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.”

Guns in the House Chamber

The House of Representatives convenes this Wednesday in Concord to adopt deadlines

and rules of operation for the next two years. While the rules of the House typically

produce little fanfare for the media, one proposed rule change could have a significant

effect on safety and security in the State House.

The Republican majority in the House has proposed removing the current ban on carrying

guns and other deadly weapons in the House chamber and the visitors’ gallery. Deadly

weapons were first prohibited in the House back in 1971 after a fellow lawmaker

threatened House Speaker Marshall Cobleigh. Aside from the two year period that

Speaker Bill O’Brien wielded the gavel, the policy has remained in place since.

Whenever proposals to restrict firearm possession are brought up, emotions

understandably run high. The right to own and use firearms under the second amendment

is defended with vigor. I have great respect for the second amendment, having served in

the US Army and retired as a Supervisory Deputy US Marshal. I appreciate that

restrictions on firearms are only enacted after careful scrutiny and vetting by lawmakers

and the courts.

There are some places, however, where nearly everyone acknowledges that reasonable

restrictions are just and necessary. Policies that keep guns out of schools and

courthouses, for instance, are widely regarded as common-sense restrictions.

The New Hampshire General Court is in many ways a school and a courthouse. Busloads

of children come to the State House every day to watch the proceedings, with thousands

of students coming through every year to see democracy in action.

On most days, this convergence of democracy and classroom produces positive results.

Debates often become passionate, but remain respectful, as students get a first-hand look

at how laws are made.

Unfortunately, that is not always the case. I vividly remember one day when the

Merrimack Valley Girls Field Hockey team was in the gallery earning recognition for

winning their state championship. Up for debate that day was a resolution supporting

states’ rights, a measure that was debated and ultimately defeated on the House floor.

A couple hundred people showed up in support of the resolution, and when the losing

vote was announced, many stood up and began shouting, heckling, and outright

threatening House members. Videos of the incident show people hurling a range of

insults at lawmakers, from the benign (“see you in November”) to actual violent threats

(“off with your heads”). It was a mob scene unlike anything most lawmakers had ever

seen, and many understandably feared for their safety.

What made this incident particularly troubling was that many in the angry mob were

visibly carrying guns. Luckily no accidents occurred. I heard from one of the teachers

sitting in the gallery and assured her that this is not the way we usually conduct business.

While this particular incident exemplifies the perils of allowing guns in the State House,

day-to-day events also show that the potential for accidents is great. During the term that

gun possession was permitted under Speaker O’Brien, there were three separate incidents

where lawmakers accidentally dropped their firearm on the floor of a crowded area.

The House chamber and visitors’ gallery is not an appropriate or necessary place for

people to bring their guns. The troopers and security personnel who patrol the State

House are trained to deal with any situations that may occur.

I support the second amendment, but this is not a second amendment issue. It is simply a

matter of public safety.

House Democrats Select Rep. Terie Norelli To Serve As House Speaker for 2013-14 Session

The New Hampshire House Democratic Caucus today cast a unanimous ballot for Representative Terie Norelli as their nominee for Speaker of the House for the 2013 – 2014 legislative session.

“I ran for Speaker because I felt a responsibility to rebuild and restore the Democratic Caucus in order to have a sustainable majority going forward,” stated Norelli.

“There is much work to be done to reinstate civility and decorum to the NH House,” Norelli continued.“There will be many opportunities for us to put aside partisanship and work with our colleagues from the across the aisle to restore New Hampshire to the community that we all know and love. That is what the voters want us to do.”

Norelli, from Portsmouth, was recently elected to serve a ninth term in the New Hampshire House. She was Speaker of the NH House from 2006 to 2010. In addition, Representative Norelli serves as President of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staff of the nation’s fifty states providing research, technical assistance and the exchange of ideas.

The full House will meet on December 5, 2012 to formally elect the Speaker for the upcoming session.

New Hampshire House Democrats to Regain Majority

New Hampshire House Democrats to Regain Majority

New Hampshire Voters Send a Clear Message on their Priorities

Concord, NH – House Democratic Leader and former House Speaker Terie Norelli issued the following statements after preliminary election results show House Democrats will regain the majority by a 222-178 margin a pick up of 120 seats from the 2010 election.

