Service, Experience and Dedication
Pictured to the right are the Greenland Community School 4th graders at their visit to the NH State House.
Representative Tamara Le, Senator Tom Sherman and I had the privilege of greeting them and saying a few words. Fourth graders from throughout NH visit the state house and all of the representatives and senators look forward to visiting with their local school children.
In addition to serving as assistant majority floor leader, I'm also serving as Clerk of the House Ways and Means Committee for this term. The Clerk is responsible for the public record of Committee hearings, and tracking the motions and final votes on committee bills.
Laura and have lived in Greenland since 2015 after living 14 years in Barrington, NH. We are deeply committed to the local community and chose to build our business, Malloy Interiors, Inc., here in the Seacoast.
Current community service includes:
New Hampshire House of
Representatives. Assistant Majority
Clerk, Ways and Means
Committee, NH House of
Trustee of the Trust Funds in Greenland.
Board of Trustees Great Bay Stewards.
Advisory Board of the Seacoast YMCA.
Board of Directors of New Generation
Inc. in Greenland.
Pease Restoration Advisory Board.
Seacoast Cancer Cluster Commission
Seacoast Commission On Long Term
Goals and Requirements for
Governor's Task Force on the Seacoast
Board of Trustees of Leadership New
Before my first election to the NH General Court in 2012 representing Barrington, NH, I was the Chief Development Officer at New Hampshire Public Television, for 10 years after serving as Director of Community Relations and Development at Iowa Public Television for 15 years.
Malloy Interiors, Inc. serves businesses, multi-family housing and hospitality clients throughout New England with interior design services.
I also serve as an arbitrator with the Financial Industries Regulatory Authority (FINRA) that provides oversight and regulatory leadership to the securities industry.
I am a graduate of Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
10 Van Etten Drive
Greenland, NH 03840
603 970 1827
Dennis Malloy Rockingham 23 House.
The NH House passed HB 3 and HB 4, budget bills containing the compromise agreement between legislative leaders and Governor Sununu on Wednesday September 25, 2019.
“The bipartisan budget passed Wednesday preserves the priorities House Democrats have been fighting for all year. Increased support for public education, expanded availability of mental health services, and increased access to affordable health care are Democratic initiatives that will move New Hampshire forward and protect the most vulnerable in our state,” according to House Majority Leader Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey).
Leader Ley added that “This budget provides unprecedented support to our local communities, which will help alleviate the growing pressure on local property taxpayers. This budget increases state funding for public education by $138 million, providing more support to local school districts than ever before. An additional $40 million will be distributed to communities in unrestricted municipal aid, which this budget restored for the first time in a decade.”
“By making critical investments in mental health services and implementing long overdue increases in Medicaid reimbursement rates to support health care providers, this budget provides the necessary resources to tackle the opioid and mental health crises facing our state.”
Leader Ley thanks his colleagues in the House and Senate, particularly Finance Chairs Wallner and D’Allesandro, for their work to find consensus on a budget that moves New Hampshire forward, and said that he’s “proud that we were able to deliver for the people of New Hampshire today.”
Contrary to the governor’s inaccurate accusation that the bills were “extreme,” we strongly feel the legislature’s actions were necessary and responsible. From independent redistricting to a bill ensuring health care providers would be fairly reimbursed for treating Medicaid patients, these bills were the product of countless hours of work by both legislators as well as citizens who gave up time from their days to tell their personal stories and provide valuable input into the process.
But as important as these bills were, the governor’s most ill-considered action was his veto of the state budget. After three decades of unsuccessful attempts to address long-standing problems such as inadequate public-school funding, the House and the Senate crafted a balanced budget that finally provided much-needed money for property-poor communities desperate to keep their schools open without crippling local taxpayers. In a state with a Constitution that requires all children have the opportunity for an adequate education—regardless of their zip code—making progress on this issue was one of our most important legislative priorities.
Another was property tax relief. For too long, local property taxpayers have been forced to pick up the tab as the state continues to downshift items like public school funding, pension funding, and state aid for infrastructure to local communities. The budget vetoed by the governor would have actually returned money to communities on the Seacoast like Portsmouth in the form of a revived revenue sharing program. The budget also would have let Portsmouth decide how to best spend the money.
So how exactly did the legislature plan to fund these needs? Not by adding a new sales or income tax—or even by increasing an existing tax. Instead, the new budget would have simply a stopped scheduled reductions in the state Business Profits tax and the state Business Enterprise tax. Those reductions largely benefit out-of-state companies and are less of a priority for many businesses than reductions in local property taxes. If they are allowed to go through, $93 million will be subtracted in much-needed funding from the “means” the governor likes to remind us we must live within.
The bottom line is that on Sept. 18 we will do the responsible thing. Instead of leaving these critical problems unsolved, we will vote to override the governor’s budget veto. We will be responsible to those who elected us and put their needs first. We know that our schools, our property taxpayers, and our families are depending on us to deliver a responsible budget that works for all of New Hampshire and not just out-of-state corporations and special interests.
Rep. Laura Pantelakos Rep. Rebecca McBeath Rep. Tamara Le Rep. Gerald Ward Rep. Peter Somssich Rep. Jacqueline Cali-Pitts Rep. David Meuse Portsmouth
As anyone who has put together a family budget knows, budgets balance revenues with expenses. The same stands for our two-year state budget. Our revenues are based on estimates projected more than two years into the future. It is more of an art than a science, but it is a vital part of the state budget process.
This year, the House’s estimate called for lower revenues, to account for potential economic downturn, and two months later, in early April, passed the budget to the Senate. As typically happens, at that time better revenue estimates were available. The Senate by-and-large adopted revenue estimates from Gov. Chris Sununu’s office, which were then revised slightly and accepted by the House and Senate when the budget passed in June.
Unfortunately, now the economy is showing signs of serious weakness. The revenues coming in –across the board – are lower. And business tax revenues are significantly lower than estimated.
So, how did we get here?
First, a slowing economy, with businesses recalculating their quarterly payments. Second, large businesses’ use of cash and tax credits they have left untouched on deposit with the state (sometimes for years) to pay future (now current) tax obligations. Third, large businesses asking for tax refunds due to overpayment of taxes last year.
The last point is due to a piece of federal tax reform passed in 2017 – repatriation – which gave incentives to U.S.-based multi-national corporations with foreign business earnings to bring business profits home and resulted in a large, one-time increase in New Hampshire’s business tax revenue last year.
Some businesses that made estimated overpayments to New Hampshire have now asked for and received large refunds. This means last year’s business tax surplus was actually much smaller
than reported. But that surge was taken as a sign that our much smaller business tax cuts here in New Hampshire were working, even though no economist or expert has corroborated that claim.
In fact, most revenue-watchers say corporate tax breaks at the state level only prevented business tax revenue for the state from being higher.
A Pew analysis of all 50 states’ revenue growth rates from 2006 to 2018 show New Hampshire’s growth rate was about 37% of the 50-state average in 2018. While Gov. Sununu has spent the better part of a year taking credit for the budget surplus, the fact is
his “surplus” is now smaller because large refunds are now being removed from it – to the tune of $20 million and counting. The “surplus” also includes an unprecedented lapse of over $90 million by the Department of Health and Human Services, which left funds allocated for critical services for our citizens and communities unused. Because this money went unspent, there are now serious staff and service shortages in child protection, substance use disorder treatment and elder care.
The big picture is that the economy is slowing, state revenues will be less than estimated moving forward and the “surplus” is not what Gov. Sununu claims it is. We now know that we have less money to work with than originally forecasted.
Considering this news, any insistence that we enact even more business tax breaks would guarantee our state’s inability to provide a budget that tackles the critical issues facing New Hampshire – including mental health, workforce development and public education.
As budget negotiations continue, it’s time to put politics aside and have an honest conversation about declining business tax revenues and the impact of further business tax breaks on our state. To do otherwise would be fiscally irresponsible.
By Rep Susan Almy (D-Lebanon) and Senator Dan Feltes (D-Concord)
Published in the Concord Monitor, August
Sen. Dan Feltes of Concord is chair of Senate Ways & Means. Rep. Susan Almy of Lebanon is chair of House Ways & Means.
The NH House is on schedule to return to Concord on September 18 and 19 to vote on the 53 House bills vetoed by the Governor, including the all important budget bill.
We are operating now under a continuing resolution until September 30, which is having a deterimental effect on many New Hampshire citizens.
The following is an article written by Rep. Skip Berrien of Exeter about how the Governor's decision affects the children of our state.
The future of New Hampshire children has been threatened by the record number of bills vetoed by Gov. Sununu. This is despite the overwhelming support of these bills in the Legislature.
Criticism of his budget veto has received much attention. However, his vetoes of many additional pieces of legislation are equally threatening our children’s safety, environment, education and mental health while negatively impacting the economic stability of their families.
The governor is ignoring the effects of his actions on the future of our children.
Most recently, Sununu vetoed three bills intended to prevent gun violence, which takes a toll on our children. House Bill 109, which closed loop holes in gun purchase background checks, would reduce the number of guns in the wrong hands. HB 514 created a waiting period intended to prevent suicide, one of the leading causes of death in our youth. HB 564 would have created school gun free zones, a place where children can focus on learning free of fear.
The preservation of a livable climate is among the greatest issues for future generations. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and energy conservation as addressed in Senate Bill 168 and SB 205 contribute to the reduction in greenhouse gases. SB 74 and HB 326 contribute to the preservation of important parts of the state’s ecosystem and the general health of the planet. Failure of the governor to sign these pieces of legislation increases the risks to our children’s livable climate.
The budget vetoed by Gov. Sununu provided much needed funding to struggling schools whose students are deprived of an adequate public education. SB 196, also vetoed by the governor, would have restored credibility to student surveys upon which we depend to determine the academic and social needs of our youth. These vetoes reflect a lack of concern about the education of our children.
Children’s mental and behavioral health have long been neglected in New Hampshire. Again the vetoed budg-et included funding to improve children’s access to important services. SB 5, vetoed by the governor, would have increased service provider compensation permitting the state to attract sorely needed additional mental health professionals.
Every child grows up within a family whose stability depends upon economic security. Some 27,000 of our children are raised in poverty and even more live with economic instability. SB 1 providing for family medical leave insurance, SB 151 creating recourse for employees deprived of wages, SB 2 funding for job training and HB 100 allowing greater employment opportunities for those who have paid their debt for prior crimes were all vetoed by the governor. And SB 10 created a state minimum wage, but the governor’s veto has denied struggling families a living wage. These actions by the governor shows disregard for parents who struggle economically to provide a decent life for their children.
This multitude of vetoes by Gov. Sununu threatens the opportunities to achieve success for our children, particularly those at highest risk. I dare say that he is oblivious to the effects these vetoes have on the health and well-being of New Hampshire. Although we cannot immediately correct all these veto blunders, we can hope that budget negotiations between the legislature and the governor this month will restore some of these critical services and resources for Granite State children.
State Rep. Skip Berrien, D-Exeter is chairman of the Legislative Children's Caucus.
Over the last month, members of House and Senate leadership have held multiple meetings with the Governor to continue working toward a budget agreement.
After first meeting with the Governor, legislative leaders met with him again last Friday to offer a compromise proposal.
Operating under a Continuing Resolution for three months will result in cost savings of over $20 million because newly budgeted items, including Medicaid rate increases, have been blocked by the Governor’s veto.
To address the Governor’s concern that businesses were planning for further reductions in the BET and BPT, Legislative leaders have proposed using half of the savings to provide tax credits to businesses that filed estimated returns in quarters 1 and 2 of 2019. The other half of the savings, legislative leaders proposed, would fund an eventual state employee contract.
To our disappointment, our proposal was summarily rejected by the Governor and he has not yet offered any counter proposals. At this point we are waiting on the Governor for a counter proposal while still working toward a solution. Despite good faith efforts by the legislature to negotiate an agreement, the Governor has not shown any signs that he is willing to compromise. Remember that the legislature has already made significant concessions to the Governor, including every item from his June 12th “Roadmap to Common Ground” in the final budget ex-cept for continued reductions in the BET and BPT.
Legislative leaders plan to meet with the Governor again in the coming weeks. It is our hope that an agreement can be reached on a budget compromise for the legislature to take up when we return in September.
Majority Leader Doug Ley
Finance Chair Mary Jane Wallner
Governor Sununu signed HB 494, enforcing the removal of contaminants from Coakley Landfill superfund site. Representative Renny Cushing (D-Hampton) the bills prime sponsor said, “Ensuring clean-up of the undeniably hazardous situation at Coakley Landfill has been a priority for many of us in the legislature for several years. The lives of Granite State families are invaluable, and it is imperative that we continue to advocate protecting people above private-entity interest. “
I am a proud co-sponsor with Rep. Cushing and strongly agree with Rep. Cushing that Granite Staters and specifically our own residents of Greenland deserve to feel safe consuming and bathing in their own water, especially since Greenland had no hand in adding contaminants to this site.
Rep. Cushing said, “It is our obligation to work to rectify the danger that contamination at Coakley Landfill presents. Studies released as recently as this year present evidence that links PFAS with a range of different cancers as well as correlates babies consuming breastmilk from mothers exposed to PFAS with long-term neurological health deficit.”
“Noting the strictest drinking water quality standards in the nation set by DES last month, it is clear that New Hampshire environmental experts recognize the critical danger that PFAS contamination presents to our state. HB 494 will ensure that the clean-up of Coakley Landfill becomes a reality and that Granite Staters can soon feel confident that their drinking water is safe, and that their health is prioritized.” Rep. Cushing thanked the Governor for his signature on this major piece of legislation.
Read below the Seacoast On-line report.
New Hampshire has been one of the New England states hit hardest by rising recycling costs and tight end markets. Last month, state legislators approved a bill establishing a committee that will determine next steps by studying the state's recycling streams and solid waste management system.
Primary sponsor Rep. Karen Ebel told Waste Dive she introduced the bill (HB 617) "out of concern for the municipalities" upon hearing about the current market challenges. Some cities in New Hampshire, especially those with single stream programs, have ceased their recycling programs because they no longer have viable markets for their materials.
I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill along with my friend and Deputy Speaker of the House Karen Ebel.
Plastics were the initial focus, but legislators learned of pressure on other commodities — including mixed pa-per — during the hearing process. Information on how, for example, ending a recycling program could affect landfill capacity also led to an amendment expanding the study group's scope.
"I've come to appreciate what a broad, challenging topic this is. I've also come to appreciate that just recycling isn't going to solve a lot of the issues," Ebel said. "Municipalities are on the front lines of dealing with the waste that's being generated in their communities. The costs of getting rid of that waste are increasing more and more, and it's being borne by the taxpayers. From an economic standpoint ... we need to help them find a way out of this, because I don't think it's something one individual town can do."
Beginning in 2021 Greenland will have a seat on the PDA Board, the Board that oversees all development at Pease. The legislature passed HB 243 and the Governor signed into law the legislation that created this opportunity for Greenland.
I want to thank Rep. Tamara Le for sponsoring the bill as well as Senators Tom Sherman and Martha Fuller-Clark for their leadeship and support.
As a co-sponor of this bill, I'm proud to have been a part of this and demonstrate how your state elected representatives can have a direct and positive effect on local municipalities.
As the Legislature and Governor continue to negotiate the state budget, we understand that cities and towns are left waiting and wondering about the impact they will face. Throughout the budget process, the House and Senate have prioritized municipal aid and increased education funding, and we will continue to do so as we work with Governor Sununu to develop a budget that works for all New Hampshire communities, families, and businesses.
Our cities and towns are facing many crises including the opioid epidemic, mental health, and education funding. In recent years, resources from the state to the municipalities have been diminished, leaving property taxpayers in your cities and towns responsible for picking up the tab. We know that continued downshifting is unsustainable. The budget passed by the committee of conference looks to reverse that trend and provide much needed relief to municipalities.
This budget sends over $200 million more to communities in education funding and municipal aid than the previous biennium. We are grateful for the work you do as leaders in your community and believe it is important for you to receive the full story on the budget.
First, it is important for you to know that the budget the Legislature delivered is structurally sound. Our budget takes advantage of a surplus and uses it to fund about $110 million in one-time, capital expenses. Our budget still adds money to New Hampshire’s rainy-day fund at the end of the biennium, leaving it at the highest level in state history.
Second, because this budget has not been signed into law, school districts will see another 4% reduction in education funding on September 1st and will not see the $40 million in municipal grants the House and Senate provided in our budget. The status quo will lead to downshifting of costs to cities and towns and we understand that the status quo is no longer acceptable.
Third, while Governor Sununu claims we can fund everything in our budget and address all of New Hampshire’s needs without the additional corporate tax breaks he vetoed this budget over, that’s simply not true. If we move forward with another round of tax breaks, the state will be left with a $90 million revenue gap. Those funds are critical to building this budget which provides municipal aid, increases education funding, and addresses critical crises like the opioid epidemic,
mental health crisis, and child protection crisis. These programs will benefit all taxpayers, including homeowners and businesses in your municipality.
Before we passed our final budget, the Legislature addressed many of the governor’s concerns and sought to find meaningful compromise because we know delivering a budget that works for New Hampshire is bigger than any individual priority. Governor Sununu said he would veto a budget that closes the capital gains loophole to fund education. We took that out. Governor Sununu said he would veto a budget because he opposes paid family and medical leave insurance. We took that out, too. We expect the governor to come to the negotiating table willing to compromise, for the good of New Hampshire.
Overall, the Legislature passed a budget that deals head-on with the many crises facing the state and helps expand economic opportunity for everyone, without implementing any new taxes. This budget was the product of input from agencies, stakeholders, citizens, and municipalities. And it was put together through hundreds of hours of work, collaboration, and compromise. It truly is a budget that works for everyone. We remain committed to working with the Governor
toward a timely resolution.
Again, we appreciate the opportunity to present the full story on the budget. More importantly, we appreciate your hard work and dedication to New Hampshire and its citizens.
Donna M. Soucy, Senate President Stephen Shurtleff, Speaker of the House
The NH House voted to pass HB 1 and HB 2, the bills that comprise the New Hampshire State Budget. House Majority Leader Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey) and House Finance Chair Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord) released the following statements:
“The budget that passed both the House and Senate today is a great example of putting New Hampshire first,” said Majority Leader Douglas Ley. “The budget funds mental health services and addresses the opioid crisis in New Hampshire. It allocates funds to end the emergency room boarding crisis, to build the new secure psychiatric unit and to establish a comprehensive children’s system of care and I am proud to support it today.”
“New Hampshire continues to underfund education and over the last decade we have seen significant cuts from the state to our school districts,” said Representative Mary Jane Wallner. “This budget sends more money to school districts than any budget over the last two decades and prioritizes our children and property tax payers.” It also helps us plan for the future as the New Hampshire looks for how to properly fund education over the next decade and beyond.”
I’m pleased to announce that the House of Representatives voted to pass HB 494, legislation regarding the removal of contaminants from Coakley Landfill superfund site. I co-sponsored this bill that has been passed by both the House and Senate and heartened that the state of NH has recognized the threat Coakley poses to Greenland and Seacoast residents.
Representative Renny Cushing (D-Hampton), prime sponsor of the legislation said, “The contaminants that have been, for decades, spreading from site groundwater at Coakley Landfill are undoubtedly a public health concern. The passage of HB 494 today is a crucial step in finally creating and implementing a remedy for the clean-up of harmful pollutants that Coakley Landfill Group and the EPA have failed to enact.”
“Safe water quality is a human right. The health and safety of New Hampshire residents have been endangered by corporate polluters for far too long and too many lives have been lost to toxic carcinogens in our state,” Cushing said.
“Preventing future disease and harmful environmental impact is possible with swift remediation of the contaminants at Coakley Landfill and Berry’s Brook. I hope that Governor Sununu will sign HB 494 to protect the health of Granite Staters, our environment, and vital Seacoast industries.”
A report in the June 28, Portsmouth Herald can be found below.
I’m proud to announce that the House and Senate agreed to add a representative from Greenland to the Pease Development Authority (PDA). I co-sponsored this bill because I heard from many Greenland residents that we should be officially represented on the PDA and that Greenland input can be helpful in the future growth of Pease.
The Governor has yet to sign this important piece of legislation but for now, it was recognized by the state of NH that Greenland is an important regional player in the Seacoast and it’s time for Greenland’s voice to be heard.
I want to thank Rep. Tamara Le of North Hampton for sponsoring this legislation and for Senators Tom Sherman and Martha Fuller Clark’s leadership in the Senate on this bill.
The U.S. Air Force has diverted more than $66 million from other environmental cleanup efforts to address contamination by per- and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, and more than $35 million of that funding has been dedicated to mitigation efforts at the former Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth.
See complete article below.
House and Senate Reach Compromise on Budget that Moves New Hampshire Forward
Spending Plan Prioritizes Education Funding, Municipal Aid, Mental Health, Opioid Epidemic, Children’s Safety
The New Hampshire House and Senate reached a state budget agreement at the conclusion of the Committee of Conference on HB 1 and HB 2.
“The budget is the most important piece of legislation the state considers—it impacts every single Granite Stater and is an expression of our state’s values. New Hampshire can be proud of the balanced budget crafted by the House and Senate which addresses the states most pressing issues,” said Senate President Donna Soucy (D-Manchester). “This budget invests in mental health funding, addresses the opioid epidemic, and protects the safety and well-being of children while delivering much-needed and meaningful municipal aid through increased education funding and revenue redistribution—without implementing any new taxes. It’s a budget that enables us to continue moving New Hampshire forward and it deserves the full support of the House, the Senate, and the Governor.”
Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff (D-Concord) added, “By stabilizing business taxes and implementing smart business tax reform, the House and Senate have built a budget that dedicates the greatest new state investment in local public schools in almost two decades and delivers critical unrestricted municipal aid. Together, these initiatives will allow towns, cities, and school districts to address growing burdens on local property taxpayers. I am grateful for the hard work and leadership of the House and Senate Finance committees this year; it’s time for Governor Sununu to join us to advance this balanced budget that provides every Granite Stater with the opportunity to build a good life.”
“In a negotiation, no one party gets everything they want. However, working together, lawmakers have built a budget that addresses the critical needs of New Hampshire while also addressing most of the concerns voiced by the governor,” stated Senate Finance Chair Lou D’Allesandro (D-Manchester). “In a spirit of bipartisanship, we provided critical public education funding, removed the capital gains tax, stripped the implementation of paid family and medical leave insurance, fully fund the 10-year mental health plan, and construct a new Secure Psychiatric Unit. Simply put, this budget cannot be constructed without freezing business taxes. The governor is a reasonable, intelligent person and now he has an important decision to make.”
“The budget before us is fiscally responsible and tackles the most important issues facing our state. Instead of prioritizing handouts for a small group of big, out-of-state businesses, our budget ensures all businesses pay their fair share, so we can address the critical needs of the
people of New Hampshire. This budget fully funds the Department of Children, Youth and Families, fully funds the 10-year mental health plan, fully funds the Developmental Disability wait list, provides $40 million in municipal aid, and delivers $138 million in increased education funding over current law. New Hampshire can’t wait for these critical funds—New Hampshire needs this budget now,” concluded House Finance Chair Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord)
Rep. Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord), published in the Concord Monitor on June 9.
It is not a surprise to any legislator that New Hampshire has an education funding crisis. With 400 legislators serving in the House we are the most representative body in the world. We constantly hear from our constituents that their property taxes continue to rise, in trying to keep up with the state’s continuous underfunding of education.
It is often said that the budget is the most important document the Legislature works on every two years and I agree. Students and property-tax payers have suffered too long under the current education funding formula. Right now, we can make changes that will have a positive effect on all Granite Staters.
It has been more than 20 years since the landmark Claremont ruling that said the state of New Hampshire was not meeting its constitutional obligation to fund our public schools. The state made some strides in addressing education funding shortly after the decision was made. However, since 2011 the state of New Hampshire has continued to cut the amount of money sent to cities and towns for education, leaving local property-tax payers to foot the bill.
Earlier this year, in response to the state’s failures, four school districts sued the state again. This past week a judge once again ruled the state was not living up to its constitutional obligation. The judge tasked the Legislature with figuring out a new school funding formula. The House budget starts this process.
The House budget appropriates an additional $200 million over the governor’s budget proposal for education. We fully fund special education, transportation and building aid, and provide an additional $164 million dollars in education spending over the biennium. The additional education dollars will be distributed using a new formula that focuses on towns that need the most relief and will ensure that we start providing a quality education to all Granite State students, regardless of ZIP code.
Most of the money the House appropriated in its budget came from extending the interest and dividends tax to include capital gains, while excluding the sales of homes from capital gains. In addition, we added ex-emptions to the current interest and dividends tax, providing a tax cut for thousands of Granite State seniors. New Hampshire is one of only four states without a capital gains tax, and under our proposal 63% of people who will pay capital gains make over $500,000 a year. In a time when we know that everyday Granite Sta-ters are struggling to make ends meet, it only makes sense to ask those who can do more to do more.
The last piece of the puzzle for the House budget is developing a long-term solution for funding our public schools. The House budget appropriates $500,000 for stakeholders to come together and jointly work out a long-term solution to the education funding crisis.
The House budget is a building block in this process that provides communities relief and begins the process for addressing this crisis for the long term. The people have told the Legislature to act and now so have the courts. It’s time to fix our education funding crisis for our students, for our taxpayers and for our communities.
The Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Inspector General has scheduled a listening session on the Coakley landfill Superfund cleanup site.
The event is scheduled for June 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bethany Church off Breakfast Hill Road.
To learn more, go to Press, below.
We moved New Hampshire away from the unjust and archaic practice that is the death penalty by repealing the death penalty in New Hampshire and overriding the Governor’s veto.
We ensured that all Granite Staters have a fair chance at gainful employment.
We protected the voting rights of Eligible Granite Staters by eliminating obstacles to the ballot for eligible voters.
We expanded renewable energy opportunities for low income Granite Staters.
We protected Granite State children from discrimination in schools.
We ensured Granite Staters won’t lose their coverage due to pre-existing conditions.
Funded critical aspects of the 10 year mental health plan.
Provided job training and fair wages for hard working Granite State families.
In partnership with New Hampshire businesses we passed legislation to help retain a young workforce for the Granite State.
We protected Granite State children and families by increasing the number of social workers and supervisors for DCYF.
We passed meaningful legislation to maintain and boost the preservation of our state’s many cultural and historic resources.
We ensured Granite State Students have access to healthy school breakfast and lunches.
We worked to address the mental health crises by funding critical mental health needs.
We expanded Medicaid protections for vulnerable Granite Staters ensuring they will not lose their coverage if they are caring for a loved one attending classes to further their education, or are recovering from a substance abuse disorder.
The NH Fiscal Policy Institute reports on on the recently passed House budget.
With a relatively strong economy and a revenue surplus, New Hampshire policymakers have an opportunity to comprehensively address long-term challenges facing the state and build a more resilient economy for all Granite Staters. The House version of the budget takes key steps toward addressing some of those long-term challenges.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to pass its version of the State Budget on April 11, proposing to shift significant resources to education and health services during the next two fiscal years. Using the Governor’s proposal as a basis, the House budget would enhance State support for local public education, public higher education, services for those with developmental disabilities and mental health needs, affordable housing, and housing assistance services. The House budget funds these services in part by relying on surplus dollars from the current biennium and expand existing tax revenue sources, as well as removing many of the one-time expenditures and capital projects included in the Governor’s proposal. The House replaced the Governor’s voluntary paid leave program with a statewide paid family and medical leave insurance plan. The House budget adds child protection workers, building on the Governor’s proposed additions, and boosts funding for transportation.
The House budget would provide additional support targeted at communities that have the most constrained abilities to fund education at the local level. The House budget would deploy an additional $165.3 million to local public education over the biennium, directing the additional aid to communities with low property values per student and higher percentages of students eligible for free and reduced-price meals. These communities either have a limited property tax base from which they can draw to fund education locally, a relatively large number of students who are from households in or near poverty, or both. Funds to support these communities with limited means would be raised by expanding an existing tax to include capital gains, which are disproportionately received by individuals with high overall incomes. The House budget would also provide school building aid, although less overall than proposed by the Governor, and increase State aid for kindergarten students.
The House budget retained many of the proposals made by the Governor surrounding mental health, although it reduced funding for the proposed construction or renovation of facilities aimed at serving mental health patients. Both the Governor’s and the House proposals show a clear commitment to eliminating the wait for services for those with developmental disabilities. The House budget would make some effort to increase reimbursement rates for Medicaid service providers, but the increases would be limited and only for certain services.
While the House budget increases revenues for needed services and expands existing revenue sources in a manner that limits the impact on low-income individuals, it also relies on existing surplus dollars to balance in both years of the biennium, creating potential challenges for funding services in the next budget as one-time revenues dissipate and economic growth is less certain.
This Issue Brief explores key components of House budget, including both the House Operating Budget Bill (House Bill 1) and Trailer Bill (House Bill 2) proposals.
The NH House of Representatives voted 225-159 to pass HB 1, and 224-160 to pass HB 2, the state budget bills. House Majority Leader Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey) said, “this budget addresses the top concerns of Granite Staters, property tax relief and public education funding. For years, the pattern has been to push more and more expenses onto local communities, causing property taxes to skyrocket. The people of New Hampshire cannot afford that type of irresponsible budgeting any longer.”
“This budget that the House passed on Thursday April 11, returns money to cities and towns in the form of revenue sharing for the first time in over a decade, and significantly boosts education funding so communities can both lower property taxes and better provide for the education of our children.”
“The House budget also brings the Rainy Day Fund to a record level, while funding crucial state agencies like DCYF that the Governor’s budget ignored. House budget writers had to reverse the deficit the Governor left in the Department of Transportation, so that roads can be plowed and maintained for the safety of our citizens.”
“This budget finally begins addressing longstanding problems that we have avoided for years by kicking the proverbial can down the road. I am proud to support a budget that benefits Granite State families in every community.”
I rise today to speak against the OTP as amended motion on HB 481. The bill in front of us does not include revenue estimates for the state of New Hampshire. While the commission did consider estimates of between $17 and $31 million, they’ve been eliminated from this amended bill. That alone should be a concern of this body. Our decisions should be based on the best evidence and research and in this case, we simply don’t have it. I believe to support this without at least a range of revenue numbers is not fiscally responsible.
For now, let’s assume the revenues are “good.” I moved here nearly 20 years ago from a state that decided after much debate to allow another controversial revenue source, casino gambling.
Initially, the revenue was a boon, but tinkering with the law made it difficult for some operators to make all the money they wanted, so some left.
Initially, new revenues were used for education, but soon lawmakers began diverting revenue to balance the state budget. Eventually the wild fluctuations in gambling revenue from year to year gave the legislature fits in setting budgets and the officials soon realized they were in part, working for out of state interests.
Finally, the state couldn’t afford to back out of the casino gambling arrangements and ended up with more forms of gambling than was found in Las Vegas. The market became saturated, plans were scrapped to build more casinos and two existing ones eventually wanted greater tax breaks.
Today we are being asked to vote on an untested and controversial revenue source, one that we probably won’t be able to undo once it starts and the revenue models will either have no material effect or force NH to grapple with how to manage not only the business itself, but its effect on our ability to project an accurate and meaningful state budget every two years.
Members of the House, I believe we are making a worrisome fiscal decision, and one that future legislatures will have to live with.
This week the House Finance Committee voted 13-9 on a budget that Granite Staters can be proud of. We allocated another $164 million to our schools, gave an additional $12 million to the Department of Transportation to keep our roads and bridges safe and increased funding for mental health all while adding to our rainy day fund.
We passed a cost of living adjustment for retired state employees which provides a 1.5% cost of living adjustment on the first $50,000 of pension benefit to New Hampshire retirees in the state Retirement System, assuring that benefits are provided to those who really need it.
We passed legislation to strengthen public safety in schools. HB 564 will simply codify the federal Gun Free School Act in New Hampshire law. The intent of this legislation is to promote the safety and security of NH children as well as the sanctity of the school environment.
With this, NH joins 47 other states who have enacted legislation to allow local communities to keep schools, educators and staff in safe environments to learn and grow.
We voted for common sense gun laws that would protect Granite Staters including instituting background checks on ALL gun sales and instituting waiting periods.
Voted to protect Granite Staters from losing health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
Voted to help keep prescription drug prices down by ensuring transparency in our prescription drug system.
Protected the environment and health of Granite Staters by mandating the state take action on the Coakley Landfill.
We voted to ensure no Granite Stater has to choose between work and caring for a loved one by passing a paid family leave bill.
Voted to protect workers by guaranteeing poor credit history cannot stop someone from finding meaningful work.
Voted to allow cities and towns to utilize solar energy to reduce electricity costs.
Expanded New Hampshire’s investment in energy efficiency programs.
Protected the environment and health of Granite Staters by mandating the state take action on the Coakley Landfill.
We voted to ensure no Granite Stater has to choose between work and caring for a loved one by passing a paid family leave bill.
Voted to protect workers by guaranteeing poor credit history cannot stop someone from finding meaningful work.
Voted to allow cities and towns to utilize solar energy to reduce electricity costs.
Expanded New Hampshire’s investment in energy efficiency programs.
We voted for common sense gun laws that would protect Granite Staters including instituting background checks on ALL gun sales and instituting waiting periods.
Voted to protect Granite Staters from losing health insurance due to a pre-existing condition.
Voted to help keep prescription drug prices down by ensuring transparency in our prescription drug system.
The House of Representatives voted 207-140 to pass HB 233, reinforcing provisions of the Affordable Care Act in state law.
“The vote on HB 233 is an important protection for the healthcare of Granite Staters and enhances the stabilization of the New Hampshire insurance market amidst any changes at the federal level. This bill provides NH citizens with security in knowing that essential health benefits, including guaranteed issue and coverage no matter the pre-existing condition, geographic rating protections and premium differential protections for age, and other parameters of the Affordable Care Act are safeguarded," according to Representative Edward Butler, (D-Harts Location)
“The ACA is under constant attack by Republican legislators in Washington. Today’s vote to reinforce essential health benefits in state law will ensure the protection of the vital and indispensable healthcare coverage that so many of our citizens rely on.”
The House of Representatives voted 199-147 to pass HB 514, which establishes a mandatory 7-day waiting period on gun sales in NH with few exceptions. The bill is now referred to the Senate. House Majority Leader Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey) released the following statement:
“Waiting periods can and do save lives by preventing impulsive acts of violence and suicide. Our most important job as legislators is to protect and preserve the health and safety of all New Hampshire citizens and I am pleased that the House voted today to do just that.”
“Suicide rates in NH have risen at an alarming rate of 48.3% between the years of 1999 and 2016. We know that attempting suicide with a firearm is fatal 90% of the time and that firearm suicides are cut in half in states that have waiting period legislation. It is imperative that New Hampshire join the ranks of states that take this important action to avoid violent tragedy.
Studies state that most survivors of suicide admit to contemplating their suicide attempt quickly, most only 24 hours prior. Imposing waiting periods reduces the immediate potential for gun related suicides and other impulsive acts of gun violence, saving the invaluable lives of so many.”
The House of Representatives voted 219-142 to support Senate Bill 1, which establishes a family and medical leave insurance program.
“Passing Senate Bill 1 is a critical step towards Granite Staters having access to affordable paid family and medical leave insurance. No one should have to choose between financial security and caring for a loved one. This is a vote for the future of our state that will help us care for an aging population, combat the opioid epidemic, and attract and retain the workforce of tomorrow. When crafting our bipartisan paid leave proposals, House and Senate Democrats paid particular attention to the concerns raised by Governor Sununu in the last biennium,” said Representative Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord), chair of the House Finance Committee
Majority Leader Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey) added: “Senate Bill 1, like House Bill 712, is a well-constructed, sustainable plan to provide affordable access to paid family and medical leave insurance. Today’s vote moves us closer to helping NH families retain financial security when they need time out from work to care for themselves or their families. Unfortunately, Governor Sununu has threatened to veto this bill despite the support of 82% of Granite Staters for a program like the one we passed today, even though he’s heard loud and clear from insurance companies that his idea simply won’t work. It’s time that we move forward with real, actionable policy and work to provide paid family and medical leave insurance to all Granite Staters.”
Governor Sununu has voiced opposition to bills modeled after successful family and medical leave insurance programs, instead suggesting an untested voluntary concept. This week the responses from Governor Sununu’s Request for Information were publicly released by the Governor of Vermont. An analysis of the responses submitted shows that insurance companies have several concerns about the Governor’s “Twin State Voluntary Paid Leave Program”.
The leading concern from companies about a voluntary market is the ability to price the insurance appropriately.
Small businesses and their employees are the least likely to have access to paid family and medical leave, yet the multi-tiered rate structure could penalize by creating different risk pools that would likely be more expensive.
None of the companies responding to the RFI were able to provide pricing information for employees in the private sector because of the uncertainty surrounding the composition of the insurance pool.
In all cases where specific cost estimates were included, those costs exceed the premium costs of the program proposed by New Hampshire legislators in SB1 and HB712.
Anthem’s reply also reveals as false the Governors’ claims that the insurance provider would bear the entire risk of the program: Anthem would charge between 3% and 6% in additional contingency and risk margin fees to administer the funds.
The residents of Greenland and the Seacoast won a big victory when the House of Representatives voted 230-98 to pass HB 494, relative to the removal of contaminants from the Coakley Landfill. The bill will be referred to the Senate. Representative Renny Cushing, (D-Hampton), prime sponsor of the legislation, released the following statement:
“Decades of contamination caused by the Coakley Landfill has been, and continues to be, tragic to countless New Hampshire families. With the highest rates of pediatric cancer in the country, too many families have lost loved ones because we, as a state, have failed to protect their water from carcinogens.”
“As lawmakers, it is our obligation to correct this. HB 494 declares the Coakley Landfill an imminent hazard, requiring action be taken to clean the contamination. I thank the House for its strong vote to make our water clean again.”
We voted to restore and raise the minimum wage in New Hampshire helping Granite State families across this state put food on their table and pay their bills.
We protected the environment by voting to maintain funding for energy efficiency programs and ensuring cleaner air and water for future Granite Staters.
We ensured ALL Granite Staters would be protected from discrimination by passing HB446 which makes it easier to change gender markers on birth certificates.
Protected the environment and jobs by blocking an attempt to kill the biomass industry in New Hampshire.
Protected the environment and future Granite Staters by moving to make New Hampshire generate at least 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2040.
Greenland and the state representatives who sponsored this bill agree that the road and traffic situation is an issue for Greenland the state DOT. No question here.
However, we want to make it clear that Greenland knows it also needs to work with the Regional Planning Commission and the State DOT to help the PDA move its employees easily in and out of the facility.
We do take exception with the comment that Greenland is against further growth at Pease. This statement is inaccurate and has never been uttered. Greenland stands ready to become a good neighbor to the PDA and it's employees with any and all help in can provide to make getting back and forth to work an easy and pleasant experience.
Greenland has made significant progress toward getting a seat on the Pease Development Authority (PDA).
Below, Greenland Selectman Chairman Vaughn Morgan writes about the importance of this and congratulates your local elected state epresentatives for making this happen.
This is an important development for Greenland and I was proud to be a co-sponorsor of the bill that created this.
Additionally, the Governor will also get to expand his representation on the very successful economic engine in the Seacoast. This is a terrific opportunity for us in Greenland and the state in general.
I voted against this bill that fully legalizes and commercializes cannabis in New Hampshire. As seen from states that have commercialized marijuana, this industry targets youth. We heard extensive testimony on the harmful effects to developing brains and the increased risk of substance use disorder. New Hampshire already has a robust therapeutic marijuana program now serving over 7000 individuals.
Furthermore, the state already decriminalized marijuana in 2017 for possession of smaller amounts. HB 481 creates a commercialized marijuana industry in New Hampshire,
opening the door to all components of the marijuana business with no limits on the types of products sold or the potency of those products.
The bill also allows vaping marijuana in public places at a time when vaping has become an epidemic in our schools and communities. The bill takes away local control by automatically opting municipalities in, contrary to the recommendations of the legislative study commission’s report. Lastly, HB 481 offers no protections for employers and small businesses seeking to enact their own policies prohibiting the use, consumption, and possession of marijuana in the workplace. In the past, I voted to decriminalize a small amount, but stopped when it came to legalization. I'm in favor of medical marijuana and understand it can be used for medical treatment. described.
There are several reasons why I did not support this bill. The first is that the federal government considers cannabis an illegal substance and makes it nearly impossible for anyone to get a legitimate bank loan to start a business. I had personal (snail mail) correspondence and conversations with many people in Greenland who asked me to vote against it. I also serve on the boards of two non-profit human service agencies and members of those boards encouraged me to vote against this bill.
We know the Governor plans on vetoing the bill if it gets to his desk and we currently don't have enough votes to override a veto in the House. However, if the Senate passes the bill some folks in the House may change their vote and override a veto.
I will be visiting this bill again when it comes to the House Ways and Means Committee on which I serve. We will study how much in taxes this could raise for NH and the Committee will make a recommendation on whether to support its passage based on revenue potential and the fact that it's nearly impossible for a startup business to get a legitimate bank loan. This will be an important test for HB 481.
I do believe that someday the state will legalize marijuana. I understand this. My vote was based upon the information I was receiving and my belief that our current Governor will veto HB 481 if it gets passed the Ways and Means Committee and the Senate.
This bill freezes the business profits and business enterprise tax rates at the levels paid for tax year 2018, rather than allow them to descend further. Relatively small changes in tax rates are much less important to businesses than workforce issues (training and basic education, physical and mental health and addiction, housing, workforce renewal in an aging population), transportation, energy costs, client-friendly permitting, quality of life and a functioning legal system.
Most of these areas are ones that the state plays an important role in, and that we have been progressively underfunding for years. When times were good, the legislature cut revenues rather than adequately fund the contractors and state employees that carry out the work of government. When the economy slowed, we cut employees and further underpaid contractors, reducing services to businesses and citizens alike. And we cut multiple revenues to the municipalities and counties, directly increasing the property tax. Businesses pay that tax too.
The business-funded Council on State Taxation reports yearly that in our state, almost half of
all taxes, fees, and other charges levied on businesses are property tax, while the business taxes come in a poor second. The current group of business tax rate cuts, if left unchecked, will reduce our total general and education trust fund revenues by 6% from 2016-22, assuming a constant economy. The cuts have not generated new revenues: the first set followed a normal recovery – normal for our state – in 2015, and the second coincided with the massive federal stimulus passed in December 2017. When we next have a recession (many predict 2020) we will emerge with revenues that require major cuts in state-level spending, due to the tax cuts. And more will be down-shifted to the property tax, which is already almost two-thirds of our entire tax
The NH House voted overwhelmingly that family and medical leave insurance is critical to New Hampshire’s efforts to address some of our most significant challenges: growing and maintaining our workforce, caring for our seniors and an aging population, and supporting recovery from the opioid public health epidemic.
