RELEASE: Democrats Decry Partisan Votes That Could Set New Hampshire Energy Policy Back 20 Years

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, Democratic members of the House Science, Technology and Energy Committee denounced partisan votes on legislation that would disrupt the energy economy and harm advances in clean and efficient energy:

Ranking Democrat Bob Backus (D-Manchester): “The high cost of energy is a major complaint of people in this state.  The best answer is to maximize energy efficiency and help people lower their usage and their electric bills.  These bills would do great harm to those efforts if they become law.”

Representative Jackie Cali-Pitts (D-Portsmouth): “In 22 years serving on this committee, I have never seen such disregard for scientific and economic fact.  The bills recommended by the committee today will set our state back 20 years.  At a time when we should be expanding clean energy, our actions are moving the state back and harming New Hampshire’s job market.”

Representative Suzanne Harvey (D-Nashua): “The legislature’s efforts 10 years ago on renewable energy provided our state with hundreds of jobs in a renewable energy economy.  Any effort to undermine those efforts hurts our state’s workforce, and creates an unstable environment that discourages investment in a rapidly growing sector.  Today’s actions will only discourage the young people that New Hampshire needs to attract from moving to and investing in our state.”

Representative Marjorie Shepardson (D-Marlborough): “This year in the legislature, there has been a pattern of undermining efforts to bring a clean energy future to NH.  Bills to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) and underfund energy efficiency will impede our goal of achieving 25% renewable energy by the year 2025 and destabilize the growing energy economy.”

Representative Peter Somssich (D-Portsmouth): “Given my scientific background, I believed the committee I was joining would be less partisan and more focused on factual evidence. I was wrong.  This committee is judging things politically, not scientifically.  This approach has resulted in an underfunding of our most effective energy efficiency programs, including low-income energy efficiency audits.”

Legislation voted on by the Science, Technology and Energy Committee includes:

HB 114 – This bill would cut the goal to be achieved through new renewable sources from 15% by 2025, to the current 6%, which will keep New Hampshire as the laggard of New England in advancing clean renewable energy.  This bill was recommended Ought to Pass by a vote of 11-10.

HB 317 – This bill would deprive the PUC of the ability to adjust the Systems Benefit Charge, which funds energy efficiency and low income assistance. Transferring this arcane and technical work to the General Court, as this bill does, will threaten NH’s ability to achieve our established energy priority – capturing all cost effective energy efficiency. This bill was recommended Ought to Pass with Amendment by a vote of 11-10.

HB 559 – While exempting business customers, this bill would increase funding to permit reducing wait times for energy efficiency projects, including for low income customers.  Every study shows that increasing energy efficiency is the lowest cost way to reduce energy costs for our citizens.  This proactive bill was recommended Inexpedient to Legislate by a vote of 11-10.

HB 592 – This bill zeroes out the funding of energy efficiency through the funding available through the RGGI program, which will only increase the wait list for energy efficiency projects for our residential and low income citizens. This bill was recommended Ought to Pass with Amendment by a vote of 11-10.

The House of Representatives will vote on these bills when the 2018 session begins in January.

RELEASE: House Committee Recommends Passage of Family and Medical Leave Legislation

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Representative Mary Stuart Gile (D-Concord), prime sponsor of HB 628,released the following statement after the House Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services Committee voted 14-7 to recommend passage of legislation establishing paid family and medical leave insurance in New Hampshire:

“Today’s vote by the House Labor committee was an important step to making paid family leave a reality here in New Hampshire.  A comprehensive family leave program is critically important to the financial security of working families, the very people that our state needs to thrive.”

“The public strongly supports a family leave program and I applaud the House Labor committee for its strong, bipartisan vote in support of this legislation.  I look forward to continuing discussions about the value of family leave as this bill advances in the legislative process.”

RELEASE: NH Dem. House & Senate leaders call on Sununu admin., Republican legislature, to protect Granite Staters from Trump ACA sabotage

Concord, N.H. – Last night, President Trump continued to sabotage the Affordable Care Act by ending cost-sharing reductions that help New Hampshire families afford and remain on their insurance plans. The Congressional Budget office estimates this action will result in a 20% increase in premiums next year alone, kick one million Americans off of their insurance plans, and add $194 billion to the federal deficit.

President Trump’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act include his executive order to increase ACA premiums, offer junk insurance and strip existing protections, his directive to cut the enrollment period in half, from 3 months to just a month and a half from November 1, 2017 to December 15, 2017, and his decision to slash the Affordable Care Act advertising budget while using part of it for negative advertising against the ACA. In August, Governor Sununu rejected the New Hampshire Insurance Department’s reinsurance plan that promised to decrease expected 2018 premiums by 5%.

Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn, Senate Deputy Democratic Leader Donna Soucy, House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and House Deputy Democratic Leader Cindy Rosenwald issued the following joint statement:

“President Trump’s decision to end cost-sharing reduction payments will dramatically hurt New Hampshire families’ ability to afford and access the health insurance they need. The Trump administration’s varied attempts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and its protections are shameful and it is abundantly clear that this effort is an attempt to settle a political score rather than act in the best interest of the American people.

Today, we are calling on Governor Sununu and New Hampshire’s Republican legislative leaders to pass a reinsurance program to provide as much relief as possible to Granite Staters who will see premiums go up an average of 20% next year as a result of President Trump’s decision to cancel CSR payments. We are also calling on New Hampshire’s Attorney General Gordon MacDonald to join Attorneys General across the country who are promising to sue the Trump administration to protect cost-sharing reductions. We will work with anyone, anywhere to make sure Granite Staters continue to see the protections and guarantees they have received under the Affordable Care Act and fight back against President Trump’s destructive sabotage.”

RELEASE: House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff Announces Run for Speaker

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – On Thursday, October 12, House Speaker Shawn Jasper announced that he will be submitting his name into nomination for Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture, Markets and Food.  House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) announced his intention to run for Speaker if Jasper’s nomination is confirmed.  Representative Shurtleff is serving his seventh term in the House of Representatives and has served as the Democratic Leader since 2013.

“I thank Speaker Jasper for his service over twelve terms to the people of New Hampshire, and I commend him on his willingness to lead the Department of Agriculture,” said Representative Shurtleff.  “The Speaker’s decision to step down offers an opportunity for new leadership, and I will be running to be the next Speaker of the House.” 

“When I am out in the community, people constantly express a desire for leaders who are willing to work together for the good of New Hampshire.  At a time when political discourse is too often driven by the extremes, I believe that my track record of bipartisanship can bring the legislature together in a productive way. I look forward to discussing my qualifications with my House colleagues.”

If Speaker Jasper’s appointment is confirmed, the House will meet on Thursday, November 30 to elect a Speaker.

RELEASE: House Democratic Leader Issues Statement on the Release of Confidential Voter Information

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, the Attorney General’s office announced that the Secretary of State became aware of confidential voter information included on some marked voter checklists submitted to the State Archives.  The error was found during preparation to send personal voter data to President Trump’s Election Integrity Commission.  House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement: 

“Today’s announcement by the Attorney General’s office regarding the public release of private voter information is very concerning.  This episode leaves more questions unanswered about the safety of Granite Staters’ voter information and reinforces the belief that New Hampshire should join the many states that have chosen not to share personal voter information with the Trump commission.”

“Victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking are protected under New Hampshire law and the careless release of this protected personal information may place a victim and their children in danger from an abuser.  Endangering the health and welfare of these victims because of unfounded voter fraud accusations is unconscionable.”

“After spending considerable time and effort in recent years lobbying for legislation that increases documentation requirements on voters, it is imperative that the Secretary of State’s office focus on providing guidance to our hardworking local election officials and assuring that current laws protecting voter information are not jeopardized.”

RELEASE: House Democratic Leader SUPPORTS LAWSUIT CHALLENGING VOTER SUPPRESSION LEGISLATION

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Today, the New Hampshire Democratic Party filed a lawsuit in Hillsborough County District Court challenging the constitutionality of SB 3, legislation passed during the 2017 legislative session that increases bureaucratic requirements on new voters.  House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook) released the following statement after the lawsuit was filed:

“I am in full support of the NHDP lawsuit to block implementation of SB 3.  As we heard throughout the legislative process, enacting this bill will do nothing but confuse and intimidate new voters and complicate the work of election officials.”

“SB 3 requires anyone who registers to vote within 30 days of an election and on Election Day to read, and affirm to understand under penalty of fraud, an overly complex registration form outlining new requirements to ‘verify’ domicile.  The bureaucratic requirements established by SB 3 are so cumbersome that the unnecessary complexity appears deliberate.”

“Republicans in the legislature have erroneously claimed that this bill is needed to combat ‘voter fraud.’  Investigations that have been conducted following every New Hampshire election since 2006 show that voter fraud is practically nonexistent in our state.”

“It is embarrassing that the Republican Party continues to push President Trump’s discredited myth that New Hampshire’s elections have been wrought with fraud.  The election officials in our cities and towns deserve more credit for the hard work they do preserving the integrity of our elections.”

RELEASE: New Hampshire Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff Statement on Voter Data Information Lawsuit

CONCORD- Representative Stephen Shurtleff of Concord, released the following statement regarding the settlement of New Hampshire’s voter information.

“It is my understanding that the voter data that will be released will not be in a searchable form and will not come from a statewide database. The Secretary of State has agreed to adhere to current New Hampshire law and only release publicly available information.”

“We appreciate Senator Bette Lasky and Representative Neal Kurk for bringing forward this bipartisan lawsuit to protect New Hampshire voter information data from wide distribution and commercial use.”

