Democratic Leader Norelli’s Remarks Given at NHDP State Convention

House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli gave the following remarks at the NHDP State Convention, Saturday June 2nd at Manchester Memorial High School in Manchester, NH:

Good morning Democrats!  Could I ask all House members to stand?

After spending the last 16 months in the House chamber with about 300 Republicans, it is great for us to be in a room with over 600 Democrats!

Under a Democratic majority we were the safest in the Nation – the best state to raise a family – the most livable state.  We weathered the economic storm, and on Election Day New Hampshire was leading the way to recovery.

But Republicans and their shady out-of-state groups spent millions against Gov. Lynch and our Democratic congressional candidates, misleading the people of New Hampshire.

The truth is Democrats governed through challenging times, yet during our years we moved New Hampshire forward.

The Republican majority, led by Bill O’Brien and his Tea Party allies, insisted they would focus on jobs and economy.  Instead, they set the tone with guns in the State House, then guns on the House floor, then guns, guns and more guns.

Since then, they have continued to put their radical agenda ahead of the needs of Granite Staters.

Their budget was so draconian it drew over five thousand people to protest outside the State House!

They couldn’t afford to fund the Developmental Disabilities waitlist, but they managed to give away $20M to tobacco companies.

Their budget decimated services for our most vulnerable citizens – and cuts to state programs have forced cities and towns to pick up the tab.

As Democrats we fought for working families – passing the WARN Act, ensuring families have access to affordable workforce housing, and raising the minimum wage.

Republicans, on the other hand, have actually repealed the State’s minimum wage altogether.

And O’Brien’s top priority was to turn NH into a right-to-work-for-less state. I am very proud that all of my House colleagues stood arm in arm to defeat it.

Democrats believe that every child should have access to a quality education, but this Republican leadership has worked to dismantle our public schools by supporting the repeal of Kindergarten, lowering the dropout age, and even ending compulsory education. Now their “Voucher Bill”, dressed up as a “scholarship” will divert funding from our public schools.

And higher education was not spared either.  Under the Republicans, cuts to higher education were the greatest of any state in the nation.  Their claim to focus on growing our economy does not square with college that is unaffordable for young people.

And Democrats believe that women should have the right to make our own healthcare decisions.

The so-called “woman’s right to know bill” would have required doctors to provide inaccurate information to patients or face felony charges.

And the speaker’s attempt to defund Planned Parenthood would have put basic preventive healthcare out of reach for 16,000 Granite State women.

And who would have thought, in 2012 we’d be fighting efforts to allow employers to decide whether or not we could have access to contraception!

Well, not in NH, and not in 2012.

We WILL fight against their continued attacks on women.

We need to bring common sense back to Concord.  We need to make Bill O’Brien a one-term speaker.

To do that, we need your help to elect Democrats to the NH House.  I’d like to ask all candidates for the House to please stand.

Get to know your state rep candidates, offer to make calls, put up signs, knock on doors, write letters.

The House session ends in another week.  People will tune out for the summer. Our job between now and the election is to make sure every last voter knows what O’Brien and his Tea Party Republicans have done to our great state.

Two years ago, Republicans went up and down the State telling lies about Democrats.  I have no doubt that, if we spend the next 5 months telling the truth about Republicans, we will, once again, be able to move our great state forward.

 

Another Deception from House Republicans

Norelli and Wallner Call on House Republicans to Repay Taxpayers for Political Work; Reiterates Call for Independent Investigation

CONCORD – Decrying Republican deceptions to the people of New Hampshire, House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli and Deputy Democratic Leader Mary Jane Wallner today called on Bill O’Brien and the House Republican Political Committee to immediately repay taxpayers for the costs of Bob Mead’s salary and benefits and to begin an independent investigation of both the Mead and Bettencourt scandals.

“First, House Republicans lied to the people of New Hampshire and said Bob Mead repaid taxpayers for the cost of his political trips. Now we learned that didn’t happen and that Mead believed he was instructed to recruit candidates on the taxpayers’ dime,” Norelli said. “Bill O’Brien should stop stonewalling questions about this serious breach of public trust.”