A significant majority of working Granite Staters lack access to paid family and medical leave. High workforce participation leaves few caregivers at home so when needs arise, such as the birth of a child or serious illness like cancer strikes, families lose the income they depend on to make ends meet. Family and medical leave insurance is a bridge providing partial wage replacement to keep aging workers in the workforce longer, decrease dependence on food stamps and other government assistance following childbirth, and increase the odds of success for working people recovering from substance abuse. We also heard clearly from young people who testified that this policy will help attract and retain younger workers and their families to our state. Additionally, this bill is good for businesses and the broader economy.
The establishment of a family and medical leave insurance program especially helps small employers, the backbone of the New Hampshire economy, who are often currently unable to offer this benefit to their employees. States who have adopted family and medical leave insurance programs have benefited from greater worker retention, reduced turnover and greater worker productivity.
This bill is tailored to address many of our challenges and does so in a manner consistent with our Granite State values and ethos. The program piggybacks off the existing unemployment system and is designed to minimize administrative duties for businesses. Employers could opt out of the program if they provide an equivalent or better benefit. Participating employers would remit insurance premium payments equal to 0.5% of wages (an average of $5 per week) into the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund and be authorized to either pay those premiums themselves as a benefit to employees or to withdraw all or part of the insurance payment as a payroll deduction. The insurance program would provide temporary, partial wage replacement
(60% of wages) to eligible individuals for up to 12 weeks of leave annually to care for themselves or a family member. Medical certification demonstrating need would be required to qualify for benefits.
The insurance program benefits and administration are funded through premium payments. This legislation gives the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council fiduciary responsibilities to monitor the finances of the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Fund and the Commissioner of the Department of Employment Security the ability to adjust premiums or benefits up or down by 10% to ensure solvency of the fund. The proposed premium amount was set based on a New Hampshire specific actuarial analysis completed by UNH Carsey School with support from the U.S. Department of Labor. An overwhelming majority of Granite Staters support the establishment of a Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, along with a majority of the House.
The process of getting a Greenland representative on the Pease Development Board of Directors has begun. The NH Legislature voted Thursday February 14, 2019 to add two members to the Pease Development Authority board of directors. One of the new members will be another gubernatorial appointee and the other will be from Greenland.
HB 243 sponsored by state Sens. Martha Fuller Clark and by Tom Sherman and state Reps. Dennis Malloy and Tamara Le will be sent to the Senate for its approval.
State Rep. Dennis Malloy said the bill was created after talking with Greenland town leaders and dozens of Greenland voters who wanted a “seat at the table and help everybody understand how we can help Pease with the traffic situation we have in Greenland.”
A complete article from the Portsmouth Herald is posted below.
The Environmental Protection Agency confirmed that three recently dug “bedrock bore-holes” near the Coakley landfill have tested positive for PFAS and 1,4 dioxane, both of which are suspected carcinogens.
A Portsmouth Herald article posted below, gives details of the recent development.
The House Ways and Means Committee voted to pass HB 623, which would freeze business tax rates at 2018 levels, and HB 686, which enacts a simple extension of our existing tax on interest and dividends to capital gains and provides tax relief to lower-income interest and dividend filers through increased exemptions.
Ways and Means Chair Susan Almy (D-Lebanon) and Vice-Chair Richard Ames (D-Jeffrey) said, “By freezing the business tax rate and extending the capital gains tax, we have followed through with our promise of funding critical state needs like mental health and education while simultaneously lowering the property tax burden for Granite Staters, including our small businesses, across New Hampshire. New Hampshire has the 3rd highest property tax rate in the nation and it has been increasing every year.
We will continue to push fiscally responsible solutions that will fund critical government programs while lowering property taxes."
· Capital Beat: Lawmaker pushes for voting day holiday(Concord Monitor)
It’s practically an Election Day tradition: hundreds of thousands of Granite Staters swarming the polls on their way home from work. But one Democratic representative is hoping to cut down the stress with a statewide holiday that would give any employee time to cast their vote.
· Sergeant-at-arms abruptly resigns House position (Union Leader)
The man who has served as Sergeant-at-Arms for the New Hampshire House for more than a decade has resigned after being offered a schedule of reduced work hours.
· Lawmakers trying to ease rules on school nurses (Union Leader)
School nurses do a lot more than dispense medication and take temperatures these days, which is why the state Legislature four years ago passed a bill raising their education requirement from a two-year to a four-year degree.
· Amid Election Scrutiny, Dixville Notch’s Midnight Voting Tradition Could Be At Risk (NHPR)
Once every four years, for a brief moment, it seems the whole world turns its eyes to Dixville Notch. Since 1960 , voters in this tiny Coos County community have been casting their ballots just after the stroke of midnight to mark the official start of the New Hampshire presidential primary.
· First Lady Valerie Sununu Quietly Emerges As Advocate For Kids' Causes (NHPR)
Valerie Sununu has kept a relatively low-profile during her husband’s time in office. She rarely speaks to the press or promotes any appearances. Most of what the public gets of the First Lady comes from Gov. Chris Sununu’s speeches, where he constantly praises her. “And it goes without saying, the one who really makes this all happen, my amazing wife, Valerie,” said Sununu during the opening of his inaugural speech at the Statehouse last month.
· Proposed Ban On ‘Bee-Toxic Pesticides’ Buzzes Into State Legislature (NHPR)
New Hampshire lawmakers on Tuesday will take up a proposal to ban most uses of pesticides that are toxic to bees. The House bill comes from second-term Nashua Democrat Catherine Sofikitis.
· N.H. Lottery Calls DOJ Reversal on Web Lottery Sales ‘Unacceptable’ (NHPR)
The New Hampshire Lottery is exploring legal action after a decision by the Trump administration that would make selling lottery tickets online illegal.The state started selling virtual lottery tickets online in September of 2018, after it was approved in the last legislative session.In that time, it's generated approximately $1.8 million net for the state from web sales.
· What To Listen For In Governor Sununu's 2019 Budget Address (NHPR)
Governor Chris Sununu will deliver his budget address on Thursday. The address will take place in front of the newly Democratic-controlled New Hampshire House and Senate and will provide clues about where the governor and state lawmakers are likely to find consensus - and conflict - during this budget-building session, set to go through June.
CloseUp: The debate over legalizing marijuana in NH
Will New Hampshire move forward with recreational cannabis?
Bill to expand supervised visitation in N.H. spurs disagreement among advocates (Concord Monitor)
A father entered the Greater Nashua Supervised Visitation Center with a loaded firearm in his briefcase but was arrested before ever seeing his child.
N.H. House kills repeal of abortion buffer zone law (Concord Monitor)
An effort to eliminate the use of “buffer zones” outside Planned Parenthood clinics was quashed in the House on Thursday, after lengthy arguments over free speech and privacy.
Families ask for suicide prevention training in N.H. schools (Concord Monitor)
Since their son died, Martha and Paul Dickey have had little time to pause. The two have held fundraisers, launched community walks, made bracelets, and spoken to groups across the state about Jason’s life and the cause of his death: suicide.
· Proponents say ranked-choice voting could keep NH primary from fading (Concord Monitor)
Harvard law professor Larry Lessig has been in New Hampshire often enough for political advocacy that he knows what will get lawmakers’ attention here, and he got right to the point Tuesday. He thinks our presidential primary is in danger.
Bill to invest $9M in mental health beds clears first Senate test (Union Leader)
The state Senate gave preliminary approval on Thursday to an emergency measure that would draw $9 million from the state budget surplus to address a shortage of mental health beds that has patients being boarded for weeks at a time in hospital emergency rooms.
· State Senate OK's $4M in new spending on job training (Union Leader)
The state Senate voted along party lines Thursday to add $4 million to state job training efforts through a bill Democrats are calling the Granite State Jobs Act.
· Critics Of N.H. Marijuana Legalization Rally Opposition (NHPR)
Opponents of legalizing recreational marijuana made a pre-emptive strike against a bill that would do just that in New Hampshire.
Bill would give NH town moderators power to postpone local elections (Keene Sentinel)
A definitive, statewide answer to whether town moderators have the authority to postpone local elections is beginning to take shape.
· Democrats' 'carbon tax' bill debated at State House hearing (Union Leader)
Rep. Lee Oxenham, a Democrat from Plainfield, has partnered with Democratic Sens. Martha Fuller Clark and David Watters of Dover to propose a carbon tax on all fossil fuels imported into New Hampshire.
· Families of murder victims remind NH lawmakers the demand for justice hasn't gone cold (Union Leader)
The surviving family members of murder victims whose cases have gone cold offered heart-wrenching accounts of loss at a legislative hearing on Tuesday, hoping to convince lawmakers to expand the state’s Cold Case Unit by adding two more attorneys.
· Republican lawmakers threaten to sue over House weapons ban (WMUR)
The battle over carrying deadly weapons in the chambers of the New Hampshire House could be heading to court.
· Red-tailed hawk bill resurrected (Seacoast Online)
The students gasped as the red-tailed hawk was revealed from within its crate, the children startled by the flapping wings of one of New Hampshire’s apex predators.
Bill co-sponsored by Shaheen would offer health benefit to Guardsmen, Reservists working for federal government.
Tens of thousands of National Guardsmen and Reservists may finally get access to the TRICARE Reserve Select benefit, thanks to bipartisan legislation introduced this month in Congress.
· Kevin Landrigan's Granite Status: Trump gives shout-out to Hassan's surprise medical bill legislation
When it comes to health care reform there is a big change that unites President Trump and U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan, D-NH.
The newly formed NH House Ways and Means Committee is spending its days in Concord gathering information about the state of the economy and what we can expect in the next two years.
• The NH economy is at virtual full employment, and the third lowest employment rate in the country.
• NH is reasserting itself as top performer in an otherwise slow growing Northeast.
• Employment growth is at the highest level since the great recession.
• Wages and personal incomes are rising, after an extended period of little increase and post great recession
• Strengths can be found in certain industry sectors including leisure/hospitality and high value-added manufacturing.
• There is a strong link of higher education to economic outcomes and needs.
• Many economists predict lower growth and some say there will be a US recession in the next 12 months.
In a separate presentation, the importance of a highly educated populace was underscored by an independent research firm that said the most valuable economic resource in the 21st century is people, and more specifically brains. Skilled, well-educated people have the most economic opportunities and are the most mobile member of society. Where they locate, robust economic activity will follow.
Throughout these presentations it was made clear that the high cost and relative lack of affordable housing in NH affects how well NH can attract younger families and people beginning their careers. In other words, the cost of buying a home in NH is high and prices many people out of the market.
This is just a sample of the information that we heard and will use to help us make revenue estimates that the state will rely upon.
The process for planning NH’s next two-year state operating budget is already well under way. The Governor’s budget is due February 15, and new budget must be in place by June 30.
There is uncertainty in every budget, but we may have a particularly difficult time projecting state revenue this cycle. An estimated 22 percent increase in combined business profits tax and business enterprise tax receipts, following the federal tax overhaul in late 2017, was likely due in part to businesses repatriating profits from overseas.
This analysis is from the NH Fiscal Policy Institute, an independent nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy research organization.
Our NH House Ways and Means Committee will begin work after the first of January with projecting revenues for the next two years. It seems clear to the NH Fiscal Policy Institute and to many members of the Ways and Means Committee that forecasting the revenue will be challenging. Our job is to provide the most accurate revenue projections possible so that NH continues to deliver a balanced budget for its citizens.
1. Treatment systems have been installed by the Coakley Landfill Group (CLG) at two private wells that
exceeded the recently revised NHDES ambient groundwater quality standard (AGQS) for 1,4 dioxane
(adjusted downward from 3 parts‐per‐billion to 0.32 ppb on September 1, 2018). One private well is a
residence just northwest of the landfill on Breakfast Hill Road, and the other is the Breakfast Hill Golf Club.
The treatment systems are operating and have been approved by NHDES. NHDES is requiring that the
CLG expand the Site GMZ to incorporate these two properties. It is important to note that the
concentration of 1,4‐dioxane in these two private wells has maintained relatively consistent levels since
sampling began in 2012.
2. Samples from packer testing of newly installed bedrock boreholes have been analyzed for PFAS, 1,4
dioxane and VOCs, and preliminary data has been provided to the agencies. Validated data is anticipated
to be submitted next week. The CLG continues to pursue access to 7 historic bedrock boreholes located
north, south and east of the landfill for surveying and sampling and has gained verbal agreement to access
3 of the wells.
3. Wet weather storm water runoff samples were collected from landfill cover retention basins and
discharge culverts, underdrain discharge locations and landfill seep locations on October 27. These
samples were collected in accordance with a work plan that CLG prepared and EPA reviewed and
approved, to further investigate the extent of PFAS contamination potentially associated with landfill
cover material. Samples are being analyzed and results will be provided once the data is reported by the
lab. Additional sampling at these locations will be conducted in the spring.
4. Representatives from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) visited the site on October 24 to
become more familiar with site features and to discuss the scope of work for modeling localized, sitespecific
groundwater flow characteristics (model). Based on the findings of this visit, the USGS prepared a
revised scope of work which has been reviewed by EPA. An interagency agreement for the development
of this model is being finalized. Development of this model is scheduled to take about 12 months,
although adjustments to the schedule may be needed based on the collection of data from the ongoing
bedrock investigation that will be used in the model.
5. The CLG has conducted its fall monitoring round, including sampling of groundwater monitoring wells,
surface water, leachate and off‐site wells. Samples are being analyzed by the lab and results should be
available within two weeks.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to elect Representative Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) to serve as Speaker for the 2019-2020 term. Speaker Shurtleff appointed Representative Douglas Ley (D-Jaffrey) to serve as Majority Leader and Richard Hinch (R-Merrimack) to serve as Minority Leader.
Speaker of the House Steve Shurtleff said, “I thank the members of the House of Representatives for the trust they have placed in me to lead this body for the next two years. It is truly an honor. The issues that we deal with in the legislature are not Democratic or Republican issues, they are New Hampshire issues. I look forward to working with Representative Ley, Representative Hinch, and the rest of my colleagues in the House and Senate, as well as Governor Sununu, on legislation that benefits the people of New Hampshire.”
On Saturday December 8, 2018 the Portsmouth Herald supported Representative Shurtleff's election in an editorial that is posted below.
The Coakley Landfill Group (CLG) will be required to provide alternate water to the Breakfast Hill Golf Club clubhouse after finding an elevated level of 1.4-dioxane, which is believed to be migrating from the the Coakley landfill in Greenland and North Hampton.
It's good news that the state ordered the CLG to provide water to the clubhouse according to State Representative Renny Cushing of Hampton.
State Representative Mindi Messmer of Rye said that the state's Pediatric Cancer Commission has recommended "action should be taken in the Legislature to compel the state to act in stopping the flow of toxins off site."
An article in the Saturday November 3, 2018 Portsmouth Herald that gives complete details of this development is found below.
From Staff Reports Portsmouth Herald, November 7, 2018
GREENLAND — Incumbent Democratic state Rep. Dennis Malloy won re-election Tuesday in District 23, which includes Greenland and Newington.
Both candidates are from Greenland.
Malloy won in Greenland by a vote of 1,331 to 966. In Newington, Robertson won by a vote of 258 to 249, but the margin was not enough to offset the numbers in Greenland.
A career in public television brought Malloy to New Hampshire from his native Iowa in 2001. He worked as chief development officer of N.H. Public Television based in Durham for 10 years, after having served as director of community relations and development at Iowa Public Television for 15 years, and in a commercial radio station. Malloy retired in 2011.
Malloy had previously been a state representative for Barrington, and a selectman in Barrington for 3½ years. In addition to his current service in the Legislature, Malloy serves on the boards of Leadership New Hampshire, New Generation, Great Bay Stewards and the Pease Restoration Advisory Board, which was established after PFAS contamination of wells on Pease.
I'm pleased to announce that the New Hampshire Job Creation Alliance is supporting my efforts at re-election based upon my publicly stated position of opposition to broad-based taxes.
The NH Job Creation Alliance conducts the Citizens Count questionnaire which gives NH citizens the opportunity to know where candidates stand on issues affecting our state.
The questionnaire and the results can be found at www.nhjobca.com
Dozens of residents of Newington and Durham spoke Thursday night October 11, against a proposal to build a high-voltage transmission line between Madbury and Portsmouth.
The public hearing held by the Site Evaluation Committee at the Department of Environmental Services Field Office heard from all but one person who opposed the project.
The Site Evaluation Committee will make a final determination of the project late in November.
The main concern is that Eversource proposes to "jet plow" the transmission line underneath Little Bay, a technique where water jets would lay the cable under the bay's floor which is reburied as the silt resettles. Conditional approval has been given by the DES.
Many believe that jet plowing will severely affect the health of the bay by stirring up the sediment and dispersing toxins throughout the Great Bay Estuary.
State Rep. Marjorie Smith of Durham urged the SEC to force Eversource to select other routes that would not go through Great Bay.
The SEC is still taking public comments through e-mail which can be sent to the SEC administrator Pamela Monroe at Pamela.Monroe@sec.nh.gov.
New Hampshire has lowered its is ambient groundwatter quality standard for 1.4 -dioxane to .32 parts per billion, and the state is now awaiting test results on wells around the Coakley landfill that historically tested above the new groundwater standard for the suspected carcinogen.
The NH DES ordered the CLG to "immediately provide bottled water" to homeowners on Breakfast Hill Road whose well tested above the new standard.
The CLG has been ordered to provide "recommendations for correcting action" within 30 days.
DES spokesman Jim Martin said that "bottled water is not considered a long-term solution." A long-term solution could mean connecting somebody to a public water supply or providing a treatment system."
In a one-hour presentation before the Pease Restoration Advisory Committee Amy Quintin of Wood PLC outlined the process of determining the human health risk posed by the flow of the PFOS/PFOA/PFBS chemicals from the former Pease Air Force Base.
Quintin explained the process of where the chemicals are coming from and going to, how and where might people come into contact with the chemicals, how much is present at those locations, and whether the levels at those locations are unsafe.
She concluded that soil, surface water and sediment are safe for current use such as swimming and wading. However, concentrations in shellfish are unknown and that tissue sampling is proposed. Testing freshwater surface water/sediment samples are also proposed.
This was a lengthy report with many maps and scenerios for human exposure. This and previous reports to the Pease Restoration Advisory Board can be found at this location: https://www.afcec.af.mil/Home/BRAC/Pease-Archives/. The presentation from October 10, 2018 will be posted soon to this site.
Following her presentation, Brian Goetz, Deputy Diretor of Public Works City of Portsmouth gave a summary of Portsmouth water quality monitoring of the Haven well and the Pease Tradeport Aquifer.
He said there are ongoing discussions with the Air Force and regulators about developing a comprehensive water quality monitoring programs for required compliance monitoring, filter performance monitoring and aquifer monitoring.
This report will be included in the report mentioned above.
At a joint meeting of the Greenland Selectmen and the Greenland Planning Board it was announced that Greenland will be involved in Lonza Biologics expansion talks at the Pease Tradeport.
As the PDA reviews the proposed Lonza expansion which could bring 1,000 more jobs to Pease, Greenland officials have complained that the more than 10,000 workers already employed at the tradeport create traffic congestion on Route 33, which runs through the town.
It also revealed that the intersection at Winnicut Road has been identified as a "failed" intersection according to F. Giles Ham, a traffic consultant hired by Greenland.
The "good news" according to Selectman Paul Sanderson is that the PDA has a agreed that the proposed Lonza expansion will be treated as a development of regional impact.
Select Board Chair stressed that "growth we think is good for the area," and that "we are not going to be antigrowth at Pease."
At the same time, Morgan said that we want to be sure our "town doesn't get stepped on."
An article in the October 5, Manchester Union Leader says that NH's housing market "may be cooling a bit," and that should be good news for people who are looking to buy.
We have a lack of affordable housing in this state and it affects the ability for us to keep and attract people to fill the many jobs that are going unfilled right now.
The stat in this article that really sticks out is that 44.2 percent of New Hampshire millennials, those age 18 to 24 were living with at least one relative in 2015, higher than the national average of 39.6 percent.
The article also says that a survey indicated that 86 percent of millennials planned to buy a home in the next two years, but that generation is also juggling student loans.
Cheryl Young, senior economist at the online residential website Trulia, said the millennials, "are really saddled with a lot of debt."
With housing prices as high as they are in New Hampshire and young people carrying "a lot" of debt, our state needs to examine and actively develop more affordable housing so that our young people are more likely to stay, work and start their families in NH. This is an important economic development issue because without qualified workers who can afford to live here, our growth rate will slow and perhaps taper off in the next couple of years.
The New Hampshire Sierra Club has included me in the list of endorsed candidates for the 2018 election cycle.
I was recognized for leadership and support for our environment and the pursuit for the fair and equitable shift for all Granite Staters to have a choice in energy policy.
Expanding job creation in the non fossil fuel economy, and finding solutions to address climate change gives New Hampshire the ingenuity, skills, and hope for a better future.
