Jul 24, 2015 5:32 PM
CONCORD - We reported this first on NH1.com and now it’s official, conservative firebrand and former House Speaker Bill O’Brien will not seek re-election in 2016.
Let’s look at the legacy he will leave behind in just two years at the top.
There was a state budget that cut spending 11 percent, cutting state aid to higher education nearly 50 percent and the first-ever cut in the tobacco tax.
O’Brien tells NH1 News he knew his bold agenda would make him a target.
"So when we I said we were going to cut the budget, the controversy began right away and when we did it, the controversy increased," O’Brien said.
On social issues an equally sharp turn to the right.
He convinced the House to reinstate the law to make minor girls tell a parent before getting an abortion, got the first expansion of the death penalty in 20 years to include home invasions and won tougher restrictions on what those on welfare can buy with EBT cards.
The death penalty campaign was personal, O’Brien pushing for the change after fellow, Mont Vernon resident Kimberly Caites in 2006 was brutally murdered in her home.
To no one’s surprise, Democratic leaders already celebrating long before O’Brien leaves the stage.
Democratic Party Chairman Ray Buckley boldly predicts, "I expect O’Brien will soon be joined by other republicans who realize they will once again lose the majority in 2016."
On other topics, O’Brien did not rule out a return to elective politics in the future adding his stepping down is to devote full time to Brainloop, the Massachusetts-based, software security company he and fellow State Rep. Steve Stepanek, R-Amherst, bought a few weeks ago.
As for regrets, O’Brien said he should have narrowed the scope of his legislation to have New Hampshire join more than 20 right-to-work states that outlaw union contracts that make all workers pay dues or contribute to the cost of collective bargaining.
"If I had asked for 50 or 60 percent of what we had been looking for, it might have happened," O’Brien said.
Then-Gov. John Lynch vetoed right-to-work and O’Brien fell about a dozen votes short of overriding Lynch’s veto even though the GOP had a 3-1 super-majority in the House.
For more on O’Brien’s views including his biting critique of the man who kept him from getting the speaker’s gavel back, Hudson Republican Rep. Shawn Jasper, check out the New Hampshire Political Report on NH1.com.
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