“Bill O’Brien and the House Republican political committee should immediately repay taxpayers the costs of Bob Mead’s salary and benefits for working on Republican political activities. And Bill O’Brien should support an independent investigation into both the Bettencourt and Mead scandals, clearly there are a number of unanswered questions,” Rep. Mary Jane Wallner said.

The Concord Monitor reported today that Mead refused to repay the mileage funds because he was doing the tasks that he was assigned. O’Brien and his chief of staff Greg Moore have refused to answer questions about who assigned Mead to perform political activities, as well as questions about whether Mead received taxpayer-funded comp time off for the time he spent on Republican recruiting.

O’Brien’s chief of staff, Greg Moore, approved Mead’s mileage requests – knowing that they were for “Republican outreach.” Moore has refused to answer questions. He told the Monitor yesterday that the question of whether Mead had repaid the funds was a “personnel question.”

“Bill O’Brien has fostered a culture of corruption in the State House. This is a question about the inappropriate use of public funds for Republican political activities. The people of New Hampshire deserve transparency and answers from Speaker Bill O’Brien and his chief of staff,” Norelli said.

In addition to the issues with Mead, O’Brien has also stonewalled questions about his role in attempting to cover up the alleged fraud of his second-in-command, DJ Bettencourt. Bettencourt has falsely representing to the University of New Hampshire Law School that he had completed a legal internship.

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Letter to Speaker O’Brien from Democratic Leadership

Speaker William O’Brien
New Hampshire House of Representatives
State House
107 N. Main St.
Concord, NH 03301

Monday, May 30, 2012

Dear Mr. Speaker:

As you know, the image of the New Hampshire House has been tarnished by recent events.  Our legislative ethics guidelines state that legislators should treat their office as a public trust, acting “openly, equitably and honorably in a manner that permits the citizenry…to hold government officials accountable.”  Furthermore, as you wrote to the Republican caucus, you insisted on “honesty, integrity and ethical behavior” from your leadership team and said you would have “no tolerance for any leader who departs from that foundational standard.”

Surely the public has a right to expect those standards would also apply to the Speaker. Answers to legitimate questions raised by members of the public and state-wide media surrounding the resignation of Bob Mead should have been a priority.  Instead you proclaimed House leadership is “too busy” to discuss the extent to which taxpayer money was funding a staff person to primarily perform Republican political activities. While Bob Mead may have re-paid mileage costs after the Concord Monitor reported on this, we still do not know whether he was charging taxpayers for his time on these Republican political activities; whether he received comp time, as well as mileage, for recruiting Republican candidates on nights and weekends; or whether he was specifically directed to perform political duties and by whom.

As DJ Bettencourt resigned last Friday, he announced he was leaving to move into a position in your foundation. Given recent revelations, including your participation in a meeting on these serious issues prior to Bettencourt’s announcement, the people of New Hampshire deserve to know whether the Speaker’s office collaborated in efforts to cover up, conceal and excuse the former Majority Leader’s alleged fraud.

In your email to your caucus, you stated that you met with Rep. Bettencourt and Rep. Guida on Friday morning and that you found Rep. Guida’s claims had substance.  You stated, “it was agreed that DJ would immediately announce his resignation as Majority Leader and House member effective at the end of the June 6 session and he would cite personal problems as the reason for his resignation.”

This statement and your continued refusal to answer questions regarding Mr. Mead raise the following additional questions:

  1. Why did you agree to allow Rep. Bettencourt to cover up the reasons for his resignation?
  2. Why, if you felt his actions required him to resign, did you not request his resignation immediately instead of allowing him to serve through the end of the session?
  3. Why didn’t you take action when you heard Rep. Bettencourt’s original explanation for his resignation, stating that he was resigning because he was getting married and taking a job working for you?
  4. Was Rep. Bettencourt’s job with your legal advocacy group arranged before or after you learned of Rep. Guida’s claims?
  5. Prior to the disclosure by the Concord Monitor that Bob Mead was charging mileage for campaign activities, did you or anyone on your staff or your leadership team know that Bob Mead was being paid a salary by the state for the same hours that he was performing campaign activities for the Republican Party?

