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Rep. Crawford had courage to ignore GOP leadership on HB-478

To The Daily Sun,

At the end of February, the New Hampshire House was considering a bill, HB-478, to extend state protection against discrimination to transgender people. The House Committee on Health, Human Services and Elderly Affairs recommended passage of this bill to the full House by a vote of 15-2 and made me proud to be a resident of a state that appeared to support human rights for all of its citizens. My pride was premature.

GOP Gov. Chris Sununu stated that he had no opinion on this legislation that would have ensured that transgender people be treated fairly in finding work, housing, and getting service in public places like hospitals and restaurants.

Despite the bipartisan committee recommendation, the full House voted 187-179 on March 9 to table this bill, with no debate on its merits. House Speaker Shawn Jasper pushed this action and the majority of his GOP colleagues followed his lead, effectively killing HB-478. Of the 14-member Carroll County House delegation, only three stood up for human rights and voted against tabling the bill: two Democrats Jerry Knirk and Ed Butler and Republican Karel Crawford.

I want to thank these three representatives for their votes, particularly Karel Crawford who had the courage to ignore GOP leadership.

Margaret Merritt
Center Sandwich

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Community Services pivotal for everyone affected by disabilities

To The Daily Sun,

I had the privilege of attending the first state budget hearing at Plymouth State University on Monday night. It was powerful to hear the many stories of how Lakes Region Community Services (LRCS) in Laconia and Plymouth support and encourage individuals with disabilities and their families. The testimonies were passionate and heart-felt.

As a member of the NH Leadership series Class of 2017, I have learned how pivotal these services can be for everyone impacted by disabilities. It is important that our elected officials hear these stories and understand the needs and how these services change and impact individuals, families and our community as a whole.

It is critical that the state House Finance Committee fully funds the developmental service budget requests in the governor's 2017 proposed budget. Currently, babies age newborn to 3 who need Early Support Services, also known as Early Intervention, are under-served in New Hampshire.

Very young children who receive speech therapy, gross motor therapy, occupational therapy and other individual instruction gain skills that allow them to grow and reach developmental milestones which seem to come natural in their peers. Skills gained during ESS interventions allow these children the opportunity to go to school with more confidence and skills to be successful and ready to learn.

Again, thank you to committee Chairman Neal Kurk and members of the Finance Committee for taking the time Monday night to hear these testimonies. We ask that you remember these stories and fully support the development services provided by LRCS and all the other local agencies throughout the state of New Hampshire.

Maryann McNeil


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