“We will continue to monitor and safeguard any activity that will compromise the privacy of New Hampshire voters and to file legislation that may be necessary.”

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RELEASE: NH Republicans’ Choice Leaves Thousands of NH Citizens with Little Choice

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – In response to reports of significant projected increases in individual market health care premiums, and a party-line vote by the Joint Health Care Reform Oversight Committee to block an Insurance Department proposal, Representative Ed Butler (D-Hart’s Location), a member of the Oversight Committee, released the following statement: 

“President Trump has said repeatedly that he intends to ‘let Obamacare implode.’  In a belligerent act of sabotage, the President is threatening to withhold billions in cost sharing subsidies to insurance companies that are required under federal law.  The uncertainty that President Trump has created in the insurance market is a driving force in projected rate increases nationwide.”

“Instead of working with the Insurance Department to submit their full waiver request – including a 1% rate increase assessment on group markets – to achieve the greatest possible reduction in rates in the individual market, New Hampshire Republicans on this Oversight Committee have chosen the path of least resistance.”

“Republicans on the Oversight Committee voted on August 1st to prevent New Hampshire’s Insurance Department from submitting their full waiver request.  Instead the Committee authorized the Insurance and Health and Human Services Departments to request financial assistance from the federal government – without any seed money or contribution from NH insurance carriers.”

“Over 35,000 Granite Staters will be subject to spikes in rates of as much as 30 to 40% in the individual market.  By opposing commonsense efforts to bring stability to the market, Governor Sununu and Committee Republicans appear willing to use our citizens as scapegoats to achieve President Trump’s desired ‘implosion’ of our health care system.”

RELEASE: Statement by Representative Shannon Chandley on Use Of Enrolled Bill Process To Change House Policy

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Representative Shannon Chandley (D-Amherst) released the following statement after the House of Representatives voted to enact significant policy changes to SB 66 through the enrolled bill amending process.

“The actions by the House today have exacerbated an already problematic piece of legislation.  SB 66, which establishes a fetus as an independent victim of a crime for the first time, does not include a useful medical or legal definition of fetus or viability.”

“After passage, it was determined that this bill as written could allow pregnant women to ‘kill with impunity.’  Instead of starting over, the majority chose an unprecedented use of the bill enrolling process to correct their mistake.  Without providing an opportunity for the legislature to fully vet the bill, the version passed today could contain similar problems.”

“It is extraordinarily disheartening to me that the body would choose to make substantive changes to the entire homicide statute at a point in the process designed to ‘correct any error or omission in the references to statutes, or other technical or clerical errors.’  Today’s actions set an extremely disturbing precedent.”

RELEASE: House Republicans Pass Budget That Fails New Hampshire

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – The House of Representatives voted today to pass HB 144 and HB 517, the state operating budget for Fiscal Years 2018-2019.  House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff (D-Penacook), and Mary Jane Wallner (D-Concord), the Ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee, released the following statements after the vote:

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff:

“This budget is a major disappointment for New Hampshire.  Democrats repeatedly expressed our desire to work with the majority on a bipartisan budget that upholds New Hampshire values, and at every turn we were ignored as House leadership turned to the far right of their party to craft their plan.”

“Democratic proposals to adequately fund mental health and developmental disability services, and to provide sufficient funds to take on the opioid epidemic, were moderate and reasonable.”

“The decision by House budget writers to ignore Democratic proposals, and instead include poison pills like the Hyde amendment, a Medicaid waiver requirement that will likely end the state’s successful Medicaid Expansion program, and the inclusion of further tax cuts for big business, solidified Democratic opposition to what could have been a bipartisan proposal.”

“This budget isn’t even honest or transparent with taxpayers.  Hundreds of millions of dollars in spending, which was purposely left out of the budget to achieve an artificially deflated bottom line, will now be determined through the ten member Fiscal committee.”

“The gimmicks, harmful policy choices, and lack of a serious long-term investment in our state all make this budget unacceptable to House Democrats.”

 Representative Mary Jane Wallner:

“This budget represents a missed opportunity to make the investments our state needs to stay competitive and grow our economy.  At a time when our business community is begging for an educated workforce as their top priority, this budget fails to invest in education and cuts state revenues for years into the future.”

“At a time when the opioid crisis continues to grow, with more deaths and more deadly drugs hitting our streets, we have failed to make the investments needed to effectively combat this harmful epidemic.”

“New Hampshire’s successful Medicaid Expansion program currently provides health care for over 53,000 Granite Staters.  This budget puts that program at risk of being ended based on the decisions of bureaucrats in Washington.”

“The Republican majority could have worked with Democrats to pass a bipartisan budget that works for all New Hampshire citizens.  The fact that they chose an ultra-conservative tact at every opportunity sets our state back and is a disappointment to all who support responsible, bipartisan government.