The people of New Hampshire deserve answers to legitimate questions – questions asked not only by the minority in this body, but by the media, by members of the Republican caucus, and members of the public. This is not the time to “close ranks.” This is the time to come clean with the people of this great state.

Given the refusal of the Speaker’s office to deal with these issues forthrightly, for the sake of the House’s reputation, we have no choice but to urgently request an independent review that will provide to the public a full accounting of both of these scandals.

We take great pride in the reputation for doing the people’s business with the highest ethical standards. That reputation stands tarnished today. Only an independent, full, and honest accounting can help the House regain the trust of New Hampshire’s citizens.

Sincerely,

Representative Terie Norelli               Representative Mary Jane Wallner

Representative Gary Richardson        Representative Stephen Shurtleff

Representative Cindy Rosenwald      Representative Lucy Weber

Representative Benjamin Baroody     Representative Bernard Benn

Representative David Cote                 Representative Sharon Nordgren

O’Brien Should Answer Questions About Bettencourt/Mead Scandals

CONCORD – Speaker Bill O’Brien must give a full accounting of his participation in the DJ Bettencourt and Bob Mead scandals, Democratic House leaders said.

“Speaker Bill O’Brien is a public official and he owes the public answers. The Speaker’s administration apparently misused public funds for political purposes and attempted to cover up a major deception by his second-in-command,” said Rep. Terie Norelli, House Democratic Leader. “These are not issues that can be just swept aside for political purposes. Speaker O’Brien must give the people of New Hampshire, and the members of the House, a full and clear accounting of his role in both of these scandals.”

The media has reported that an aide in the majority office, Bob Mead – who is also a close associate of Speaker O’Brien’s – billed taxpayers for mileage on trips to recruit Republican House candidates, and apparently spent taxpayer-funded time on “Republican outreach.” O’Brien’s office said they were too busy to answer questions about what Mead was doing for his taxpayer-funded salary.

Then this weekend, O’Brien’s second-in-command, D.J. Bettencourt abruptly resigned when it was discovered that he had apparently falsified internship reports to the University of New Hampshire Law School. Bettencourt at first claimed he was resigning to take a new job – with a foundation created by O’Brien.

In today’s Foster’s Daily Democrat, Republican Representative Julie Brown, said she believed there should be an investigation into the Speaker’s role in attempting to cover up Bettencourt’s alleged frauds. The Concord Monitor today called on Speaker Bill O’Brien to answer a number of questions about his role in the Bettencourt scandal. And today’s Union Leader blasted O’Brien for being unclear about the Mead scandal – and said of the Bettencourt scandal, “While it is unclear just what the Speaker knew about this fiasco and when, he might do his party and the House a favor by reflecting on his own future as a leader.

In response to questions, O’Brien sent around an email to Republican representatives calling on them to close ranks and stonewall questions.

Democratic Rep. Steve Shurtleff of Concord said, “In his pursuit of his extreme, far-right agenda, Bill O’Brien has created a culture of corruption in the New Hampshire. O’Brien, Bettencourt and their team have stomped on anything that gets in their way, including House rules, the New Hampshire Constitution, and the people of New Hampshire. It’s time Bill O’Brien face the music and tell the people of New Hampshire the full story behind both these scandals.”

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Letter to Speaker O’Brien and Majority Leader Bettencourt

Speaker William O’Brien
Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt
New Hampshire House of Representatives
State House
107 N. Main St.
Concord, NH 03301

                                                                                                                                                   Friday, May 25, 2012

Dear Mr. Speaker and Representative Bettencourt:

I write with concern about today’s Union Leader story regarding the taxpayer-funded political work of Bob Mead, and the suggestions by the Majority office and the Speaker’s Office that they were not aware of his activities.

Rep. Bettencourt is quoted as saying: “I have no knowledge of what State House employees do during their off-hours.” The Speaker’s Office Chief of Staff, Greg Moore, is quoted as saying: “I was not aware of any action that took place that violated any state law or legislative ethics guidelines.”