This endorsement will be shared with all of the 24,000 members and supporters in the state through phone calls and mail information over the course of the election cycle.
The Coakley Landfill Group has been ruled a public body and must follow the state's right to know law.
The court also ruled that the CLG is to pay the costs of the small group of lawmakers who brought the lawsuit.
An opinion piece in the Portsmouth Herald congratulated the court on the ruling and recognized the lawmakers who brought the suit.
The opinion piece is attached below.
The NH House of Representatives voted 226-113 to override Governor Sununu’s veto of SB 365, relative to the use of renewable generation to provide fuel diversity.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said “The outreach that began the moment Governor
Sununu vetoed this bill was nothing short of remarkable. People who love New Hampshire, work hard every day rain or shine, every one of them shared a unique story of how this veto would
harm their family and our state.”
“House Democrats were proud to support SB 365 from the beginning because the benefits to our state were so significant. Continuing operation of our biomass energy facilities will not only save
countless New Hampshire jobs, it also assures that forest waste products can be effectively disposed of and used to our state’s benefit.”
“Allowing Governor Sununu’s veto to stand would have harmed families across the state. Our vote to override the Governor today will save jobs and protect our environment.”
The Air Force has agreed to remiburse Portsmouth for as much as $14.3 million for the city's costs to construct a water treatment facility to remove two types of dangerous PFAS chemicals from city-owned wells at the former Pease Air Force Base.
Jeff McMenemy of the Portsmouth Herald reported this and his complete story is found below.
Legislation aimed at making sure federal agencies are held accountable for cleaning up PFAS contamination at military bases across the country has been introduced by NH Senators Shaheen and Hassan.
Thousands of people working at the Pease International Tradeport, along with children and infants who attended two day-care centers there, were exposed to multiple PFAS chemicals from contaminated water in the city-owned Haven well up until its closure in 2014.
The Shaheen-Hassan bi-partisan PFAS Accountability Act calls for federal facilities, including military installations, to expedite cooperative agreements with states to address PFAS contamination.
A complete article published in the Portsmouth Herald on Tuesday August 28, can be found below.
State representatives, the town of Hampton and former Portsmouth assistant mayor have filed a Right To Know suit against the Coakley Landfill Group in an attempt to understand the Group’s record keeping and accounting practices. Since the Group is 63 percent controlled by municipalities, this should be settled quickly.
The plaintiffs have also asked that the meetings of the Group be open to the public because decisions are made about how to ensure public health and to spend public dollars.
The Portsmouth Herald opined on this Sunday August 5, 2018 and the full editorial can be found below.
The request is reasonable and needed. Judge William Decker asked lawyers whether they could site similar kinds of requests from “anywhere in the country, involving public access to information from a hybrid public-private entity like the CLG. The lawyers told the Judge they could not, making this a “case of first impression.””
We are hopeful the Judge will rule in favor of transparency, and await the decision.
A NH House session on Wednesday July 25, 2018 killed a proposal offered by a bi-partisan task force that would require states and other taxing jurisdictions to register with the attorney general's office, pay fees and prove compliance with state laws and the Constitution before collecting taxes.
A June 21, 2018 ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court on online shopping prompted a special session by the NH legislature to look at the effect this will have on NH businesses with on-line offerings.
The bill failed and will not see action until the legislature convenes in January of 2019.
An article in the Thursday Portsmouth Hearld found below describes the session and the results of the votes.
Newington Selectboard Chair Ted Connors toured the new $9.3 million treatment plant at the firefighting training area of the former Pease Air Force Base and called upon the state Department of Health and Human Services to test for blood contamination in Newington residents.
Town officials and residents are concerned about the "40 ish private residentals drinking wells" that are showing low levels of PFAS chemicals, now but worry those levels could rise over time, Connors said.
The Portsmouth Herald published an article covering this tour and Mr. Connors comments on July 26, 2018 and can be found below.
The contaminated site has detections 700 times higher than the EPA standard for PFAS chemicals. The new pump-and-treat system at Pease is designed to clean up the affected groundwater at the site and help prevent PFAS contaminated water from endangering residentals wells in Newington.
This plant is part of a $35 million to $40 million effort to clean up the water at the Pease International Tradeport and uses both granulated carbon and resins to remove PFAS chemicals.
An article published Saturday July 28 in the Portsmouth Herald can be found below.
Data collected from 2003 to 2014 shows that NH had the highest number pediatric cancer cases in the country.
Members of NH's congressional delegation sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that said they are "extremely troubled" by the findings in the report concerning pediatric cancers in NH.
The delegation pointed to their concerns about the effects of exposure to PFAS chemicals in drinking water could "have on the health and well-being of Granite Staters."
The Portsmouth Herald covers this story in the attached article below.
The Joint Task Force on the Wayfair Decision voted to recommend legislation to be taken up in Special Session next Wednesday, July 25. House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) and Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn (D-Whitefield) released the following joint statement: “Governor Sununu’s haste to call the legislature into Special Session prevented the Wayfair Task Force from conducting a thorough study of the complex legal and technical questions that have arisen from the Supreme Court decision. Because the issue of sales tax collection by online retailers remains unsettled law, and we still have no idea how many New Hampshire businesses will be affected, rushing into legislative action could result in unintended consequences like costly litigation for our business community.”
“Contrasted with the partisanship exhibited by the Governor following the Wayfair decision, Democrats in the legislature recognize that this issue is too important for partisanship. Even though Democrats were only given five seats on the seventeen-member Task Force, our recommendations brought many improvements to the proposed legislation including reimbursement for retailers required to collect sales taxes, bolstered consumer protection against fraud and fees for out of state tax jurisdictions seeking to collect from New Hampshire businesses. Most importantly, Democrats proposed a commission that will continue to study ways to protect NH businesses from the uncertainty created by the Wayfair decision.”
“The Department of Justice and members of the Task Force understand that while New Hampshire can enact state laws to protect our interests, we are unable to fully protect our business community from the effects of the federal Supreme Court decision. Governor Sununu’s brash response to Wayfair may have provided our business community with false hope regarding the level of protection the state can provide.”
“Notwithstanding the compressed seven-day timeline imposed by the Governor, Task Force Democrats voted for this bill to send our business community the message that we are here to support them. By outlining a process for out-of-state tax entities to register with the NH Attorney General's office prior to collecting taxes, the legislation provides New Hampshire businesses with a level of protection from scams and illegal tax collection attempts.”
“As the Supreme Court noted in its Wayfair decision, federal legislation that establishes uniform standards throughout the U.S. would be the most appropriate way to resolve this issue. New Hampshire’s federal delegation, led by Senators Shaheen and Hassan, has shown great leadership by introducing federal legislation that protects New Hampshire businesses and the New Hampshire Advantage.”
“When Governor Hassan called a Special Session to address New Hampshire’s growing opioid epidemic three years ago, Republican leadership blocked the consideration of bills and established a lengthy task force, citing the complexity and consequences of the issue. While this Task Force should have been afforded a similar timeframe, forming a commission to continue studying this important issue greatly improves the original legislation.”
Business and Industry Association (BIA) Senior Vice-President David Juvet wrote that it “supports legislation that adheres to our core principles for funding education in New Hampshire.
The BIA understands the importance of providing a public education to NH residents and has a vested interest in the outcomes because NH businesses are the largest contributor of real dollars to the state Education Trust Fund, (the so-called “statewide property tax” is really just a pass through).
An educated workforce is a key component of New Hampshire’s continued economic vitality, and we look to secondary and post-secondary schools to prepare the 21st century labor pool for the modern economy, according to Juvet.
Mr. Juvet goes on in this piece in the NH Sunday News laying out some thoughts and ideas on how we might proceed and what we as legislators should consider. The entire perspective can be found below in the press link.
I’ve known Dave personally and professionally for many years and I believe he speaks with credibility and authority on behalf of most of the largest businesses in NH, and I support the BIA in searching for answers to our public education needs in NH.
This was a big week in the Seacoast for addressing water quality. The EPA sponsored two day event in Exeter drew hundreds of people and showed those of us in attendance how other states are dealing with PFOS/PFAS problem and what it means for New Hampshire.
The Portsmouth Herald on Sunday said, "the EPA, through the rule of law, must mandate the cleanup and provide some level of funding as it did with its Superfund program.
That effort would start with a more stringent health advisory standard for the total of all PFAS variations, not individual ones. It’s time for government officials to acknowledge even a little bit of harmful, possibly carcinogenic, chemical waste in drinking and surface water is not acceptable."
I heard "not acceptable" many times over the two day event and agree that it's a priority to clean this up.
The Exeter event was ground breaking and the first of it's kind. New Hampshire is a leader in addressing and identifying this issue. Let's keep the pressure on the EPA to help us actually clean this up and guaranteeing safe drinking water for all of us.
It's important for your state legislator to understand your needs and concerns and vote on these in Concord. We are a citizen and volunteer legislature so it's difficult for everyone to vote on every bill because of other business, family and community commitments.
Serving Greenland and Newington means understanding the issues and going on record with a vote.
I'm pleased to say that this last term I voted on every bill that was presented and was one of 11 area legislators who attended every House session.
Thank you for your input and advice these past two years and I look forward to continuing this service next term.
A climate summit is scheduled for this Wednesday June 20 from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center, 89 Depot Road in Greenland.
Accelerating sea level rise, primarily driven by climat change, is projected to worsen tidal flooding nationally, affecting the Seacoaast according to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
It's projected that by 2045, more than $645 million worth of residential property (based on today's values) is at risk of chronic flooding. More than 100 of today's commercial properties in New Hampshire, currently assesed at about $77 million, wouild experience chronic inundation.
The attached article in Monday's Portsmouth Herald outlines more details of recent studies and describes the goals of the summit on Wednesday.
Attendees will see and take part in presentations and discussion focused on local climate-related work.
I was honored to be asked to speak at Rememberance Park in Greenland on Memorial Day 2018. The following are my remarks.
This day was born in 1863 as the Civil War raged. Grieving relatives were placing flowers on confederate soldiers graves in Columbus, Mississippi, and noticed nearby the union solders’ graves were dusty and overgrown with weeds. The confederate women understood that the dead union soldiers buried nearby were the cherished loved ones of families and communities far away. They cleared the tangled brush and mud from those graves as well as their own soldier’s graves.
In 1866 when the Civil War was over, a New York drugstore owner closed his shop and asked all other shops in town to close up for a day to honor all soldiers killed in the Civil War.
In 1882 the nation observed its first official Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember and honor the sacrifice of those who died in all our nation’s wars.
We now stand in silence in a good and strong nation that remembers those who were loved and who, in return, loved their countrymen enough to die for them.
We honor them not only for their sakes, but also for our own. If words cannot repay the debt we owe these men and women, surely with our actions, we must strive to keep faith with them and with the vision that led them to battle and final sacrifice.
So today, we share the tales of those we’ve lost, what they did to bring us to this place and rekindle the memories of our family and friends that are honored today. We do this so that everyone will pause to consider the sense of service, sacrifice and hope that built this great country in which we live.
I can’t claim to know the words of all the national anthems of the world but I don’t know of any other that ends with a question and a challenge as ours does. Does that flag still wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave? That is what we must all ask.
The House of Representatives voted 182-159 to accept the committee of conference report on SB 527, legislation which now seeks to block the release of voter database information in pending litigation against SB 3.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said, “what happened with this bill represents partisan power politics at its core. According to the Attorney General’s office, the sole purpose of what the House did today is to influence litigation pending in Superior Court.”
The committee of conference report changed the effective date of an amendment passed by the House on May 3, making the amendment effective upon passage. Since the May 3 House vote, it has been reported that the amendment was requested by lawmakers in an attempt to block the discovery request granted to SB 3 litigants in Superior Court.
“What the House did today violates Constitutional provisions against passing retrospective laws, interfering in other branches of government, and acting as an advocate for a litigant in an ongoing lawsuit. Republican leadership even opposed standing by their actions, urging members to vote against publishing the debate in the House’s permanent journal, according to Shurtleff.”
The House of Representatives voted 225-118 to reject the committee of conference report on SB 438, legislation which would establish a procedure for the rescheduling of town elections due to weather emergency. The House vote kills the bill for the remainder of the 2018 session.
This bill was a result of the confusion that occurred when a nor’easter hit New Hampshire on Town Meeting Day in 2017, and moderators throughout the state were given conflicting advice regarding their authority to reschedule their town’s election due to weather emergency. Despite broad acknowledgement that a clear procedure needed to be developed, the House and Senate took vastly different approaches to resolve the issue.
The Senate proposed a centralized process for postponement, requiring local moderators to obtain the permission of the Secretary of State in Concord. The House, after hearing extensive testimony from those involved in local elections, proposed a straightforward process keeping the decision to postpone town elections with the moderator and local governing body.
“For some reason, Republican leadership in the House was adamant that the decision to postpone town elections be made in Concord, and insisted on moving forward with the Senate proposal,” according to House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook).
The House of Representatives wrapped up its 2018 legislative session passing a number of bills onto the Governor for signature and several bills will have a detrimental effect on New Hampshire if signed into law, according to House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook).
“Rollbacks to child labor laws and legislation to micromanage the Public Utilities Commission are particularly concerning. The voters will have their say in November and I hope they take a close look at the members who support legislation that harms our great state,” according to Shurtleff.
Passage of SB 318, which amends certain provisions of the youth employment law increases permissible youth employment hours without any demonstrable need. Zero kids testified to their desire to work more hours than is allowed under current law and absent a clear reason, there is no reason to roll back youth employment protections.
Passage of HB 317, relative to the system benefits charge increases energy efficiency by funding low income energy efficiency programs. This bill, which prohibits the Public Utilities Commission from increasing the charge without legislative approval, could unreasonably delay future changes to the Systems Benefits Charge and undermine the restructuring system now under way.
In a letter to the Environomental Protection Agency and Department of Health and Human Services, the New Hampshire congressional delegation demanded they immediately release a draft health study that concludes PFAS chemicals can harm human health at levels far lower than the EPA has acknowledged.
"It is unacceptable and irresponsible that release of this study has been blocked for five months out of fear it would create a 'potential public relations nightmare,'" the delegation wrote.
A full report of this is found below under Press
The House of Representatives voted to concur with Senate changes to HB 1264, legislation which changes the statutory definition of “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency” in New Hampshire. Despite hundreds of references to those terms in New Hampshire law, supporters have made clear that the intent of the change is to affect voting eligibility.
“I encourage the Governor to keep his word and reject this legislation that suppresses the rights of students,” House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said.
Shurtleff added that the Governor has said HB 1264 is flawed in that it suppresses the right of students to vote in New Hampshire. “Students attending our colleges and universities live in this state for at least three-quarters of the year. They pay taxes, rent apartments, make contributions to the community, and comply with our laws and local ordinances. Moving this bill forward sends the message to young New Hampshire adults that their input is not valued,” Shurtleff said.
House members from both parties once again defeated legislation that would harm public education and the taxpayers of New Hampshire.
“The New Hampshire Constitution very clearly prohibits the use of taxpayer dollars to support the schools of any religious sect or denomination. The legislation was even worse than what the House defeated last week, as the broad eligibility in this bill would have downshifted hundreds of millions of dollars to local property taxpayers,” House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said.
The voucher program would take a quarter-billion dollars from public school districts if enacted according to House budget estimators.
The House of Representatives voted 180-163 on May 10, 2018 to reject Senate changes to HB 1636, which included the addition of school voucher legislation the House recently voted to send for further study.
Reauthorization of Medicaid Expansion has been the top priority of House Democrats this term and the reasons are simple. This program utilizes federal funds to provide health care to over 53,000 low-income Granite Staters who cannot otherwise afford it, it reduces the uncompensated care costs that drive up the cost of health care for all, and most importantly, Medicaid Expansion is New Hampshire’s number one tool to combat the opioid epidemic
“The deliberation and bipartisan collaboration that produced this bill exemplifies the way government should work. I thank the legislature for coming together to overwhelmingly support continuing a program that benefits New Hampshire in so many ways," House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said.
Legislation which establishes taxpayer funded “education savings accounts” to subsidize tuition for New Hampshire children attending private school, has been sent to interim study.
Under SB 193, Statewide Education Property Tax dollars would have been transferred to an eligible child’s savings account upon application. The funds can then be used to subsidize the cost of homeschooling or tuition at religious or other private schools.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff said “New Hampshire’s Constitution is crystal clear – the use of taxpayer dollars to support the schools of any religious sect or denomination is prohibited. This legislation was fatally flawed as it specifically allowed for the use of tax dollars to fund religious education.
Further, SB 193 would have slashed education funds to local communities by millions of dollars, forcing taxpayers to choose between maintaining education and increasing property taxes.”
“Our constituents did not send us here to force them to choose between educating their children and increasing taxes. New Hampshire children, New Hampshire schools, and New Hampshire taxpayers are better served by the House not passing SB 193.”
The NH Senate passed a "watered down version" of a House bill that required the NH DES to clean-up the Coakley landfill.
An amendment offered by Senator Dan Innis to better align the bill with the House version was defeated, and the Senate went onto pass a bill that calls on DES to report back to lawmakers on PFC testing at Coakley and other hazardous waste sites. The House bill called for cleaning up the site.
Senator Innis said, "I think it's an unfortunate setback for those of us that want to see Coakley cleaned up.
Senator Martha Fuller-Clark said that the DES, Coakley Landfill Group and the Environmental Protection Agency this week began sampling wells around the landfill, as well as testing bedrock wells and fish tissue sampling in Berry' Brook to determine levels of contamination.
Senate Majority Leader Jeb Bradley said federal law gives the ultimate authority of Superfund sites to the EPA with DES participation. He said the EPA has said no other state has passed similar legislation regarding Superfund sites.
The NH House overwhelmingly approved SB 564 that will help jump start the emerging tissue regeneration industry here.
Industrialist Dean Kamen of Manchester is leading the effort to bring this industry to the Granite State and the NH House Ways and Means Committee spoke to the importance of this bill on April 26.
On the floor, I spoke specifically how this will improve employment opportunities, encourage scientific and technologically trained people to live in New Hampshire and grow our economy. Some believe this has the potential to make NH the world leader in providing tissue regenerated from our own DNA.
In my remarks I said there are advantages to the entire state of New Hampshire by passing this bill and making us the hub of regenerative medicine.
Our employment rate is stuck at an all-time low as our population ages, hampering our state’s effort at growth and economic expansion. New job training and career opportunities from this project will jump-start job growth. Our state is poised to enjoy a major renaissance.
Job creation will bring skilled and talented people to New Hampshire, and enhance the educational and career opportunities of current residents. That brings new homeowners, renters and customers for current in-state businesses. This growth won’t be limited to Manchester, but will be felt statewide as employees and firms spread in all directions within the state. Given the high value per weight of the products of this technology, some manufacturing facilities and auxiliary services are likely to move to the farthest corners of the state for lower housing and labor costs and for the attractions of rural life.
Because of the likelihood of corporate donations and payment of property and other taxes by the new firms and employees, we expect little or no negative impact on future budgets, and we hope you will join us in assuring our state’s future prosperity.
The Carsey School of Public Policy recently presented to the NH House Ways and Means Committee focusing on NH’s population and the implications for our state.
They said that population growth in New Hampshire is slower than in the past, but recent data shows renewed domestic migration (people from other parts of the U.S.) gains here.
Demographic change is uneven across New Hampshire, and migration patterns are a concern because it is an important source of human capital. Migration brings families and children to a state that needs young people, migrants are well educated and they bring income and expertise to the state.
Some towns need to plan to cope with growth and expansion while other communities struggle to provide basic services to declining populations.
New Hampshire’s population is aging rapidly and diversity is growing but the state remains largely non-Hispanic white.
One may conclude there are far reaching implications for the state budget and that lawmakers need to understand these demographic changes in order to develop plans for education funding at all levels, and how that funding can serve to develop a qualified workforce to meet today’s jobs market.
NH’s economy is the fastest growing east of the Mississippi, but new employers will be reluctant to move or expand here without a large labor force, and right now our unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the United States. Businesses that want to expand or re-locate look for areas with a qualified, available workforce.
Attracting educated people who want to raise a family in New Hampshire is becoming an important economic development factor, and one that should be considered by every legislator and town planning department. Working with industry to develop a workforce for the next few years should be a top priority.
If you have more interest in these topics I recommend that you go to www.gencourt.state.nh.us click on House Committees and click on Standing Committees on the left hand side of the page. Scroll down for Ways and Means, click on the link. This will take you to a listing of reports where you’ll then click on the 2018 Joint Economic Updates; it’s at the top of the list.
“Who’s running the show here,” became the question of the evening at the latest public meeting regarding the Coakley landfill. April 5, 2018 about 100 residents from the area surrounding the Coakley landfill met at Bethany Church in Greenland for an update and report on the progress being made to clean-up the landfill.
Residents left the meeting without any new plans to either clean up the landfill or provide municipal water to the families living around it.
The meeting was hosted by both state and federal regulators and several people at the meeting expressed frustration that neither the Environmental Protection Agency nor the N.H. Department of Environmental Services had forced the Coakley Landfill Group to clean up Berry’s Brook, which is adjacent to the landfill.
Michael Wimsatt, director of the DES Waste Management Division said it would be most prudent to implement some kind of active remedy there to improve the water quality in Berry’s Brook. Wimsatt said that the CLG declined to participate in any clean-up work. He said that if the agency was in a position to compel the CLG to clean-up the brook, “we would do that.”
