House Democratic Leaders Decry Budget Cuts to Higher Education and Aid to Local Communities

CONCORD, NH – In various House Finance Committee Division meetings this week, House Republicans already began making drastic budget cuts to priorities that are essential to the economic foundation of New Hampshire.

In a Division meeting on Tuesday, House Republicans cut funding for the university system by $13.4 million, cut winter maintenance (including plowing) by $4.8 million, and cut the meals and room distributions to local communities by $5 million.

“After the Governor delivered her fiscally responsible plan for how we can work together to build on the progress of the last two years, I urged my colleagues in the House, both Democrats and Republicans, to come together to support the priorities laid out in the Governor’s plan,” said House Democratic Leader Stephen Shurtleff. “Unfortunately House Republicans have already made clear that they are not interested in working together to move our economy forward as we did with the last budget, and are instead pursuing cuts to priorities that are essential to the economic foundation of New Hampshire.”

“It’s deeply concerning that one of the first priorities that House Republicans have chosen to cut is funding for our university system,” said Representative Mary Jane Wallner, Ranking Democrat on the House Finance Committee and former Finance Committee Chair. “We took an important step in the last budget by restoring funding for higher education, and we cannot let House Republicans undo our bipartisan progress with their backward approach. For the sake of our businesses, middle class families, young people and economy, it’s crucial that we continue to invest in holding down the cost of higher education.”

“If House Republicans have any doubts about the importance of funding for winter maintenance, I implore them to take a look outside,” said Representative Cindy Rosenwald, House Deputy Democratic Leader and a member of the House Finance Committee. “From Nashua to the Seacoast to the North Country, our citizens have had daily reminders of the important work that our dedicated DOT workers do to keep our roads clear and safe. Now is exactly the wrong time to be talking about cutting funding for winter maintenance and plowing.”

House Democrats Statement on Defeat of Minimum Wage Legislation

March 12th, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and

Representative Andrew White released the following Statements on the defeat of HB 684, which

would increase the minimum wage in New Hampshire.

House Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff: “Increasing the minimum wage is strongly

supported by Granite Staters because people know that financial security for the entire workforce

is essential to the success of our state’s economy. New Hampshire’s minimum wage has not

kept pace with inflation, and our reliance on the minimum set by the federal government has

disadvantaged us relative to surrounding states. House Democrats will continue to stand up for

working families and the overwhelming will of Granite Staters who want the legislature to take

action on fair wages for our state’s workforce.”

Representative Andrew White: “It is disappointing that House Republicans have once again

chosen to turn their backs on the low-wage earners of New Hampshire. Three-quarters of

Granite Staters support increasing the minimum wage, including 64% of Republicans. A

modest, gradual, sustainable minimum wage increase will help to reduce poverty and

dependence on state services. It is perplexing that House Republicans continue to oppose this

common-sense measure that will improve the lives of working families while reducing reliance

on state assistance.”

House Democrats Statement on Legislation Attacking Workers Rights

March 11th, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Representative Douglas Ley, Ranking Democrat on the

Labor, Industrial and Rehabilitative Services committee, issued the following statement on the

passage of HB 658, another Republican attack on working men and women in New Hampshire.

“This bill represents the biannual attempt by House Republicans to weaken unions by enacting a

so-called ‘right to work’ law. As other states have shown, right to work laws do little to attract

new jobs and instead result in lower wages and fewer benefits for employees.”

“That the sponsors of this bill elected to exempt police officers and firefighters from its

provisions, citing the need for ‘unit cohesion,’ is telling. HB 658 has nothing to do with

attracting jobs or encouraging employee freedom; its purpose is to divide employees and weaken

the unions that represent them. House Democrats oppose this bill because we believe in

supporting unit cohesion and good wages across all professions.”

“Right to work laws represent a race to the bottom that New Hampshire can continue to do

without. House Democrats will continue to oppose any and all attacks on workers and wages in

New Hampshire.”

House Democrats Statement on Legislation to Eliminate Open Primaries for US Senate Candidates

January 29th, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Representative Lucy Weber released the following

statement after the public hearing on HB 338, which would partially return NH to the process of

selecting the state’s US Senators which was in place before the passage of the 17th Amendment to

the US Constitution.

“Instead of having an open primary, this bill would mandate that members of the New

Hampshire House and Senate select the candidates for U.S. Senate. Not only does this proposal

favor candidates chosen by a few elected officials rather than by the people, it allows the

possibility that, if the same person were nominated by both Hose and Senate, voters would be

left with no primary choice at all,” said Representative Weber. “When asked how the bill was

constitutional under the provisions of Part 1, Article 11 of the NH Constitution, which guarantees

the equal right of every citizen to be elected to office, bill sponsor Rep. Dan McGuire stated that

he had not read that provision.”

House Democrats Statement on Latest Republican Attempt to Restrict Voting Rights

January 28th, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Representative Wayne Burton (D – Durham) released the

following statement following the public hearing on HB 112, which would connect the right to

vote with motor vehicle registration.

“These continued Republican attempts to discourage student voting should be of concern to

every citizen. With this proposal to tie the right to vote to the privilege of holding a NH driver’s

license, Republicans have shown once again that they are more concerned with shutting certain

people out of the process than with preserving the integrity of our election laws. This is just the

latest attempt to advance Bill O’Brien’s agenda to keep young people, who he believes are

‘foolish,’ from exercising their right to vote.”

House Republicans Continue to Attack Health Care for Women

January 22, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – House Deputy Democratic Leader Cindy Rosenwald issued

the following statement on today’s hearing on HB 194, a “personhood bill” which would declare

life begins at conception and outlaw abortions.

“State House Republicans continue to attack health care for women and interfere with a women’s

right to make her own health care decisions. This reckless bill would jeopardize a woman’s

health and interfere with her right to make her own health decisions.”