The statements in the Union Leader article seem to contradict the document that I am enclosing – a schedule for a Republican House candidate training showing both of you participating with Mr. Mead. From this document, it appears that it was very clear Mr. Mead had a significant role in candidate recruitment and training. Given your mutual participation in the same training, it is difficult to believe you were unaware of Mr. Mead’s candidate recruitment work.

While each caucus is assigned partisan staff, the duties of those staff members have always been focused on legislative work – not campaign work.

The people of New Hampshire deserve to know whether they were funding a state employee to recruit and train Republican House candidates.  This article again raises the question of what Bob Mead was actually doing for his tax-payer funded salary and whether he received comp time, in addition to his mileage reimbursements, for his attendance at Republican committee events outside the normal work week.

Charging taxpayers for Republican political recruitment is an abuse of the public trust and of taxpayers’ money.  Republican leadership’s attempt to mislead the public about their knowledge of Mr. Mead’s activities is disingenuous at best. The people of New Hampshire deserve a full explanation for these events and leaders who take responsibility for their actions.

Thank you for your attention to this matter. I anticipate your prompt reply.

Representative Terie Norelli

Republicans Attach Anti-Choice Language to Tax Credit Bill

Concord – House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli released the following statement on today’s House Session.

“Today, the House Republicans continued to make a mockery of our once respected Legislature. Instead of focusing on economy and jobs, House Leadership attached a number of failed proposals to Senate Bills.”

“Extending the research and development tax credit is supported Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature and the business community. The House attached an amendment establishing a 24-hour waiting period for abortions legislation, already killed by the Senate, to the research and development tax credit bill.”

“This shows the continued trend that Republicans in the Legislature are willing to sacrifice jobs and bipartisan agreement in pursuit of their extreme anti-choice agenda. The Legislature should not be interfering in women’s health care at all and Republicans certainly shouldn’t be holding a jobs bill hostage in pursuit of their anti-choice agenda.”

Letter to Speaker O’Brien regarding Bob Mead

Speaker William O’Brien
New Hampshire House of Representatives
State House
107 N. Main St.
Concord, NH 03301

Monday, May 14, 2012

Dear Mr. Speaker:

It was with great concern when I first learned about Bob Mead, an employee of the House Majority Office, billing taxpayers for Republican recruiting trips – reimbursement requests that were approved by your chief of staff, Greg Moore. The taxpayers of New Hampshire deserve an immediate apology from you for this abuse of their money.

The people of New Hampshire, as well as the members of the House, also deserve answers to questions raised by Mr. Mead’s reimbursement requests:

· Who reviews reimbursement requests for House staff members?

· Who assigned Mr. Mead the responsibility for tracking House Republican recruitment?

· Who requested that Mr. Mead attend local Republican committee meetings to recruit Republican House candidates? Were Mr. Mead’s plans to attend these events approved in advance by the Speaker, Majority Leader or Mr. Moore?

· The Concord Monitor quotes Deputy Majority Leader Shawn Jasper as saying: “To the best of my knowledge, he (Mead) is keeping track of which Republicans are planning on running. Beyond that, I’m really not sure what he’s doing.” Specifically, what other duties does Mr. Mead perform?

· Is Mr. Mead responsible for keeping track of recruitment efforts of the House Republican Caucus or any other electoral work? How much time does he spend per week on this function? Is there another employee of the Republican State Committee or the House Republican Caucus who is responsible for recruitment efforts?

· Did Mr. Mead receive comp time – funded by taxpayers – for his attendance at Republican committee events outside the normal working week?

Charging taxpayers for Republican political recruiting trips is an abuse of the public trust and of taxpayers’ money. While Mr. Mead made the reimbursement request, the responsibility for his actions rests with the Speaker and the Majority Leader. The public deserves an apology for your actions and explanation of who authorized Mr. Mead to recruit Republican candidates on the taxpayers’ dime.