“As candidates for the New Hampshire House, we listened to voters across the state, and throughout all of our conversations with Independents, Republicans, and Democrats the message was crystal clear – return common sense to Concord! They told us they wanted a Legislature to put partisan politics aside and work on the issues that mattered to Granite Staters, in a civilized way. And that’s exactly what we plan to do.”


“The campaign season is over. We must now move beyond the partisan divide and begin to work together on behalf of all Granite Staters. We plan to keep our promises by focusing on jobs and the economy, reverse this Legislature’s ill-advised priorities, and end the harshness in the air that has plagued the House these last two years.”

“We will not let the people of New Hampshire down. We look forward to collaboratively working with our new Democratic Governor Maggie Hassan and the Republican-led State Senate to move our great state forward.”

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O’Brien, Lamontagne Can’t Re-Write Their History

GOP candidate has repeatedly called a state takeover of Medicare a top priority, but now he is trying to run from his own radical plan

CONCORD – Bill O’Brien and Ovide Lamontagne can’t hide from their history or their radical plans to have the state legislature take over and run Medicare, the federal health insurance program for seniors, said Terie Norelli, House Democratic Leader.

Today Speaker Bill O’Brien tried to deny his Medicare plans, despite a bill that passed the House last year, calling on the federal government to let the state run Medicare for seniors.

Ovide Lamontagne has attempted to deny his extreme plans for Medicare in several recent debates, but on a radio interview today, the truth slipped out: “I want more control at the New Hampshire level in terms of managing Medicare funds.”

“Ovide Lamontagne and Bill O’Brien must be exhausted this week,” said Norelli,  “because all they have done is run from his radical and extreme plans for a state takeover of Medicare.”

Ovide has been a longtime supporter of plans that would block grant federal Medicare money to the state, allowing the state legislature to run the critical health program.  In February of this year, he wrote an Op-Ed piece in the Union Leader, and posted it on his website, calling a state takeover of Medicare one of his top priorities.

But, as the Nashua Telegraph reported this week, now Ovide is trying to hide his support for this extreme plan that could cut services and raise health care costs on thousands of New Hampshire seniors.

“Try as he might, Ovide Lamontagne can’t re-write his support for the the extreme plan to have the state legislature to run Medicare.  This legislature – which Ovide has praised and promised to work with – has already slashed funding for health care dramatically,” said Norelli.

“But instead of telling voters the truth, he is ducking and dodging his plan hoping that voters won’t notice.”

Lamontagne has also long been a supporter of the Ryan Budget Plan, which would turn Medicare into a voucher system. He previously said, “Paul Ryan has got a great plan…I want to work with Paul Ryan.”  But when questioned about his support last week, Ovide tried to run and hide claiming “that’s not what I support.”

Last month, Ovide denied twice in 24 hours that he had any knowledge of signing the radical Cornerstone “Families First Pledge” which calls for dismantling New Hampshire’s insurance industry regulation and includes 10 agenda items aimed at restricting women’s access to abortion.

“It seems that every day Ovide is trying to re-write more and more of his own history and run from his extreme record,” Norelli said. “Voters in New Hampshire deserve a governor whose promises don’t change depending on the time of day and the audience.”

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Democrats to O’Brien: NH Cannot Afford to Go “Even Further” with Your Extreme Agenda

CONCORD – Democratic House leaders said today on a press conference call that New Hampshire voters cannot afford to go “even further” with the extreme Ovide-O’Brien agenda, as the speaker promised at the State GOP convention this weekend.

“New Hampshire can’t afford to go ‘much further’ with the extreme Ovide-O’Brien agenda of ending universal public kindergarten, cutting state funding for public colleges and eliminating access to birth control and abortion,” said House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli.

O’Brien’s statements came during the GOP State Convention this weekend, where he received enthusiastic cheers with his promise that his legislature, if re-elected would go “even further” with their radical, out-of-touch agenda.

Democrats called on the Speaker to come clean with the voters of New Hampshire and say what their “further” would mean for them.

“We can expect more efforts to dismantle our public schools – from repealing public kindergarten to lowering the dropout age,” said House Assistant Deputy Democratic Leader Steve Shurtleff. “We know we can expect another round of attacks on our workers – the Speaker himself filed the so-called “Right to Work” bill. We know we can expect more devastating cuts to assistance to our most venerable citizens. ”

After public outcry and pressure, Speaker O’Brien reversed himself and made the bill proposals for the 2013 session public. We can understand why he didn’t want the public to know what they were planning before Granite Staters stepped into the voting booths.