At this time, there is a bill moving through the NH Senate that asks the NH DES to begin remediating the situation at the Coakley landfill.
The NH House passed this bill recently, and now awaits a vote in the Senate.
A bill in the state Legislature that would create a tax loophole and decrease state revenues by millions recently slipped through the N.H. House.
HB 1686 broadens the Education Tax Credit (ETC) program beyond businessess to allow individual interest-and-dividends taxpayers to participate as well. Currently, businesses donate money to an education scholarship organizational and receive credits against their business-profits tax. Individuals participating would receive credits against their I&D taxes.
Stacking state ETCs with charitable tax deductions at the federal level, wealthy taxpayers would end up receiving more money back than they donated. With a return on investment exceeding 20 percent, it won’t take very long for financial planners and tax accountants to make this very, very popular.
I serve on the House Ways and Means Committee and voted against this scheme, and the April 10, 2018 edition of the Union Leader agrees that this type of “carve out” is not a good idea, writing that, “when politicians carve up the tax code with exemptions and special breaks, it means someone else ends up paying more.” They are right.
In their editorial, they also point out that a recent move by Ways and Means to lower real estate transfer taxes would help first time homebuyers, the Legislature should lower the rate for everyone. Creating a lower rate for favored class of homebuyers is social engineering, and bad policy.
I also voted against this bill in committee and will be voting against it when it comes to the floor.
The March 23, 2018 edition of the Portsmouth Herald editorialized about the efforts many of us in the Seacoast are taking to clean up this site and prevent further contamination of the groundwater.
Below is the editorial that lays out not only the current threat, but the history and rulings that have brought us to this point.
NH Fish and Game will stock Berry's Brook with trout, but restrict sport fishing to catch and release only. This is the right thing to do and helps the public understand the water quality issues surrounding the Coakley Landfill.
The complete article is attached, and I'm on record saying that "nobody should eat anything out of this brook."
The House of Representatives voted 171-162 to give final House approval to HB 628, legislation which establishes a paid family and medical leave program in New Hampshire. The bipartisan legislation has now passed the House three times in 2018, following reviews by committees on Labor, Commerce, and Finance. The bill will now head to the Senate for further review.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff said, “passing this bill is the most important thing the House will do this term to benefit the young families of New Hampshire. House Democrats understand how beneficial a sustainable family leave program will be to the retention of young, skilled workers – the very people New Hampshire needs to grow our state’s economy.”
“The private leave program endorsed by Republicans on House Finance would have placed onerous mandates on employers and provided few, if any, viable options for employees to purchase coverage. House Democrats joined the business community in strongly opposing the unworkable Finance Republican proposal. I thank our caucus as well as the 19 House Republicans who rejected the Finance Republican proposal, paving the way for passage of the bipartisan leave program which cleared the House today.”
Representative Mary Stuart Gile (D-Concord) and prime sponsor of the bill said, “the New Hampshire Family and Medical Leave Program will provide a unique and sustainable benefit to support working families with income replacement in times of family and medical need. This program will help attract a younger workforce with the skills and talent to move our state’s economy in a positive direction. I look forward to working with the Senate to advance this proactive legislation to the Governor’s desk.”
The House of Representatives voted Thursday March 14, 2018 to pass HB 2018, which updates the 10-year transportation plan. An amendment to include a federally-funded study to expand commuter rail into the Capitol Corridor passed on a 166-160 vote.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said, "a transportation plan that utilizes federal funds to study the most effective way to bring rail service to New Hampshire is an important step to providing the transportation options that will allow our economy to grow. Commuter rail is a top priority of our state’s business community, and is strongly supported by Granite Staters.”
“Unlike many of the high profile issues we take up in the legislature, the public is united in its support for bringing commuter rail through Nashua, Manchester, and Concord. By a margin of over 7 to 1 in a recent Granite State Poll, the people of New Hampshire want us to make this service available.”
“Despite opposition from most House Republicans, the Democratic caucus stood together because we understand how important the expansion of commuter rail is to the advancement of New Hampshire’s economy. We will continue to advocate for the infrastructure improvements that will be needed to drive our economy into the future.”
Representative Skip Cleaver (D-Nashua), prime sponsor of the rail amendment said, "I introduced the rail amendment because New Hampshire businesses, colleges, and the Business and Industry Association believe commuter rail is critical to the growth of our state’s economy. Advanced cities and countries around the world utilize modern rail service because it is an effective, efficient way for people to commute. The Merrimack Valley Corridor is the largest metro area in the U.S. without rail service. It is no surprise that chambers of commerce in New Hampshire’s largest cities believe rail will be key to their continued growth. I thank the House for its vote in support of this important federally-funded study.”
I'm pleased to announce that I've been appointed to the Pease Restoration Advisory Board. The Board, or RAB is a stakeholder group that meets regularly to discuss environmental restoration at a specific property that is currently or was formerly owned by the Department of Defense, or DOD, where the DOD oversees the environmental restoration process, in this case the former Pease Air Force Base.
The Air Force is committed to working in accordance with all regulatory requirements to investigate and, eventually if necessary, to remediate PFOS/PFOA in the groundwater at the former Pease AFB. The Air Force is currently conducting mitigation efforts under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) in response to an adminstrative Order that was issued by the USEPA in August 2015.
Below, I've posted the latest Seacoast Online coverage of the meeting held on March 13.
The mitigation efforts are extensive and have been covered by Seacoast Online.
The state Attorney General’s office says it will not conduct an investigation into the Coakley Landfill Group.
Thomas Donovan, the director of Charitable Trusts for the state Attorney General’s office, determined that the Coakley Landfill Group (CLG) does not meet the state definition of a charitable trust.
“Because the Coakley Landfill Group is not a charitable trust, the CTU (Charitable
Trusts Unit) has no authority to conduct an investigation into its activities,” Donovan wrote in a six-page letter to the group of Seacoast lawmakers who had asked for the investigation.
The complete March 13, Portsmouth Herald story is below.
In action aimed at college age voters, the House of Representatives voted 171-144 Wednesday March 7 to pass HB 1264, which changes the statutory definition of “resident,” “inhabitant,” “residence,” and “residency” in New Hampshire. Despite hundreds of references to those terms in New Hampshire law, supporters made clear that the intent of the change is to affect voting eligibility.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff said, “this bill represents the latest chapter in an ongoing series of bills designed to restrict the constitutional rights of college students living in New Hampshire. As former House Speaker Bill O’Brien first stated in 2010, disenfranchising college students benefits Republicans because they are less likely to align with the conservative Republican mindset.”
“New Hampshire college students live in this state for at least three-quarters of the year, paying taxes, renting apartments, making contributions to the community, and complying with our laws and local ordinances. Students represent the future of our state – the very people that our business community will rely on to move our economy forward.”
“The new Republican Party motto has unfortunately become clear – ‘if you can’t beat them, disenfranchise them.’ Attempting to shut voters out of the process is no way to appeal to their interests and concerns, a lesson that Republicans will continue to learn the hard way.
Wednesday March 7 the House voted by wide margins first to overturn the committee recommendation to interim study (essentially kill) and then pass HB1766 by a vote of 201-118. This bill, sponsored by Representative Mindi Messmer, will be kept alive now and sent to the Senate. I testified before the committee that the Coakley's location is creating fear among our Greenland residents and affecting our property values.
The bill shows the state that Section 93 (2) of the 1999 Consent Decree reserves the state’s authority to act to protect the Seacoast from toxins leaching from the Coakley Landfill Superfund dump.
In recent weeks, the sponsors have become aware that $10M in federal and state money was given to the Coakley Landfill Group but the originally planned groundwater treatment system was never installed. Where did the money go? The sponsors of the bill have appealed to the Attorney General and the NH Office of Charitable Trusts for answers about where the money has gone, why financial reports were never submitted and why the group was not audited.
The dump is geographically central to a double pediatric cancer cluster and more than 3 times the expected rate of brain and central nervous system cancers in our children or the Seacoast. The bill tells the state to compel the Coakley Landfill Group to put the original remedy in to address threats to groundwater, drinking water and surface water of 5 towns that still exists after decades of inaction. The time to act is now.
This is a clear example that the power of the people can overcome 5 high paid lobbyists, a high paid attorney, and polluters to protect the public health of the people of the state of New Hampshire.
A complete report by the Portsmouth Herald is posted below.
The House of Representatives voted 202-138 to defeat CACR 12, providing for the election of judges. House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said that “electing judges would be contrary to the purpose of the judiciary, which is to apply the law fairly without prejudice to political considerations. Replacing New Hampshire’s merit selection system with election of judges simply encourages political-based rulings and invites abuse of power into the judiciary.”
“To see how dangerous elected judges can be to the fair application of law, one needs to look no further than the case of Roy Moore in Alabama. After being removed by the Court for refusing to follow valid federal law, Moore was re-elected in 2013. Judge Moore was suspended in 2016 for again refusing to adhere to federal law.”
“Judges must be independent of political pressure so that they can vindicate constitutional rights without fear of political backlash. An independent judiciary is indispensable to a just and free society.”
The House of Representatives voted 231-110 to defeat HB 1542, which would prohibit state colleges and universities from regulating guns on campus. House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said that the “tragic shootings throughout our country, most recently at a school in Parkland, Florida, have increased the calls from our constituents to take strong leadership on public safety. As legislators, protecting our children is the most important action we can take.”
“This legislation, which forbids colleges and universities from regulating guns on campus, represents a major step in the wrong direction. Despite no legitimate reason to recklessly tie the hands of our colleges, a majority of Republicans voted to support this dangerous legislation anyway.”
“Granite Staters need to look no further than this vote to see what approach their lawmakers are taking in response to the rash of gun violence in this country. House Democrats, who voted unanimously in opposition to this legislation, stand united in finding commonsense solutions to the problems facing America today.”
The following is my testimony before the NH House Environment and Agriculture Committee demanding cleaning up the Coakley Landfill
With the issue of PFOA and PFOS contamination spreading throughout New Hampshire and United States, our town of Greenland is really feeling the fear of the harm these emerging contaminants are creating because we sit right next to what is now an infamous EPA Superfund site that people doubt was ever properly contained.
Our frustration is that while only part of the Coakley sits in Greenland, we were not a contributor to the contaminants that were deposited there and we are not a member of the Coakley Landfill Group, which as you know is the managing body of the site. You can imagine not only the concern about a spreading plume of groundwater with who knows what it contains that is moving in Greenland’s direction, but also that we have little to no say in the mitigation and remediation of the problem that is creating health worries among our some 270 private property owners and families who live near the site.
Greenland’s Board of Selectmen is working with the Portsmouth officials to work on a plan to bring public water to the residents along Breakfast Hill Road that can connect a Greenland well to the Portsmouth water supply, so we have started to do our part in protecting our residents. An eventual pipeline could be years away.
However, the nature of the pollutants in the Coakley and their consequences are concern enough to take action now to mitigate the hazards the Coakley landfill may be causing.
In addition, it’s felt among town officials that the Coakley is having an effect beyond the risks posed to residents with private wells.
The Greenland Planning Board has no new projects for 6 months, and anecdotally we’ve heard that area real estate companies are having a very hard time with potential buyers who will not consider moving to Greenland. To quote one town official, “we are feeling a negative impact.”
Please seriously consider this bill and understand that these issues affect not only Greenland and the Seacoast, but the entire state of New Hampshire.
On February 20, 2018 the NH House Environment and Agricultural Committee heard testimony regarding the clean-up of the Coakley landfill located in North Hampton and Greenland.
In my testimony I insisted that the NH Department of Environmental Services get to work on mitigating the Coakley landfill with a pump and treat cleaning system, which some believe should have been installed when the landfill was closed back in the ‘90’s.
I focused on how the location of the Coakley is having a detrimental impact not only on the health of residents, but the overall perception of Greenland as being a clean and safe place to buy a house and raise a family. My complete testimony can be found below.
Greenland’s Jillian Lane gave great testimony about the hazards of the materials that were dumped in the landfill, the DES said the contaminants have not reached the level at which they will act, and the Coakley Landfill Group testified that they’ve been meeting their obligations as outlined by the Environmental Protection Agency. We’ll see how the committee decides on this bill and whether it will move to the floor with a recommendation of ought to pass. The committee recommendation on the bill will be made next Tuesday.
The entire bill, HB 1766-FN and can be found on the NH General Court website.
HOUSE PASSES LEGISLATION TO BAN CONVERSION THERAPY ON MINORS
The House of Representatives voted 179-171 to pass HB 587, which forbids licensed practitioners from practicing “conversion therapy” on minor children in New Hampshire.
“Conversion therapy is a harmful and damaging practice which attempts to shame young people into changing their sexual orientation or identity. This legislation simply forbids licensed practitioners from practicing conversion therapy on minor children,” according to Representative Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location).
“I very much appreciate that the House listened to advocates and reversed its previous narrow vote to defeat this legislation. Passing HB 587 into law will protect countless children from the shame, rejection, and psychological abuse that conversion therapy brings. The House’s support today gives me great confidence that the legislature understands the urgent need to stop this practice on minor New Hampshire children.”
HOUSE DEMOCRATS UNANIMOUSLY VOTE TO BACK FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE PROGRAM
The House of Representatives voted 186-164 to pass HB 628, which will establish a family and medical leave program in New Hampshire.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said “I am extremely proud of the House of Representatives, particularly the House Democrats who have been working for years to bring a viable, sustainable, paid family and medical leave program to New Hampshire. Over 80% of our constituents support family leave because they understand how beneficial it will be to our state’s economy. Every single House Democrat stood up for Granite Staters by voting against the recommendation from Republican leadership that this bill be defeated.”
“New Hampshire businesses need educated, young workers to grow our state’s economy. This bill establishes exactly the kind of program that will encourage those skilled workers to raise their families in our state. Years and years of study, negotiation, and collaboration led us to this point, and House Democrats will continue to speak for the people in prioritizing this important program as it continues along the legislative process.”
The bill now moves to the House Finance Committee.
OTHER BILLS OF INTEREST
The House passed a bill making hormonal contraceptives available directly from a pharmacist in a voice vote after rejecting a negative recommendation from the Health and Human Services Committee in a 265-76 roll call. This vote represents a clear affirmation of the need for this legislation.
The House approved HB 1763 which would impose a fee on energy-efficient vehicles to make up for lost revenue from the gasoline tax, in a 194-132 roll-call vote. I served on the Ways and Means Committee that recommended this bill 23-0 for passage. Some felt that this was punishment for those who already drive fuel efficient cars, bad public policy, and bad tax policy but supporters said roads and bridges in the state are deteriorating, while receipts into the highway fund are declining and something must be done.
The House narrowly defeated a bill to restore a 15 percent state contribution to municipalities for the retirement coast of local police, firefighters and teachers. The vote was 171-170. Restoring this funding that was eliminated several years ago would have a direct, positive effect on keeping our property taxes low.
A $200,000 grant has been made available to look at how to extend a city water line already located in Greenland to homes on Breakfast Hill Road which are located near the Coakley landfill, a Superfund cleanup site.
Portsmouth Mayor Jack Blalock and Greenland Selectmen Chairman Vaughan Morgan in June sent a letter to the state seeking $17.3 million in state money to extend a water line to the homes around the Coakley landfill. $200,000 was awarded to begin a study on how to accomplish this.
The study will also look at the best way for the city to bring water to Breakfast Hill Road residents, including water that’s from a water line in Rye or one in Greenland.
I’ve attached an article from the Portsmouth Herald dated January 24, 2018 that describes in detail the grant and the next steps.
The House Ways & Means Committee held a public hearing on HB 1422, a bill to add a protective trigger to the next round of state business tax cuts. The goal of the trigger is to minimize the state’s risk of revenue shortfalls which would reduce funding for the critical needs of NH citizens and businesses.
A trigger was used for the 2016-2017 state budget. The trigger target was met and the business tax cuts occurred. So why then are we not using a trigger mechanism in this budget?
HB 1422 adds the trigger mechanism that was proposed by House Republicans to the Senate in the 2018-2019 budget committee of conference but refused. HB 1422 would ensure that tax cuts scheduled for future years would only happen if revenues meet the growth projections needed for this term’s budget plan.
Representative Richard Ames, sponsor of HB 1422, stated, “If economic growth fails to materialize, HB 1422 will at least put a brake on our losses and give us space to respond in a different and better way.”
“We should heed the example of Kansas, and the safeguards in House Bill 1422 are sound and prudent fiscal management — the New Hampshire way,” stated Senator Lou D’Allesandro and Senator Dan Feltes in a joint statement.
Representative Joelle Martin added, “As a Ways & Means committee, it is our responsibility to make smart fiscal policy decisions for the state and minimize the risk of potential revenue shortfalls. Adding a trigger to future business tax cuts would protect Granite Staters from potential unintended consequences, including cuts in critical services to businesses and communities as well as tax increases.”
The NH House of Representatives voted to pass HB 559 and to defeat HB 592, decisions that will allow recent state-level progress in energy efficiency to continue. HB 559, which passed, increases funding for the low-income energy efficiency program and municipal energy efficiency projects. The bill now heads to the Senate. HB 592, which was defeated, sought to eliminate the 20% allocation of RGGI auction proceeds to energy efficiency.
Democratic Members of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee released the following statements in response to the House actions: “The House served our citizens well by soundly defeating attempts to move back on energy efficiency programs, which are the cheapest, most benign way to meet our future needs.” – Representative Bob Backus (D-Manchester), Ranking Democrat on House Science, Technology and Energy Committee.
The NH House of Representatives voted this week to pass the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program, HB 628.
The program will help NH workers fulfill both their work and family responsibilities and is "a win for all citizens in New Hampshire, " according to House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff, (D-Penacook).
“The legislation creates an insurance program funded through employee contributions of .5%, approximately $5.00 per week per employee. Employers would not be required to contribute to the program. Included in the legislation is an opt-out option for those workers who do not wish to participate.”
“One of our goals as New Hampshire legislators should be to attract and retain young families to New Hampshire. HB 628 is one method of making NH family friendly.”
HB 628 now heads to the House Commerce Committee.
The House of Representatives voted to pass HB 609, establishing and funding a New Hampshire children’s savings account program, which would be available to students who complete a financial literacy program. The bill will be reviewed by the House Finance Committee next.
Representative Mary Stuart Gile (D-Concord) said
“The overriding goal of this bill is to create a culture of savings and investment, which is critical to breaking the cycle of poverty that exists in many of our communities. This legislation has the potential to be a game changer, because it will offer every New Hampshire high school graduate the opportunity to pursue a postsecondary program of their choice. I thank the House for their strong support today.”
The House of Representatives voted this week to pass SB 193, legislation establishing a school voucher program allowing parents to use Education Trust Fund dollars to subsidize tuition to private schools including religious institutions. House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said “Simply put, this bill is an unconstitutional attempt to weaken confidence in public education and reduce funding to public schools.”
“Because funding for this program will come directly from the Education Trust Fund, the total amount distributed to school districts throughout the state will be reduced. To participate in the program, parents of children with disabilities must waive their right to special education and related services.”
“This legislation was written to deliberately circumvent the New Hampshire Constitution, which clearly and distinctly prohibits the use of tax dollars for religious education. The pass-through scheme concocted by this bill is an embarrassment to the founders of this great state.”
The New Hampshire Business and Industry Association recognizes there is a serious labor shortage in New Hampshire and says it's time to support the University System of NH and its critical role in developing top-caliber talent for Granite State employers.
For the first time in decades the BIA is making increased funding for the University System and Community College System a priority budget request.
With so many students leaving our state for other institutions and the false perception that the University System is inefficient, the BIA is finally ready to help the Legislature understand the role USNH plays in educating and keeping young, talented and educated working in our state.
Our system spends less on operations and administration and has the lowest administrative costs per student than any other public university system in New England. The University System is a principle source of young talent for our employers and it supports business growth through research and business incubation.
I've consistently voted to support funding for USNH and look forward to providing that support again.
I've attached BIA Executive Director Jim Roche's comments below.
The New Hampshire Drinking Water and Groundwater Advisory Commission voted unanimously to award $200,000 to design the extension of a municipal waterline to provide safe water to homes around the Coakley landfill. A waterline down Breakfast Hill Road could provide water to nearly 300 homes.
Portsmouth and Greenland earlier this year applied for a $17.3 million grant to extend a water line along Breakfast Hill Road. The funds awarded this week come from the state's MTBE contamination settlement with Exxon Mobil.
This is the first step in getting a waterline into the Breakfast Hill neighborhoods. There is no word on how long the engineering study will take, but this is encouraging news. Greenland's appointee to the Commission, Selectman Paul Sanderson says there is considerable interest in helping many communities throughout New Hampshire facing similar water issues.
NH state revenues have tightened as growth has slowed down according to analyst Phil Sletten of the NH Fiscal Policy Institute. He said it’s still a good revenue situation and we are able to fund the priorities laid out in the state budget, however, “seeing essentially no growth in some of these revenue sources is potentially concerning for the future.”
Members of the Ways and Means Committee developed cautious projections about our revenue for the next two years in anticipation that the current economic expansion may slow down. Through the legislative process this past Spring, those revenue estimates were increased by both the Legislature and Governor. That, combined with a decrease in the business tax rate this year, gave many of us on the Ways and Means Committee doubts about the ability to fund our priorities.
