the speaker and develop further methods to make the process go more smoothly. He is already working on two training sessions that would provide clarity about the process and further explain the need to protect citizens from unjust acts by their government.

“The Redress of Grievances Committee needs to survive, unless such citizen protection is provided for in another way,” Rep. Ingbretson said. “The people have a right to be heard by the Legislature, and the least you should get when you have a problem with your government is a committee hearing.”

Along with Rep. Itse, Rep. Ingbretson will also introduce legislation to correct a jurisdictional problem with the family court system. Currently, family courts are so-called “equity courts,” which means that the law does not apply to them and justice inside the walls of the court room is literally up to the judge’s arbitrary authority. This has resulted in uneven and unequal justice, where one party has been treated differently than another with no recourse. The bill would correct the law so that family courts are subject to state laws and Legislative rulemaking. Implicit in this bill’s success would be the passage of CACR 26, a constitutional amendment Rep. Ingbretson co-sponsored that would restore the Legislature’s oversight of the court system.