by Maxim Ledoux
In a letter last week, Rep. Edith DesMarais denied my statement that she had voted for a tax on plastic bags in the form of HB 560 when she wrote, “HB 560 has nothing to do with plastic bags.” How much more definitive can you get than “HB 560 has nothing to do with plastic bags”? Reading DesMarais’s letter, I thought I must’ve made a mistake. But I didn’t. DesMarais is misleading you. I’ll prove it.
Go to https://www.legiscan.com/NH/text/HB560 and read the bill. Look at the “Votes” tab. You’ll see that DesMarais voted “Aye” on HB 560 on March 19, 2019. Here’s the title of the bill that DesMarais voted for: “HB 560: an act relative to single-use carryout bags.” That’s an odd title for a bill that “has nothing to do with plastic bags.” The analysis of the bill reads, “This bill restricts the distribution of single-use carryout bags by stores and food service businesses.” That’s weird for a bill that “has nothing to do with plastic bags.” And in section II of the bill, it reads, “A store or food service business may provide reusable plastic or recycled paper bags to customers for not less than 10 cents, to be retained by the business.”
So how can she claim that “HB 560 has nothing to do with plastic bags,” when I just quoted the text of the bill?
Well, she’s a politician. Remember Bill Clinton saying, “It depends on what the definition of ‘is’ is”? In this case, DesMarais’s denial hinges on the word “has.” You see, she voted for the 10-cent tax on plastic bags on March 19, when that’s what was in the bill. But the bill was subsequently amended in committee, changing it completely — so that it is now about reporting on transfer stations. So, in its current form, HB 560 “has” nothing to do with plastic bags. What DesMarais wrote is factually accurate, even though, when she voted for it, HB 560 “had” everything to do with plastic bags. She must know this, since she voted for it. She is misleading you. It’s the difference between “has” and “had.”
Don’t take my word for. You can look this up yourself at LegisScan.com or OpenStates.org, among other websites that track bills. And definitely don’t take DesMarais’s word for it, because she tried to mislead you, as too many politicians do.
She further muddles by writing, “As to ‘hiding my beliefs,’ I have clearly stated I would make no pledge regarding taxes.” Again, she put something in quotes, but who is she quoting? Not me. I never accused her of hiding her beliefs, I said she is hiding her pro-tax voting record. I think her obfuscation on HB 560 proves my point.
Maybe you agree with DesMarais that “we need to be more proactive regarding single-use plastic,” as she wrote last week. If so, you may be happy with her vote for a 10-cent minimum tax on single-use plastic bags. You might still wonder, though, why she refuses to admit the truth about her pro-tax voting record.