The recently adopted budget by both the Legislature and Governor is dependent on continued economic expansion at a rate that we have seen in years.
I'll keep this post updated with revenue developments.
On October 4, 2017 the work of the Governor’s Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster officially came to an end, but not before the EPA left the room in stunned silence by announcing there is no current unacceptable human health risk at the Coakley landfill located in North Hampton and Greenland. The shocked Task Force members couldn’t believe what they were hearing when measured PFC’s in surface water running off the Coakley landfill are among the highest in the world.
Dr. Tom Sherman the chair of the task force said he believed “there was some consensus between DES and EPA that at least the surface water running off the Coakley landfill did present a problem," and “the goal was to move toward remediation.” The EPA’s announcement silenced the room and changed the entire dynamic of the conversation.
Dr. Sherman said that, “we have a situation where we have the Coakley landfill with known toxic substances sitting at the highest point of the Seacoast with radial flow toward at least most of the municipal water systems and several private water systems and the EPA right now is not planning to anything about it?”
The EPA said it will tell the Coakley Landfill Group at its October 23 meeting to “conduct the bedrock investigation,” which will take up to two years. Greenland resident and water activist Jillian Lane said “it’s hard to imagine how the EPA would come to its conclusions,” when “Coakley has already contaminated residential drinking water wells on our road.”
I’ve included a Portsmouth Herald article below about the events of October 4 and the shocker that occurred at the final meeting of the Task Force.
I will be calling on the Commission to address this serious contamination problem immediately.
I was proud to serve on the Governor’s Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster. Its work has concluded and will now be taken up by The Governor’s Commission on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster. What started as an examination of cancer triggers, soon included an in-depth look at the many waste products that are contained in the landfills and EPA Superfund sites throughout the Seacoast.
For the New Hampshire 2018-2019 budget to meet our obligations, survive the business tax cuts and prevent steep property tax increases our economy needs to grow at a whopping 7% per year for the next 10 years.
The consensus among economists is that we’ll see a 1.5 to 2.0% growth rate per year for the next two years. Last year after the first small cut our business tax revenue dropped by $2 million even as the economy grew.
The tax cuts will force future legislatures to make deeper spending cuts that will weaken service to citizens and businesses alike, and force municipalities, school districts and counties to cover the gaps.
The lost revenue created by the business tax cuts will result in continued downshifting of the state responsibilities to local taxpayers. While there is road improvement money for communities this year, this is one-time money only and is not expected to continue which means increased pressure on property tax payers.
Business taxes are NH’s largest source of revenue, and we should be very concerned about the cuts that are proposed in this budget. In its report to the House Ways and Means Committee the NH Department of Revenue Administration (DRA) said that 3%of the business entities that file tax returns pay about 70% of the business tax revenues received by the state each year and that over 50% of the business tax revenues each year are paid by multinational corporations. Seventy-seven percent of the business profits revenues are paid by 800 business entities and 31% of the revenues paid by just 45 companies.
Of the businesses that are either “active” or in “good standing” 70% pay no business taxes at all.
Combining the proposed tax cuts with a Federal Reserve predicted economic growth rate of 2.1% and an estimated 2% inflation rate, NH could experience an annual loss of $101 million by the year 2022.
NH already ranks 7th lowest in the nation for total business tax assessment and companies doing business in NH have continually said that job training programs and expanding the work force are the most effective way to grow current and new businesses here. While business has stated that a quality work force is a higher priority than changing the tax code, this year the legislature eliminated a federally funded jobs training program that employers would prefer.
A loss of revenue, elimination of federal funds for jobs training programs, one-time support to local communities and flat funding of higher education are the real headlines out of this budget. This means future state spending cuts and increase in local property taxes.
We’ve been through this before. When state spending was slashed in the Bill O’Brien led legislature in 2011 property taxes rose throughout NH because, among other things, the state decided it wouldn’t support pension funds for local police and teachers, so local property tax payers picked up the difference.
None of this may come to pass if we realize an unheard of 7% annual economic growth rate. On paper, the budget is balanced through 2019, but I don’t believe it’s fiscally sound. Here’s hoping that NH’s economy grows at such a staggering rate that we don’t have to worry about future revenue losses and putting property owners on the hook for the difference.
That's the title of an editorial published by the Portsmouth Herald July 17.
The NH Department of Environmental Services has acknowledged that contamainatns from the Coakley landfill are migrating from the Superfund cleanup site and measures should be put into place to stop it.
I've included a link to the piece in the Press Section below. It's a detailed write-up on the Coakley landfill status and a strong call to fix this situation now.
The Portsmouth Herald said, "Those who argue the levels of contamination are less than an almost arbitrary number are probably not drinking the water or willing to on a daily basis."
The most pressing question is how PFCs are leaching from the landfill and gettin ginto Berry's brook, instead of seeping into the ground."
Thank you Portsmouth Herald for standing with our area legislators and local residents for a clearly stated demand that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency take immediate action.
Dave Solomon of the Union Leader writes on Sunday July 17 that he received "a lot of feedback" on a recent column regarding the impact of lower business taxes on the state revenue.
In my opinion, today's piece tells a better tale about the impact of those cuts, whether the tax cut has improved NH revenues or the general growth of the economy is the reason for our revenue improvement.
State Sen. Dan Feltes, D-Concord says that the 2016 revenues that are so widely touted as proving the advantages of lower business taxes were based on business activity in 2015 and some of 2014 when the tax cuts were not in affect.
He goes on to say that the economy was taking off coming out of the recession and that the tax cuts of 2016 were not material to this improved revenue.
Economist Brian Gottlob of Dover says that state revenues have been strong over the past two years, but that business tax revenue was actually slightly lower in 2017 than in 2016.
He's correct. We studied these numbers in the House Ways and Means Committee and our group had lengthy conversations about the effect the new cuts may have on future revenues.
I've attached a link to Solomon's piece in the Press section below.
The NH House and Senate approved a budget for the next two years, and the Governor has signed off on it. But before I get to the budget, I am pleased to say that I did support two very important bills that were outside of the budget.
Full-Day Kindergarten & Seacoast Water Quality
I voted to support funding for full-day kindergarten with revenue from newly-approved Keno gaming. The legislation makes clear that allowing Keno is a local option for each municipality, and it sets forth the process by which a municipality can act on the question. If Keno revenue misses the mark, there is a guarantee that support for full-day kindergarten will not be jeopardized.
We established a permanent commission that grew out of the discovery of a Seacoast cancer cluster which will recommend long term goals and requirements to insure safe drinking water in the Seacoast area. The Commission will develop a long term plan to protect our state’s most valuable resource, drinking water. Seacoast Communities will each have a seat at the table to identify threats to drinking water and any connection to the health and safety of our residents. I was a co-sponsor of this bill, HB 484 that has been signed into law.
The Recently Adopted Budget
Due to my work on the House Ways and Means Committee and many hours of studying NH’s revenue sources, I decided to vote against the overall budget because I believe it overspends the amount of revenue we can expect over the next two years. My vote also reflected other priorities and initiatives that I believed deserved a more thorough analysis and guarantee that we can effectively provide drug treatment, support of the university system and property tax relief.
This budget approved further tax cuts for our business community, cuts they are not asking the state to do. The tax cuts in current law from the last budget cycle will cost us $20 million this year alone. When the latest round of business tax cuts are added in, they will grow exponentially until the loss of revenue reaches $128 million in fiscal year 2022. Altogether the total cost balloons to $208 million.
Our business community repeatedly said that an educated work force is their top priority, but this budget eliminates the bipartisan agreement to develop the Granite Workforce Program. This would be funded using federal money designed specifically to help low income workers to gain the skills that both the workers and our businesses urgently need.
The budget flat funded our university system, again saddling our students and their families with the highest tuition in the country and waving good-bye as those students leave New Hampshire and future jobs for greener pastures. Considering inflation, this represents a cut to the university system.
We are in the midst of an opioid crisis that has not improved and in fact, has become worse since the last budget. The Governor’s Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Recovery could see a diversion of its funds to the Sununu Center, thereby affecting contracts and reducing funds available for treatment services. This plan to allow money to be taken away from alcohol and drug abuse funds to support juvenile justice programs is an improper use of these funds. Some believe that opening the alcohol abuse and prevention and treatment fund is a dangerous precedent that could quickly deplete the funds.
There was an additional $36.8 million for highway and bridge projects, however these funds must “supplement not supplant” local appropriations and therefore limits their effectiveness as property tax relief. Similarly, the additional environmental grant funding is the state share for water and waste projects already due under statute, but previously suspended.
The meals and rooms tax catch up formula is suspended for both years of the biennium. The additional $5 million municipalities are to receive in this budget over the last biennial budget is not “new” money; were the catch up formula in place in the FY 18/19 budget, municipalities would receive an additional $15 million in that distribution base on revenue projections. It is important to understand that the real level of property tax relief provided in this budget.
When the school bell rings in September, there will not be a single new dollar of support for our children attending kindergarten under a bill signed off on by Republicans. In the following year, schools will receive only 80 percent of adequacy funds. Thereafter, full payment for kindergarten adequacy will depend upon the state’s success at keno. This represents an 11th-hour partisan departure from what Senate Bill 191 had looked like at any point during the legislative process, and this keno-for-kindergarten marriage has big problems.
The above is the opening paragraph of an opinion piece written by Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky and Senators David Watters and Dan Feltes that appeared June 10 in the Concord Monitor.
On Thursday, June 22 the NH House of Representatives will vote on this latest proposal that has now run into constitutional problems.
Volinsky, Watters and Feltes continue: The 11th-hour Republican deal under consideration fails the same constitutional test because it does not pay for full-day kindergarten now and will not pay for it in the future if keno revenues are insufficient.
It's entirely possible that the new bill will fail, but I agree with the authors that if the bill fails, I will remain committed to forging a bipartisan compromise to fully fund kindergarten with a new, constitutional bill.
I agree that our schools, our taxpayers and, most importantly, our kids deserve nothing less.
The House of Representatives voted 191-162 to pass SB 3, legislation that eliminates the domicile affidavit and adds over 350 words to the voter registration form used within 30 days of an election.
I voted against this bill, understanding clearly why no town election officials were in favor of this complication to our election laws.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said, “Today’s vote in support of SB 3 was a partisan sabotage of the election process that will do nothing but confuse and intimidate new voters. This legislation adds over 350 words to the registration form that new voters will be required to read, and swear to understand, with the pressure of a growing line behind them at the polls on Election Day.”
“Requiring voters to read and comprehend an entire essay at the polls is unnecessary, intimidating, and only complicates work of election officials who will be tasked with helping voters understand the registration requirements.”
“No local election officials testified in support of this bill because the current process works well. SB 3 is an illogical solution in search of a problem that will increase bureaucracy and expenses on local taxpayers.”
“This legislation was clearly designed to placate those who buy into President Trump’s discredited assertion that fraud cost him the popular vote in New Hampshire. Leaders from both parties denounced those assertions, and as we know from the reports released following every single New Hampshire election, voter fraud is not an issue in our state.”
“Our election officials deserve support for the hard work they do preserving the integrity of our elections. Advancing the myth of ‘voter fraud’ is not only disrespectful to those who enforce our laws, it also threatens the confidence in our First in the Nation Presidential Primary.”
The House of Representatives voted 231-100 to pass SB 191, legislation that would provide additional funds to communities with full day public kindergarten programs.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said, “I am thrilled that the House has stepped up to support providing additional funds to communities that offer full day public kindergarten. The benefits of early childhood education, to the social and academic development of our children, are clear. This bill is a long-overdue recognition of those benefits, and a signal to working families and the business community that we understand our obligation to offer all New Hampshire children the opportunity for a high quality education. Support of full day public kindergarten is a top priority for House Democrats, and I am pleased that the Republican majority has joined us in recognizing the benefit of this investment.”
I was proud to vote in favor of this bill and what it means for our newest generation in New Hampshire. This is long overdue and our governor has stated that he will sign this when it comes to his desk.
I want to thank all the residents of Greenland who voted to support full-day kindergarten in March and now the state of NH will be supporting our efforts here.
I've attached both Portsmouth Herald and Manchester Union Leader reports on the NH Senate passage of House Bill 463 that better protects residents from PFCs in our water.
The Senate passed this bill unanimously despite the opposition of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire.
Senator Dan Innis R-New Castle called the passage "a pretty big deal," and encourages the DES to look beyond the EPA," when setting its health advisory standards for PFOS and PFOA.
I want to commend Senator Innis for his work in the face of the the BIA opposition. Senator Innis was instrumental in passing an amendment to HB 463 requiring the state Department of Environmental Services to initiate rulemaking for setting new standards of these chemicals.
The state Senate Energy Committee voted 5-0 to approve an amendment to House Bill 463, which would better protect state residents from PFCs in our water.
This bill requires the state Department of Environmental Services to to initiate rulemaking to consider states with lower standards that reasonably protect the public, particularly pre-natal and childhood health.
The bill will go to the Senate floor next week, and the amendment passed despite opposition from the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire and DES. Rye Representative and bill sponsor Mindi Messmer says the bill sends an important message that it's an important issue to protect our most vulnerable populations, Mindi Messmer says.
The House Election Law Committee held a six-hour hearing on SB 3, a bill that many election officials say will lead to a complicated registration form that would lead to delays and confusion at the polls.
The NH Municipal Association believes the proposed bill would be almost impossible to implement.
Under the bill, a standard voter registration form would be used to register at most times during the year (as it is in current law). However, a different form, the state general election day registration form--currently used only when registering at the polls on the day of a state general election--would be used not only at the state general election, but also when anyone registers within 30 days before any election (town or city election, state primary, state general election, presidential primary); but the standard form would still be used to register on the day of any election other than the state general election.
Things get even more complicated when looking at the bill's requirements for proving domicile. Anyone registering "in advance of an election"--whether one day, 30 days, or 100 days--must either present one of several listed documents (driver's license, vehicle registration, etc.) or present "other reasonable documentation' to establish domicile. Someone who does not have "reasonable documentation" would not be able to register--he or she would have to return with the documentation, or register at the polls on election day.
It will be virtually impossible for clerks and supervisors of the checklist to keep these requirements straight. The bill contains contradictory statements about what the supervisors are to do when a voter tries to present the required documents after an election, and even contradicts itself regarding what action is, or is not, sufficient to establish domicile, among other things.
When this comes to the House, I will be voting against this bill.
The NH Senate has approved HB 484 establishing a commission on the seacoast cancer cluster investigation. I'm proud to be a co-sponsor of this important bill that insures our families are protected from cancer causing chemicals right here in the Seacoast.
The Portsmouth Herald has a complete write-up of this important move that can be found below in the Press section of this blog.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives failed to pass a budget for the first time in decades, and relinquished the duty of establishing a budget to the Senate. The House will get another up or down vote on the budget later but right now Republican House Majority Leader Dick Hinch of Merrimack is trying to deflect blame from his party by trying to assign some responsibility to the Democrats for this loss even though Republicans control all three branches of government in New Hampshire.
There were many items in the Republican budget that Democrats found attractive and we were willing to work with the leadership to develop a budget that would pass the entire House.
The budget that failed included Constitutional Carry, more oversight of the University System of New Hampshire—even though it’s governed by an extraordinarily qualified board of community leaders, educators and business people—and permitting school boards to ship children to nonsectarian private schools if there is a public school around to serve a child’s needs. One doubts that Representative Hinch will find many Democrats with these priorities, especially when the Republicans insist on including reforming election laws to “prevent drive-by voting” and no funding for full day Kindergarten.
The Ways and Means Committee heard many bills this term that offered more tax credit for business on the claim that this will encourage business to either expand or move here to NH. These pitches always sound good but the real reason business is having a tough time expanding here is because our current work force isn’t big enough to fill the jobs that require technically savvy people. We have talented workers of all ages here and our colleges are doing a great job of education and training. We just don’t have enough. It’s not about more tax breaks.
Democrats didn’t support the budget even though it included some Democratic priorities, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the clear priorities of the Republican Party that insists on more oversight of our public educational system and restricting voting, among other things.
Representative Hinch said in a recent opinion piece published in the Manchester Union Leader that the “House Republican Majority in Concord is committed to building a coalition that will ensure that our Republican principles are represented in the legislation that we pass and the people of New Hampshire have confidence in the Legislature and their state government."
We now have to wait and see what the Senate will craft but here’s hoping that the Senate got the strong message from House Democrats that there are some items on which compromise will be tough.
Today, the New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 177-169 to defeat HB 2, the state budget proposal recommended by the House Finance Committee.
House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement after the vote:
“Democrats opposed this budget because it fails to support the priorities so important to the people of New Hampshire. At a time when Granite Staters see the opioid crisis as the most important problem facing our state, this budget proposal fails to adequately fund the services that are so desperately needed to stem the tide of addiction.
Despite clear direction on the funding needed for developmental disability services, this budget could leave us with the biggest waitlist for essential services in a decade.”
“In the face of strong bipartisan support, including from our state’s Republican governor, House budget writers elected to remove funding for full-day kindergarten from the budget. This action not only hinders our goal to build the workforce that will drive our economy into the future, it also tells young working families that their priorities are not in line with ours.”
“This budget requires retired state employees to, yet again, pay increased portions of health care costs that were promised to them. These retirees, many of whom live on fixed incomes, cannot afford yet another increase in health insurance costs.”
“We reached out to Speaker Jasper on multiple occasions to see if we could find common ground. Democrats on the Finance committee offered a number of amendments that would have improved the budget proposal, including the governor’s plan for full-day kindergarten.
This is just one of the first steps in the budget process, and Democrats remain ready to work across the aisle on a budget that works for the people of our state.”
It costs Southern NH drivers and extra $500 a year in vehicle repairs due to poor road conditions. There is a solution and all of us can save money if we followed a plan offered by my Ways and Committee Chairman Norm Major.
Rep. Major developed a plan to deal with this. The full text is below in Press section of this site.
Serving on the House The Ways & Means Committee means developing revenue estimates for NH.
Our General/Education Trust Fund estimate is $87 million below the Governor and $25 million below the agencies for the three years that include this year's final surplus and the two
-year budget being worked by the Finance Committee. For July16-June17, the fiscal year we are in now, we are $3 million below the agencies and $28 million below the Governor.
The Department of Revenue Administration has the lion's share of "agency" estimates, and gives us a fairly wide range for each tax. It's up to the members of the Ways and Means Committee to make the decisions about where they may be going.
Our ranking member of the committee Susan Almy of Lebanon, NH provides the following analysis of how we developed these revenue estimates.
The W&M estimate was unanimous. It is done by collecting as much data and opinion as we can get, then sitting down and having each committee member contribute their thoughts on what is influencing the changes we are seeing now in FY17 and expect or fear in the following two years. Then we all throw out
numbers, average them, think about it again, and vote on one or more options.
The primary problem is the business taxes. FY16 taxes (money in in July15-June16) were paid on FY15 economic activity. As it happens, national economic growth started to slow during mid-14-mid15, and
slowed more during last year's major election-year uncertainty. Businesses paid good taxes in FY16 on the FY15 activity, and set up estimates on that basis to pay during this fiscal year of FY17.
Few of them changed the estimates, they left them there till they file returns. As they began filing returns for their varied
fiscal years, more than usual asked for refunds, and produced new lower estimates.
We have had a large spurt in refunds, and we are not yet in the main filing period (March-April) for FY17. The DRA can't give us much information about the main filing period in time for the House budget to go out, but we intend to meet again to review the estimates on the 23rd and try to discern whether the risk seems lower.
If we guess too high, and the money isn't there after the budget is passed, the legislature will have to return and make cuts to budgeted programs, cuts that hurt more when you have to make up for 4 months of more of overspending.
What I think is happening is that part of the official surplus booked for FY16 is artificial, a construct of how accounting
works. We got extra taxes in 2016, more than we should have based on what the businesses owed. It is now seen as a surplus which can be used for one-time capital costs. But we are having to give part of that surplus back in refunds (and perhaps lower estimates) now. If we leave that money in an account for one-time uses, expenditures for basic operations in this next budget will be short-changed. And yes, all those tax cuts passed in recent years do not help the situation.
I just received a thank-you note from AFL-CIO President Glenn Brackett for my suppport of working families in NH.
President Brackett said, "I want to extend my sincerest thanks for your support in defeating so-called Right to Work legislation. We particularly appreciate the extra efforts made by House Democrats to brave the wintery weather and be in attendance when the SB11 vote was called."
He adds that, "this victory belongs to all of us who care about the security of Granite State working families and the quality of life in our communities. "
In my view, the issue is good wages, protecting middle-class jobs and advancing workplace fairness in our state. These are values that I believe we all share.
State Rep. Mindi Messmer's bill calling for the establishment of a commission to study the Seacoast Pediatric Cancer Cluster won unanimous support from the New Hampshire House's Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs Committee February 28.
I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill along with many other state representatives and state senators. This issue has garnered strong bi-partisan support.
"This shows how really important the issue is and how this commission will let us address it in an expedient manner," according to Messmer, D-Rye.
If the bill is ultimately passed by the entire House and Senate and signed into law the commission will replace a task force U.S. Sen. Maggie Hassan formed in 2016 when she was governor.
Hassan formed the task force after state officials determined there was a small cancer cluster of rhabdomyosarcoma or RMS, which has caused the death of several area children.
While looking at the RMS cases, the state also identified "a small excess of pediatric lung cancer cases," all of which "were of a single rare type called pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB)."