“Even further” could also include continued attacks on women’s health care. This ideologically-extreme agenda item would completely eliminate 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.

“That’s the choice in this election,” said House Deputy Democratic Floor Leader Cindy Rosenwald.  “Will we go forward with the same type of bipartisan, problem-solving approach provided by Gov. John Lynch, or we can go backward with the extreme ideas of Ovide Lamontagne and Bill O’Brien, ideas that hurt our middle-class families and our economy.”

“This is not the agenda the voters thought they were getting in 2010 and it’s not the agenda that the people of New Hampshire want in 2012,” said Rep. Shurtleff.

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Democrats Comment on Redress Press Conference

CONCORD, NEW HAMPSHIRE – Democratic House Leader Terie Norelli issued the following comments on the Redress of Grievances Committee’s press conference.

The Redress of Grievances Committee is “Exhibit A” of the radical, wasteful agenda Speaker O’Brien and House Republicans have pushed since the day they came into office instead of focusing on the priorities of middle-class New Hampshire families. We can expect to see more of it, if Bill O’Brien and Ovide Lamontagne are elected. They’ve signed on to a pledge for an agenda that includes a dozen bills to ban abortion; repeal marriage equality and to make divorce more time consuming and more expensive for couples.”

“Instead of working to create jobs and strengthen our economy after the great recession, Republicans have been focused on re-litigating divorce cases, putting families through new trauma, violating confidentiality rules aimed at protecting children, and taking resources away from a court system that is already strained.”

“This Committee is nothing more than a kangaroo court, with the sole purpose of targeting those who are simply performing their jobs as required by state law. Its actions have created an atmosphere of fear and persecution on the part of public employees, particularly those charged with protecting abused and neglected children and settling family disputes.”

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Norelli Asks Speaker: Where are the Rest of the Bills?

CONCORD — Although Speaker Bill O’Brien claimed he was not hiding Republican legislative proposals, only 58 legislative proposals have been posted on the state website. None in the last two days.

“Mr. Speaker, where are the rest of the bills? With filing period closed, the public has a right to know what proposed legislation House members are offering,” said Terie Norelli, House Democratic Leader.

“Ovide Lamontagne and Republican members of the House have signed a pledge to implement an extreme agenda aimed at taking away abortion rights, repealing marriage equality and even eliminating laws protecting consumers  from insurance companies,” Norelli said. “Is Bill O’Brien trying to hide that agenda from the public by continuing to keep the lid on bill requests? Is the Speaker or his staff reviewing the bill requests before they are made public?

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What’s In Ovide-O’Brien’s Secret Agenda?

What’s In Ovide-O’Brien’s Secret Agenda?

Republicans Trying to Hide Plans from Voters; Need to Come Clean

CONCORD – Bill O’Brien and Ovide Lamontagne should come clean about what is in their secret agenda and release to the public the legislation they and their allies are proposing, said House Democratic Leader Terie Norelli.

State legislators began filing bill proposals last week, but as the Concord Monitor reported today, Republican Speaker Bill O’Brien is breaking precedent to keep proposed legislation secret until AFTER the election.

“Ovide Lamontagne and Bill O’Brien have a secret agenda that they are trying to hide from the public,” Norelli said. “The people of New Hampshire deserve to know what is really in the Ovide-O’Brien secret agenda, which seems to include extreme ideas like cutting state aid to public schools, revoking insurance coverage for birth control and taking away abortion rights from women.”

Republicans have been trying to hide some of their more extreme proposals. For example, Cornerstone Research has released a 26-item agenda, a dozen pieces of proposed legislation focused on taking away insurance coverage for birth control, repealing marriage equality and limiting abortion rights. Cornerstone has said that legislators are filing bills to enact this agenda, and that they expect the signers of their pledge – including Ovide Lamontagne – to enact their agenda.

Lamontagne has tried to say that he doesn’t need to discuss his extreme position on these issues, and has suggested that the legislature won’t bring them up. Cornerstone, however, has said legislation to enact these extreme ideas is being filed right now.

“Ovide Lamontagne is not being honest with the people of New Hampshire about his agenda as Governor,” said Raymond Buckley, chair of the New Hampshire Democratic Party. “Ovide Lamontagne should call on Bill O’Brien to immediately show the public the bills they are proposing.”

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