Sincerely,

Representative Terie Norelli

Democratic Leader Norelli Congratulates NH for the Frank Newman Award

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli today congratulated New Hampshire’s Department of Education for attaining national recognition with the awarding of the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation.

“New Hampshire is being recognized for our efforts to keep high school students engaged in their education and their future. Democrats worked hard to pass a law requiring young people to stay in high school until age 18. Democrats also ensured success for our students by offering alternative programs, including night school, internships and vocational education,” said Norelli.

“Reducing the state’s drop-out rate is an excellent achievement that benefits our students, our families, New Hampshire businesses and our economy. This is the type of policy that creates jobs for New Hampshire.”

“Congratulations to New Hampshire for the Frank Newman Award for State Innovation and to our hard-working and dedicated teachers and students.”

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Larsen, Norelli: O’Brien, Republicans Should Not Put Big Oil Before NH Taxpayers, Consumers

Larsen, Norelli: O’Brien, Republicans Should Not Put Big Oil Before New Hampshire Taxpayers, Consumers

CONCORD – Senate Democratic Leader Sylvia Larsen and House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli said today that Speaker Bill O’Brien, Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt and other Republicans should not be putting the interests of big oil companies ahead of New Hampshire taxpayers and consumers.

New Hampshire, like many other states, has a taxpayer-funded petroleum cleanup fund. Twenty-five states have filed lawsuits against big oil companies for double dipping on cleanup costs – collecting money both from taxpayers and their insurance companies for the same cleanup expenses.

Attorney General Michael Delaney has presented a request to the Legislative Fiscal Committee for New Hampshire to join these efforts. O’Brien and Bettencourt viciously attacked the request, joined by their allies at Americans for Prosperity – which is reportedly funded by the Koch Brothers, who have significant oil interests.

“O’Brien and House Republicans are putting the interests of big oil before New Hampshire taxpayers,” Norelli said. “Big oil companies should not be able to make a profit off of polluting New Hampshire’s environment. Why does O’Brien think it is okay for oil companies to charge New Hampshire taxpayers for the same costs they are getting reimbursed for by their insurance companies?”

Unfortunately, O’Brien and Bettencourt’s statements are part of a larger pattern by the current legislature to put out-of-state corporate interests ahead of New Hampshire consumers and taxpayers. This legislature voted to allow out-of-state companies to charge 300 percent interest rates; to cut the tobacco tax by 10 cents at the same time it cut funding for higher education in half; and even against protecting customers who pre-pay for their home heating oil.

“New Hampshire taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to foot the bill while big oil companies rake in the bucks from their insurance companies,” Larsen said. “We will support the Attorney General’s efforts to protect New Hampshire consumers, and we hope that reasonable Republicans in the legislature will join us in putting consumers first.”

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Background reading:

http://boulderganic.com/gimme-all-your-gas-money/

http://ravallirepublic.com/news/state-and-regional/article_0e80df8a-3fcc-11e0-a3c5-001cc4c002e0.html

Video: Press Conference on the GOP’s Legislative Priorities

Representatives Terie Norelli, Steve Shurtleff, Gary Richardson, and Cindy Rosenwald held a press conference today to talk about how Republicans had promised to focus on the economy and jobs but instead they have focused their attention on social issues and a radical agenda.

Below are the Prepared Remarks:

Thank you all for joining us today.  My name is Terie Norelli and I am the Democratic Leader in the New Hampshire House.

With “Crossover” completed, we wanted to recap the highlights and lowlights of the first half of the session.

But before we recap the first half of the session, I feel it is important to address an incident that happened recently in the Criminal Justice and Public Safety committee.  Unfortunately, it epitomizes the misplaced priorities and insulting attitude that this Republican majority has demonstrated to people from across New Hampshire.

In discussing a bill that would have updated our rape statutes to remove the term “mentally defective,” Rep. Ken Kreis said of a rape victim with disabilities, “she had her whole life to get used to being called defective.”

Rep. Jason Antosz also supported keeping the phrase, saying “defective” and “retarded” are “just words.”