Messmer pointed out that the commission will have both "an established end point and specified reporting" deadlines.A bill that establishes a permanent commission to study and deal with water quality
I am a co-sponsor of House Bill 485 that protects the unborn and infants from unsafe levels of chemicals, especially PFCs and 1.4-dioxane, in our drinking water. When enacted, this bill will help protect children and residents from unsafe levels of PFCs in Greenland, Rye, North Hampton, Merrimack, Litchfield, Manchester and Portsmouth. HB485 got a unanimous vote from the Subcommittee and is scheduled to be voted in committee on February 22, 2017. It’s expected to pass and be sent to the full House for a vote. Currently, EPA and NHDES feel that using adult rather than early life exposure is protective enough. We don't agree. This bill also protects the department by using a prescribed method and allowing the commissioner to enact criteria that are more stringent than the EPA.
Among many important things that the Governor specifically mentioned in his budget address is safe drinking water and protecting our most vulnerable - our children. These things go hand in hand when one talks about drinking water.
Supporting HB 485 and many others during this legislative session makes us an integral part of pushing forward on the Governor’s stated goals and this important effort in our state.
We know that PFCs are not safe in our drinking water at the current levels that NHDES allows. Ingestion of 50 ppt of PFOA (only one of the PFCs) has been shown to cause health effects in a landmark 69,000-person epidemiological study of DuPont workers. The results of this study have resulted in several judgements against DuPont and a $670 million dollar settlement this past week on 3,550 lawsuits
Other bills that seek to protect drinking water or address effects from are:
HB431 - Commission centers on protection of seacoast drinking water and mutual aid between towns
HB484 - Commission to continue the important work of the Task Force to investigate the Seacoast Pediatric Cancer Cluster
HB-511 - Commission to use existing data sources to identify threats to public health from environmental exposure. Also includes important development of guidelines for doctors and health care practitioners to respond to exposures from emerging contaminants (constituent requested amendment).
HB 507 establishing penalties for making drinking water non-potable
HB 486 protecting water resources by establishing state buffers around wetlands
HB 119 restoring state aid grants for water infrastructure
HB 173 giving municipality’s broader ability to prohibit lawn watering during droughts. (Passed RR&D)
This week the NH House voted overwhelmingly to establish a commission to study changes to state tax law. Goals include reducing the burden on property taxes under the current tax structure and evaluate the taxes and other revenue sources that provide the most revenue to the state with regard to their ability to foster or impede the goals of growth and to attract and retain the young people needed to reverse current demographic trends that threaten such growth. NH has experienced significant economic and demographic changes and this bill will help policy makers understand how to best deal with these accelerating changes.
The tax structure of NH is very complex and relies on many sources to support education, infrastructure, human services, recreation and law enforcement efforts. The Ways and Means Committee, on which I serve, acknowledges that being without a sales or income tax is what makes, and will continue to make, NH unique. The commission shall make proposals to adapt the state’s tax structure to these needs as it sees fit. The committee unanimously supported this bill as amended.
The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted 200-177 to defeat SB 11, legislation that would establish so-called “right to work” in the state.
House Democratic leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) said: “The strong, bipartisan vote against so-called ‘right to work’ today is great news for New Hampshire workers. As we have seen in other states, ‘right to work’ laws result in reduced wages and make it harder for people to earn a living that supports a family. While this divisive issue was a distraction from the pressing matters facing our state, the House’s vote to ‘Indefinitely Postpone’ SB 11 ends debate on the issue for the rest of this term. The legislature’s focus can now shift to the state budget and our response to the opioid crisis, where it should have been all along.”
Representative Doug Ley (D-Jaffrey), the Ranking Democrat on the House Labor Committee said: “Today’s vote was a confirmation of what we determined in the House Labor Committee, where Democrats and Republicans worked together to recommend defeat of so-called ‘right to work.’ With a strong economy and the lowest unemployment rate in America, legislation that reduces wages and interferes with the employer/employee relationship is the last thing our state needs. I am very pleased that the full House agreed with the bipartisan Labor Committee recommendation, and that we can finally put this issue behind us.”
The House of Representatives voted 200-97 today to pass SB 12, which would repeal the requirement to obtain a permit prior to carrying a concealed weapon. After the vote, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff released the following statement:
“The 94-year old requirement to obtain a permit before carrying a concealed weapon is one of the commitments to public safety that results in New Hampshire being frequently cited as one of the safest states in the nation,” said Representative Shurtleff.
“A poll by Survey USA released just last week confirmed that the people of New Hampshire strongly oppose this effort to repeal the concealed carry license. A full 80% of Granite Staters stated that they support our current law, which allows concealed weapons to be kept away from individuals that should not have them, including those with dementia or alcoholism.”
"The urgency that House leadership exhibited in rushing this bill through the legislative process gives a clear signal to the priorities of Republican lawmakers this term. Senate bills have traditionally only been taken up prior to House bills in the most urgent of situations. The fact that House Republicans would rush legislation which is opposed by 80% of Granite Staters shows that their priorities are with their party, not the people they represent.”
The 94 year-old law was supported by the NH Police Chiefs Association, and I chose to support their efforts our behalf of the safety of NH citizens and our law enforcement community. Under the now repealed law, citizens who were denied the permit to carry a concealed weapon were able to appeal that decision.
New Hampshire is currently in a great financial position, with a large surplus and historically-high Rainy Day Fund thanks to the strong position left by Governor Hassan’s administration.
Today Governor Sununu said that he's in support of full-day kindergarten and funding for the developmentally disabled, but as we all know, the devil is in the details.
We should be concerned about the $500 million cut from state agency budget requests and what that could mean to the citizens of New Hampshire.
The Governor’s budget address made no mention of the successful NH Health Protection Program, leaving serious unanswered questions for the 50,000 Granite Staters who rely on the program for their health care coverage.
I remain committed to working with our Republican colleagues on bipartisan initiatives, and on supporting a fiscally responsible budget that makes needed investments in initiatives that benefit all Granite Staters.
More than 150 people packed the cafe at Bethany Church in Greenland, NH Thursday night to hear why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) set the health advisory level for two dangerous PFCs at 70 parts per trillion, when other states use lower-and more protective-numbers.
Community leaders including Greenland residents with extensive water quality and geologic experience wanted to know why 70 parts per trillion is a standard for New Hampshire and whether that will ever be changed.
That number is three times what the limit is in Vermont and both former Portsmouth city council member Stefany Shaheen and State Rep. Mindi Messmer, D-Rye agreed that this number should be lowered and Messmer said residents should be careful about drinking water from their residential wells.
I am co-sponsoring state legislation with Rep. Messmer to establish a permanent commission to deal with water issues throughout the state and to establish safe drinking water standards for NH. Two bills have been introduced in the NH House of Representatives, with two more coming soon that deal with these issues important to everyone in the state.
A more complete report on Thursday's meeting is available on the Press section below.
I attended the Friday January 20 breakfast at Great Bay Community College that included major employers who talked about the relationships they've made with New Hampshire community colleges.
Seacoast employers including Sig Sauer, Safron, Albany Composites and Exeter Health Care Systems explained their partnerships with community colleges and how important it was for these schools to help provide a workforce that is ready to go to work in a fast paced technology based world of today,
Community college Chancellor Ross Gittell cited a commitment to focusing on a student's "career and purpose" starting in high school, then carrying it forward into the community college system and then, perhaps, to the university level.
Our community colleges are an essential part of New Hampshire's educational infrastructure and are critical to attracting and keeping major employers in our state.
Attached below under the Press heading I've included the text of the Seacoast On-line report published January 21, 2017.
State Representative Mindi Messmer of Rye, NH and Jeff Barnum of the Conservation Law Foundation led a meeting of Greenland Selectmen and Greenland, NH residents on Monday showing the presence of perflourochemicals in surface water around Coakley landfill, including in Berry's Brook.
It's hoped these new results will lead to the Coakley Landfill Group help pay to pipe municipal water to Greenland residents after the town's selectmen requested the service.
Max Sullivan of Seacoastonline reported on the meeting and the complete article is attached in the Press section of this site.
The nearly two-hour meeting saw comments from residents, legislators, selectmen, the EPA and the NH Department of Environmental Services.
Greenland Selectmen earlier in the evening approved a warrant article for the March ballot to increase the town's budget by $25,000 in anticipation of expenses related to dealing with delivering clean water to town residents.
I was proud to cast a vote today in support of retaining the Children and Family Law Committee, which addresses the rights, obligations and application of criminal laws to minors, divorce, child custody and support, the Child Protection Act and the Children In Need Of Services program.
House leadership had proposed eliminating the committee and House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff released the following statement after the vote. “House Democrats today showed their capacity to influence the body on changes to House Rules. I am most proud of our caucus for their outspoken dedication to the protection of children. The concise, passionate presentations on the House floor in favor of retaining the Children and Family Law Committee led to 35 Republican members joining House Democrats in the vote to keep the committee in place.”
“Moving the complex and important duties of the Children and Family Law Committee to three other overburdened committees would have shortchanged the vulnerable children of our state. I am very happy that the majority of House members opposed the proposal.”
“I am in full support of Speaker Jasper’s announcement that he will be naming a special committee to address the independent review of the Quality Assurance of the Division of Children, Youth and Families. Due to the urgency of the concerns outlined in the independent review, it is my hope that this committee is named quickly with qualified members appointed to fix these important concerns.”
This is a note from Donna Gamache of Eversource regarding not only the upcoming weather situation but provides some information on how Eversource plans for emergency weather procedures. I thought this might be valuable information as we move into the winter season.
In anticipation of the arrival of a winter storm, I (Donna Gamache) wanted to provide some information to you concerning our preparations. We are bracing for the possibility of a multiple day event in some areas of the state.
The snow is beginning to fly in the westernmost areas of the state and will move across to the east and to the north throughout the day. Snow amounts are expected to range from 12 - 20 inches in the north country, 9 - 15 inches in western and central areas, and 1 - 7 inches in southern portion of the state toward the seacoast. The heaviest show is expected to fall between 5:00pm and midnight today, but a key factor in predicting the potential damage to our system is the water content of the snow. We are always concerned when snow is heavy and wet.
As the storm moves out, winds are expected to pick up. We anticipate gusts that will range generally from 35 to 45 MPH, with peak gusts near 50 MPH along the coast. It is these winds paired with the fallen heavy snow that has caused us to prepare for customer outages.
The Eversource Incident Command Center is opening today at 1pm to ensure an efficient restoration, should it be needed. Over night, we secured more than 150 contractor crews, including support from New Brunswick, Pennsylvania, New York and Vermont. These crews, in addition to our own, are being positioned throughout the state today to be able to respond as quickly as possible.
However, it is critical that we are aware of our local emergency operations, including police and fire, as they are in the best position to provide assistance to someone in need more quickly. Our focus during large outage events is to restore hospitals, shelters, gas stations and critical local municipal operations first as these facilities can provide assistance to the largest number of residents in need. We then move on to the general restoration activities after these are secured.
Finally, I wanted you to be aware that we began to alert our medically-coded customers yesterday afternoon of the potential for outages from the storm. We proactively reach out to these customers so they might have time to make arrangements for their safety. However, we are aware of the locations of these customers on our system for the most part, and we do what we can to ensure they can get power restored in a timely manner.
Each storm is different, however, and we can never guarantee how quickly this will take place which is why we urge these customers to seek assistance in advance.
Please feel free to follow us on twitter and to watch our outage map on our website at www.eversource.com for any information. I will provide updates as necessary during the storm.
Please be safe and stay warm and don't hesitate to reach out to me with any questions you may have.
On Monday December 12, the Greenland Safe Water Action organized and presented before the Portsmouth City Council a compelling and emotional plea to provide safe drinking water to residents along Breakfast Hill Road in Greenland worried about their proximity to the Coakley Landfill.
Greenland Selectman Paul Sanderson requested that Portsmouth city councilors listen carefully to the Greenland residents assembled in the hall and invited the councilors to join with Greenland officials to find a way to bring safe drinking water to the affected area in Greenland.
The Portsmouth Herald provided extensive coverage of the meeting and followed up with more in-depth analysis of the situation. The articles are attached in the Press section of this site.
I want to commend Greenland Safe Water Action for organizing a thoughtful, and information packed presentation.
I noticed that the Portsmouth councilors were engaged and listening carefully to Greenland residents who are in the path of the potentially expanding plume that may contain toxic substances leaching from the Coakley Landfill.
At the Wednesday Seacoast Pediatric Cancer Cluster Task Force meeting the group unanimously passed their investigation into two types of rare childhood cancers, which also included a series of recommended actions.
Full Portsmouth Herald coverage of the meeting can be found in the Press section of this website.
I'm also pleased to announced that I've been elected to the Task Force subcommittee investigating the Coakley Landfill. The next meeting of the subcommittee will be this Wednesday in Rye.
I was saddened to read this morning that Portsmouth’s City Planner Peter Britz, writing on behalf of the Coakley Landfill Group that “public water connections requested by the town of Greenland are neither necessary nor warranted at this time.” This response gives little comfort to Greenland residents who live near the Coakley Landfill site, especially the 50 who in good conscious made an impassioned and reasoned plea at Monday night's Greenland Selectman meeting to protect them against potential contaminants flowing out of the site.
The full text of Peter Britz’s response is included on the media section of my site.
Families who live near the site didn’t bargain for this when they decided to settle in Greenland, raise their families, attend our school and enjoy this beautiful setting in the Seacoast.
I applaud the Greenland Selectmen who unanimously called for Portsmouth to supply public water to these frightened families, water that is pumped from our own well in Greenland!
It was clear during last Monday’s Greenland Selectman’s meeting that our town’s elected officials are on top of this and strongly encouraged our residents to take this matter directly to the Portsmouth City Council. Greenland Town Administrator Karen Anderson said that the management teams of the affected communities are also actively communicating about this concern that stretches beyond Greenland.
I was heartened to read that It sounds like Greenland will get a hearing by the Portsmouth City Council as reported in the December 14, 2016 Portsmouth Herald. We should. Portsmouth was the biggest use of the landfill in North Hampton and Greenland from 1972-1982. Greenland has unfortunate distinction of hosting this site.
At least our elected officials are demonstrating their care and concern. It would be nice if those who are responsible for the management and oversight of the landfill would demonstrate this same concern for the safety and health of our citizens.
A test of surface water taken from Breakfast Hill showed levels of PFCs nearly three times the permanent lifetime health advisory level for drinking water.
The Conservation Law Foundation conducted the tests on three samples taken from surface water around the Coakley landfill after state Rep.-elect Mindi Messmer approached the group with her concerns about contaminants leaching from the Superfund site, Great Bay–Piscataqua waterkeeper Jeff Barnum said Wednesday.
A complete Seacoast On-Line article published December 1, can be found here under the Press tab of my website.
This is an important and troubling development in finding remediation for Greenland residents who live near the Coakley site. Greenland Selectmen and Town Administrator Karen Anderson are paying very close attention to these developments and I am working with state Rep-elect Mindi Messmer to file legislation to put a permanent commission in place to deal with this and the other 150 landfill sites in New Hampshire.
I will publish more on the path of the legislation as this develops and keep you informed on the activities of our Greenland officials who do understand the seriousness of this situation.
There’s a detailed write-up in the Friday November 11, 2016 Portsmouth Herald by Jeff McMenemy about a site walk of the Coakley landfill hosted by the Coakley Landfill Group held on November 10. I recommend that one reads this to more fully understand the issues involved.
I attended the nearly two hour presentation along with over 50 concerned citizens, public officials and representatives of Environmental Protection Agency and N.H. Department of Environmental Services to hear a presentation by the Coakley Landfill Group.
We heard about how the landfill was capped and shown maps outlining the landfill itself and the monitoring wells that were established to measure water pressure and contaminants. We also heard how surface water flows off of the cap of the landfill and flows into retention ponds and into nearby streams. Officials would not commit to saying whether the landfill is harming ground water or private wells and claim the landfill is doing its job.
Governor Hassan formed a task force on the Seacoast Pediatric cancer cluster earlier this year after state officials determined that there was a small cancer cluster of rhabdomyosarcoma or RMS, which caused the deaths of several area children. Several area parents believe the cancers could have been triggered by environmental factors. Part of the task force’s work led to concerns about contamination from Coakley.
The task force appointed Representative elect Mindi Messmer of Rye, to chair a subcommittee that is studying the Coakley landfill. Its recommendations will be presented and voted on by the task force on November 16 at 3 p.m., in Portsmouth City Hall.
As your Representative elect from Greenland and Newington, I have been attending the regularly scheduled meetings of both the task force and its subcommittee and have given Ms. Messmer my commitment to work on fully understanding the hazards and risks that may be emanating from the landfill, and taking steps at the state level to mitigate any dangers and risks that are revealed.
Other elected officials who attended included outgoing state Rep. David Borden of New Castle, state Rep.-elect Mindi Messmer of Rye, Portsmouth Assistant Mayor Jim Splaine and Portsmouth state Rep. Jacqueline A. Cali-Pitts.
Since the "2009" economic recovery" research and development by industry has grown 5.1 percent in NH, and 17.8 percent nationally. University R&D grew 6.7 percent in NH and 16.2 percent nationwide. That's according to a 60 page report that outlines how the state can speed up innovation-led development by better coordination university research with existing businesses.
According to Jan Nisbet, senior vice provost for research at the University of New Hampshire and state director for NH EPSCor (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research), which commissioned the study.
Clearly the NH results are well below the national averages.
Nisbet said she wants a statewide committee--comprising business, government, higher educational and public-sector members-- to have more discussions with groups before focusing on what specific actions to pursue.
"Our economic future hinges on this plan and what is stands for--industry,
university, government working together--and I think it does a nice job of setting the vision," according to Hypertherm executive Mike Shipulski. "This is about research and the state's economy," Shipulski said.
The reports suggested generating talented workers both by attracting and retaining people in-state and strengthening the state's innovation ecosystem, such as technology parks and incubators.
Matt Cookson, executive director at the New Hampshire High Tech Council, noted a "talent gap" with 3,000 tech job opening a month in New Hampshire.
Val Zanchuk, chairman of the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire, announced that the BIA and New Hampshire Charitable Foundation are collaborating on a multi-year program for a "very proactive approach" on expanding the state's workforce.
A subcommittee of a task force formed to address the environmental and health threats posed by the Coakley landfill will hold its first meeting Thursday October 13.
Mindi Messmer, a scientist, environmental consultant and Rye resident is chair of the newly formed committee and says that members of the public will be able to pose questions to members of the state Department of Environmental Services and Environmental Protection Agency.
The meeting will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held at the Rye Junior High School.
The EPA just issued a series of new recommendations recently aimed at monitoring PFCs and other chemicals around the Coakley landfill in an effort to prevent water contamination around the Superfund cleanup site.
The NH AFL-CIO and the American Federation of Teachers-NH have endorsed my candidacy for the NH House of Representatives in Greenland and Newington. AFL-CIO NH President Glenn Brackett said that there will be a campaign to inform members of the candidates that the NH AFL-CIO is supporting including mail pieces, phone calls and literature distribution during the next few weeks.
The AFL-CIO is dedicated to the issues most important to union families, including jobs, healthcare and economic security.
The AFT- NH is the state affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers that has over a million members and represents more than 4,000 public and private sector employees, including teachers, pollice officers, support staff, higher education employees and city and town employees. AFT-NH is a member of the New Hampshire AFL-CIO that boasts membership of over 40,000 working men and women.
The Governor’s Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster formed a subcommittee on September 14, to focus specifically on the Coakley landfill and the implications of the contamination and what can be done to deal with it.
The subcommittee was formed as concerns about toxins from the Superfund cleanup site contaminating water and area wells continues to grow.
Subcommittee Chair Mindi Messmer said, “The key role is to really get down to working with DES to come up with a plan for evaluating Coakley.”
DES project manager of the Coakley site, Drew Hoffman said the state plans to send out postcards to residents living east of the landfill who might not have connected to public water line that was installed in 1980s. He said DES will also continue to monitor for contaminants in private wells to the north of the landfill.
Hoffman said this is an area where we’ve put a lot of our efforts and concern, largely due to the cluster of private wells that are tapping the water to the north and drinking that water.
DES is working with the Coakley Landfill Group to test surface water from Berry Brooke and Little River near the landfill. He said DES will also be working with the town of Greenland to test private wells and the help analyze the test results.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s Jim Murphy said the five year review of the Coakley landfill is almost complete and will release the findings at the end of the month. He said EPA officials are looking closely at contamination of groundwater outside the landfill by 1.4 dioxane and PFCs.
A public hearing was held this week on the Eversource plan to upgrade transmission lines from two existing substations in Madbury and Portsmouth. Currently, the section that runs through Newington, which utilizes existing rights of way, will affect parts of the residential and historic district with above ground transmission lines.
Susan Geiger, the attorney representing the town of Newington told a state Site Evaluation Committee that Newington is opposed to the current Eversource plan unless it buries the lines.
“Although Newington has historically supported large-scale utility projects, it cannot support this project as currently configured because an overhead transmission line will unduly interfere with the orderly development of the region, unreasonably adversely affect the aesthetics and historic sites and will not serve the public interest,” according to Geiger. She is an energy and telecommunications attorney with the law firm Orr & Reno of Concord and a former state public utilities commissioner.
