As in other lines of work, lunchtime discussions among lawmakers at the State House often spur ideas. Sometimes those ideas become bills. And sometimes those bills seemed less strange over lunch.
House Bill 1580 is the product of such a brainstorming session this summer between three freshman House Republicans: Bob Kingsbury of Laconia, Tim Twombly of Nashua and Lucien Vita of Middleton. The eyebrow-raiser, set to be introduced when the Legislature reconvenes next month, requires legislation to find its origin in an English document crafted in 1215.
“All members of the general court proposing bills and resolutions addressing individual rights or liberties shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta which sets forth the article from which the individual right or liberty is derived,” is the bill’s one sentence.
The Magna Carta, while famed as the first major declaration of rights under English monarchy, is a bit outdated in its actual prose. The overarching idea of personal freedoms and liberties served as a benchmark for framers of the American Constitution, but most of the feudal barons’ 63 demands of King John of England dealt with the tedium of the day. The document, translated from its original Latin, includes such passages as:
- “No widow shall be compelled to marry, so long as she wishes to remain without a husband.”
- “We shall straightway return the son of Llewelin and all the Welsh hostages. . . . We shall act towards Alexander King of the Scots regarding the restoration of his sisters.”
- “If anyone who has borrowed a sum of money from Jews dies before the debt has been repaid, his heir shall pay no interest on the debt for so long as he remains under age.”
Upon seeing the bill, New Hampshire Democratic Party spokesman Ray Buckley said he was “mostly speechless.” “I appreciate all the hard work the Republican legislators are putting into the effort to make them look like extremists,” he said. “Saves us the trouble.”
This is what happens when you vote Republican.
Photo credit: Chris Savage/Eclectablog
And New Hampshire gets a major voice in who our presidential nominees are? Aye, aye, aye…