These were outrageously insensitive insults – to rape victims and to people with disabilities. I don’t believe they represent New Hampshire values. But unfortunately, these words and actions epitomize what we have seen from this Republican majority — insults and attacks for anyone who disagrees with them, and disregard for the needs and rights of women, as well as people with disabilities.

And this bill, which had already been recommended by the Criminal Justice committee, was sent back to committee, reportedly by Republican leadership.

Speaker O’Brien has made it a point to punish legislators who disagree with him — even removing from their committee members who disagree with him and stand up for their constituents and their communities.

Speaker O’Brien should condemn these outrageous comments by Representatives Kreis and Antosz.  I am left wondering if the Speaker will remove them from the Criminal Justice committee as it appears that these representatives have no interest in listening to or serving the needs of crime victims.

Finally, I call on the Speaker to support immediate passage of this legislation.

The actions of the Republican majority speak louder than their words. The Republican majority has undermined efforts to bring new jobs to New Hampshire.

Republicans had promised to focus on the economy and jobs.  Instead  they have focused their attention on social issues and a radical agenda, with multiple bills attacking women’s health care; legislation to upend contracts between workers and their employers; an effort to take over Medicare; even more efforts to dismantle public education; and bills that undermine basic public safety.

Republican leadership moves forward with every bad idea they can find. They have even pushed through multiple bills that their own committee leadership has determined are harmful … like the plan to take over Medicare, defund planned parenthood, repeal workforce housing, and the list goes on and on.

From refusing to give public notice of votes, to taking seats away from disabled legislators for disagreeing with him, to overriding Republican committee recommendations, Bill O’Brien has corrupted the legislative process.

In the past three months alone, this House has passed:

  • 7 gun bills
  • 8 bills cutting women’s access to health care
  • 8 bills undermining the rights and safety of workers
  • 5 bills attacking public education
  • At least 5 attacks on the judicial branch
  • And even one bill planning for a state takeover of Medicare for seniors.

Representatives Shurtleff, Richardson and Rosenwald will address more specifically a few policy areas of particular concern.

House Assistant Deputy Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff:

Good morning.  My name is Steve Shurtleff, and I am the House Assistant Deputy Democratic Leader and a retired US Marshall.

Under the House Republican Leadership, working-class families have been called names and their livelihoods have been attacked. This is no way to treat our police officers, firefighters, teachers, and thousands of other workers across our great State.

House Republicans have passed several bills that would upend the contracts between workers and employers, which forces State Government into the employer – employee relationship.

Last week, the Senate Commerce Committee voted to pass an amended version of HB 1677 – turning this year’s version of “right-to-work” into the identical twin of the right-to-work legislation. And today the Senate will vote once again on last year’s so-called right-to-work bill.

Last fall, House Democrats worked with House Republicans to sustain Governor Lynch’s veto on this out-of-state special interest backed bill. After not getting their way last year, Speaker O’Brien just can’t take no for an answer, but I am confident that if the Senate passes this bill, the House will again sustain the Governor’s veto.

When they are not attempting to force “right to work” for less onto New Hampshire, State House Republicans are undermining public safety in pursuit of their guns first agenda.

It began last year, when they voted to allow guns in the State House, and the House chamber, and then passed “Shoot first” legislation opposed by law enforcement and vetoed by Governor Lynch. This dangerous law allows the use of deadly force on street corners, in shopping malls, public parks, and in retail stores.

Drug dealers and other felons who brandish weapons will be further emboldened to use their weapons, while prosecution of those criminals will be made more difficult because of this bill’s expansion of the right to use deadly force.

I remember a few weeks before Governor Lynch vetoed that terrible bill, I read that a man was arrested for brandishing a shotgun in a Pembroke park after a drug transaction turned into an argument.  Luckily, no one was harmed in that case but what if that drug dealer had felt threated he would be justified in the use of that deadly force.

That’s not right. That’s why the New Hampshire Chiefs of Police, the New Hampshire Sheriffs Association, the New Hampshire State Police, representatives of over 40 local law enforcement departments and the current and former Attorney Generals warned it would jeopardize public safety.