According to an Eversource spokesman, the company is in negotiations with property owners in the area and expects to file an amendment that calls for burying the lines through much of the town, so the comments at the hearing were made for the current proposal.
Eversource spokesman Martin Murray said the company has rights-of-way for above ground lines and not for underground construction. However, he said he’s confident that the lines would be buried through most of Newington.
Geiger said that Newington supports Eversource’s plan to bury the lines, “conceptually,” but will wait to see the finer details of the changes once they are worked out before the town can make a determination on whether it supports the project.
While Eversource may now own the rights to an above ground transmission line, it behooves them to develop a plan to bury the lines and protect the interests of Newington residents, especially their property values and scenic beauty of the Great Bay region.
I want to commend the Greenland Selectmen for devoting a major portion of their August 8, meeting to hearing the concerns of residents who live close to the Coakley landfill. It has now been reported that elevated concentrations of perfluorochemicals have been found in non-residential groundwater monitoring well samples collected beyond the footprint of Coakley landfill. The next step will be to determine if water is affected as it moves outside of the landfill’s footprint, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s also reported that the 16 residential wells evaluated in Greenland and North Hampton met the state’s groundwater standards.
The Selectmen expressed their concern and stated that they will do everything they can to insure that our residents are safe and that this water situation will be given their full attention. A Sunday August 14, editorial by the Portsmouth Herald said “immediate action is needed and local, state and federal governments must do their job promptly.” The Herald said the solution is to extend public water to all residences with wells in which testing revealed the presence of PFCs.
Officials with both the state of New Hampshire and State Representative Tom Sherman, who heads the Governor’s Cancer Cluster Task Force said that everything about PFCs are new to us, and that testing is fussy. There are only a small number of labs who are fully capable of accurately measuring this contaminant and they are getting “slammed” with these requests. There is about a 6 week delay between submitting sample and receiving results. These contaminants have only recently been regulated so the testing processes are new and the EPA is asking labs to develop reliable and standard testing procedures.
I’m encouraged by our local official’s attention to this and their clear interest in protecting our residents. Testing is on-going and results are coming in. Federal, state and local officials are on top of this and I’m confident that plans for pure water will be developed and implemented.
As your state representative for Greenland and Newington, I will work hard on your behalf to help insure this matter is given top priority and that remedial actions will be taken.
The mayors of three New Hampshire towns are upset that the state of New Hampshire is raising municipal property taxes and are asking that every town and city in the state to join together against recent actions by the state.
When the state decreases its support of pensions and reduces its educational assistance which supports children who qualify for free and reduced lunch in our communities, local communities are forced to pick up the tab and therefore, raise property taxes.
Nashua Mayor Jim Dochess, Rochester Mayor Caroline McCarley, and Franklin Mayor Ken Merrifield have drafted a letter that says the state “is doing a disservice by imposing additional costs on the municipalities that are responsible for providing quality public services.” It suggests that the state adopt a long term plan that provides relief to the cities and towns that bear the burden of paying these costs.”
This is a major reason why I’m running for State Representative. When the state makes cuts to these services, the towns are forced to readjust budgets and either make cuts to vital services to cover for these reductions, or raise property taxes.
Whatever the town decides to do, it puts further strain on town budgets and taxpayers.
As a State Representative, I will fight to insure that when the state reduces spending, it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on our town budgets and our property tax payers.
New Hampshire revenues are $100 million ahead of projections according to the New Hampshire Department of Administrative Services. This is good news for our state, but I’d like to dig a little deeper into what this means, and how important it is to produce accurate and reliable projections.
The House and Senate make budget and spending decisions based upon what they believe are well vetted revenue projections, but these become politically driven. When the majority party produces unrealistically low revenue numbers the budget becomes balanced at that low number.
According to State Senator Dan Feltes of Concord, if the NH Senate numbers were used and followed, we could have had more funds available to combat the heroin and opioid crisis, send more education aid back to our communities, increase aid to help strengthen our roads and fix our red-listed bridges, and potentially lower tuitions costs for New Hampshire students at our university and community colleges systems, which are among highest in the nation.
We could have done all of this, without raising taxes, and still had a strong surplus to put away in the Rainy Day fund according to Senator Feltes.
No economist, liberal or conservative, has said that the business tax cuts, in effect for such a short time, have led to these revenues. It’s simply not credible to now declare that the revenues are a direct result of the business tax cuts, he says.
Reform is needed, and politics should be removed from the revenue projection process as much as possible. It is time for more independent, unbiased approach to revenue forecasting in our budget process.
Senator Feltes recommends that we put in place a revenue estimator position within the non-partisan Legislative Budget Assistant’s office. This position would not have direct communication with legislators, except at publicly-notices hearings. They would be free of political influence to offer the most accurate revenue projections for Legislature to consider.
Starving the government through politically motivated budget decisions is not a sound way to operate.
Preliminary test results of eight wells show elevated levels of PFC’s at the Coakley landfill. The following is an article by Jeff McMenemy of Seacoast Online, published June 30, 2016.
The wells were tested after concerns were raised by area residents that exposure from contaminants at the landfill – and several other potential sites – could be triggering a Seacoast pediatric cancer cluster.
Jim Martin, public information officer for the state Department of Environmental Services, said the combined test results for perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) ranged anywhere from 71 parts per trillion to 1,108 parts per trillion.
PFOS and PFOA are a class of chemicals known as perfluorochemicals or PFCs. The Environmental Protection Agency recently set its permanent health advisory for PFOS and PFOA at 70 parts per trillion.
The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has stated that studies on people exposed to PFCs showed certain PFCs may be associated with developmental delays in the fetus and child, decreased fertility, increased cholesterol, changes to the immune system and prostate, kidney and testicular cancer.
Letters went out Thursday to people living near the now closed landfill in North Hampton and Greenland stating DES would be setting up appointments so their private wells can be tested for the contaminants, Martin said late Thursday afternoon. He did not have an exact number of how many private wells would be tested, but said it’s likely many will be wells previously tested before for other contaminants found at or around Coakley landfill.
“Previous testing has been done on some of these properties,” Martin said.
DES will only provide bottled water to homeowners whose water tests show levels of PFCs above the state’s Ambient Groundwater Quality Standard of 70 parts per trillion (ppt), Martin said. “We wouldn’t do that as a preventative measure,” he said.
DES is hoping to have the sampling done in the “next couple of weeks,” Martin said, and the tests will be analyzed by the EPA’s regional lab in Chelmsford, Massachusetts.
Several Seacoast children have died from rhabdomyosarcoma, or RMS, one of the two rare types of childhood cancer the state determined was part of a Seacoast cancer cluster.
The state looked at the number of RMS cases in Rye, New Castle, Greenland, North Hampton and Portsmouth, according to a report it released. While investigating the RMS cases, the state also identified a second cancer cluster involving a rare pediatric cancer called pleuropulmonary blastoma (PPB).
Tests for PFCs were done at the monitoring wells in response to a request by state Rep. Tom Sherman, D-Rye, and the town of North Hampton. The tested wells were previously installed to monitor the potential impact of the landfill on groundwater, according to a joint press release from DES and EPA.
The test results are “still under third party review for quality assurance,” according to the release.
The Coakley Landfill Group, an organization of municipalities that brought trash to the landfill, will also be required to do tests farther from the landfill site, according to Jim Murphy, who works on EPA Superfund sites. Murphy said the monitoring wells that were tested are “almost on the fence line” of the landfill.
Sherman called the plan to test private wells and monitoring wells outside the landfill “absolutely the most prudent step to take.”
“They need to test until they get to a point where they’re negative,” Sherman, a doctor, said about future tests for PFCs. “They also need to do it as quickly as possible.”
He raised the question if the nearby private wells were “drawing off a plume” and in turn drawing the plume (containing PFCs) closer to their wells. “What is the extent of the plume and what is the continued risk of using the wells,” Sherman said.
Depending on what further tests show, part of the remediation for the contamination could be “shutting down wells that are drawing it.”
“Number one, I’m glad they did the tests,” Sherman said. “The next step is to figure out what it means. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
He also suggested state and federal officials should discuss testing surface water for “PFCs that drain out of Coakley.” “I think it’s prudent to at least raise the question,” Sherman said.
The investigation into the pediatric cancer cluster shows why “it’s so important that we understand the impact of industry on our environment,” Sherman said.
“It’s a direct health impact,” he added. “We have to make sure we don’t let this happen in the future.”
At the first meeting of the Governor's Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster Investigation, members were told that the state moved into the third step of its four step investigation into the cluster "because we had a significantly higher number of cases of RMS and PPB," according to Whitney Hammond, DHHS's program coordinator for its comprehensive cancer control program.
The third step is the development of a questionnaire that will get more information about children who are part of the Seacoast pediatric cancer cluster. If this questionnaire reveals a link between the cancers and a common environmental exposure it would trigger a "case control study." Hammond said the state has never done such a study and that they are very lengthy and resource intensive.
State Representative Tom Sherman D-Rye, suggested that the group make the task force meetings regular and public so that the whole process becomes a little more efficient.
State Representative Renny Cushing D-Hampton, said the task force should do an assessment of the policy limitations that might need to be addressed.
The first meeting was held June 22. The next scheduled meeting is July 20, from 4 to 6 p.m., with a location to be determined.
The Governor's Task Force on the Seacoast Cancer Cluster Investigation will have its initial meeting June 22 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. at the Families First Health & Support Center at 100 Campus Drive in Portsmouth.
According to the Governor's office, the task force brings together state and federal agencies involved in the pediatric cancer cluster, along with local community members to "coordinate a consistent strategy related to the health and environmental concerns: about the cluster.
Task force members include state Reps. Tom Sherman and David Borden, along with state Sens. Martha Fuller Clark and Nancy Stiles.
Several Seacoast children have died from rhabdomyosarcoma, RMS, one of the two rare types of childhood cancer the state determined was part of a small Seacoast cancer cluster. The state looked at the number of RMS cases in Rye, New Castle, Greenland, North Hampton and Portsmouth, according to a report it recently released.
The task force will also review progress being made by state agencies and keep the community informed about the progress of the task force.
Two public meetings have been held to present draft findings of the New Hampshire Coastal Risk and Hazards Commission. The Commission was charged with studying storm surges, sea-level rise and extreme precipitation. Greenland and Newington are two of the communities in New Hampshire’s coastal zone and one-fourth of the state’s population lives in the 17 cities and towns included in this report.
The 100 plus page report shows a consensus that sea levels have been rising for decades, and eventually salt marches will start to disappear. While the entire issue of climate change was clearly beyond the scope of this report, it did provide recommendations based upon the best available science in order to protect coastal property and infrastructure.
The entire report can be viewed at the Commission’s website: http://nhcrhc.stormsmart.org/draft-for-comment/
I attended the May 26 meeting in Greenland and felt that not only is this report loaded with solid information and documentation, but it also shows us what steps to take so that our coastal communities maintain their natural habitats and property values, and businesses can help insure their future viability. There are dozens of recommendations, but five were of particular interest to me and outlined steps that communities can immediately adopt easily and at no cost.
• Secure new and allocate existing funding sources for state agencies and municipalities to conduct vulnerability assessments of assets at appropriate scales and to implement adaptation strategies.
• Use appropriate and available mechanisms including but not limited to incentives and market-based tools to fund climate adaptation strategies.
• Implement regulatory standards and/or enact enabling legislation to ensure that the best available climate science and flood risk information are used for the siting and design of new, reconstructed, and rehabilitate state-funded structure and facilities, municipal structures and facilities, and private structures.
• Develop plans and implement strategies to prepare and adapt recreational resources based on best available climate science.
• Protect land that allows coastal habitats and populations to adapt to changing conditions and also provides ecosystem services that protect people, structures, and facilities.
The report itself was the result of a Senate bill sponsored by David Watters (D) Dover and Senator Nancy Stiles (R) of Hampton. Public comments are being heard and the final draft will be available later this year.
To protect the habitat, economy and property value of our 17 coastal communities, we need to understand the implications of a rising sea level and this report helps. I will work with our community and legislative leaders to help understand this report and lead in the protection of our New Hampshire resources.
Just 15 years ago New Hampshire was enjoying a growth spurt that dramatically improved our business development climate. Today, we face slow growth with many employers looking for the next generation of highly trained, skilled workers. This next election is about examining how we can recapture that strong economy, manage population growth and keep our young people here.
Kate Luczko, Executive Director of Stay, Work, Play, NH acknowledges there is a challenge, but believes that there are a lot of opportunities to do big things right here in New Hampshire, and says that “by staying in New Hampshire, you are able to be a big fish in a small pond.” She is speaking to our young people and those who’ve left, but might considering returning.
Matt Cookson, Executive Director of the NH High Tech Council says there are a lot of help wanted signs around and that well-paying jobs are going unfilled. Low taxes, raising a family and our natural resources should be marketed aggressively outside of NH to brand our state as a destination. An option he feels is for the state legislature to get behind a social media marketing plan and “put out that digital help wanted sign.”
In addition to more aggressive marketing of NH’s advantages, there is a growing call to take a comprehensive look at state government regulations so our government is a more solid and reliable partner in helping us all accomplish our goals. Clearly, this requires buy-in from all of our elected officials and most likely a thorough study of our current regulations by a non-partisan group made up of business, education, elected officials at all levels.
I’m particularly interested in a review of operating practices and regulations, because as a selectman, businessman and non-profit fundraiser I’ve seen how decisions in Concord can have unintended consequences on our lives.
It’s true that New Hampshire’s economy has grown, and unemployment levels are at all time lows; however those who take credit for these numbers including politicians and interest groups should do so with caution. The nation’s economy picked up significantly after the Great Recession and New Hampshire, like most states in the country benefitted.
American’s for Prosperity claim New Hampshire’s results are due directly to cutting the business taxes. Director Greg Moore makes this point in a Your Turn piece in the May 2, 2016 Union Leader. No doubt cutting business taxes has some stimulus effect, but I’m more interested in the case made by Jim Roche, President of the Business and Industry Association of NH, for focusing on workforce development and sustainable economic growth.
Roche says “when employers are considering expanding operations, high on their list of requirements is a workplace-ready, available pool of skilled workers. If New Hampshire falls behind in its commitment to workforce development, we create barriers for employment growth.” Roche made his comments in an April edition of the NHBR.
Roche and the BIA believe workforce development is essential for continuing our economic expansion and says fewer people are entering the workforce with all the skills required to perform effectively, whether it’s routine office tasks or those tasks requiring technical proficiency.
Workforce development affects manufacturing, health care, professional and financial services, high technology and more and Roche claims that “creating and sustaining and retaining a viable workforce that can support current and future business and industry needs is critical to ensuring economic prosperity for all.
Roche and Moore certainly have different views on growing the economy and maintaining full employment, however the BIA puts forward a thought out plan to support educational, results oriented programs that will get the attention of businesses and encourage expansion here. We must demonstrate to New England and the United States that we are committed to providing a workforce that business and industry covets.
Seacoastonline reported on April 28, 2016 that the Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to test for PFC’s in the water around the Coakley Landfill in Rye and North Hampton.
The news was delivered to the North Hampton Select Board by Governor Maggie Hassan after the North Hampton Select Board wrote to the EPA earlier this week asking it to test for a whole range of PFCs.
While the EPA has agreed to test the water at the Coakley Landfill, it was requested that the EPA expand the testing area to include the two watersheds near the landfill and expand to test private wells in the area.
A group of officials including state lawmakers will be pushing the EPA to expand the testing area according to State Rep. David Borden, D-New Castle.
This is an important development regarding the Coakley Landfill and for everyone affected by the water concerns at the former Pease Air Force Base and Seabrook Station.
I stand with Representative Borden and other elected officials to expand the test area and provide leadership in ensuring our water is safe and the possible contamination from these sites is contained.
A Greenland town meeting was held on April 14, organized by the Coakley Landfill Group, the EPA and the NH Dept. of Environmental Services. A summation of the EPA's position appears below, and is taken from their official site.
The Q & A provided the most interesting insight into how residential and commercial development stresses the ground water system, and may be affecting how the contaminants from Coakley spread. In my opinion, many attendees gained an understanding about how both residential and business water uses can affect the spread of contaminants.
The EPA did say there are ways to prevent the "flume" (surface groundwater that may contain contaminants) from spreading, and I thought this prompted one of the most valuable parts of the meeting because it helped local residents understand how important it is to weigh in on planning board review processes that can directly affect the safety of our drinking water and our quality of life. Greenland town officials, selectmen and planning board members attended and do appreciate and welcome everyone’s input while making these important decisions for Greenland.
There was a lot of information about water testing, contaminants and toxicity, and very detailed technical information is available through the NH DES and EPA. While we do live next to a Superfund site, there still are decisions and plans that we can make that help insure water quality for today and tomorrow.
Here's the EPA's overview of the Coakley Landfill site.
EPA’s Involvement at this Site
The privately owned landfill accepted municipal and industrial wastes from the Portsmouth area between 1972 and 1982. Incinerator residue was also accepted from the incineration recovery plant for a refuse-to-energy project between 1982 and 1985. The primary source of contamination is the landfill. VOCs and metals are the primary contaminants. On- and off-site surface water and groundwater are contaminated. The site is located on a groundwater/surface water divide, and residential wells to the south, southeast and northeast are contaminated with low levels of VOCs. Residential and commercial areas surround the site.
Since EPA issued its 1990 source control cleanup plan and its 1994 groundwater cleanup plan for the site, the acceptable level of arsenic in drinking water has changed to one fifth of what it was. EPA changed the arsenic standard for the site to match this new level. Since these cleanup plans were issued, the State of New Hampshire has updated its environmental regulations. For the source control cleanup plan, the chemical tetrahydrofuran has been added as an additional chemical of concern because groundwater monitoring detected this contaminant at levels exceeding state standards. In 2008, the site’s potentially responsible parties (PRPs) put in place groundwater restrictions and will continue to monitor groundwater quality at the site yearly until cleanup levels for all contaminants are met.
The site is being addressed through state, federal and potentially responsible party (PRP) actions. The provision of an alternate drinking water supply has reduced the potential for exposure to groundwater contamination. Since completion of the landfill cap in 1998, groundwater flows away from nearby residences and contamination levels are slowly declining.
EPA has conducted several five-year reviews of the site’s remedy. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. The 2011 five-year review indicated more analysis was needed to determine whether the groundwater monitoring zone should be expanded and more restrictions put in place. An April 2013 evaluation indicated that some wells should be sampled again for 1,4-dioxane, sampling could stop in other wells and the groundwater monitoring zone should be expanded.
Overall, the five-year review concluded that the remedy at the site protects human health and the environment in the short term. Long-term protectiveness has also been achieved at the source based on continued maintenance of the landfill cap, long-term monitoring and land use restrictions. Groundwater levels will also be protective when cleanup levels for all contaminants of concern are met and restrictions on the use of groundwater can be removed.
Last updated on April 15, 2016
A top priority of elected officials should be how budget decisions in Concord affect economic development.
Respected demographic analyst Peter Francese of Exeter, NH wrote in the Foster’s Daily Democrat that we have a “stagnant or declining workforce combined with a very fast growing elderly population,” and NH should “increase the skills and earning power of our state’s young adults,” which will spur economic growth “through rising personal income and household wealth.”
Francese makes the case that higher educational achievement means higher incomes and that three-quarters of NH community college graduates find full-time employment in the state. While Francese focuses on the benefits of supporting our community college system, he also reports that average debt of three-quarters of our four year graduates was $32,000, the highest in the nation. “As a society we should be very troubled by that because those young graduates will face big mortgage payments, but with no house to show for it and fewer prospects for buying one,” according to Francese.
National statistics show that NH is at the bottom of all 50 states in its support of public higher education, and Francese says, “perhaps we ought to spend more time thinking about the consequences of spending so little on helping our young people get the skills they need.”
From my experience in NH as a business leader, small business owner and an elected official, I’ve heard from both small and large high-tech companies that finding and keeping highly trained NH young people is a bigger impediment to growing a business than the current corporate tax rates.
There are unforeseen and potentially damaging consequences to changing the tax codes, and could possibly accelerate the rate at which NH young people leave our state to find affordable education, housing and livable wages.
Economic experts and politicians need to take a little more time to fully vet the consequences of changing the tax rates on corporations. Lowering corporate taxes could stimulate an economic uptick or it could “blow a hole” in the revenue stream that makes up one of the largest sources of NH revenue.
Prioritizing higher education funding is an investment in NH’s people and economic future, and during budget negotiations, we should encourage our elected officials to do what is in the economic best interest of all of us.
In her annual State of the State message the Governor said we need to increase the education and training of men and women. These initiatives are critical for New Hampshire’s continued and future growth because expanding businesses need a quality, educated work force.
Most employers and public policy experts tell us that a growing, qualified workforce is just as important as tax considerations and incentives when businesses consider expansion. The Seacoast and Portsmouth benefit from a diverse and educated work force and that’s a major reason why business expands here.
New Hampshire boasts the lowest unemployment rate in 15 years, a budget surplus for 2015, strong revenues for 2016, and a boost in the "rainy day" fund. But for those still struggling to find meaningful, sustained employment the 3.1 percent unemployment number brings little comfort.
To create meaningful and fulfilling jobs and move our economy forward, expanded training and educational opportunities are critical.
While the low unemployment number is a good thing it may actually slow some economic development opportunities. A focus on quality, affordable education is an investment in our citizens and a powerful incentive for enhancing New Hampshire's economic base.
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