“Instead of continuing to attack women, House Republicans should be focusing their attention to

the priorities of Granite Staters, like expanding middle class opportunity, supporting job creating

businesses, and keeping our economy moving in the right direction.”

“I urge the House Republicans to end their focus on attacking health care for women and spend

time on the reason the people of New Hampshire sent us to the State House.”

House Democrats Statement Following Public Hearing on HB 208

January 22, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Democratic Representatives from the Science, Technology

and Energy committee released the following statements following the public hearing on HB

208, which would repeal the New Hampshire Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) program.

Representative Bill Baber, Ranking Democrat on Science, Technology and Energy:

“Since I have been on the Science, Technology and Energy committee, we have never been

contacted by as many people about a piece of legislation as we have on this bill. The

overwhelming majority of those who contacted the committee want to retain RGGI.

That sentiment was reinforced at the public hearing today, where over 100 people came to

register their opinion and all but five supported our continued participation in the program.

RGGI has proven to have a positive local economic impact, with benefits to the environment and

our health as well. Opting out of this program would deprive New Hampshire residents,

businesses, and municipalities the opportunity to save money through weatherization projects

funded by RGGI, and testimony indicated that leaving this program could actually increase the

cost of energy for New Hampshire ratepayers.

It is clear that the people of New Hampshire want to continue our participation in this important

program. Democrats on the committee recognize the benefits outlined today and will be

opposing this shortsighted repeal.”

Representative Suzanne Harvey, co-sponsor of HB 1434 (2008), which authorized New

Hampshire’s participation in RGGI:

“When I co-sponsored the original RGGI bill I knew the program would benefit Granite Staters,

and it has, even with the more recent changes. It continues to meet and exceed expectations.”

New Hampshire and RGGI: A Good Investment

New Hampshire and RGGI: A Good Investment

The New Hampshire House will soon be voting on a bill to repeal the Regional Greenhouse Gas

Initiative (RGGI). We call on all of you to appreciate the benefits this program brings to our state

and to contact your legislators asking them to vote against repeal.

When Governor Lynch signed onto RGGI with nine other governors, it fell to the NH legislature

in 2008 to approve our state’s participation. After months of holding stakeholder meetings and

listening to economic and environmental experts, the legislature voted to have NH join this

historic initiative.

RGGI is a market-based regulatory program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, a major cause

of environmental and health issues. RGGI sets a cap for the region’s carbon dioxide (CO2)

emissions from fossil fuelfired electric power generators, and each of the now nine participating

states is allocated a decreasing share of CO2 allowances for a three-year period.

RGGI Dollars and Sense

With the cap set, the free market goes to work, making emissions reductions at the least cost.

Quarterly auctions are held for regional emitters to buy and sell their allowances. Currently

portions of NH proceeds from the auctions are, by statute, given back to the ratepayer and,

through the core electric distribution companies, channeled to assist low- income consumers with

energy-efficiency projects. Municipalities can also receive funds for energy-efficiency projects,

which ultimately help to lower property taxes through cost savings on an ongoing basis.

By making our buildings more energy efficient, we lower energy demand, thereby reducing the

electric load our state needs and, most importantly, lowering emissions.

One of the most compelling reasons for New Hampshire to remain in RGGI with eight other

member states is financial. By staying in RGGI and participating in the auctions, NH will be able

to continue its efforts toward “tightening the envelopes” of older homes and buildings, resulting

in less energy demand and thereby avoiding the construction costs of new power plants. NH

ratepayers win with RGGI at a direct cost of 24¢ per month to the average consumer with a

return of much greater benefits both immediately and in the future.

If we bow out of the program, we lose that opportunity to receive energy-efficiency funding from

the auctions but NH ratepayers will still pay the price of higher energy needs, at the same time

that the other regional state members in the initiative enjoy the benefits of RGGI, which includes

the jobs and business associated with energy-efficiency activities.

Representative Suzanne Harvey (D-Nashua) and Representative Naida Kaen (D-Lee)

Rep. Ed Butler Comments on Legislation that Would Disrupt the Health Insurance Marketplace

January 14th, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Representative Ed Butler, Ranking Democrat on the

Commerce and Consumer Affairs committee, released the following statement following the

public hearing on HB 128, which would allow the purchase of health insurance from out-of-state

companies:

 

“We all want to find ways to reign in and lower health care costs, and competition in the New

Hampshire health insurance marketplace has grown because of our recent policy decisions,” said

Representative Butler. “There are now five health insurance providers serving the people of

New Hampshire, with all hospitals and regions covered by the new policies. The new

benchmark plan is down 17% from 2014, among the sharpest drops in the country.”

Representative Butler continued, “HB 128 is an unworkable proposal which would disrupt the

marketplace and potentially raise costs for those who remain covered in New Hampshire.

Republicans should focus on real solutions to improve health care instead of impractical

proposals that would harm the market and the businesses serving the people of New Hampshire.”

Democratic Statement on House Vote to Allow Guns in House Chamber

January 7th, 2015

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff and Representative Len

DeSesa released the following statements following the House vote to allow deadly weapons in

the House Chamber, anteroom, and visitors’ gallery:

 

Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff said, “It is disappointing to see the House overturn

longstanding policy prohibiting deadly weapons on the House floor, anteroom and visitors’

gallery. The House of Representatives, where tense deliberation takes place as schoolchildren

look on, is no place for deadly weapons. This policy is irresponsible and unnecessary.”

Representative Len DeSesa, retired deputy Chief of Police for the Portsmouth Police

Department, said, “The only people who should be armed in the House of Representatives are

trained police professionals. The policy just approved by the House majority is misguided at

best and dangerous at worst.”