Rep. Dan Itse, who earned a perfect Cornerstone score for the past session, is New Hampshire’s godfather of the Constitution and a leader for the natural rights of families, justice and fundamental freedoms, such as religious liberty and parental rights. He faces a Democrat to win back the N.H. House seat for Fremont.
During the past session, Rep. Itse helped orchestrate the rebirth of a constitutionally required House committee; namely, 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 called for 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.” Rep. Itse began to submit petitions into the Legislature through an ad hoc caucus in 2009, and upon Rep. William O’Brien’s election as House speaker in 2010, he helped make the process more formal.
“It took us two years to make the committee functional, but it is certainly working now to enable legislative oversight over the executive and judicial branches of government,” Itse said. “Redress has guided us toward substantial reforms that were needed in the judicial branch, and it helped pass CACR 26, which will restore the Legislature’s jurisdiction over court administration and hold the Judicial Branch accountable to the people.”
Speaker O’Brien named Rep. Paul Ingbretson, a fellow patriot, as chairman of the Redress of Grievances Committee and gave Rep. Itse the chairman role for another new committee he suggested: The House Committee on Constitutional Review and Statutory Recodification. The second committee functioned as a check on bills that might be questioned as unconstitutional, bills that were constitutionally mandated, and it also reviewed laws on the books to determine whether they were unconstitutional or outdated and thus needing to be repealed.
One such bill processed by the committee, HB 1553, repealed certain education and health and human services laws that were no longer needed. Another bill, HB 146, which is mandated by Part 1, Article 12 of the Constitution, allows people on a jury to acquit defendants when the application of a law in their case was unjust. One of Rep. Itse’s own bills, HB 1350, clarified that proper nouns, such as “New Hampshire” or “Legislature,” must be capitalized in the published versions of the state Constitution to avoid legal confusion.
While the redress of grievances and constitutional review committees both protect the Constitution for New Hampshire, Rep. Itse also worked on an effort to protect the Constitution for the United States. HR 25, a successful House resolution that he will attempt to pass again in the next session as a joint resolution from both the House and Senate, promotes the 10th Amendment concept that a state can reject unconstitutional federal laws by an act of its Legislature. Passing the resolution this past session and then passing it again will help the Legislature understand its role in protecting the people’s rights from a federal government that goes too far, Itse said.
Besides his work defending the constitution, Rep. Itse passed two bills that protected innocent life even as it’s coming to its natural end. HB 1216 clarifies the protocols that a health care facility could use to withhold or withdraw life-sustaining treatment from a mentally incompetent or developmentally disabled person, and HB 1217 clarified that end-of-life advanced directives created in other states must be accepted in New Hampshire.
And during each of the past two years, Rep. Itse sponsored a constitutional amendment (CACR 9 and CACR 31) that would have clarified that “Parents have the natural right to control the health, education and welfare of their children.” Upon re-election, Rep. Itse said he plans to reintroduce the language to help change the burden of proof from parents to the government when there is a controversy involving children.
“Many legislators and judicial officials do not understand the role of government relative to the role of parents; there is confusion that the state is a co-parent, and it’s not according to a true understanding of government and natural rights,” Itse said. “Intervention in family life could never have been imagined to be a legitimate power of government. Truly bad parents involve issues of criminality. For such situations, our founders designed the functions of the probate court, such as guardianship and adoption.”
Additionally, Rep. Itse will reintroduce a bill concerning official oppression to create a violation-level offense for government officials who misinterpret or violate the law. That would mean a fine for a building inspector who doesn’t approve permits in a timely manner or a police chief who enforces law that doesn’t exist. Current law supports a misdemeanor charge for government officials who act under the color of law for the benefit of themselves or their departments, but that law is very difficult to prove, Itse said. Adding the lower standard will ensure more government officials are held in check by the people, he said.
Finally, Rep. Itse will 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. Rep. Itse’s bill would correct the state law so that family courts are subject to laws and Legislative rulemaking. Implicit in this bill’s success would be the passage of CACR 26, a constitutional amendment that would restore the Legislature’s oversight over the court system.