Rep. Paul Mirski for House Grafton 10 (Enfield)

September 21, 2012

As he faces an up-hill battle in his bid for re-election in Enfield, there is nothing that tells the story better of Rep. Mirski’s humility and respect for the constitutional process than his involvement as chairman of the Special Committee on Redistricting.

“I suppose I could have created a district I could have easily won in, but it was better for the state to put my efforts into getting redistricting for Grafton County right,” said Mirski, who voted with Cornerstone 100 percent of the time.

As a result of his efforts, Rep. Mirski will need help from Cornerstone supporters behind the scenes to get out the vote in Enfield so he can continue to work on some of the state’s more complex problems. Redistricting, while a valiant and mostly successful effort by the redistricting committee, still needs more work, Rep. Mirski said. Cities will need to split themselves into wards to maximize the number of representatives they can receive in Concord. New Hampshire will have to pursue changes to federal case law to allow smaller communities to get more representation. Additionally, transient voters should be more strictly scrutinized to make sure that communities with artificially higher populations during part of the year do not get a disproportionate number of representatives, he said.

More important than his name on the ballot in Enfield, he said, are the statewide constitutional amendment questions that voters will have a chance to approve on Nov. 6. Rep. Mirski was the prime sponsor for both CACR 13, which would permanently ban an income tax in New Hampshire, and CACR 26, which would restore legislative oversight over the court’s administrative rulemaking procedures by amending Part 2, Article 73-a in the N.H. Constitution. Back in 1978, Article 73-a was added and gave full autonomy to the courts to pass administrative rules that have “the force and effect of law.” This change led to rules that have become law without representation. CACR 26 would restore checks and balances and make sure the court system answers to the people of New Hampshire, Rep. Mirski said.

More generally, Rep. Mirski said he was proudest of the institutional changes he’s helped make in the House of Representatives over the years, and he said this past term was the first time some of the more technical changes he helped implement started to show their effect. Back in 1995 when he first became a representative, Rep. Mirski said roll call votes were simply not conducted. He changed this by getting 25 people together like himself who would agree to stand and ask for a roll call on important conservative issues, since each roll call vote request requires at least 10 representatives to second it. By the second year of this effort, Rep. Mirski and others were able to develop the first legislative scorecards based on roll call votes, and this transparency helped voters identify what their representatives were actually doing in Concord. The process got more sophisticated over time, and Rep. Mirski was among the founding group of the House Republican Alliance, which distributed an in-House voter guide called a “pink sheet” based on the N.H. Constitution and the Republican platform that became the metric used for the first legislative scorecards. This past session, more than 300 roll call votes helped advance a truly conservative agenda in the House, and it also helped identify a group of legislators who were not being truthful about their conservative credentials. Such transparency helped voters reject those representatives come primary time.

Rather than focus on his election or his own personal goals upon re-elected, Rep. Mirski asked Cornerstone to deliver a message to readers; namely, that they consider how long the above effort took to accomplish.

“I was in the House for a long time before I witnessed one Thursday in March 2011 when a brand new Legislature was rejecting committee and leadership recommendations and voting with a conservative conscience,” he said. “That was one of my best days in the House, because I finally started to see the Republican Party act like conservative Republicans.”

Rep. Mirski said Cornerstone readers must get involved in their communities by running for selectmen, budget committee, zoning committee, school committee and state representative—any local elected office.

“Activists have to bite the bullet and get elected; they have to volunteer to serve,” Rep. Mirski said. “They have to take that time out of their lives, just as they do to take their kids to soccer practice, to get involved in local government or they will never change anything.”

But more importantly, Rep. Mirski said activists have to have a long view and keep trying throughout their lives to make change, because change is slow. He said he slowly recruited people who thought like he did for the Legislature over time, and the culmination of that effort was the past session, when the Legislature advanced more conservative bills than in the past 100 years.

“You rarely can convince someone to change their underlying views, but you can create majorities of like-minded people, and without the right people, you can’t make anything happen,” he said. “So many people call to complain. I ask them if they volunteer to do anything. I tell them they have to get arm-in-arm with some other person and start working with ideas to change the direction of things.”

Finally, Mirski noted that while the upcoming national election is important, it is nowhere near as important as local and state elections. The chances of change on the national scene are small, even if conservatives take over Congress and the White House, because the federal bureaucracy and special interests are so entrenched. The real place to make change is in your local community or at the state level, because it is more connected to your local community, he said.

“You have to get people involved, and you have to work with people who are already committed,” Mirski said. “And if you get these people to go someplace where you can make something happen, you might just repeat the events of the past two years, when a freedom-loving majority made a staggering number of tax and regulatory reforms.”