This year, the House Republicans have continued their focus on guns, passing an additional 7 bills – including one that would have mandated guns be allowed in the dorms and classrooms of public colleges.

New Hampshire has always had a tradition of common sense and responsible public safety laws; however, House Republicans have passed rules and laws that jeopardize our safest state in the Nation status.

House Democratic Floor Leader Gary Richardson:

Good morning! My name is Gary Richardson and I am the House Democratic Floor Leader.

In its quest for power, House Republican leadership has repeatedly violated the separation of power between the three co-equal branches of government by passing unconstitutional legislation and corrupting the rule of law in New Hampshire. There has been bill after bill seeking to force the Attorney General to engage in lawsuits against the federal government or preventing cooperation with the federal government.  There have been at least 5 bills attacking the independence of the judiciary, including a proposed constitutional amendment to repeal the ability of the judicial branch to make its own rules.

The Speaker has sought and obtained the power to subpoena witnesses as part of  his effort to control Health and Human Services, an executive branch agency, and in the process  invade  the confidentiality of child protection proceedings – a confidentiality based on protecting the rights of children. The Redress of Grievances committee is acting like a grand jury conducting McCarthy style investigations far beyond anything ever contemplated in our constitution.

House Republican leadership likes to claim it is focusing on jobs, but most of its attention this year has been given to a narrow, Tea Party agenda that will undermine our future economic growth.

Last year, at the same time that this legislature cut the tobacco tax and caused the loss of revenue from tax evaders by eliminating state auditors, they cut aid to higher education in half. They passed on to local taxpayers a costly and disruptive bill that forces schools to develop alternative, individual lesson plans for any student at a parent’s demand.

They’ve continued their anti-education crusade this year, passing a bill aimed at overturning the decisions of local school boards who decide to use a particular educational method. Why? – Because it has the word “international” in it.

And they are pushing an expensive school voucher program that will cost local schools millions a year, driving up local property taxes.

Most business leaders say the future of New Hampshire’s economy will depend on its educated workforce.  The House Republican leadership seems ideologically committed to undermining our students, our schools and our state government at every turn.

House Deputy Democratic Floor Leader Cindy Rosenwald: 

Good morning, my name is Cindy Rosenwald and I am the Deputy Democratic Floor Leader.

Nowhere is the radical agenda of this House more clear than in the war it has waged on women’s access to health care.

This legislature voted to overturn a 12-year-old bipartisan law guaranteeing equity in prescription drug coverage to women. Their goal: to end prescription coverage for contraception.  In New Hampshire do we really want the owner of a business to be able to deny contraceptive coverage?

Back in January, the House passed House Bill 228 in order to fulfill their obsession with de-funding organizations like Planned Parenthood.  This ideologically-extreme legislation would completely eliminate all funding for basic, preventive health care services (services such as access to birth control and cancer screenings) received by over 16,000 New Hampshire women, men, and families at Planned Parenthood health centers, some hospitals, and any health facilities that offer full reproductive health care.

This bill would also put New Hampshire at risk of losing 1.2 billion in money for Medicaid funds. This policy is bad for our families, bad for our communities, and bad for our state.

In all, this legislature has passed 8 bills directly related to women’s health care. In fact, they even passed a bill that would take away insurance coverage for midwife services.

When House Republicans are not focused on repealing contraception coverage or defunding basic, preventive health care services for thousands of New Hampshire women, they are voting to undermine health care in other ways.

And now they’ve voted to plan for the legislature to take over Medicare for seniors. The State Committee on Aging calls this proposal “potentially disastrous.”

And disastrous is what their other health changes have been.

House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli:

Thank you Steve, Gary, and Cindy! Unfortunately this has been the story at the State House for the past fifteen months.  Bills that would be laughed out of any living room or board room in New Hampshire, are being pushed through by a radical Tea Party coalition.

I look forward to when the New Hampshire Legislature is taken seriously again and begins to work with the Governor on common sense solutions to create jobs and grow our economy. Thank you!

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